Sunday, December 16, 2007

Little Politics

I haven't been paying much attention to politics the past few weeks, but as we are about to turn the year and really engage the political frenzy, I wanted to chip in with a few comments. First, I found the above clip of President Bill Clinton being interviewed on Charlie Rose on TPM, which I found interesting, for many reasons:

- Talking Points Memo characterizes the clip as Bill Clinton "taking the gloves off" in calling Obama's readiness to be president in to question. Somehow, I didn't actually read it that way. Although I haven't seen any of the remainder of the episode, so perhaps I lack context, I was surprised about how much concession Clinton made to Obama's political skill and the comparisons he made between himself in '88 and Obama in '08. The general impression I get is much more, I am doing my duty as part of the Hillary campaign to dis-credit Obama, but, "yeah, he really is good and could be really good for the country." Hitting a man as being "symbolic of change" and "risky" just don't seem like big political hits.

- Clinton makes the point that Obama would simply represent a "symbolic" change, and has not proven himself as an agent of change. But isn't that precisely what America needs? A symbolic change in leadership? While the domestic political problems that Clinton articulates (education, health care, focus on education and primary research to re-establish a competitive knowledge workforce) may be addressed by strong management, aren't the BIG international problems (America's standing in the world, climate change, terrorism) in need of a fundamental symbolic change, representing not only a new approach in politics and governance, but a declaration through vote by the American electorate that they get it about these problems?

- The role of thoughtful statesmen really suits Clinton well, allowing him to show off his intellect, his understanding of and genuine excitement for politics, and allows him to avoid some of the "Slick Willie" veneer that made him eminently electable but occasionally untrustable.

For full disclosure, my current stack-rank of the Democratic field is as follows, although I find everyone mentioned perfectly acceptable:

1. Obama
2. Biden
3. Edwards
4. Clinton

Additionally, I am sure I would have a better appraisal of Hillary if she weren't at all related to Bill -- mostly because I don't think elongating the 20 years of Clintons and Bushes in the White House is the right thing for the country, in its symbolism or in practice.

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