Friday, March 9, 2007

PRESIDENTS, POTENTIAL

The front runners have problems. Rudy has too many things in his personal life and past that will come to haunt him, or should. His dictatorial style of mayoring, his firing of the best in his mayoral administration because they stole the spotlight from him, his callous treatment of his wife and kids, and now his falling into the trap most candidates do, trying to please the base by altering past positions, takes away from his one supposed strength, his solidness in the face of adversity.

Hilary says some great things about what she plans to do if elected, but she always says it as though that outcome is inevitable. Which shows confidence and strength, supposedly, but comes across unfortunately as a kind of entitlement because she is who she is. I like the woman, think she’s smart and most of her ideas I agree with. But she even bugs me.

Her biggest liability with her own constituency is her inability to recognize what most of us anti-Iraq-war folks were onto from the get go and admit she was wrong to vote Junior so much power to invade Iraq, as well as other conservative positions she’s taken either because she really is a very conservative Democrat or because, more likely, she wants to be seen as strong and moderate and able to align with the rightwing on some things.

But she comes off too often as uptight and programmed, as though trying to control her temper, or dismissive-ness of lesser intellects and mere mortals. At times I find her to have some charm and human appeal, but too often she seems distanced from any sense of common humanity, a losing trait for any politician.

McCain is a sad disappointment. Hiring the hatchet men who once worked for Bush to denigrate McCain himself, and his family, spread lies about them, etc. Now they work for McCain to do what? The same to his opponents? His terribly obsequious fawning to the right-wingers who rejected him and took part in the denigration of his reputation in his bid against Junior is embarrassing to watch, like a badly written movie which panders to all the worst things about audiences and goes so far it ends up turning off the very audience it’s trying to woo.

Obama so far seems to be holding his own against Hilary, and doing it without making too many mistakes. But his youth and inexperience may, when the campaigns really get started and the gloves come off, stick to him like the “wooden” thing stuck to Gore, obliterating whatever other great features these guys obviously possess.

Edwards has been saying all the right things, from my perspective, and doing it better than he did the first time around. But he still comes off a little too much like a cute kid, the “Ken doll” image that may also stick, come the real infighting among the Democratic candidates.

Mitt Romney is the rightwing version of the “Ken doll” syndrome, except his tall, square jawed handsomeness may make it possible for his supporters to project him as more the model for the GI Joe doll. But his Mormonism and his own flip-flopping will buckle his knees when the fighting begins in earnest.

Among the non-candidates, Gore is a favorite for the Democrats, as he well should be. Given his record, the integrity he showed, and lack of ego, in the contested election that was stolen from him, his loosening up in his life as a non-professional politician, his Oscar win, etc. But, too much baggage with the Clintons and his last run—i.e. losing his own state—to make him viable as a potential winner against a Republican with less baggage, if they can find one.

Chuck Hagel hasn’t announced yet for the Republicans, and I disagree with most of what the guy stands for, and has done, but his turn against the war, especially as a Viet Nam vet, has become as righteously bring-the-troops-home-and-fuck-you-if-you-don’t-agree as anyone protesting in the streets.

The favorite among the vets I know and have heard from, Jim Webb, the guy who gave the response to Junior’s recent State of the Union address, is articulate, tough, clear, honest, and smart enough to have used his response to make the president look like the chicken-shit privileged little boy he has always been. The biggest strike against him is his being a senator only since January, and having been a Republican until shortly before running for that office.

Unlike Obama, who hasn’t been a senator for that long himself, and whose only previous experience was being in the Illinois state legislature, Webb worked at the highest level of the federal government, including as a member of the Reagan cabinet, which to his credit he resigned from over some of the Reagan shenanigans, but as my friend Terence Winch points out, he still remained a Republican. But Webb’s also a much-decorated Viet Nam vet, with a son serving in Iraq, making him the strongest Democrat with military credentials around.

If you look at Obama’s record as a U. S. Senator, he hasn’t initiated a lot of great bills or achieved much, though what he has done has been positive, and he has been against the Iraq war from before it began. But Webb, in just the two months he has been a Senator, introduced a new G. I. Bill for all those who have served since 2001, which he did immediately upon taking office in January, and since has introduced a bill that would make it impossible for any military funds to be used in Iran, unless congress first approves it. He is definitely the Democrat out there now most capable of playing hardball with the Republicans, which among Democrats, only Bill Clinton has been able to do since Lyndon Johnson resigned.

I know a lot of people think this process has started too soon, but so many of us are looking forward to Junior’s time being over, that obsessing about his possible successor this early helps create the illusion Junior’s time to leave is that much closer. And, speaking practicaly, the more attention given to the race to become his successor, the weaker Junior’s position is as a lame duck president.

PS: Since Daddy’s team stepped in to rescue Junior from himself, and surrogate-dad Dick, they’ve been batting above average (politically that is), i.e. the instant response to the Walter Reed hospital scandal, appointing Dole and Shallala (or however the former Clinton cabinet member’s name is spelled) as front man and woman for a commission to investigate, was smart politics and an obvious break from the deny-everything posturing of the past several years.

Also appointing that supposedly brilliant general, Patreus (again sp?) was a smart move as well since he actually did get results during his time in Iraq, though his methods were dismissed by the Cheney/Rummy faction at the time, and has been much more honest in his assessment of the situation than any of the previous commanders were.

I too want the troops out now, but that’s not going to happen today, and in the meantime, any shifts that might mean less death and destruction on both sides, has to be seen as a good thing, better than the alternative, which is all we were getting for the past six or so years. I learned a long time ago, after the battles of the 1960s, that denigrating anything but absolute adherence to the most principled stand might feel righteous, but might also keep incremental change from happening that could mean the difference between several hundred, or even thousands of people living or dying if that change is thwarted because it isn’t enough to satisfy a noble but impractical, as well as intractable, perspective.

1 comment:

The Woman-Child said...

Your last paragraph emphasizes what's needed in the next President - a great negotiator. Bill Clinton's success rested largely in his ability (or need) to try to please everyone. We need someone with similar chops; not sure which candidate qualifies - but surely a more senior politician with a thick skin and a practical message seems prudent. Edwards may look young, but he's not (chronologically or politically); he's got a great track record, a practical mind supported by a righteous ideology and spent the last two years shoring up his knowledge of world affairs. I like his wife too, very important in today's atmosphere.