Hope V. Fear, the Future V. the Past
It should be pretty clear, Indiana and North Carolina. Above and beyond the crazed distractions, this is still what it's about: hope versus fear, the future versus the past, and reality versus the old politics.
According to Howard Fineman and others, Hillary thinks she has a winner with her advocacy for a gas tax holiday this summer. It fits right in with her new image as the working class girl (even if she can't figure out how to work the 7/11 coffee machine.) So the question now becomes: are people going to choose someone for President of the United States for the next four years on the basis of the slim chance that they'll save maybe thirty bucks this summer?
Obama has all the arguments why it's a bad idea, and most economists agree with him. Plus the fact that it has no support in Congress, and it ain't going to happen. So what can Hillary do about it anyway? It's May. Summer starts in a month. She's a candidate for a presidency that begins in January. If she is so sure this is a wonderful thing, why isn't she back in Washington fighting like hell in the Senate to get it done?
Well, because she doesn't care if it gets done or not. Pandering is one thing. Cynical manipulation of voters' desperation takes it to a new level of scum behavior.
Will people buy it? As Obama says about the possible effect of the Wright drama, "we'll see." The TV pundits are sure it will. For me, it adds to the theme of the week around here: if Indiana and North Carolina don't repudiate this kind of politics, and this kind of media concentration to the exclusion of real problems for real people on the Rev. Wright--especially since they haven't made a peep about the white right wing nutcase preacher Hillary (a white person) prays with, or the very white, very right wing very nutcase preacher who writes that America is under God's curse, whose political support John McCain (a white person) sought and got---if Indiana and North Carolina doesn't repudiate all this by voting heavily for Obama, then this country is screwed. And so is this planet.
Yes, Obama can still win the nomination, and he can still win the election, and he would still have a chance at gaining the mandate he needs to go forward with real change. But it gets more difficult and more contentious if North Carolina and Indiana don't come through.
It's an important moment, and a tense one. I saw a story about morale problems in the Obama campaign, and less than overwhelming efforts in Indiana and North Carolina. I got so many appeals for contributions in the last couple of days that I'm really worried about the Obama campaign's April take. And it looks like Obama's schedule is in flux, with possibly more attention being paid to North Carolina, which should be in the bag by now. It seems Clinton is concentrating on Indiana.
Yet if you watched the YouTube excerpt I linked yesterday, you'll see that Obama has never been sharper. If you watch this one, you'll hear him talk informally with voters (in Indianapolis Thursday) about real ways to make real change--the idea I hadn't heard before was a new level of transparency and involvement for everyone via the Internet. So here's what I think about this: we couldn't ask for a better candidate who would be a better President, nor could we really ask for a better campaign in terms of focus, intelligence and eloquence. We couldn't ask for a better additional voice for it than Michelle Obama's. So if we go down, I'm satisfied it couldn't have been presented better.
The people who go to see him are getting that. It's the people who aren't that need to experience it. Maybe this round of media he's doing will help. Although he has to wade through these absurd questions. What about the flag pin? Are you wearing a flag pin, Mr. or Ms. Questioner? Was Hillary wearing one at the last debate? Was McCain? Does this question make any sense at all?
Yes, it's true that super-delegates are still moving towards Obama, but he needs a big win in North Carolina and a win or a very close loss in the popular vote in Indiana to get this campaign back to reality.
I'm going up to Oregon tomorrow, where I'll be giving visible support to Obama in advance of the primary there, and if I get time from other business, maybe some canvassing. But I probably won't be posting for a few days. Which is okay because I've said it. Indiana. North Carolina. It comes down to them.
Update: Just before I close my computer, this breaking news: that a former Democratic National Committee chair appointed by Bill Clinton, who endorsed Hillary on the day she announced, is switching to Obama Thursday, and urging other super-delegates to join him to bring the race to a close because it is becoming destructive. And he's doing it in--get this!--Indianapolis. He's urging Indiana to vote for Obama. This might even get the media's attention...And it may account for some of that scheduling change. Happy Thursday!
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