Disclaimer: There are no facts in this post. Everything below is my opinion only. I have made no attempt to find any supporting facts either, life is too short!
Whew, now that that’s out of the way, let me also say that everything I’m about say is also correct.
I’m rushing this post out today, because as of next Tuesday, it’s possible that the title will no longer be accurate (unless at that point, you will be silly enough to count Ralph Nader).
Apologies to Mike Huckabee for not crediting him with the courage to hang in there until he’s mathematically eliminated.
So, we’re down to three, Obama, Clinton and McCain.
I’m not writing this to promote any candidate, nor any party. I am writing this to make some claims on what a vote for each of these specific candidates means, whether you are considering that angle in making your decision or not!
For the record, I am not looking forward to the presidency of any of the remaining candidates. I am also not fearful of any of their presidencies, largely due to the broken (and nearly unfixable) political system that they will have to operate in.
So, without further ado, let’s analyze what we’re all getting if each of the candidates were to be elected this November.
Hillary Clinton: Given where she is at the moment, there are two ways that she gains office:
- Superdelegates over-ride the will of the people
- She wins Texas and Ohio, and momentum swings to her and she actually wins the nomination the old fashioned way
Along the way, she has proven to be far from cool and collected. She’s an emotional roller coaster who is flailing in an attempt to find a chink in Obama’s armor. She prefers to surround herself with a cabal of super strategists. Unfortunately, aside from their obvious errors in strategy, she simply can’t pull off their strategies, assuming some might have been workable.
As a President, she will be very strong willed, needing to prove to the world (and to Bill!) that she deserves the job. She will be unlikely to take compromising positions, because she will have been vindicated by the mere fact that she won!
She will undoubtedly have a Democratic congress (both houses), and she will ride them as hard as possible to create a legacy that matches, and even exceeds Bill’s.
For those who are worried that this will become a co-Presidency, don’t worry. Hillary has about as much respect for Bill as Paula Jones does. As long as she believes that she can use him as an asset, she will. Once she’s President, she won’t need him unless the world is falling down around her, in which case he will become one of the cabal that will craft the new strategy to save her presidency.
Since she can’t create a lasting personal legacy if people believe that Bill was really pulling the strings, she will do everything in her power to distance herself from him, once she actually has the real power!
Summary of Hillary Clinton as President? A very personal agenda, pushed hard, likely successfully, through a Democratic congress who is unlikely to stand up to her, no matter how she overcame Obama. If you agree with her agenda (and many do!), then she will make a very good President (in terms of getting her agenda implemented!).
Barack Obama: The good news is that if he is elected President, it won’t be because Hillary garnered more delegates legitimately, but Barack got the nomination due to a superdelegate reversal!
Obama is running on a platform of Hope and Change. Laudable goals indeed. My cynicism above about not being fearful of any of these candidates shows my agreement with Obama that we need change, desperately. I want change too, which means that I am (or should be!) hopeful.
In practically everything in life, I am a glass is half full kind of guy, no matter how awful the situation is. I can be downright cynical (no, really?), but I am also an eternal optimist (as anyone who knows me, in particular in bad times, will attest!). So, I should be very hopeful that Obama can and will make a meaningful difference in the political system if he gets elected.
While I would hope that he would, and would be pulling for him (big time!), I simply doubt it (one of the few times I’m falling on the glass is half empty side of the equation). The problem is too enormous, and the entrenched interests (on both sides) are too powerful (and, well, entrenched). They only need to wait him out, they don’t really need to beat him. He can’t be President for more than eight years, and if he doesn’t effect change, perhaps only four!
So, in order to get anything done, Obama will not be able to drive his agenda through congress (even though Democrats will control both houses!), like Hillary would. She would be playing the current game with all of the aplomb of a true insider, and she would get her way (I am 100% convinced). He will decry the game (or not be able to figure out how to play it without appearing to be a flip-flopper), and therefore won’t be able to implement his agenda of change!
So, who will be setting the agenda if Obama becomes President? Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. I have no doubt of that. They will pass bill after bill and present them to him for rubber stamp approval. They will privately explain to him how things are done, and that this is the first time in a very long time that they (collectively) can actually get the things done that they have wanted/needed to get done. He will not be able to resist or overcome them.
Perhaps that doesn’t scare you, and perhaps it shouldn’t. But, at least you should be aware that this is precisely what will happen if he’s elected, and now you are.
Summary of Barack Obama as President? A vote for Obama is a vote for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. The real question is this? Is Obama naive enough to really believe his message, or is he clever enough to say what people are desperate to hear, just to get elected? Neither scenario is all that attractive to me. Since I think there is a reasonable chance that he will be our next President, I hope that I’m completely wrong. Notice, I used the code-word: hope, and I meant it!
John McCain: I can’t believe that he’s going to be the nominee. Not because I have anything particularly against him, but because he couldn’t have been deader at the end of his 2000 campaign. In fact, he could have been, as he was even deader than that up until the time he decided to embrace Bush at the Republican National Convention in 2004.
In fact, he was pretty dead early on in this race as well. There are a number of theories as to what caused his resurrection, a number of them revolving around Giuliani’s self-engineered demise, but one way or another, he’ll be the Republican nominee.
Should Republicans rejoice? Many aren’t. Should Democrats rejoice? Many should (because the alternatives to McCain should have scared them a lot more, other than his stance on Iraq).
Here’s why McCain scares me the least of the bunch (though remember, I’m really not fearful of any of them!). I believe that if you truly pine for the Clinton Years (1992-2000), whether you admit it publicly (which most Democrats do), or privately (as a fair number of Republicans probably do!), then you should be embracing McCain.
For all of his personal flaws (and heaven knows, he’s got more than his fair share of them), Bill Clinton was actually a reasonably good President (by my definition!). For sure, he screwed up certain things immeasurably, but I think even a perfect President will screw up many things. What made Bill a good President was that he was more concerned with getting something done, than with being an ideologue.
When he became President, he presided over two Democratic houses of congress. After a number of mis-steps (most notably, Hillary’s failed Health Care initiative!), Republicans swept both houses of congress for the first time in memory! In 1994, Bill had to decide whether to pass any legislation that would be good for the country, or battle endlessly with congress and hope that he was re-elected in 1996 and they weren’t.
He chose the pragmatic approach, and some good things happened. Many people credit him for the good economy we had for most of his administration. I laugh when I hear stuff like that, but at least he wasn’t an obstructionist who harmed the economy.
In my opinion, McCain would govern in the same pragmatic manner. It would not bother him one iota that the congress is controlled by Democrats. In fact, on some issues, he is more aligned with them, which, of course, is what scares many Republicans (conservatives) about him. To that, I say that he’s not an evil-doer, so wherever he’s aligned with the Democrats, we’d be better off getting something done, than more of the same bickering and ineptitude.
In that regard, I say that John McCain can easily be the next Bill Clinton. Of course, if you don’t think Bill was a good President, and it’s not for personal reasons, but policy ones, then you won’t like McMain either, because he’ll appropriately compromise (in my opinion), to make some progress rather than none.
Summary of John McCain as President? A get something done kind of guy, who will have zero problems reaching across the aisle, regardless of what he’s telling conservatives today, in order to get the job to begin with. That might sound distasteful, saying one thing, intending to do something else, but then that’s why I’m comparing him so strongly (and favorably) to Bill Clinton.
Feel free to let me know how wrong I am. But, keep in mind that I won’t be confused by facts. Remember, I didn’t use them to pound my opinion down your throat, so don’t feel the need to use them to pound yours down mine.
P.S. Today, Michael Bloomberg penned an op-ed in The New York Times. It’s a well written, well-thought-out piece. I agree with his sentiments completely. I don’t consider him naive, because he isn’t claiming to be able to deliver on the hope of change. All he’s doing is committing to help get the person that he can believe in elected. Amen!
Also today, Dave Winer posted an MP3/podcast of an interview with George Lakoff. It’s overly long, and Dave does a yeoman’s job of trying to reel George back on track (not always successfully), but, it’s also fascinating throughout, even in the meanderings. So, if you have 40+ minutes to concentrate on it (it’s not lightweight listening, so don’t be reading a book while you’re listening), it’s filled with worthwhile nuggets of information and analysis.