Thursday, January 31, 2008

Some Times a Topic's, Not Really a Topic (JM)

Four’s a Crowd


There are some relatively new cowpokes in the NYT op-ed pen: Roger Cohen and the above cited Gail Collins. They are amazingly similar in so far as they say absolutely nothing. While they say this “nothing” way better than a certain She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (see Maureen, I can do the nickname thing too), they still say “nothing” and to me this is kind of unacceptable.


Farewell to John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani. Guess which one is planning to devote his life to helping the poor? No fair looking it up.

Oh, snap! Nailed Rudy from the get go.

The presidential campaign is kind of lonely — we’d gotten used to having a big crowd. The parents of extremely large families must feel this way when their children start going off to college.

It’s true, it was sad when we had to send little Joe, Bill and Chris off to school. But it’s okay, I hear Joe’s been active with the student government and Bill is quite the ladies’ man. Chris seems a little homesick, but we have to let them grow their wings and fly, right Gail? My point: what a truly dumb analogy.

Mike Huckabee is still in the Republican race, possibly due to a belief in miracles or a lack of any other specific occupation. Ron Paul pops up for the Republican debates, and Mike Gravel is rumored to have been seen wandering down a Florida highway recently. But we’re really down to four, and tonight the Democrats have a debate involving only two people. Has anybody ever tried this before?

So your point is that there are less people in the race now, we get it, what of it?

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been extremely testy toward one another, but so far the rancor at the top has not trickled down. The Democratic voters haven’t seemed angry at all. In fact, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such a chipper group. Racing to the polls in droves. Not a single reference to holding one’s nose or the lesser of two evils. “I want the Republicans to feel the way I did in 2004,” said Mike Sherzan, an Iowan who was for Edwards in the caucus while his wife was for Clinton and his son was with Obama. (Basically, everybody’s son is with Obama.)

First of all, this seems to have next to nothing to do with the purported point of this column. Secondly, this is just the least true thing I have ever heard. There is tons and tons of rancor. Obamabots and Hillarites, it’s like the Jets and the Sharks. I have seen many people on both sides claim that they would rather vote for McCain than the other Democratic candidate. Of course, that is profoundly stupid, but still it is going on. But perhaps you have evidence to back up this insane claim? Oh, Mike Sherzan the bellwether person for all Democrats everywhere.

It would be nice if the two survivors could work a little harder on encouraging that mood. Anger is out. So 2006. So ... Tom DeLay.

Did you watch Clueless last night? Using so… like that is sooooo 1998. Also that is the appropriate way to express sooooo. Your version, so… Tom DeLay, is what it would sound like if you were having an awkward conversation with your teenage daughter after finding pictures of Tom DeLay under her mattress.

Hillary could start by purging her campaign of the lingering sense that the presidency is her due and anyone who stands in her way is a particularly mean chauvinist. You cannot run a campaign with the slogan: “Vote for Hillary — Think of All She’s Been Through.”

I think this is fair so long as the Obama campaign agrees to stop complaining about every attack Hillary makes as an assault on hope or African-Americans.

And while it seems unlikely, Barack might consider admitting once in a while that it’s possible for a person to reach for a greater tomorrow while voting for somebody else.

I would like to see this too, but it seems unlikely. I just can’t see Barack saying, “You know both Hillary and I want a greater tomorrow, but I want the greatest tomorrow.”

“It’s about the past versus the future,” he said yesterday, railing at some people (no names were mentioned, but we’re really running out of alternatives) who are willing to settle for small change, who “look backwards and try to build a bridge back to the 20th century.”

I like the little side reference to “we’re really running out of alternatives”. It’s like she suddenly realized this column has absolutely nothing to do with its stated topic and just decided to parenthetically stick it in there.

See, that is the sort of thing that makes Hillary voters depressed. Everybody wants to be a change agent. But Barack is making Clintonites feel like an elderly aunt who won’t let the kids play their newfangled music in the talent show.

You! You are this newfangled aunt, aren’t you!

In Colorado yesterday, Caroline Kennedy once again passed the torch to a new generation at an Obama rally that drew an estimated 18,000 people to the University of Denver arena, an overflow room and an overflow overflow room. “Let’s give a shout-out to all the folks who are still outside on the lacrosse field,” Barack urged the early birds who made it into the actual event.

The Kennedy-Obama connection is central to the campaign’s message, which is that the American people have been wandering in the desert for more than a generation, waiting for another leader who could show them how to reach for the stars. But J.F.K.’s grand achievement was the raising of expectations, not the follow-through. His administration was a decidedly mixed bag, during which people spent a great deal of time building nuclear fallout shelters.

I guess really she has just given up pretending that this is anything but a free form opportunity to just sort of say anything that pops in to her head. It’s exactly like that scene in 8 Mile where they come up with extemporaneous rhymes (I swear Maureen, I am really trying to learn from you, how am I doing thus far?).

Some of the Democratic resistance to Obama’s magic comes from people who are wary of politicians who want to win their hearts. Every great candidate has golden moments when the campaign merges perfectly into the zeitgeist of the people. But sooner or later it passes, and you’re left with a tired, flawed human being making a pitch to crowds of slightly deflated citizens. One of Hillary’s selling points is that we’re pre-deflated. We’ve known her so well for so long.

I seriously have no idea what this means. This is one of the most confusing paragraphs I have ever read. My best guess is: People are wary of inspirational politicians because eventually they let us down. Hillary’s awesome because she’s already let us down. This is weird over analytical nonsense, but hey at least you used the word zeitgeist correctly in appropriate context unlike the Dowdasaurus Rex.

The Obama let-down would be way harder to handle. Earlier this week, his campaign visited Barack’s sort-of ancestral home in El Dorado, Kan., a small town outside Wichita where the community college gym was rocking.

“An hour-and-a-half wait. It was well worth it,” said Hardy Stegall of nearby Pretty Prairie.

It was Obama’s first visit. His grandparents, the Dunhams, kept chasing the American dream west until they wound up in Hawaii. Stanley Dunham started out in El Dorado, where he managed a furniture store and, family legend has it, once decked the high school principal. At the rally, Obama told the story of how Stanley married a young woman from the right side of the tracks and how their daughter married a man from Kenya, who left her a young single mother whose son is running for president.

“Their journey, like so many others, speaks to a simple truth ... the future is what we decide it is going to be,” he said.

“I never thought he’d come here,” said Stegall, almost beside himself with pleasure.

And to tell the truth, I never imagined sitting in a gym in small-town Kansas, watching people whoop for a black, Hawaii-born, grandson-of-a-son of the Kansas soil who promised to bring their hometown values with him to the White House.

Seriously, these last seven paragraphs can be summed up as: Obama is Super Awesome and Inspirational! I really wish that had been the title of this column, then I wouldn’t have to have read it because everyday people like to tell me how Super Awesome and Inspirational he is and ask me whether I have yet be Inspired by him, because if not it is a totally Inspirational experience. I feel kind of queasy.

We may remember this as a great campaign, people. Presuming they don’t screw it up.

1) Remember when this article was about how there are two people left in each race? I do, I totally do. See it’s in the title and the introductory paragraph; 2) No one is ever going to forget this campaign, it has been pretty great, Mittmentum and all that, but who is the “they” to whom you are referring. I am seriously unclear. Is it the candidates for being too negative? Is the voters for considering choosing someone other than St. Obama, Patron Saint of Hopespiration? I do not get the point of your article, but welcome to the fold Gail.

Metacritique of a Capitalist Critique of Postcommunist Feminine Aesthetics (or A Link with a Great Picture of Maria Sharapova) (JM)

So for my money there is really no more interesting and insightful blogger on the internets than Matthew Yglesias of the Atlantic. Just as a quick hit: Anne Applebaum, of Slate, has contended that the reason we see so many more hot Russian women these days is due the opening of the Russian market and capitalism. In other words, free market=more hot women. I was going write about how totally batshit crazy this theory is, but Matt Yglesias did such a good job it would be a total waste, so just read his post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Debating What Maureen Would Not

A few days ago the NY chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) released the following statement concerning Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama (from the Politico):

“Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America,, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”

Jon and I had a debate over whether it was right for NY NOW to release this statement. Jon thought it was OK, I thought it was not. We're each going to post arguments for our respective positions.

Maureen Dowd is Farm Subsidies (JM)

Seeing Red Over Hillary

Boy, there sure has been a lot in the news this week: the State of the Union, McCain's big win in Florida, the big vote on FISA, I bet we're going to get cogent analysis of important world politics.

By Maureen Dowd



Even newly armored by the spirit of Camelot, Barack Obama is still distressed by the sight of a certain damsel.

Your word play makes me sad. Also, "armored by the spirit of Camelot"?

It's already famous as The Snub, the moment before the State of the Union when Obama turned away to talk to Claire McCaskill instead of trying to join Teddy Kennedy in shaking hands with Hillary.

Oh god, this is less than news, this is like fifth grade cafeteria stuff. I recognize that other news personages are talking about it, but maybe that's because the NYT, supposed standard-bearer for journalism chooses to have op-ed columnists that would spend time talking about this. As a side note, I hate Claire McCaskill she is a despicable weasel, everything that is wrong with the new Red State Democrats that thinking winning is the sole point of being in office. But that's a rant for a different day.

Nobody cared about W., whose presidency had crumpled into a belated concern about earmarks.

The "nobody" you are presumably referring to is you and the rest of the media. There were many people who covered the State of the Union, but sadly many more covered "The Snub" as if this were somehow newsworthy. You guys set the tone for what America considers to be important, the fact that you treat such a responsibility like this is pretty shameful.

The only union that fascinated was Obama and Hillary, once more creeping around each other.

I am picturing an Obama-like Gollum here… and they can't be a union if they're not together. You are bad writer.

It would have been the natural thing for the Illinois senator, only hours after his emotional embrace by the Kennedys and an arena full of deliriously shrieking students, to follow the lead of Uncle Teddy and greet the rebuffed Hillary.

Again with the nicknames? Though I have to admit, it would be totally awesome if Ted Kennedy were my uncle. One time my uncle, when I was much younger, came to my house, we got a pizza and went to his place and watched Ferris Bueller, that was pretty cool. Now imagine if my uncle had been Ted Kennedy… mindblowing, no?

She was impossible to miss in the sea of dark suits and Supreme Court dark robes. Like Scarlett O'Hara after a public humiliation, Hillary showed up at the gathering wearing a defiant shade of red.

You caught her! Good job, Hillary was wearing read to comport to your insane pop culture metaphor that literally has nothing to do with the movie to which you are referring. I bet eleventy billion dollars that someone else in those chambers was red or some equally bold color. The only reason you noticed this is you are totally obsessed with Hillary. Seriously, if I took your columns typed them up on paper and anonymously mailed them to Hillary I would be arrested for stalking. I am serious, I think you might need an intervention… and a writing class… and perhaps a humor coach. Well, one step at a time.

But the fact that he didn't do so shows that Obama cannot hide how much the Clintons rattle him, and that he is still taking the race very personally.

I would imagine anyone who runs for President of the United States takes it personally. It is a pretty big deal and a very big decision. Except for maybe Fred Thompson, I am pretty sure he really doesn't care about anything but getting back to his lounger.

On a flight to Kansas yesterday to collect another big endorsement, this one from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama said he was "surprised" by reports of The Snub.

He shouldn't have been. He should be aware that the press is inane and only cares about crazy, banal, trivial shit these days.

"I was turning away because Claire asked me a question as Senator Kennedy was reaching forward," he said. "Senator Clinton and I have had very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as I was coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night. I think there is just a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

But that answer is disingenuous. Their relations have been frosty and fraught ever since the young Chicago prince challenged Queen Hillary's royal proclamation that it was her turn to rule.

This is where this column turns in to a short story written by Maureen Dowd. She has absolutely no facts to back this up, just blanket assertions and her own sense of self-assuredness. I hate her. You hear that Maureen, I hate you.

Last winter, after news broke that he was thinking of running, he winked at her and took her elbow on the Senate floor to say hi, in his customary languid, friendly way, and she coldly brushed him off.

Come on, seriously. He winked at her? Come on, that did not happen!

It bothered him, and he called a friend to say: You would not believe what just happened with Hillary.

No! No way, this is like a sixteen year old girl on a telephone. I am willing to believe that some semblance of dislike has always existed between these two, but this is just utter, fictional nonsense. In fact, in the spirit, a play (for the purpose of extra humor, I will assume Barack’s friend was Oprah):

Barack Obama: Oprah, you will not believe what Hillary did to me today!

The Oprah: Well, sit down and tell me all about it, boyfriend!

Barack Obama: Well, I winked at her and she totally froze me out.

The Oprah: No, she did not!

Barack Obama: She soo did!

The Oprah: Nuh uh!

Barack Obama: Totally.


Again and again at debates, he looked eager to greet her or be friendly during the evening and she iced him. She might have frozen him out once more Monday night had he actually tried to reach out.

I love this concept. Does Maureen think that Clinton was gonna pull a Zack Morris on Obama?! Like he was going to reach out his hand, she would pull back hers, run it through her hair and say, “Too slow…” You are the literary equivalent of a spastic colon.

But now Obama is like that cat Mark Twain wrote about who wouldn't jump on the stove again for fear of being burned.

Nuh uh!

It was only after the distortions of the Clintons in South Carolina that he changed his tone and took on Hillary in a tough way in the debate there. Afterward, one of his advisers said that it was as though a dam had broken and Obama finally began using all the sharp lines against Hillary that strategists had been suggesting for months.

Why had it taken so long for Obama to push back against Hillary? "He respected her as a senator," the adviser replied. "He even defended her privately when she cried, saying that no one knows how hard these campaigns are."

What a totally sincere gentleman, according to your assertion, is he.

But Obama's outrage makes him seem a little jejune. He is surely the only person in the country who was surprised when the Clintons teamed up to dissemble and smear when confronted with an impediment to their ambitions.

This is another one of those times where Maureen Dowd uses a word kind of correctly, but mostly completely wrong. But yes Obama, soooo jejune.

Knowing that it helped her when Obama seemed to be surly with her during the New Hampshire debate, telling her without looking up from his notes that she was "likable enough" — another instance of Obama not being able to hide his bruised feelings — Hillary went on ABC News last night to insinuate that he was rude Monday.

How was that a matter of him not hiding his bruised feelings? That is just a totally weird narrative for this election.

"Well, I reached my hand out in friendship and unity and my hand is still reaching out," she said, lapsing back into the dissed-woman mode. "And I look forward to shaking his hand sometime soon." Something's being stretched here, but it's not her hand. She wasn't reaching out to him at all.

She actually was reaching out her arm, she reached out her arm: there are pictures. You are either lazy or a liar. I suspect both.

The New York State chapter of NOW issued an absurd statement on Monday calling Teddy Kennedy's endorsement of Obama "the ultimate betrayal": "He's picked the new guy over us." But Obama is the more emotionally delicate candidate, and the one who has the more feminine consensus management style, and the not-blinded-by-testosterone ability to object to a phony war.

The question of whether NOW’s decision is totally legit, as is usual in her columns, would have made a much better topic than the rest of this silliness. Obama is actually more feminine, and that’s why NOW should endorse him, he is more of a woman than Clinton. Blurgh!

As first lady, Alpha Hillary's abrasive and secretive management of health care doomed it. She voted to enable W. on Iraq so she could run as someone tough enough to command armies.

This is totally true, though Alpha Hillary, this is a new and inane nickname. It’s like you have a column for the school newspaper.

Given her brazen quote to ABC News, Obama is right to be scared of Hillary. He just needs to learn that Uncle Teddy can't fight all his fights, and that a little chivalry goes a long way.

This is your lesson? Seriously, the moral of all of this is that he should have shaken her hand while being scared, even though you claim that this is her fault and she never reached out her hand? Painful, painful, painful.

The Edwards Exit

John Edwards is out.

Anyone who tells you they know how the eventual Edwards vote will pan out is full of it. Here is what Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report had to say:

"While one can plausibly argue that Edwards withdrawal may unite the anti-Clinton vote, one can also argue that Edwards overwhelmingly white block of supporters come loose and might behave much as other white Democrats have done in the contests after Iowa, not vote for Obama," Cook said. "I don't know which of those arguments will prevail."

In other words "I have no fucking clue."

I think what essentially does is raise the stakes for the next week or so of campaigning. All of a sudden, the universe of undecideds has expanded drastically and whoever makes the best case going into Feb. 5th (and possibly beyond) will probably win those votes. I say this because unless you are really into politics (as we are) you probably haven't completely gamed out who you will be for if your favorite candidate drops out, so it's going to take a bit for this all to sort out.

That said, Edwards really surprised me by dropping out. With his rhetoric, it really seemed like he was going to go to the convention, hoping that neither Hillary nor Obama would have a majority, and try to finagle that into the VP slot (or at least a decent parting gift). Given his demagoguery and astounding flexibility on the issues from one year to the next, I never imagined that Edwards would do anything less than take the most Machiavellian path possible.

But, against all odds, he has, and he ought to be congratulated for it. A Democratic nomination decided by John Edwards at the convention would be incredibly divisive and bad for the party, and Edwards has helped us avoid that today.

Like Fish in Barrel (JM)

Compassionate to the End

Whoa… I think this might be an article about secretly awesome GWB has been all along. There has been a surprising lack of these types of articles which makes this gem even more special.

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; A15

When President Bush took his final walk to the rostrum of the House chamber, his speech and manner conveyed little nostalgia. He views both meditation on the past and speculation about his legacy with equal suspicion, preferring to live in the urgency of the now. So his last State of the Union address had no Reagan-like, misty-eyed wistfulness. It was the most matter-of-fact of his congressional addresses: a clear theme -- trusting the people -- developed at a brisk pace, with modest proposals and an edge of impatience at congressional loitering. He seemed to be saying: "With a year to go, sentiment be damned."

I mean if I were GWB this is about the only thing I would have handled in the exact same way. There was very little to be nostalgic about, very little sentiment to be share. The man was given a speech to a room full of people who hated him. Nancy Pelosi was quoted as saying, “Poor baby…” and was then asked if she was okay with that being on the record and she said yes. Think of how far a president has to fall for the Speaker of the House to be comfortable saying that!

But there is nothing to prevent me from waxing nostalgic. Watching the speech, I recalled meeting Gov. Bush of Texas in the spring of 1999, before he was a declared candidate. He talked with rushed intensity about being a "different kind of Republican," dedicated to racial healing and helping the poor and determined to provide moral leadership as a contrast and corrective to the Clinton years. Because I believed him, I left journalism and joined his campaign.

Ooh, this is sure to be unbiased. Perhaps, this will be a column about how you were duped and GWB doesn’t heal racial divides or help the poor.

It is conventional wisdom that Bush's idealism is either a fraud or has been pushed aside completely by the priorities of war. Slate editor Jacob Weisberg argues that Bush's claim to be a compassionate conservative is "largely fictional." A liberal organization called Americans United for Change recently promised to spend $8.5 million on political attack ads against noncandidate Bush, out of fear that Bush hatred in America might mellow during his final year as president.

But historical legacies are not determined by the same advertising techniques that sell toothpaste. And history's unhurried judgments are sometimes surprising -- few would have elevated Harry Truman to the first rank of presidents on the day Dwight Eisenhower took office.

This is just an atrocious argument: 1) “Same advertising techniques that sell toothpaste”?! I mean seriously, if you wanted a real strawman why didn’t you go all the way and use “same advertising techniques that sell adult diapers”? These also happen to be the way we sell medicine, ideas and, oh, political candidates. Media matters, my friend, it is silly to think otherwise; 2) It took a while for us to recognize Truman’s greatness… this, of course, is a sample size of one that proves absolutely nothing. But fine, I will admit it, there is a nonzero chance we will look back on his legacy years from now and place him in the top tier of presidents. However, I suspect that will only be likely if somewhere, in a secret underground lab, right now, GWB just cured cancer, AIDS, and created an unlimited, renewable energy supply. Even then… that’s Nobel Prize worth, he was still a dreadful president. But more important than any of this, you have to actually give reasons, not just point out that someone else was evaluated too quickly.

My goal is a humbler assessment: Did President Bush, in the course of seven years, cast aside compassion and become the "same kind of Republican"?

The answer is no. Proposals such as No Child Left Behind, the AIDS and malaria initiatives, and the addition of a prescription drug benefit to Medicare would simply not have come from a traditional conservative politician. They became the agenda of a Republican administration precisely because of Bush's persistent, passionate advocacy. To put it bluntly, these would not have been the priorities of a Cheney administration.

Seriously, wow to the forty fifth power. The Skelator administration would have enslaved us all and put us to work on building a giant ray-gun to destroy Castle Greyskull, the Dahmer administration would have had a very peculiar school lunch plan, and don’t get me started on the Steinbrenner administration. Way to set the bar high, Michael Gerson! Also NCLB and the prescription drug benefit were compassionate to no one. I give you the AIDS and malaria initiative and also think it’s funny that even you think Cheney would have ignored AIDS and malaria.

This leaves critics of the Bush administration with a "besides" problem. Bush is a heartless and callous conservative, "besides" the 1.4 million men, women and children who are alive because of treatment received through his AIDS initiative . . . "besides" the unquestioned gains of African American and Hispanic students in math and reading . . . "besides" 32 million seniors getting help to afford prescription drugs, including 10 million low-income seniors who get their medicine pretty much free. Iraq may have overshadowed these achievements; it does not eliminate them.

Hi there, I question the “gains” of African American and Hispanic students. Almost all educational research groups have said that NCLB is a resounding failure. Prescription drug access is limited and many seniors are paying as much if not more for their medication. Also, there are many many better plans that could have been created than this boondoggle for the healthcare industry. Again, I give you the AIDS thing, but all told many more have died because of the Iraq War and you are citing a policy Pol Pot probably would have supported. Silly.

The Bush administration, in my view, should have devoted more resources and creativity to its faith-based initiatives. It should not have vetoed the State Children's Health Insurance Program expansion. The president's budget and economic teams have not been populated with enthusiastic compassionate conservatives, and sometimes this has shown. But by any fair historical measure, Bush's achievements on social justice at least equal those of Bill Clinton, who increased the earned-income tax credit, pushed for children's health coverage and reformed welfare to encourage work.

I suspect this is seriously untrue, but I really don’t feel like doing tons of research right now. Here’s the main difference though, Bill Clinton faced an incredibly insane Republican Congress for most of his administration and was so busy keeping them from returning us to the policies of 1890 that the fact that we even still have entitlement programs is something of a miracle. GWB had every opportunity to really try and fix problems with a Congress over which he had control and a unified public after 9-11. He squandered ever opportunity.

Bush has received little attention or thanks for his compassionate reforms. This is less a reflection on him than on the political challenge of compassionate conservatism. The conservative movement gives the president no credit because it views all these priorities -- foreign assistance, a federal role in education, the expansion of an entitlement -- as heresies, worthy of the stake. Liberals and Democrats offer no praise because a desire to help dying Africans, minority students and low-income seniors does not fit the image of Bush's cruelty that they wish to cultivate.

Seriously, you cannot make this shit up. Again, you’re wrong about minority students and low income seniors and I grant you AIDS. If you really want to highlight Bush’s compassionate conservatism the correct issue is immigration. Even I agree with him on that issue, he stance is thoughtful and, at times, when he speaks about it I don’t want to hate him nearly as much as I do. But the insane, xenophobic protectionistas of the Right (and some equally despicable types on the Left) refused to do anything that amounted to compassion on this issue, robbing GWB of his one real shot at a good legacy.

Compassionate conservatism is thus a cause without a constituency -- except for the large-hearted man I first met in 1999 and who, on Monday night, proposed to double global AIDS spending once again.

I mean seriously, you couldn’t find ANYTHING else. ANYTHING, just AIDS, which, while important, doesn’t prove that GWB is, in fact, compassionate. Also not a surprise that compassionate conservatism has no constituency, not a surprise at all.

But it was only a hint of his former boldness. On policy, this State of the Union was the least ambitious effort of an ambitious presidency. Given the short calendar and a hostile Congress, there was no other option. The time for boldness has passed. But in his speech he seemed his same, confident self. And one source of his confidence should be this: His achievements are larger than his critics understand.

Oh, I think I agree, his achievements are quite large, just not terribly good. I think it is fair to state that we have to look at the complete picture of a presidency over time before making judgments. However, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, lack of environmental regulations, terrible Supreme Court and executive appointments, the aftermath of Katrina, the Iraq War and an general unwillingness to do anything to help the vastly growing divide between rich and poor America, this seems like a pretty unchangeable legacy…

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What This Free Market Needs is Some More Virtue, Part II (JM)

Must... Destroy... Milton Freedman...
By Wil Wilkinson

I would like to take this time to appreciate the fact that sometimes I agree with crazy libertarians. It is totally funny that in a fairly major publication they misspelled Milton Friedman’s name. Though I bet if he read this, he’d also do the crazy market-destroying robot pretend thing about me as well. But let’s hit the other side of the argument.

Benjamin Storey & Jenna Silber Storey: “The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life.” Translation:

Libertarianism is dangerous because it discourages juvenile romantic attachment to higher things — meaningful things like Honor, Virtue, and the indescribable joy of sacrificing one’s life to the service of the American Volksreich. All libertarians care about is superficial shit like not starving, living a long time, and being creative and happy. Blah blah blah. But, really, what’s the point of living to 200 if all you do is enjoy yourself the whole time? I mean, don‘t you want to know what it is like to kill a man? DON’T YOU WANT TO TASTE BLOOD!? Besides, virtue.

Libertarianism sounds awesome! Where can I get me some of that?! Oh, I just need to stop caring about other people? Assume that things will work out for the best if we just leave things up to individual creativity? Hmm... well what if someone who has no resources really wants to better themselves, but can't get out of debt or work their way to the grand utopia that is Libertaria? What? Shut up and enjoy myself? Well... okay.

Vote John McCain.

Oh, goodness that’s not fair! But, really, that whole thing is just as embarrassing as misspelling ‘Friedman’. I am more and more coming to the conclusion that National Greatness Conservatism, like all quasi-fascist movements, is based on a weird romantic teenager’s fantasies about what it means to be a grown up. The fundamental moral decency of liberal individualism seems, to the unserious mind that thinks itself serious, completely insipid next to very exciting big boy ideas about shared struggle, sacrifice, duty, glory, virtue, and (most of all) power. And reading Aristotle in Greek.

Seriously, it made me chuckle, but how deeply condescending are intellectual libertarians. Seriously, their banner magazine is called Reason. Replace “duty, glory, virtue, and (most of all) power” with “market, freedom, individual and (most of all) money” and there you have it. Also replace “Aristotle” with “Bentham, Friedman, or Ayn Rand” and replace “in Greek” with “in the bathtub, listening to minimalist music while admiring that spiffy manicure you got earlier today.”

I sometimes think that liberal individualism is something like the intellectual and moral equivalent of the best modernist design — spare, elegant, functional — but hard to grasp or truly appreciate without a cultivated sense of style, without a little discerning maturity. National Greatness Conservatism is like a grotesque wood-paneled den stuffed with animal heads, mounted swords, garish carpets, and a giant roaring fire. Only the most vulgar tuck in next to that fire, light a fat cigar, and think they’ve really got it all figured out. But I’m afraid that’s pretty much the kind of thing you get at the Committee on Social Thought. If you declaim the importance of virtue loudly enough, you don’t have to actually think.

The only question I have is, is this more pretentious than it is silly? I mean, it’s both, by the barrel load, but if we could only give it one award “Most Pretentious Paragraph of All Time” or “Silliest Paragraph of All Time” which would it be? Oh screw it, let’s just enjoy it for what it is. Liberal individualism is “the best modernist design”, the thinking man’s apartment of intellectual disciplines, really… I seriously imagine these people sitting around, “By god, our intellectual ethos is so efficient. We needn’t bother with details, like practical effects, the utterly unfree yoke of the market or the possibility that like the so-called “insipid” belief in virtue that is equally insane to believe that if we just leave individuals up to their own reckoning that we will end up with the best and most just outcome. The truth is, I do like freedom (and also a decent conception of you’re crazy minimalist apartment), but of course if you had it your way, most people would have minimalist, modernist apartments without such luxuries as clean water, heat and food. But hey, that’s because of market regulations and distortions, not the fact that a pure market system is actually stacked against most individuals.

I think the conception of a conservatives apartment is kind of adorable. Let’s explore this a bit further. A big government liberal would live in a giant, hippie commune where individual creativity was oppressed and no electronic gadgetry would exists, because innovation only comes from markets; a member of the Labour Party would live in a small studio apartment, with a feather bed and a manservant; Green Party members would live a fantasy land filled with made up evil creatures like dragons and supercobras, it would also be powered by the burning of bras; members of the Whig party would live in a tiny dollhouse and drink tea out of tiny cups; and members of the World Party, well… there is no World Party, it is only an idea. And now I am done, because even the small amount of time listening to insanely wrongheaded people disagree has probably not been terribly worthwhile.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why I'm Supporting Obama (part II)

I did one of these before, but it was on Facebook and I felt like I could do better:

Unlike Jon I believe there is one candidate in for the Democratic Nomination that we can be proud of sending to the general election, and one of which we ought to be ashamed. There's one candidate who has a chance of winning a landslide victory and one who, even if she wins, promises nothing but a continuation of the pointless, lost years since 1992. As you can probably tell, I support Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, and I hope you will too.

Jon uses history to prove his point and I think he is correct to take lessons from it, so let's examine the evidence. In 1932 Democrats faced a similar choice. On the one hand was an experienced war horse, a former governor who had fought the political battles and had been unfairly demonized by his opponents in those battles. On the other, was a new face, who had only achieved major political office at the time of the most recent presidential election, and had built his resume as reformer and who had a penchant for sunny, if vague rhetoric. It may surprise you that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the later candidate, and Al Smith was the former.

In another election, Republicans had a similarly good prospect of being elected. They had several choices, many of them attractive, who were experienced veterans of the partisan wars of the time. Instead they chose a decent man from Illinois, known primarily for his opposition to an unwise war and his impressive speeches. That man was, of course, Abraham Lincoln.

My point is this: the profiles of the great presidents who have won elections and not disappointed the people who voted for them look a lot more like Obama than Hillary. Big changes come through big election victories, and I would submit that Hillary is incapable of getting above 51% and a narrow victory, meaning that the difference between today and 2009 will be exactly this: there will be a Democrat in the White House. Without a national mandate and without a cowardly party on the other side, will we be able to get 60 votes for universal heath care no matter how nasty the Clintons are? I don't think so.

Barack Obama shows some signs of being able to put together a coalition that will realign the country's politics. There are many disaffected independents out there who don't have a hard ideological commitment to a party, but who sense that there is something wrong and are willing to sign up for a reasonable figure of change, but who will not sign up to a divisive figure of past battles. There are also the youngest of voters in country, those who are under 30, who are profoundly more liberal than their elders on every issue, but who have never been brought into the process. In the primaries in which he's competed, Barack has been able to bring this vote out in large numbers for the very first time. Finally there are African Americans, who comprise large portions of Southern states, but who have never turned out in huge numbers. For obvious reasons, Barack poses a unique ability to bring out those votes.

Back to history, the only example the Hillary people have on their side is Lyndon Johnson, who owed his political achievements partially out of a willingness to make the greatest of political sacrifices (the Democratic South) and partially because of public sentiment about the fallen President Kennedy. Now, barring unforeseen circumstances, there will be no tragic figure similar to Kennedy with which Hillary can rally the public. And on the other point, has Hillary or Bill demonstrated, at any point during their public life, the willingness to sacrifice anything for an election victory?

There was the vote for the war in Iraq, Bill's signing of such wonderful legislation as the Defense of Marriage act, and then there was the final betrayal, their willingness to play the Southern Strategy in a Democratic primary. If there was any doubt about this, it was erased by Bill's boorish comments trying to peg Obama as the black candidate with his comparison to Jesse Jackson (and by prior sins). Now I am aware that politics can be rough, and I've said before I was OK with things like the distortions over Reagan. But a disgusting strategy based on race betrays everything that liberalism is supposed to be about and contributes to distrust between the races. And as a gay man, I wonder if they have learned anything from the 90s, and if, in a crunch, we're going to be the next group to be thrown over the side so that the Clintons can win another election.

Opposed to this sorry pair, that hurt the party during their time in office and continue to hurt the party, you have a chance to vote for a decent man who just might be a transformative figure. You can vote for someone who Senator Kennedy believes in enough to fight for, even though Obama's path to the nomination is still an uphill one. Please vote for a candidate of which you can be proud.

What This Free Market Needs is Some More Virtue, Part I (JM)

All day I was bemoaning the fact that there just did not seem to be a sufficient amount of really truly terrible journalism, but then, sometimes it’s because fate is waiting to hand you a present so special that you’ll really just want to be able to appreciate it in isolation for all of its pristine beauty. You see Matthew Yglesias, without a doubt the best blogger over at The Atlantic, alerted me to one of the funnier debates of which I have ever had the pleasure of being a witness. Seriously, it’s like watching someone who believes that the Earth is flat argue against someone who believes the Earth is shaped like a giant pinecone. Both are wrong, but you know they’re going to be indignant about it. Let’s start with Part I, the piece from The Weekly Standard:

No Substitute for Virtue
Why conservatives should be open to John McCain.
by Benjamin Storey & Jenna Silber Storey
01/24/2008 3:30:00 PM

So a note of irony from the beginning, I pretty sure I went to school with Jenna Silber Storey (in fact, I am like 99 percent sure she had the same advisor as me). I am further pretty sure that this doesn’t make me especially proud.

SOME OF THE SHARPEST minds of conservative punditry have lately been whetting their knives on the candidacy of John McCain. The trend of these arguments is disturbing, because it indicates conservatism may be drifting far from its roots. The ire against McCain contains elements of two of the greatest fallacies of modern political thought: the notion that ideology can replace virtue as the mainstay of a decent regime, and the cynical assumption that virtue is not real but vanity in disguise.

This is already pretty weird, right? The argument seems to be that “virtue” is actually the essence of conservatism, not “ideology”. Yet somehow, I suspect that if Jesus Christ himself came back from the dead and argued that we should raise taxes, let gays marry, treat immigrants like human beings and not spend all of our time naming things after Ronald Reagan this article would not necessarily be endorsing him.

The main current of opposition to McCain faults him for departures from strict free-market ideology. McCain's decisions about tax cuts, campaign finance, and greenhouse gas caps may be prudent or imprudent, and it is important to debate their practical effects on our economy and on our nation's well-being. Nonetheless, if conservatives succeed in marginalizing anyone who does not toe the doctrinaire line of their free market ideology, they will lose an important--indeed the most central and precious--aspect of their creed: the faith in the virtue of individuals to make a good society for themselves, rather than the faith in an ideology to make a good society for us.

This is soooo strange, because I totally agree with the first few sentences. Yes, not bowing to the shrine of free market capitalism is a virtue in a politician on either side of the aisle. But then they sum up the “most central and precious” part of the conservative ethos as: the faith in the virtue of individuals to make a good society for themselves, rather than faith in an ideology to make a good society for us.” This seems to me like the ultimate credo of the free-market right and if it isn’t it is gibberish that is so unacceptably vague they wouldn’t even allow it on a fortune cookie. Seriously, they better have a non-crazy explanation for this.

The modern form of this debate goes back at least as far as Immanuel Kant, who articulated the core of the progressive faith when he argued that "a people of devils" could form a well-governed society, as long as those devils were intelligent--that is, as long as they believed in the correct ideology. Alexander Hamilton knew better. Hamilton warned that when virtue came to be considered "only a graceful appendage of wealth . . . the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard." Hamilton was one of the most ardent believers in the benefits of commerce among the Founding Fathers. And yet he was not an ideologue. He knew that rigorous adherence to any single idea was a recipe for political decline. Hamilton argued that a decent political order requires virtuous statesmen because the activity of politics demands moral intelligence, or what the ancient philosophers called prudence. Even the best-designed republic requires prudent leadership, and Hamilton knew there is no substitute for this virtue.

Sigh… first of all, what debate? You seriously have not even made remotely clear the distinction between your bizarre paean to virtue and “ideology”. And to compose this as a debate between Immanuel Kant and Alexander Hamilton?! You know what this paragraph is? This is the freshman who raises their hand in seminar and compares the poetry of Byron with the political writings of Machiavelli, which in turn gets them a pat on the back for “thinking outside of the box”. Sadly, this has the effect of creating adults who point out how similar “oranges” are to “lower marginal tax rates” in order to prove a point no one understands in the first place. If your point was: we should be more practical about our application of the “free market”, instead of just assuming it is the solution to any problem that might occur , that is a point well taken. However, this is not your point. Your point is that “virtue” is somehow the opposite of, better than, mutually exclusive from or somehow othered from “ideology” and all this without explaining what you mean by virtue. Job well done.

Conservatives need to defend free markets not as an ideology but as an aspect of policy that serves the purpose of allowing individual excellence to flourish. A defense of free markets as a means to a good society, rather than as an end in itself, has served us well in the past. The struggle against communism, for example, was not only, or even primarily, about free markets. It was about human dignity and the worth of a political order that allows individuals to live decent and virtuous lives. Freedom of enterprise is a part--but only a part--of that decent political order. The problem with absolute faith in any ideology, including that of the free market, becomes evident with a glance at the flagship publication of the libertarians, Reason magazine. It is no coincidence that Reason publishes hagiographies of Milton Freedman as well as pleas for drug legalization and appreciations of cartoon pornography: economic libertarianism, elevated to the status of inviolable first principle, leads to moral libertarianism.

That first sentence is amazing, I mean that is the basic ethos of every “free market” nutbar. “Individual excellence” is the core of every silly argument that the free marketistas make. So the big example here is the struggle against communism being about more than just the free market, but about “human dignity” and allowing “individuals to live decent and virtuous lives”. About the first part, I could not agree more, the battle against communism had virtue in that it was a fight against totalitarian, violent governance. The second part is weird and becomes clearer when you give examples of your problem with editors and writers of Reason: 1) His name is Milton Friedman; 2) we did not fight communism so that individuals could have the opportunity to not do drugs and not look at pornography. Your insane moral standards aside, the fight against the Soviet Union was about freeing individuals from an imposed economic and moral order, not to grant them your imaginary new moral order. This is seriously causing me cognitive dissonance, you are attacking the work done by Reason, which I applaud; but you are attacking them for fundamentally stupid reasons, which I do not. This whole article is like being pissed off at Yankees fans for not talking about their 26 World Championships enough or more accurately at Britney Spears for not having enough babies.

The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life. By teaching that 'greed is good,' strict free-market ideology holds out the promise that private vices can be public virtues. Recent congressional history has laid bare the fallacy of this argument. Republicans who proclaimed from the stump that greed was good turned out to believe it when they got into office, amassing earmarks and bridges to nowhere by means of their newfound powers. Why should we be surprised? To expect them to do otherwise would be to expect that men sometimes risk their self-interest for the sake of the public good, which our economist friends tell us is impossible. Conservatives who forget that the free market is properly a piece of policy rather than an ideological end-in-itself not only obscure the importance of individual virtue, they undermine it.

There is little to disagree with in this paragraph (though not too many politicians probably gave stump speeches about how greed is good).

Many think that the conservative movement is currently on shaky ground. In a perceived crisis, it is a human temptation is to run to ideologies to save the day. But conservative thought will be impoverished if its advocates close themselves in the "clean and well-lit prison of one idea," as G. K. Chesterton warned. To do so would be to fall prey to the fallacy that theories can govern men. Men must govern men, and men have characters, good or bad, and those characters are decisive for how the country is led. The ideology of the economists leads far too many to sneer at the honest, if imperfect, attempts of a man to be virtuous and to put that virtue in the service of his country. More damaging than any of the particular quarrels with McCain is the evident cynicism of some public intellectuals toward the possibility of virtue in public life.

Here’s the thing, how is it even remotely possible to believe that some weird conception of “virtue” is not ideology. Unless Benjamin or Jenna Silber Storey have direct knowledge of God’s will or have somehow scientifically created a standard for virtue and a detector that can measure it, this is just a silly designation.

The mixed motives of even the most earnest public servant are a subject McCain himself examines with probity and insight in his book, Worth the Fighting For. Senator McCain is not perfect, but he has the priceless virtue of believing in virtue. He knows himself to be ambitious, but he also knows that to be honorable he must put his ambition in the service of something greater than himself: his country. Difficult as it is to embody virtue in action or define it in thought, conservatives must have the courage to acknowledge the reality of virtue and its necessary role in public life. Hamilton didn't think that virtue was an attractive ornament; he insisted that it was indispensable to republican government. Free-market ideologues, who pride themselves on their hard-headedness, are insufficiently hard-headed about this stubborn fact.

John McCain VI (Virtue Index): .76

.12 For being pro-life

.23 For being a war hero

.41 For believe virtue is a virtue

Other notable candidates’ VI: John Edwards: .24, Barack Obama .59, Mitt Romney: .15, George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic: .98 (Who knew?) But of course, keep in mind that we also need to consider Park Adjusted Virtue (PAV), Virtue Adjusted to Era (VI+) and OPS. So keep in mind libertarians, the reason you're wrong is that you just aren't crazy enough!

Why I Am Voting For Hillary Clinton (JM)

If you find yourself drawn to the Clinton candidacy, you likely believe that politics is politics, that partisanship isn’t transmutable, that Republicans are for the most part irredeemable. You suspect that talk of transcendence amounts to humming “Kumbaya” past the graveyard. You believe that progress comes only with a fight, and that Clinton is better equipped than Obama (or maybe anyone) to succeed in the poisonous, fractious environment that Washington is now and ever shall be. You ponder the image of Bill as First Laddie and find yourself smiling, not sighing or shrieking.

If you find yourself swept up in Obamamania, on the other hand, you regard this assessment as sad, defeatist, as a kind of capitulation. You’re perfectly aware that politics is often a dirty business. But you believe it could be a bit cleaner, a bit nobler, a bit more sustaining. You think that paradigm shifts can happen, that the system can be rebooted. Most of all, an attraction to Obama indicates you are, on some level, a romantic. You never had your JFK, your MLK, and you desperately crave one: What you want is to fall in love.

This is, perhaps, one the best recapitulations of the ongoing political conflict in the Democratic nomination. It’s part of New York magazine’s interesting profile of the campaign to date, one well worth reading. However, these two paragraphs did an excellent job of outlining my personal cognitive dissonance as it applies to this campaign.

Let me start by saying, I don’t love Hillary. There are aspects of her campaign that make me queasy. I think Mark Penn is one of the most vile human beings in existence, and should never ever be put on a television screen. There are candidates I would much prefer to see running now; it makes me kind of ashamed of the Democratic Party that we allowed our best, most experienced candidates to be pushed aside by sheer inertia. But, that said, this is what we’re left with and unlike some who think we have two wonderful choices, I feel we have two very deeply flawed choices.

There are really two issues to analyze: electability and competence to hold the office of the presidency. These both seem to be pretty crucial issues and, on at least one of them, all of the political talking heads seem to be totally wrong. I think Obama is by far the less electable of the two candidates. Often people will site Hillary’s negatives (she polls at 46 percent disapproval rating nationwide as opposed to Obama’s 32 and the fact that she will mobilize the Republican base against her. These are compelling arguments, but ones that really do not display the entire picture. Hillary has high negatives because she is well known, public and has actively fought for liberal causes. The truth is the GOP hates her and for a very good reason, she is quite formidable. These numbers are hollow, most voters have only been exposed to the thin media view of Hillary, when she takes her campaign state to state and deeper, her negatives actually drop a great deal. People are always in a state of flux and perceptions change very very quickly. On the other side of the coin, Barack Obama has been exposed to almost no negative attacks (with the exception of the Clinton campaign). The truth is that be it McCain or Romney, the Republicans will hit Obama way harder than he has ever been hit. If you had a problem with Mark Penn and the mentioning of drugs just wait until Mittmentum comes to town. Everything, and I mean everything, about Hillary Clinton has been exposed, not all of it is pretty but we know there are no terrible skeletons in her closet. I mean, my god, Bill Clinton got impeached and at the end of he second term around 60 percent of the American population said they would reelect him.

I honestly think that numbers and perception mean very very little, instead I think it’s telling what the Republicans are doing; and that’s saying very little but praise for Obama. I heard someone the other day argue that this proves how electable Obama is, even Republicans like him. I seriously believe people have totally diluted themselves. Perhaps it is my pessimism, but I find it increasingly difficult to believe that politics is not way more manipulative than that. I think in Obama, both McCain and Mittmentum see a soft target; a target for arguments about experience, record and simply straightforward negative attacks. Moreover, they see what has become abundantly clear, Obama has a hard time hitting, particularly in a debate format. Obama has an ultra-liberal background with an unwillingness to support the liberal ethos rhetorically. McCain can hammer him on this. Right now, Obama seems to be getting a pass from some for his “unity” over “party” rhetoric. Heck, some people love this shtick. The problem, aside from it requiring the same willful suspension of disbelieve that allows me to enjoy Harry Potter, is that it has not be contrasted against people with significantly different political positions. When McCain charges that the surge has been effective, Obama cannot stand up and say, “I had the good judgment not to vote for the war.” He has to provide significant and real clash against a litany of issues that there can simply be no compromise over. I just don’t think the unity rhetoric works against people with whom you have a genuine conflict. Against Hillary it seems fine, because they are, at the core, arguing over how to fight and lead. Obama seems to have convinced a lot of people within the Democratic Party that his high-mindedness is correct. It’s certainly more palatable, but it seems quite na├»ve and unlikely to work in the general election. Instead, I choose-warts and all-Hillary’s style of wonkish complexity and ability to attack and defend issues. Obama’s not going to win the character battle against McCain, no matter how much people like him and he will drubbed on experience and both will beat Mittmentum when it comes to the moral high ground. I guess the question, in terms of electability, is do you believe ultimately that Obama can truly convert the way elections proceed. I sincerely doubt it, so I go with the warhorse: Hillary.

Now we turn to the effectiveness question, and I think a lot of the arguments that hold true above apply here. The fact is “unity” in reference to nothing is a hollow term. The Obama campaign wants us to reflect on that which unites us, rather than the deep division in our country. The truth is, though, dealing with the things which unite us is the easy job for the president. It’s real easy to pass the “Don’t Torture Puppy” bill or the “Everyone Deserves Candy” declaration. The issues which divide us are deep and trenchant. Issues like abortion, gay marriage, the war, the role of religion in society, tax cuts, social safety nets, healthcare and the environment (to name only a small few) are not ones on which we can find common ground. Often they are disagreeable and will be hard fought from the other side of the aisle. Just as Obama will have a hard time peddling unity in the general election, once contrasts are created, he will have an equally difficult time when in office. The truth is, to actually change this issues you need to be willing to fight, work and be ensconced in detail. You have to have an incredibly deep understanding of the legislative and administrative process, this is Hillary’s best strength. History has borne this out, great rhetoricians have often been mediocre presidents. I know it is anathema to say ill of JFK, but the truth is his term was marred with some international debacles (e.g. the Bay of Pigs incident), stalling on civil rights and a general lack of policy progress. Even has famed moon landing was only brought to fruition by the quite competent administrations that followed. The best example, however, is William Jefferson Clinton. It’s the analogy that has underpinned this entire campaign that no one has really made explicitly clear. Hillary is not Bill, not at all. Obama is Bill, a triangulator, heavy on rhetoric and light on policy. It was his administration’s lake of political experience and know-how that squandered the congressional majority they had, and by the time they truly understood the power of the office it was too late, we were ensconced the debacle that was the last four years of the Clinton presidency. The only way Hillary “brings this era back to the White House” is as a lesson learned. She is experienced enough to know how to fight these battles and deal with a reticent Congress. Hillary is not Bill, Hillary is a stronger Michael Dukakis, Hillary is LBJ, Hillary is FDR.

I think both candidates have positives and negatives. In eight more years Barack Obama might be ready to be the greatest president we’ve ever had, but not yet, not now. I am aware Hillary has her downsides, but I truly believe she has a passion for liberal causes and helping people, I believe in this passion. Perhaps I am just too pessimistic to believe in a candidate of “hope”, maybe part of finds the whole thing somewhat condescending. However, despite all of this, when I cast my ballot next Tuesday, I will cast it for Hillary Clinton complete in the knowledge that I am voting for both the best candidate and someone who could truly be a great president.