Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blogs don't put food on the table; it takes a president to get it done

It’s cool to want to be president. But the only way to become president is for other people to want you to be, too. Let’s discuss Hillary and Barack.

As far as I can tell, Hillary Clinton’s main campaign strategy was to hope the audacious hope that nobody would dare challenge her. But Barack Obama not only did that, he managed to win and keep winning. The Clintons did not expect this, even though it’s what happens in every election: someone runs against you. So now they’ve got no plan. But they still want to win.

Now, I admire underhandedness, ruthlessness, and Machiavellian dealings. If you can achieve your goals through trickery and deceit, I am in awe, because while I own House of Games on DVD I am not so good at the long con. I am entirely ready for Bill and Hillary Clinton, sophisticated veterans of our national sport, to pull out all the stops and cleverly manipulate their way to the pinnacle. That would be exciting.

But that is nothing at all like what they have done. Instead, they have acted like frustrated children who are not getting their way.

That’s not really the way you want your president to deal with adversity.

Of course, there has already been plenty of coverage of Bill and Hill’s various outbursts, so I don’t need to retell them. But, I believe there is a more troubling trend which hasn’t been adequately discussed.

Hillary Clinton has consistently and increasingly acted as if she is the next president, and Barack Obama is some hayseed, rube, or schlepper who doesn’t understand how the real world works. And yet, it is her campaign which is struggling to find a message, cannot raise money, and has lost a huge early advantage, even in core demographics. So, maybe she’s wrong?

Let’s look at two key examples of this behavior, where she has made absurd distinctions between the two campaigns which end up proving the opposite of what she intends.

Back in January, as has been widely reported, Hillary Clinton said it’s all very well to like Martin Luther King Jr., but after all it wasn’t King who passed civil rights legislation, it was Lyndon Johnson; in her precise words, “it took a president to get it done”. Well, let’s say that is correct; certainly, it is literally true that King did not have the constitutional authority to sign legislation.

But wait a minute, Obama is not running for civil rights leader. Obama and Clinton are both vying to be the president. He wants to be the person to sign those bills, same as her. As president, he would not have fewer presidential powers than she. But according to her, she is the only president in this race.

So what’s her point, exactly? It’s just an attempt at putting someone down by comparing him to Martin Luther King, and building yourself up through a comparison to LBJ — surely, the first time this has been tried.

Now, the latest thing Clinton is onto is how Obama is all talk. During the entire presidential campaign, all he has done is make pretty speeches. This is not the Clinton approach; in contrast, she has solutions.

However, again, she is making a distinction that does not exist.

As far as I know, Clinton is the first politician to make long speeches on how speeches don’t help anything. “Speeches don’t put food on the table” she declares from the podium. I think you can agree that what she has just done is make a speech. She is not standing with us in a checkout line, forking over money to pay for our groceries. She has not performed an action. What politicians do during an election is make speeches.

But Clinton has solutions, right, not just oratory? So why isn’t she implementing these solutions right now? The answer is because she is not yet the president. Before she can implement her solutions, she has to be elected. So instead, she makes speeches about what she’ll do after she gets elected.

How is this different from what Obama, or any other candidate, does? You can’t implement before you’re elected. In other words, “it [takes] a president to get it done”. We are trying to pick that president. Hillary’s mind may already be made up, but this inconvenient process of the election is how the rest of us decide.

But instead, to the point of blindness, Clinton desperately believes that she is the only viable candidate. This is a crippling flaw. Her above arguments use simplistic language and declarations, which I would guess she and her team think is “straight talk”. But the arguments pretend that words mean what they want them to mean, instead of what they do mean. In that way, they are as convincing as adultery hinging on the definition of the word “is”.

That’s not oratory, and it’s not solutions. It’s bullshit.

We endorse Barack Obama for president.

by Jack, February 21, 2008 11:11 PM | More from Election 2008

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