I got into a fierce argument with an attorney friend yesterday about Obama vs. Clinton. He voted for Obama in the California primary, argues his case with friends and may donate to his campaign, he says. But he doesn’t agree with my feelings about the malignant tone and spirit of the Clinton campaign. He doesn’t exactly believe that Obama and Clinton are tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, but he feels they’re more or less cut from the same cloth. So I wrote him a letter this morning to apologize and explain where I’m coming from.
Several HE readers have claimed I’ve never precisely said why I’m an Obama guy, so I figured I’d post this e-mail and shut them up forever.
“I’m sorry for being excitable and losing my temper and shutting down,” I began. “I should treat you with more respect and affection. It’s just that whatever Obama’s faults may be (not aggressive enough, not macho enough), to me he’s a guy with a special light around him. Whatever else he may actually be or will show himself to be down the road, he is, I believe, smart, temperate and innately wise about human nature, political gamesmanship and managerial matters. Most importantly I believe him to be an immensely important bringer of symbolic change.
“Obama is not just another guy hustling his way into power who isn’t that different from Hillary Clinton, blah, blah. It truly repulses me to hear you say that. That is the lawyer in you, and I really hate that kind of talk.
“Obama is the guy, I believe, because history is not just telling us this — it is grabbing us by the lapels and shouting in our faces, ‘Will you crawl out of your pathetic little foxholes and listen, please?’ Obama is a tough Chicago politician with some over-zealous people on his team, probably, but clearly (to me anyway) his own man. My intuition (which I trust greatly), my sense of things, my psychological perceptions tell me he’s the closest thing to ‘the guy we’ve been waiting for’ in decades, in part because he says things like ‘we are the people we’ve been waiting for.’
“My understanding of history says that major choices and bends in the road appear very rarely. Only a fool would say that this way is the absolute pure-beautiful-right way to go and the other way is the way of agony, falling dead frogs and rancid toilet water, but Obama, I believe, represents a primal generational gearshift — a bringer of significant change in how we think, see ourselves and deal with our own problems and those of other nations. He represents, at the very least, a generational passing of the torch. And let’s face it — a guy with his middle and last name alone in the White House would do more to humanize and rejuvenate our profile with Europe, the Middle East and Asia than anything Clinton or McCain could do, policy or legislation-wise.
“Bush-Clinton-Bush is over…it has to be.
“God knows that Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be a detestable party member by suggesting to Democratic voters that if she doesn’t win the nomination, they might want to think about voting for the only other candidate with a lifetime of experience — John McCain. She has shown an apparent willingness to bomb Dresden, burn the house down and poison the pond before the battle with McCain even starts. She has shown herself to be sociopathic in he apparent belief that her winning the nomination is all. There seems to be no little voice inside her that says ‘you’re taking this too far….this isn’t just about you.’ Her kitchen-sink campaign has been avaricious, two-faced and despicable. She’s played to fear and lied and misstated and failed to stand up for even her own personal dignity.
“On top of which I cannot stand the idea of having to listen to that braying voice and look at those awful bags under her eyes for the next four to eight years. I weep at that prospect. I deflate. But she could be the most physically and vocally appealing politician in history and she’d still be repulsive.
“The race cards have been played repeatedly, and if you haven’t kept up with this, I am not going to educate you. She’s not playing Strom Thurmond race cards — she’s dishing her own race cards out in her own way, and in so doing is appealing to the lowest and least educated and the most fearful people out there. She is divisive, creepy, overly scripted and throughly hated by Bubba males. Obama is the one with Republicans and independents ready to vote for him, not she.
“Obama, yes, will fuck up, and fail to do things the right way, in some people’s opinion. His supporters will get him in trouble sooner or later and he will have to correct his course, and maybe fire some people. He will piss people off for this, that or whatever. But the record shows that Obama has run the wiser and smarter campaign. He is cool, measured, programmatic, decisive. (I didn’t agree with his firing of Samantha Power — she only said what millions believe — but at least he did it quickly.) He’s the new guy with the new attitude, and it is time to go with that, cross our fingers and hope for the best.
“It is certainly time to take the reins away from the selfish boomers who have screwed things up beyond belief. We’ve been left with an economy in a total shambles (we’re about to suffer a recession, we owe the souls of our children and our grandchildren to the Chinese, the dollar is at 1.55 against the Euro, gas was at $1.40 a gallon when Bush came in and now it’s now a bit more than $4 dollars a gallon), we’re choking ourself to death with greenhouse gases, there’s no money for the social welfare of my sons’ generation….the greedy boomers have polluted and/or taken it all. It’s really time for the boomer greedheads to go away, and a GenX guy (Obama was born in ’62, which actually makes him a cusp guy) to come in and maybe do some good while fucking things up according to his own flaws and inclinations.
“In this context I believe that Bush-Clinton-Cheney-McCain represents, in a manner of speaking and perception, one thing (with Hillary representing more hate and divisiveness and right-wing animus and dysfunctional-obsessive tendencies, despite her liberal-progressive inclinations), and Obama represents another. It will be a kind of death of the soul to cast our lot once again with Bush-Clinton ….truly a death of the soul, a swallowing of the ‘nothing changes and we’re all screwed so kick back and have a drink’ pill, a death of belief in possibility and constructive tomorrows and turnabouts, a renewal of the old battles and bullshit.
“The election is not a snore, and you are betraying a very rancid attitude by saying this. We are facing a major split in the road, and what happens next November couldn’t be more important. Obama is a turner of the page, an emblem of our better and fairer selves. There seems to be something fundamentally temperate and wise about the guy. He seems more down with the here-and-now than Hillary or McCain. He will really get rolling with arresting global warming, restoring the economy, getting us out of Iraq. I applaud his statements that he’s not reluctant to negotiate with the bad guys.
“Do I worry that he’s not macho enough? Frankly, yes…but no one’s perfect. He’ll obviously need to improve on that score. But I believe in his capacity for growth.”