I think Obama is a sincere idealist. He says the kinds of things I’ve longed to hear a politician say for decades: that he and we can successfully work together to effect dramatic change in America; that we, as a people, must get back on the path to empathy and service to one another; that as a nation, we must reject fear, anger and revenge in favor of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. If he becomes the Democratic candidate, I won’t be displeased and I will happily vote for him.
But I’m for Clinton because I believe she is a sincere pragmatist, and as such, can get more done than a visionary. Those 35 years of experience she keeps talking about have taught her how to play the political game, have shown her where a few of the bodies are buried, and have given her hide the texture and strength of a buffalo. I think she has the intellect and skill to be a very effective president, and I believe she has deep and genuine emotions, especially where children and women are concerned. I also like the idea that Bill will be with her, because despite his recent heavy-handed behavior in his wife’s defense, I think he’ll provide good counsel and be a valuable ambassador/diplomat around the world on her behalf. I also think he’ll create a gracious, confident, generous protocol for a future First Gentleman. I readily admit that I’d like to see a woman president and I think Hillary is the right woman at the right time to crack that White House glass ceiling.
Conversely, I fear that Obama is sadly naive. I don’t believe he will ever be allowed to do what he wants to do, despite whatever mandate he may receive from the young people he’s brought into the political process with his nouveau 60s enthusiasm. Even if I were willing to surrender to Obama’s seductive hopefulness, I don’t believe he can transform our entrenched system. Part of what I like about Hillary is that she can hold her own in the now-non-smoking back rooms of politics, and she knows they’re not going away anytime soon.
Yes, it distresses me that Hillary is a vitriol magnet. I don’t think any political woman since Eleanor Roosevelt has engendered such visceral hatred. Maybe the upside is that some of these ignorant younger women who think the power of sexism went out with stockings and garters will see that it is still an integral part of the underpinnings of this culture – and gets real ugly when it picks up the scent of a super-smart, influential woman heading for significant power. In any case, I know she can handle it, because she already has.
I find it interesting and revealing that Clinton is doing better with blue collar folks than Obama. I think it shows they believe she can solve problems and effect realistic change that will genuinely, actually, improve their lives. On the other hand, Obama has enchanted the young and the more affluent – people who can still afford dreams. I guess my age is showing in my inability, perhaps unwillingness, to get on another bandwagon, to once again embrace the romance of potential transformation. But in the course of my years, I’ve seen the leading transformers of my time literally murdered by frightened opposition. Hillary doesn’t exactly inspire me, but she encourages me; I feel sure about what she can do.
In the best of all possible worlds, Hillary will get the nomination and Barack will be smart enough, and big enough, to be her running mate and make his agenda a functional part of her administration. Ideally, we would have eight years of Clinton followed by eight years of Obama. Maybe by then, we’ll be able to afford a dreamer.