Everyone’s weighing in on the primaries, and I’ve babbled to enough people in person with my thoughts that I gotta get them out here.
First, a TMI anecdote: Around a decade ago when we were at a conference in Chicago, E & I had a “scare” and bought fetus detectors for the only time for either of us. We had gotten worked up into a true sense of panic, and then when the rabbit didn’t die or whatever, we felt complete relief. That reaction was telling. Neither of us, although married and relatively stable, had any ambivalence in our reaction. No sense of “Well, we’re glad, but it would have been exciting.” It was 100% relief; even though we agree on the perspective, it’s for somewhat different reasons. So we continued to discuss and analyze the situation for a year or so, and then took action.
What does this have to do with the election? Well, sometimes we don’t know what we’ll do in a situation until we’re there. I’ve known I liked Obama for years. One of my few “I was there” moments (the other being seeing REM at Hoch Auditorium in Lawrence, KS, with my brother in 1984, drunk on Everclear and Crystal Light–Stipe never looked at the audience, but I’ve bragged about my musical edginess ever since) was when I was reading a lot of political blogs and told people, “A guy named Barack Obama from Illinois is going to be the first Black president.” It was quite a while before it was announced that he’d give the address at the Dem convention, and everyone saw how wise I was.
Back to the scare. I’ve felt, and continue to feel, that I’ll gladly and enthusiastically support any of the Dem candidates (I don’t know enough about Gravel to say that, but you get my point). I’ll take Clinton, but I still really like Obama. But I couldn’t have predicted my level of disappointment in her win in NH, just like I couldn’t have predicted my reaction to pending offspring until I was forced to face it. Not that I don’t like her now, but it made me defensive of BO. Her victory motivated me to finally put my money where my mouth is and make a donation to his campaign.
My main reservation with him isn’t experience, which I guess will be his Achilles heel in the debates if he wins the nom, but I want to see the Repubs justify their support for W. No one had less experience than W, but that’s not what makes him a shitty president. No, my main reservation is with myself. Frankly, for as much as I try to pay attention, I can’t tell you all the things that separate him from his rivals. It’s more of a gut, and that sucks because it makes me sounds like W (“I looked into his soul…”). But the thing is, I don’t know when I’ve heard him say something that I really don’t like. I just think he’s great, and I think he’s sincere, and I think he’s brilliant, and he sure as hell wouldn’t embarrass me. I’m sure I’ll get pissed when he has to compromise, but I can overlook some of that for pragmatics. I defended Bill Clinton for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, even though it’s stupid, because it was at least a step in the right direction. I defended Hillary’s healthcare proposal, though clearly flawed, because it was really the first time anyone had tried something like that (to my knowledge). I guess I’m a sellout (hell, I probably agree with Kucinich on more issues, but I can’t quite vote for him), but I only take my principles so far. But damn, it sure would be nice to get a 3rd party really moving, just not at the expense of my vote. I’m a flip-flopper.
A few quick takes on the primaries:
- If a Repub wins the general election, I sure hope it’s McCain. For all his flaws (like the war), I don’t think he’s quite as full of shit as the rest of them, and he at least has a history of attempting some bipartisan action.
- I’m disappointed that Bill Richardson is apparently dropping out. He’s really impressed me in the debates, and I think he elevated the discussion. Aside from the too-white teeth, I think he’s genuine and really capable.
- Kerry just endorsed Obama, which is nice I guess. I would have taken any one of the folks running now over Kerry in 2004. This is a really good crop, if you ask me. I’ll be proud to pull for them.
- I know it’s a tired cliche, but I really hate the negative stuff (another reason I like Obama is I think he’s really reluctant to go there). They agree on more than they disagree on, and one of them will probably end up recruiting another one of them as a running mate, so all that slamming crap is dumb. Keep it to on the Repubs and respectfully disagree with each other.
- I think Hillary’s crying was fake. Who the hell gets that emotional about something like this? Like I said, I’ll still support her if she gets it, but I don’t think she does anything that isn’t calculated.
- Even the Repubs are a breath of fresh air compared to W. I hate them, but at least they can put a sentence together and don’t sound like nouveau cowboys.
- Finally, I really respect what Ashley and others have said in their support for Edwards, and of course I’ll gladly back him if he gets the nom, but even though NO is my passion, it’s not my only issue, and I have a harder time getting behind him. I don’t care about the hair or the mansion or the trial lawyer crap he gets, but again, I don’t have as much confidence in him as I’d like to have. I hope he keeps pushing the Katrina issues though and makes them remember.
Cartoon from Handelsman