I'm writing this on Tuesday, March 4, 2008. They are having primaries for the presidential race somewhere. I don't know what states and don't really care. I've been enjoying the horse-raceness of it all, but I'm also kind of glad to be out at sea and not have to think about it.
Then again, here I am writing about it, so I guess thinking about it is exactly what I'm doing, but at least I don't have to listen to anyone else going on about it. I imagine this primary won't actually make any more real difference. I'll come off the boat and find out that Hillary and Obama are still at it and McCain is still being annoyed by Huckabee.
As long as I've started, a few thoughts about the election. Let's start with the republicans. It has come down to McCain as the only real contender, but it started out that way. Mitt Romney never had a chance in hell. I'm still flabbergasted that he got any votes at all, but the republican party is the party for morons who do whatever the talking heads tell them to. I'm divided about why I think rush limbaugh and ann coulter and the asshats at fox rallied behind him. One possibility is that he paid them to. They are in it for the money and he certainly had money and liked to spend it. The other is that they know he'd have no chance against Hillary or Obama and if a democrat takes the office then their money train keeps on rolling. A second Clinton presidency is a wet dream for them and make it the lady Clinton and they've can just recycle old material over and over again until they find something new to scream bloody murder about. A black man with a funny name? Also a conservative talk radio dipshit's dream president. Their bread and butter is voicing the indignation of jackasses and either scenario is perfect for them. Either wins and they get to roll around in money the next 8 years while they whip either misogynists or bigots into frenzies.
I've listened to rush and hannity railing against McCain, and honestly their dislike of him is probably his strongest selling point and the only reason he might still have some cross-over appeal. I voted for him in the 2000 primary (in SC, anyone can vote in both primaries) and liked him reasonably well until he became bush's do-boy for the last eight years and started screaming like a banshee for more and more war. There are things to like about him and he at least seems to take his cues from the real world and the affect of all this animosity from the loony fringe of the right wing is that they are going to have less influence in his Whitehouse than they had in the last.
But McCain won the South Carolina primary this year with fewer votes than he had when he lost it last time, and this without any other serious contender. The only other person who ever should have had a chance was Fred Thompson and that is only because he looks the part and we all love our actor politicians. But he puttered flat pretty quickly. Strangely enough the last man standing when I went to sea this last time was Mike Huckabee, whose only reason for being famous nationally is losing weight while in office.
I'll come back to him another time, but right now I only want to consider real contenders, and even discussing the republicans is something of a concession. There is a slim chance that McCain might get it, but let's get real. bush kicked his ass back when he was still likeable and the only reason bush was able to take the office the first time was that lieberman made an already boring Al Gore completely unpalatable while all the raging loonies bum rushed behind georgie porgie. And he still couldn't win the popular vote and had to rely on dirty tricks and pulled strings to make up the difference.
I know, I know: we can't assume anything and the repubs might stay in control, but anyway the only real race right now is between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It has been the only race all along.
So what do I think about them? Thanks for asking, I'd love to tell you.
Either of them would make a great president in comparison to any of the presidents we've had in the last twenty years. The country would run ok with either at the helm, but I don't know that just running ok is enough right now. I think we really have more pressing issues than we want to admit and they are all the more pressing after the last eight years of complete fuckery from that office.
I used to listen to Randi Rhodes talk radio show while I worked back in New York. She's all fire and fight when it comes to politics, but I remember her once telling a caller to never, NEVER discuss politics while drinking. I liked that and have tried to make it a rule to live by for myself. I get fired up about politics and once the ball gets rolling I don't pull punches no matter who I am talking to. Sober, I know how to keep it from accelerating out of control downhill but drinking...I'm like everyone else so I try to back avoid politics. Certainly with republicans this is a hard and fast rule. Anyway, the point is that I kind of let myself loosen up a little with this rule. Discussing Clinton vs. Obama should not be the same volatile equivalent to discussing the Iraq War. Most of the time I'm drinking I'm surrounded by similarly minded folks and good chunk of my drinking is done in gay bars. Maybe there will be a time again when gay people can in good conscience consider voting for a republican president, but that time ain't now. You've got to be a self-hating fucktard to be gay and support these guys right now (of course, like everybody else, we've got our fucktards in spades), so I let my guard down and started letting myself get drawn into primary discussions.
I've said I like both contenders, but I do lean more heavily for Barack Obama. I really like him for a variety of reasons, but largely the scales tip in his favor because I do have some apprehensions with Hillary Clinton. She is brilliant and would easily be the wonkiest and perhaps most intelligent president that has ever sat in the Whitehouse. When it comes to straight policy on lots of issues, I really like her. But being a politician isn't just being smart and getting the details right and when she gets to realpolitiking, it all gets twisted. I can't and won't forgive her vote on the Iraq war. It was wrong and either I'm wrong and she's dumb (and ever other fucker who voted for it) as a damn brick, or it was craven and calculated. Either way is unacceptable, but I'll grant that she was being tugged from all sides and having to make difficult decisions and was getting advice that told her this was the thing to do.
Which brings me to my real beef with her: her advisors. She is flush with old washington lobbiest cronies. They've got her ear. She may have brilliant ideas, but she got pipers to pay in every direction. She way too corporate for my taste. I think she'll do right by lot's of public policy issues, but in general the things that we need most to really allow us to go in a good direction deal with reigning in corporate influence in DC. She'd be just as good as Bill was in office, and it would be a breath of fresh air to again have someone who was coherent and eloquent dealing with foreign leaders, but Bill also signed that damn communications bill that let clear channel expand and pushed NAFTA through. She might be different, but all clues point to her not.
Barack Obama might not do any better, but there is every suggestion that he might. And I like that he is relatively unentrenched. His lack of experience translates to a lack of cronies, and lacking experience he is going to have to surround himself with experts. I think he is savy enough to figure out who to listen to and to really take in good information and process it well. And he comes into it without the Clinton baggage. And he isn't part of a dynasty. I want new names in the Whitehouse after 25 years of two families running things.
I don't think any of those would be considered controversial ideas. Most people I talk to don't think they are. Not everyone agrees or we just have different ways of judging them or whatever, but I seem to have an uncanny talent for finding that one person who is crazy and will flip the fuck out over any criticism of Clinton. I've on at least three occasions in different cities managed to sit with someone who asked my opinion of Obama vs. Clinton only to have them end up spitting venom at me and informing me that they are working in some significant capacity for the Clinton campaign in that city. It will all start off nice, and they will ask me what I think about Obama, and I'll say I like him. They say something nice about him and then they would ask about Clinton and I say I like her and will vote for her if it comes down to it but prefer Obama (or, at the time when these conversations were taking place, Edwards). Then they would tell me why they liked Hillary which usually just ended up being cult of personality reasons and try and get me to agree with them, which I didn't so I wouldn't. Then it would turn into the sort of Jedi mind trick section of the conversation where some comment would be made along the lines of, "When Hillary is elected..." I have never been able to leave well enough alone, so I'd of course say, "If she gets the nomination..." which was received like I just shat on their mother's grave. "WHEN she is president, because she will get the nomination..." and then it turns against Obama, "He would be a horrible president and shouldn't even be running..."
That whole sequence keeps playing itself out with me, and that was before the primaries really even got rolling, so I've gone back to just not discussing the race with strangers (which I'm sure I'll forget as soon as I'm back on land and around people talking about the election).