Speaking of Super Tuesday

Spoiler Alert: The words Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appear in this entry.

Now I don’t want this blog to develop into a pro-Barack Obama blog or one just devoted to the primaries. I do actually intend to write on a number of different topics in the future. However, since it’s just one day before the big one I couldn’t help but feel obliged to write on the subject one more time.

In speaking with many different people over the course of the past month or two I have noticed a distinct difference in enthusiasm between Obama supporters and Clinton supporters.

The recurring sentiment that I’ve heard from Clinton supporters has been “I’ll support whoever wins but I’ll be voting Clinton”. Then when asked why, the two major factors most often cited are experience and electability. In comparison, Obama supporters make it clear that their candidate rides a wave of fervent belief in his campaign.

Before addressing the enthusiasm deficit between the candidates I’d briefly like to add to the debate on those two issues.

I have written a number e-mails to friends attempting to rebut these points especially the experience factor which I feel is bordering on the specious side of things. Aside from the more common Abe Lincoln and JFK counter arguments, which inadvertently accept the inexperience assertion, I would argue that Obama’s ‘experience’ is comparable in length to Hillary Clinton and moreover, a richer one. He has had more legislative experience than his counterpart and his ‘experience’ includes time as a civil rights lawyer, community organizer and time on the senate foreign relations committee.

Even so I still think that to argue on experience is misleading; surely it is the record of a candidate that should be studied with more scrutiny and here is where Barack Obama has the edge on Clinton. Her votes on Iraq and Kyl-Liberman have been much publicized, and are, in themselves demonstrative of her hawkish position on foreign policy, conflicting with her perceived progressive values. (It is not my intention here to demonize Clinton but to highlight very real differences), Obama on the other hand has frequently shown a consistency on positions such as government transparency, nuclear weapons and has said he would engage in direct discourse with enemies of the US.

On electability I heard an interesting piece on NPR this morning citing a recent poll that suggests Obama is polling higher than Clinton in a hypothetical election against John McCain. This is important to consider because as much as it is disappointing (but not unbelievable), we have to recognize the amount of friends we have and the people out there who have an instant visceral dislike for Clinton. With the possible candidacy of McCain on the horizon that dislike might transform McCain into a viable alternative for moderates.

Okay, to the main gist of this entry. The enthusiasm and commitment with which I have met in all the Obama supporters I have come across has been undeniable and probably no doubt off-putting for many an undecided voter. In fact one of my good friends said over the phone yesterday that all the ‘young people’ are putting him off voting Obama. Although my friend was being more than a little facetious he articulated a common cynical strain of reaction to popular movements e.g “I liked him when he first came out”. I also have to admit that when asked to chant and clap to innocuous phrases I feel more than a little awkward and usually wish for someone to utter a sentence consisting of more than three or four syllables. However, there is a reason for this enthusiasm other than Obama’s unprecedented candidacy or his good looks. Obama has definitely tapped into a national collective consciousness that demands to be recognized and included in politics. Especially amongst younger generations who see a gaping chasm between themselves and Washington, and to whom politics has meant local or issue based politics, it is a powerful message that Obama carries. And as I mentioned earlier Obama backs up the optimism he generates with a solid record and impressive policy proposals.

In short Hillary Clinton does not. Clinton is masterful on the minutiae of issues, much has been made of her policy wonkishness and she has weathered the Republican attack machine. These are good, strong points in her favor on experience and electability but she doesn’t arouse the nation’s imagination and moreover willingness to become engaged in national debate like Barack Obama.

Okay, I think that’s it for blogging on Obama, at least until November that is.


~ by oddlyamerican on February 4, 2008.

One Response to “Speaking of Super Tuesday”

  1. The wife of a president to follow the son of a president? Jesus Christ.

    I’d prefer to get run over by the Straight Talk Express.

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