Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: Ladder Match

So far this election cycle has been the most exciting in a long while. To begin with, we had the prospect of the first African-American and first woman nominees from the Democratic side, and on the Republican side it’s been the most up-in-the-air race since 1980.

For political junkies, this election cycle is like crack 2.0.

Dynamic. Historic. Invigorating. Full of surprises.

Tonight was a shocker. Hillary came back to own the female vote and upset Barack and check his Iowa momentum. If the election were a ladder match, they’d both have their foot on the first rung.

For those who don’t know. I like Obama.

What’s not to like? He’s charismatic, reasonable, dignified. He’s articulate, pragmatic, and inspiring. He’s the embodiment of the American Dream, while Clinton is the embodiment of insider politics. The only change that Clinton can offer from the past is her first name… and that doesn’t even require much.

This is her big change: BHillary Clinton.

Barack has made a name for himself, in a short time, entirely on his own merit, earning every bit of power he’s gained inside the system. When it’s over and Hillary is wondering what happened, she might wail, “just who do you have to sleep with to become president around here?”

Clinton’s achievement would be tainted by the advantage she received from her first lady “experience”. (I’m sure Gloria Steinem doesn’t endorse the idea of marrying into power and inheriting political capital from your ex-president spouse as a symbol of equality)

If Hillary Clinton becomes the first female president, it will be with an asterisk. *

I might get body-slammed by women for that last comment, but it’s not Hillary’s being a woman that makes her campaign so loathsome and makes her a heel, it’s that she has used her famous last name to get to where she is. Sure, she has credentials, but she’s never won an election as Hillary Rodham, and without Bill, her experience is exactly six more years of being in the senate than Obama’s. Big whoop. And when the going gets tough, as it recently has for her, she brings out Bill.

Haven’t we learned about electing members of these political dynasties? Bush, Clinton, Bush Clinton. Haven’t we seen enough movies that we know the sequel is never as good as the first?

The thing that is working for Obama, that the other candidates misrepresented, is that no one cares if Obama has enough “experience”. We’ve heard that argument every election and it’s gotten us corrupt insiders, inept phonies, and hardened ideologues.

Bill tried to help his wife by claiming that with Obama, we were “rolling the die”.

Guess what, Bill?

After Bush1, Clinton, Bush2, that’s exactly what the electorate would like to do.

We’re a gambling nation. Have you ever been to Vegas? We’ve built modern temples and pyramids to gambling. We love rolling the die.

And besides, after Bush2, what do we have to lose?

Electing Barack Obama would make this country proud; and help towards restoring our place in the international community and repairing our reputation around the world as arrogant, narrow-minded, war-hungry yokels.

He would be an inspiration to minorities, to community-activists, to people who, for one reason or the other, have a difficult circumstance in this country because they’re a different color, or female, or handicapped, or gay. He’s a gallon of fresh air to people who believe in the American Dream, and the greatness of this country, and in the abundant fairness and optimism of Americans.

Symbolism goes a long way.

And if it’s rolling the die, and purely symbolic… I’m okay with that.

If I’m entranced by his eloquence and lofty prose… I’m okay with that.

If Barack is going to have to learn on the job, and make a few mistakes along the way… I’m okay with that.

I am not okay with Hillary using Rovian scare tactics. I’m not cool with Hillary’s maestro of slime, Mark Penn, smearing fellow democrats. I’m not okay with Bill whining and blaming the media like he’s competing with Rush Limbaugh for lame excuse honors. And I’m not comfortable, at all, that Hillary squeezes waterless tears out at a manufactured coffee klatsch, surrounded by very sweet looking, motherly women in sweaters — the scene appropriately completed by the empty coffee mug in front of her — and the nightly news ate it up and, apparently, women swooned over it and voted for her based on her “emotion”.

Is this really progress? Are women going to elect a president based on the same technique used to get out of speeding tickets?

Gloria Steinem, about as biased as they come in this discussion, wrote in a New York Times article that if the roles were reversed, and Barack was a woman, he would be grilled for his lack of experience and his idealistic rhetoric, and would be considered too emotional by the public. Basically, she was pulling the gender card. And while she makes some good points in the piece, I wonder how it could have helped Hillary to be a man… I mean, in 1992 the country was not ready for a gay first lady.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because… no masculinity to prove. (i.e: she’s a woman)

Let’s try that statement around, Gloria.

I’m supporting Senator Obama because… no femininity to prove. (I mean, afterall, she is a woman)

But that would be silly. I’m not basing my vote on Hillary’s ovaries, or Barack’s black penis, or Edward’s pretty hair. I’m basing my vote on shaking up the status quo. You can’t have slept in the White House for eight years and shake it up. You can’t have the largest lobbyist base of all the candidates and shake it even a little. You can’t have voted for this mess of a war and even jiggle the status quo.

So here we are, the race is on.

On one side is Obama, young, intelligent, a uniter. On the other side is Hillary, divisive, semi-hawkish, crafty. She has shown that she is tough and has tricks up her sleeve, along with the power of her ground game and old school democratic support she’s going to be a formidable opponent.

We have a choice. Allow Bill to block for her, and Gloria Steinem, while Hillary climbs the ladder and grabs the belt. Or rush into the cage and help Barack take this country in a new direction, away from the politics of old.

I registered as a Democrat today so I can vote in the California Primary.

I put an Obama bumper sticker in the back window of my car.

I sent the campaign $25 bucks tonight.

Barack, I got your back.

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2 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: Ladder Match

  1. At the beginning I was all for Hilary and that was before she lost of course. Now I’m for Obama. I am currently doing a research paper for my social environment course and I figured that politics would be the best subject to speak of. I read your article and I loved it because it provides another reason to believe that Obama is our best bet. At first, I wanted Hilary to become president for what you mentioned many base their opinion on “experience”. But it’s true, experience has gotten us nowhere. We also agree on something else, what harm could be done by electing someone like Obama, if Bush, (being white and all) has done more harm than we could ever imagine. Another detail that I consider when it comes to making a decision between Obama and McCain is the fact that even with all his experience after fighting in the Vietnam War, he still believes that today’s war should continue. I know that it’s not going to be as easy as 1,2,3, trying to bring our troops back home, but it is worth the try and I believe that if Obama becomes president he will make it happen. Again, I enjoyed reading your article and I am all for Obama.

  2. You’re right Katherine, what good is McCain’s Vietnam experience if he didn’t learn the right lessons. He still thinks our only mistake is that we didn’t drop enough bombs on them. Sad…

    Thanks so much for reading. Good luck with your paper.

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