Saturday, March 01, 2008

Can Barack Be Ron Doing Good Instead of Evil?

Even the Weekly Standard can have savvy analysts salted among its ideologues. Their senior editor, Christopher Caldwell, writing in the weekend Financial Times, nails the potential of a Barack Obama presidency.

Under his unpromising headline, What Obama owes to Reagan, he ends up racing by the rest of us. Dems and leftists who want to join Hillary Clinton in punishing and humiliating the incompetent and nasty Republican office holders cavalierly dismiss Obama's calls for hope and reversing past errors together. Some are quick to say he's too idealistic, not at all realistic, and well, not vindictive enough.

Instead, Caldwell notes that "Mrs Clinton views voters as either committed friends or foes. There are good people on one side. On the other, depending on the rhetorical mood she is in, is 'the vast right-wing conspiracy' or 'the special interests'." His additional judgment includes that had she rolled early to the nomination she could have played out her strategy against the Republicans that "the way to win is to motivate one’s loyal allies to bury the opposition" — to be, how she likes to describe herself, a fighter.

Instead, with the protracted campaign, she finds herself fighting against a Democrat, one whose platform is startlingly the same as hers. As Caldwell calls it, "If you are fighting people who believe as you do and back the same programmes, then you cannot be fighting for your beliefs – you are either deluded or fighting for personal advantage."

I would not be surprised to hear her claim she can pee her name into the snow. That sort of Conan the candidate stuff seems to get old quickly to all but Clinton. It's not gender politics by others; it's just bad politics by her.

To that saggy jawed Reagan fellow, Caldwell finds that Barack may disdain Ron's political views, but sincerely admires how that unabashed conservative did not let his ideology prevent him from being elected or implementing massive changes. Caldwell writes and if there's still time, Clinton might note, "But the revolutionary coalition that Reagan formed was less ideological than he was. Reagan won because he solicited the whole nation’s support at a time when lesser politicians mistook their parties’ battles for the country’s."

He concludes that "Mr Obama wants to be president of the US. Mrs Clinton wants to capture the government for her faction...(he) thinks (nearly eight years of partisan) fighting has worn people out and that Americans are ready to unite around a new set of goals. This is a more optimistic vision of the electorate. Mr Obama will win only if it is the more accurate one."

Yet, it could be that Americans will not be able to support such a vision, despite knowing from recent experience what a right-wing government will mean more of — huge military spending and deficits (really just hidden taxes of well over a trillion dollars), continued U.S. economic decline, massive spending on corporate and plutocrats' welfare instead of developing our industries and workers, and continued curtailing of our liberties. On the other hand, we seem equally poised for a schuss on the matching skis of unity and aspiration.

The time has not been as ripe for a period of progressivism in many decades. Repeated longitudinal polls by Pew and others find overwhelming sentiments that Bush in particular and wingers in general have been wrong for a long time. The public is ready to stop war, recover from our economic disasters, and look out for all Americans for a change.

If it's Obama v. McCain, that will be November's decision. Bush lite and much of the same or humane and rational policies.

The Republican Congresses and administrations have had many chances over the past 19 years. Every time they have been in charge, we as a nation have foundered deeper and deeper. We would have to be pretty delusional to go with them again until they re-rig themselves.

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