Saturday, February 02, 2008

Taking the plunge

To date I've taken the coward's way out and not committed to support a nominee in the Democratic nomination contest, but as of Thursday night I am declaring myself for Hillary Clinton. I feel that Hillary is more realistic about what she can do once elected and while I like Barack Obama I still have lingering feelings that he's not quite ready for prime time.

That I've waited this long ought to make it evident that it wasn't an easy decision to make, and that I make it with only rational exuberance. As I've told several people, I would have liked to see a Dodd or especially a Biden candidacy, but they polled too low for them to remain viable candidates.

Anyway, I saw the one-on-one debate Thursday night at Jack's and that clinched it for Clinton with me. What they say about Obama is that his speeches are great, but in other formats he is less impressive, and it's true, as far as I'm concerned. I saw a Hillary Clinton speech a few years back and she's pretty good at that, so that, the debate and the New York Times' endorsement put her over the top.

I am deeply concerned about the polls that indicate that some 40-45 percent of Americans would not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances, but I have to hope that in the next eight months, assuming she is the Democratic nominee, whatever irrational dislike people might have for her will dissipate, or at least be replaced by rational dislike of her. I also remember Dr. Earl Black's assessment of the American political landscape in the mid-2000s that said that it's only really the middle 15-20 percent of the electorate that is decisive, meaning that perhaps a quarter of the middle is squarely against her, but the other three quarters, and the majority of voters at large, would consider voting for her. To turn the question around, as to whether I would consider voting for any Republican for president (or any office) under any circumstances, I might, but short of an alien invasion and the dissolution of the Democratic Party, I can't easily imagine them.

At the debate I saw on Thursday, there were few substantive differences between the two candidates. I feel that Hillary has a better grasp of the healthcare issue and based on what I heard, I marginally prefer her plan. I saw her other proposals as more realistic and detailed than his, and her encyclopedic knowledge of most themes was evident that night as well.

Obama's recurring charge about "judgment"--a not-so-thinly-veiled reference to Hillary's vote in the fall of 2002 on using force in Iraq--connects with me, but only slightly. That vote has turned out to be a mistake, and I wish she would just say as much. She comes close when she says that if she knew then what she knows now, she would not have voted that way, but it is unsatisfying to see her holding her ground on this issue, which is a loser for her in this nomination contest.

But as Obama says, he wants to look to the future and not back at the past, and there is not a lot of daylight between them on their plans for going forward Iraq. And even though Clinton says this was the single most important vote of her career, this was just one vote, and what about the hundreds of votes where her judgment was unequivocally the correct one?

About the time I post this I'll go to hillaryclinton.com and make a donation, probably $10. The contest will probably be settled on Super Duper Tuesday and I want to go on record, win, lose or draw before then. And rest assured, I'll support the Democratic nominees up and down the ticket on November 4 with my vote, and I'll work for them and donate more between now and then.

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