Close your eyes and imagine your vote is equal to one million dollars. Now, imagine Barack Obama is an investment: what are you really getting for your money if you vote for Barack Obama? One way to answer that is to ask what did Illinois voters get for their investment when he rode an at least partially rigged election (vs. stooge Alan Keyes) into the U.S. Senate? In return for their votes, hes spent more of his time running for president than hes spent being a senator. Whatever he promised Illinois when they put him in the U.S. Senate, they got something else. Whose interests does he therefore represent? The people of Illinois? Or his own? What evidence is there that yours, mine, or anyones concerns affect him in the slightest? Imagine you were Barack Obama - what compels a Jr. Senator from Illinois at this time, in this season, to abandon all dedication to his newly won seat in the senate and run for president? You and me? What proof is there of that? Barack Obama picked a fight about NAFTA in Ohio and said flat out during the Feb 26 debate I will suspend NAFTA [if they dont agree to renegotiate]. What does it tell you about a person now that weve learned his campaign secretly assured the Canadian government that everything he said was mere posturing, political (quote) rhetoric - what does that say about who he cares about? What does that say about what he really means? He outspent Clinton 4 to 1 in Ohio - still the voters said get lost. The touted phrase just words has taken a whole new meaning all its own. One thing indicates another, as the saying goes. In other words rhetoric begets rhetoric: promises beget promises, wishes beget wishes, (and fairy tales as well) but as they also say, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
This nation has suffered a lot these last eight years but we need more than just a smooth talking pied piper to wish away our problems. We need a worker not a player - can Barack Obama work? If so, I havent seen it. We need a doer not a talker - I wonder exactly what else besides just words hes ready to bring to the table? We need someone who cares about this country, its people, and our futures - does anybody get that impression about him? I certainly do not. If I was Barack Obama Id have more than just a promise: Id have proof of what Im willing to do for the people of this country. If I was someone who could really run for president, thered be no one you could talk to who wouldnt tell you I spent my life working for the benefit of other people - that right or wrong I always tried and never gave up on making peoples lives better. They would say I spoke for those who didnt have a voice and fought for those who couldnt fight for themselves, if I were such a person - and Im not. Barack Obama is not that person either: he wants you to work for him, to speak for him, to do his fighting for him, - for what? What do you get for your investment? What do your kids get, what does your family get, what do your parents and grandparents get in the twilight of their lives? Barack Obama wants to know what his country can do for him - but what has he done for his country? Can we live on speeches?
He shows up smiling like an actor, spoofing the great speeches of our time, enthralling like a rock star or a cult personality. Its an easy message: Im not George Bush. The crowd cheers. Youre against the war, hes against the war; youre worried about the economy, he says he is too; you say that you need health care, well he agrees with you. Say you want more jobs, hell promise to find some; and he will smile and wink and shake your hand and grin all the way out the door. Once hes got your vote the money cloud descends as it has already from Wisconsin to Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island, and now to Pennsylvania, and then to North Carolina.
Hes not a tough talker but he plays one on TV. TV-Obama says, I will (flat out) suspend NAFTA, whereas real-life Obama advisors tell Canadian officials its just political rhetoric. The Canadian govt. memo is real - an eye-witness report no less. His pledge therefore was fake. (( Real Memo = Fake Pledge.)) Tough-talking business is not the kind of business Obama conducts. Safe, easy business is the kind he likes. If he were on a menu he would not be steak and potatoes he would be the dinner mints. If you live in Pennsylvania, hes got a lot more pledges for you. Promise this, promise that, hell promise you the wind; hes got the time, hes got the money, he will be on TV and the radio, with prominent endorsees like nobodys-candidate John Kerry and Ted (wish-I-coulda) Kennedy, but none of that will serve to make an empty suit less hollow. I really think that a ticket to ride is all he is to them - a means to an end, ending with the White House, if they can contrive it. Do you know that subtracting Republicans and Independents from all these Democratic primaries would end his nomination bid? Like Wisconsin Feb 19 - only 27% of Wisconsins voters were actually Democrats that voted for Obama (31% for Clinton). Almost 160K of the record 1.1 million WI record turnout were Republicans (3-1 Obama) - about 308,000 were Independents (3-1 Obama). Thats why he lost Ohio so drastically - not so many Republicans or Independents. What Pennsylvania is going to show is that Obama cant win without conservatives; he cant win without Independents; without band-camp style caucuses, he cant win with Democrats. Im starting to wonder if hell end up on John McCains ticket if he doesnt win the nomination (joking). But I also wouldnt be surprised.
What Im saying Pennsylvania, is that youve got the chance to end the shindig the Republicans and rightwing Independents have used to trample all over our primaries: in Obama we dont have the Democrats front running nominee, we have the front runner that Non-Democrats have decided in contest after contest to throw our party out the window. The Democrats have stuck by Senator Clinton for a reason: shes a Democrat. Texas had open primaries, WI had open primaries, Ohio had semi-open primaries: its the Non-Democrats who have kept him in the race at all. Here in Pennsylvania, we can take our party back! He cant win without conservatives so why not get him out now? 8 years could be a long time to wait, with all that we dont know. I say let him earn that senate chair and earn the votes he seeks, let him come back next time with proof instead of promises, not asking what his country can do for him, but what he can do for his county. By get him out now, I mean that Obama getting ZERO percent of the vote will end the right wings drive to choose our nominee for us (look back and you will see the more Republicans voted Dem, the more Obama won). ZERO Delegates in Pennsylvania is what I recommend for Obama. Either he gets ZIP, or it might turn out weve suffered 8 long years of Bush to end up with nothing to show for all of it besides this audacious empty suit.
Another question has been on my mind lately: why does Obama want to be President? I'm not saying "why doesn't he just take a hike" I mean who motivates him? Is it for us? Or for him? He could run 4 years from now, he could run 8 years from now, he could run 12 years from now. I mean cripes McCain's 71, he's still on the ticket. From the supporters last month, it seemed to be all about the halo effect (me I think my liberalism was fine without this injected sense of evangilical zealotry). But from colleagues, one recent article listed his main attribute as being "ambition". Is that a good thing (realisticly speaking, in terms of practicality, in terms of pragmaticism)? I can't help but look at his campaign as a power grab. Is it for you and me that he gets up every morning and marches on from state to state? Is it for our families, our futures, our parents and our grandparents?
I'm not saying he's the boogie man, just wondering how the following images jive: is he a humanitarian? someone people can count on? is he the type of guy, when he says something he will do it? has he been able to look back and say he's always worked to make the world a better place? is he someone who puts others' needs before his own? and are all these things just something he's *capable* of, or something that he lives by? He's basically asking for a promotion here - has he earned it?
This idea of a joint ticket keeps coming up. I'm hoping to avoid any inflamatory arguments here but it seems like a good chance to examine the current state of things and what may or may not be probable in the fall. What's been going through my mind since Wed. is that Bill Clinton quote, "if she wins in Texas and Ohio I believe she will go on to be the nominee, if not I don't think she can be..." It really doesn't sound like he's talking about delegates there, it sounds like an allusion to this prospective agreement that keeps coming up. I was reading yesterday, more about why the superdelegates were put into place. Carter won the nomination that season and during his second year those delegates were unbound because (much as I like him) he was a weak ticket and they say he was a weak candidate against Reagan. Ironically Ted Kennedy had a lot to do with it. Superdelegates were contrived as a sort of protection against the party being chained to a leading candidate whom party veterans saw as a weak contender for the generals. This also is what's at issue for this year's convention and I think it's what B. CLinton was really referring to in the above quote. Regarding Obama, it was heartening to see (for once) an article expressing what I've been concerned about all along:
But Obama's losses Tuesday in Texas and Ohio -- coupled with his Feb. 5 defeats in California, New York and New Jersey -- have not only shown the strategy's downside. They have also given supporters of Clinton an opening for an argument that winning over affluent, educated white voters in small Democratic enclaves, such as Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, and running up the score with African Americans in the Republican South exaggerate his strengths in states that will not vote Democratic in the fall.
"Winning over affluent, educated white voters in small Democratic enclaves - and running up the score with African Americans in the Republican South - exaggerates his strengths." This would be a good time not to flame back with any knee-jerk first impressions, please. How to say this without pissing people off... I dont know... anyway:
It's a plain fact that Democrats in all states have given the solid majority of their votes to Senator Clinton. The easier it is for conservatives to vote in a Democratic primary, the higher percentage of the total vote Obama gets. This is a fact. That's why Clinton won Ohio by ten points (where its not as convenient for conservatives to vote Democrat) as opposed to winning by four points in Texas (where it was a free-for-all). (Yes Rush Limbaugh contrived to win Republican votes for Clinton but the exit polls still show Obama had more Republican votes). Wisconsin was a dramatic example - Obama had more non-Democrats voting for him than Democrats. In Wisconsin, 27% of the total Dem primary vote were Democrats who voted for Obama, while 31% of the total vote were Democrats voting for Clinton; 31% of the total vote were Republicans and Independents voting for Obama whereas 11% of the total vote were Republicans and Independents voting for Clinton. Now, we either have to say that 31% of the non-Democrats in Wisconsin are actually converts whom Obama magically "won over" with his glowing aura, or we have to say that a lot of what is reffered to as Obama's momentum is really just conservatives taking their chance to vote against a Clinton early. You can call that an example of how "divisive" Clinton is if you want to, but most of these crossover voters in question are the conservative base voters that we'll all be voting against here in November.
The bottom line is that with Obama you can subtract any one of a number of factors and depict a scenario where he's pretty much out of the race for the Democratic nomination. In this current race, he's got the votes that he has got so it makes no difference to the nomination; what we are looking for here is examples of his exaggerated strengths as a candidate. Clinton led Obama among Democrat voters before Ohio by six points (zero margin of error as those votes were already tallied). This margin is increasing. I'm not talking about who wins or doesn't win the primary I'm talking about being realistic about the situation at hand here.
1. Basically, you can vaporize Obama's delegate lead today if you erased all these conservative "November Republican" votes from the tally. It is a true fact that if you take away the conservatives who voted against the possibility of a Clinton on the ticket, Obama wouldn't make it to the convention. I'm not saying this is what I think should happen; what I'm saying is it's a realistic way to look at where he stands.
2. These caucuses award valid points, it's true, but they are by no means a measure of A. Obama's real support in those states, B. how he would do in a general election in those states or C. if he could really compete against Clinton in those states if they held a primary (Washington state for instance, he won the caucus 2-1 but the primary by just a small percentage - which suggests that in a contested primary with delegates he probably might have lost).
He's going to lose in Pennsylvania because only Democrats can vote. My prediction is that he'll win about 33% there. If Ohio had been a closed primary, 33% would be being optimistic of his chances. That Clinton won in Texas with 700,000 Republicans voting (to say nothing of independents) is a real testiment of strength. It's therefore realistic to say that Obama's coalition is composed of four major parts: well-to-do Dems, African American Dems, Republicans and Independents. Subtract just the conservative double agents and he doesn't make it to the convention. Now of course he is going to make it to the convention because basically any Dem ticket this year without Obama on it is going to see at least half the black vote either stay home or defect to the other party. And as far as Clinton voters like me go, there's no way I'm going to vote for either of the candidates (Obama/McCain) that conservatives forced onto my ballot - unless Clinton is on the ticket. So what to do?
What I hope for is not realistic: that these issues come to bear on Obama's candidacy to such an extent that he loses the lead and is owed no place on the ticket. For a variety of reasons that have become clear over 5 weeks or so (and I hope they become more and more clear to the voters as the next 7-8 weeks drag on) I wouldn't want him as a senator, much less a vice president. But it looks like that is what is going to happen. Florida and Michigan will be seated and I expect Clinton to win FL by at least her current margin; and seeing that Michigan is running their caucus like a primary, I think she'll win that by Texas-like margins; she will win Pennsylvania. He wins Wyoming and Mississippi; she will win P.R. The gap will narrow enough to force the need of some reconcilliation and the ticket will read President Clinton, Vice President Obama (unless something unforseeable should happen between now and June 3). 8 years of Clinton, then 8 years of Obama. Not that bad I guess. John McCain will lose, Bush will move out of the white house and we can all get on with the 21st Century at last. Too early to bet on it but that's my guess so far.
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