Wouldn't you know it gets busy right around election time. I was going to try to get to PA to help out, but with the extra hours I've been pulling, I don't think I can fill the childcare gaps. Damn.
But THIS, THIS is awesome. And yeah, don't forget you CAN vote however you like. Just VOTE.
h/t Andrew Sullivan
I've been in angst over the last few weeks, because I have to hang my head in shame over the complicity of the Democrats in the whole economic collapse. Yes, Fannie and Freddie suxed. And yes, whereas Republicans spent years wanting to reduce or regulate Fannie and Freddie, the Democrats, with Frank and Dodd as their fearless (and apparently ethics-less) leaders, spent years and years and years spurning such efforts. But no, Freddie and Fannie alone did not and could not have caused the mess we're in, and that's why I can't write about it, because my shame would only be fueling the fire that is the inanity and insanity of where the Republican campaign has gone over the past few weeks (ever since it became patently obvious that the Economy, and not Foreign Policy, was going to be the determinative issue in the 08 election).
But my angst over Freddie and Fannie has leaked into my previously unwaivering devotion to Obama. His stump speeches and his debates have not changed much, even as it has become increasingly obvious that we are in the midst of an economic meltdown that could easily swallow our standing as the most Powerful Country in the World. I know it makes for good campaign strategy, but I worry because both camps refuse to talk in specifics about how this downturn might translate when it comes to their administration. Notably, an economic recession is precisely the time when the country should go into debt. Government can and should step in to fund broad-based infrastructure projects which are both good for the country in the long-term, and good for employment rates in the short-term, to be an investing force when private ones cease to exist. But with our already overloaded debt burden, and the amount that it will take just to fix the financial system that got us into the mess (done in the hopes of shortening the length of the recession), I wonder how long it will take before our foreign creditors stop believing in the almighty dollar.
So I find myself questioning Obama's economic finesse when a plan that was perfectly fine in the economic environment of six months ago seems to turn in the wrong direction for the economic environment that is right now.
McCain is just a friggin' idiot when it comes to the economy though, so my newfound skepticism won't rob Obama of my vote. But I do wonder and worry about how successful his administration can be. Because I don't want four years of Bush or Reagan or even Clinton. I want the four years of Change that I've been promised.
But then I saw the video posted below (h/t Glennia) and I had sense of renewed faith. Because, you see,I realized that as President, Obama can't #FAIL, he can't just muddle through, he can't even just be good. He has to be GREAT. GREAT in a way that is only required of someone who is not a white man, of someone who bears the expectations of their entire race (or gender, or sexual orientation...) on his shoulder.
Let's face it. Part of the reason that Obama has the Republicans in apoplectic fits is because in terms of morality and ethics, he is nearly untarnished, attack-resistent. He worked hard as a student, attended the finest schools in the country on his own merit, overcoming rather significant odds. He chose the more difficult career path, going for public service over private enrichment, despite his loans and requiring his reliance on his wife. He is a loving father, in an intact marriage, while other politicians lead tabloidy lives more suitable for TV soap operas. He is calm, eloquent and thoughtful while his opponent sputters and is barely able to contain his boiling hot rage. Obama's biggest flaw, and the only flaw that the Republicans have been able to latch onto, is his occasional lapse of judgment of other's character (Rezko), his loyalty even in the face of lunacy (Wright) and his (sigh) greater-than-life ego. (And Ayers? To pretend that Obama was flawed at all with that relationship is just plain stupid.)
But how? How is it possible that Obama has gotten this far without being covered with the usual layers of political filth? Because he must have understood a long time ago that to give into his flaws would lead to the attribution of his flaws to every other African-American in this country. If he is angry, then all blacks are angry. If he is a folksy idiot, then all blacks are folksy idiots. If he was a lesser father or husband, then all blacks are unsuitable parents and spouses. And if he fails to lead this country over the obstacles we will face in the next four years, America may not trust a black politician again for generations. In this way, it is far more difficult to be a black politician than a female one. Whatever other obstacles women may face, the truth is, a woman in power needs only prove one thing: that she has balls and that she is tough. If a woman is a raving idiot, her idiocy is not attributed to all other women (i.e. Sarah Palin).
And let's not even go down the road of how very much white men never have to worry about this whole exercise. Can you imagine an America that just says, no more white men for President after the universal catastrophe that was W. Bush?
Maybe that is why the first African-American candidate for President had to be so young. He had to be just young enough so that he didn't have an opportunity to make more mistakes. Mistakes that he wouldn't be allowed to discount, in the way that we apparently are able to discount McCain's involvement with Charles Keating, or his less-than-chivalrous treatment of his first wife.
So, with that kind of expectation weighing your every step down, would you still do what Obama has done? Not I. I don't have that kind of discipline. But I'm glad there is someone out there who does.
I've already lost one of my Republican friends because of my support of Obama (in his words, "I can't believe you [Democrats] nominated that elitist, clueless (when it comes to real life) man. Only he could succeed in losing this election for the Democrats. By November, McCain must succeed in painting him for what he is -- the most dangerous threat in recent history to the American economy and security. If faced with the choice, I would take Hillary a hundred times over compared to him.")
I try, but I can't understand the depth of the apparent loathing, anger and fear that apparently half the people in this country feel against Obama. I understand trepidation, skepticism, even scorn, since, as a lifelong cynic, I think these responses are desirable, healthy even. But the former? Scary. Apocalyptic.
What my friend doesn't, or maybe can't, realize, is the degree of transformation that Obama's candidacy has touched in me. In one year, I've gone from the depth of apathy to being credentialled at the DNC (which is, of course, entirely due to the powerful blogger ladies at Momocrats). I've begun to plot my exit from biglaw life towards my new goal of being an economic and tax policy wonk. Obama has reawakened something that I thought long dead in me - the optimism that every little one of us not only has the obligation to make this country stronger and better, but that we actually have the power to do so.
Inspiration is way underrated in this country.
And as partisan as the Momocrats may be, they've accepted my middle-of-the-road-dom far better than my right-leaning friends. Maybe that's because I've chosen Obama this time, but as Deb pointed out to me last week, it wasn't so long ago that I was defending McCain.
I have joined, heart and soul, the Obama bandwagon. That is partly because as I watch McCain ascending, it has become patently clear that there is no place in the current Republican party for someone like me. Someone who is not white, and not Christian. The Republicans are correct, they are a values based party. Yet how sad that they are so cavalier in assuming that there is and can only be one set of values on this vast and diverse planet.
Yet I remain grateful that for the first time in my adult life, I get a real choice for President. For whatever failings Obama and McCain may individually have in terms of their experience, their knowledge, or their choice of policy directions, everything has indicated to me that these are deeply honorable men. Our country is lucky to have them as dedicated servants.
R - I miss you. This is for you.
It is Just Call Me Hussein days at Momocrats - read about it there and I tag YOU!
When my parents immigrated to the US in the 1970s, they slapped white bread names on all of us: you know, of the Bob, Bill, Dick variety. They were abiding by the conventional wisdom of the time - that by giving us easy to pronounce, American names, we would have less difficulties assimilating into the predominately white suburb where we were moving. But even the simplest of first names could not diffuse the timebomb of mockery that was our relatively difficult to pronounce surname.
I don't believe there was a single person (except other Chinese-Americans) throughout my elementary or secondary school years who pronounced my last name correctly. And the most common mispronunciation of my last name rhymed with "banger". Or "bonger" (depending on who was mispronouncing it). Which, of course, became my "official" nickname.
The name was born in mockery. It was meant to remind me (and others) that I was not just like everyone else. That differences made you "special", but not in a good way. I think I must have had an extraordinarily thick skin back then (ah... but no longer!) because I so convincingly laughed it off that the name metamorphasized out of its ugliness. It became almost a term of endearment, all the venom extracted. It was even passed (and accepted grudgingly) to my younger sister.
Names are not just some words slapped on a paper given to us against our control. Names have all sorts of meanings, some historical, some contextual, all personal. My parents, in the context of their time and their situation, chose to give us names of our adopted country so that we could belong. Barack's parents, in the context of their time and their situation, chose to give him names belonging to his father's homeland so that he could belong. The craze in modern China is for people to choose their own English name when they are young adults and it has become such a statement of their budding personality and individuality that you see extraordinarily unique names like: Strawberry, Diptheria (met her, not kidding), Zeus, Jagery, Money, Cinderella, Coldness, Diva, Mortal, Samanfar, Smacker. They, too, are just trying to belong.
How extraordinary that we have moved into a millenium where a man running for the top office in the United States has felt no need to hide or change or Anglicize or even explain his unusual first, middle or last name. How wonderful that his differences didn't get "bongerized". And just when we were proving to the world - see, we were right about the great American experiment afterall - you, Bill, you had to reveal your hairy, knuckle skimming neanderthal ass. You, Bill Cunningham, you definitely need a time out.
There is a very interesting take on the demographics of Obama vs. Clinton supporters in the New York Times. To sum up:
Hillary Clinton is a classic commodity provider. She caters to the less-educated, less-pretentious consumer. As Ron Brownstein of The National Journal pointed out on Wednesday, she won the non-college-educated voters by 22 points in California, 32 points in Massachusetts and 54 points in Arkansas. She offers voters no frills, just commodities: tax credits, federal subsidies and scholarships. She’s got good programs at good prices.
Barack Obama is an experience provider. He attracts the educated consumer. In the last Pew Research national survey, he led among people with college degrees by 22 points. Educated people get all emotional when they shop and vote. They want an uplifting experience so they can persuade themselves that they’re not engaging in a grubby self-interested transaction. They fall for all that zero-carbon footprint, locally grown, community-enhancing Third Place hype. They want cultural signifiers that enrich their lives with meaning.
Strip away all of the snarky anti-intellectual comments (c'mon, a columnist for the New York Times? You don't get any more "educated consumer" than that), and you get a surprising question: why do the less-educated support Clinton over Obama?
(1) Hillary is the great wonkette. There is clearly nothing she loves more than delving into the minutiae of her health care, education, foreign policy plans. I'm not sure why this would appeal more to high-school educated voters as opposed to college educated voters.
(2) In terms of background, Hillary seems to be so many miles more removed from any experience that a non-college-educated person could have. She is enormously educated, a 70s flower child, who then transitioned into big law and being the spouse of one of the most powerful men in the world, all the while earning in the highest income bracket. (A $5 million loan to her campaign? Wow!) This is not to say that Obama doesn't have similar educational credentials. But, he came from a broken family which was squarely middle to lower middle class, and he spent his post collegiate years working in the ghettos of Chicago. Obama has a formidable net worth now, but most of it is recent (from the sale of his two bestsellers) and it is still "low" in comparison to the Clintons (I believe his net worth is in the $2-3 million range).
(3) However, Hillary did spend many years in Arkansas. Although she doesn't really seem to embrace this part of her life, it may resonate with parts of the mid-west and central states, which feel that there is this increasing distance between their rural life and that of the coastal big cities.
Anyways, the op ed piece rings true to me, and I have a suggestion for Hillary. She needs to reach out and embrace this constituency, even if it offends her personal sensibilities. I believe that Hillary herself does not identify with the high-school educated democrats. She wants to be an inspirer, a Kennedy-esque figure. She wants to be part of the eliterati, the snobbish New York intellectuals. (Seriously, New York Senator? Chappaqua?) But they have not flocked to her, and her solicitous efforts are painful and not helpful to her campaign. She is bread and butter and there are lots of bread and butter voters in America. Why tempt fate by alienating them when they could deliver all the votes she needs to win?
Here are my husband’s predictions. (NOTE: THESE ARE TOTALLY MY HUSBAND’S PREDICTIONS, NOT MINE. And I’m desperately hoping that he is WRONG WRONG WRONG, because if his predictions are true, it would suck in every which way).
Edwards reached out to Clinton and has dropped out of the race after reaching an agreement with her. He will either be a member of her cabinet or her running mate.
Why? According to J, because the progression of events and timing suggests it. First, after the Iowa primaries, Edwards made a very strong point of siding up with Obama against Hillary. In fact, I believe it happened right before the “Cry Heard Around the World (or at least in New Hampshire)”. But ever since then, Edwards has been more even handed, maybe even slightly more aggressively anti-Obama. (Making a point about former PAC people on Obama’s team, the whole Reagan thing.)
Second, J believes that Edward’s absence stands to benefit Clinton. Point of fact, South Carolina numbers. According to the polls, Edwards had over 40% of the non-black, over 30, male votes. It was the one demographic where he did strongest. In that group, he was followed by Clinton. Given that we are heading into Super Tuesday, where a group of the southern states will vote (including his home state of North Carolina – and isn’t it strange for him to have dropped out the week before Super Tuesday), this demographic will most likely go for Clinton.
So here you have it, from my brilliant (and, full disclosure, small “c” conservative libertarian) (no, seriously, he’s not republican, and he’ll fight to the death anyone who calls him that) husband.
Lest we all forget, the primary system is not a winner take all system like the general election, but a somewhat more equitable system of proportionate voting. So, for example, because Hillary and Obama both had roughly the same percentages in NH, they actually won the exact same number of delegates from NH for the primary (excepting the super-delegates).
"Somewhat" equitable? Why "somewhat"?
Because what happens if a primary candidate bows out?
When an individual formally releases delegates already pledged to him or her - a withdrawing candidate must specifically free his/her own delegates to vote for whomever they might choose during the Convention - it is not a requirement for those delegates to vote for another candidate who is endorsed by the withdrawing candidate.
However, history has demonstrated that most, if not all, delegates pledged to a candidate who has released them will follow that candidate's lead and vote for the candidate he/she has endorsed. Nevertheless, a withdrawing candidate may not release delegates pledged to him/her so long as the presidential nomination is still undetermined (after all, these delegates can be a valuable bargaining chip for future considerations). Even where a nomination is already determined, a presidential candidate who represents the Party fringe might hold onto his delegates as long as possible in order to get concessions.
So, given that the NH debates had Edwards coming to the defense of Obama (and I will always be grateful to Edwards for that), it seems that should Edwards ever withdraw from the race (even as late as the day of the primary), a pledge of his candidates to Obama would likely overwhelm any lead that Clinton has over Obama.
I would heart a Edbama/Obawards ticket, and don't care who's the headliner. I would hope, if we are talking about change, real change, that both these men see and recognize each other's value (and, more importantly, that there are many shared goals) and can apply that respect towards a balanced distribution of power that would give us, as Americans, a double chance at effecting change.
I've always hated that tears are often perceived as a sign of weakness. As a woman who tears up at the most ridiculous little things, I'm happy to work toward changing these perceptions. But Hillary - she didn't cry because she was wracked with emotions. Those were the most manipulative tears I've seen in a long time (who's your acting coach, Hill?). And believe me, this comes from someone who's faked a few tears in her lifetime.
Not a stunning defeat for Obama, but the worst part is the media calling her the second Comback Kid. Stupid Stupid Stupid.
I love Maureen Dowd. Italics are mine, highlighting my favorite points:
Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?By Maureen DowdNew York TimesPublished: January 9, 2008
DERRY, N.H.When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes.
A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it over and over, drawn to the “humanized” Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. “We are at war,” he said. “Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?”
Another reporter joked: “That crying really seemed genuine. I’ll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand.” He added dryly: “Crying doesn’t usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships.”
Bill Clinton was known for biting his lip, but here was Hillary doing the Muskie. Certainly it was impressive that she could choke up and stay on message.
She won her Senate seat after being embarrassed by a man. She pulled out New Hampshire and saved her presidential campaign after being embarrassed by another man. She was seen as so controlling when she ran for the Senate that she had to be seen as losing control, as she did during the Monica scandal, before she seemed soft enough to attract many New York voters.
Getting brushed back by Barack Obama in Iowa, her emotional moment here in a cafe and her chagrin at a debate question suggesting she was not likable served the same purpose, making her more appealing, especially to women, particularly to women over 45.
The Obama campaign calculated that they had the women’s vote over the weekend but watched it slip away in the track of her tears.
At the Portsmouth cafe on Monday, talking to a group of mostly women, she blinked back her misty dread of where Obama’s “false hopes” will lead us — “I just don’t want to see us fall backwards,” she said tremulously — in time to smack her rival: “But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us are ready and some of us are not.”
There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.
As Spencer Tracy said to Katharine Hepburn in “Adam’s Rib,” “Here we go again, the old juice. Guaranteed heart melter. A few female tears, stronger than any acid.”
The Clintons once more wriggled out of a tight spot at the last minute. Bill churlishly dismissed the Obama phenom as “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen,” but for the last few days, it was Hillary who seemed in danger of being Cinderella. She became emotional because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite. All those years in the shadow of one Natural, only to face the prospect of being eclipsed by another Natural?
How humiliating to have a moderator of the New Hampshire debate ask her to explain why she was not as popular as the handsome young prince from Chicago. How demeaning to have Obama rather ungraciously chime in: “You’re likable enough.” And how exasperating to be pushed into an angry rebuttal when John Edwards played wingman, attacking her on Obama’s behalf.
“I actually have emotions,” she told CNN’s John Roberts on a damage-control tour. “I know that there are some people who doubt that.” She went on “Access Hollywood” to talk about, as the show put it, “the double standards that a woman running for president faces.” “If you get too emotional, that undercuts you,” Hillary said. “A man can cry; we know that. Lots of our leaders have cried. But a woman, it’s a different kind of dynamic.”
It was a peculiar tactic. Here she was attacking Obama for spreading gauzy emotion by spreading gauzy emotion. When Hillary hecklers yelled “Iron my shirt!” at her in Salem on Monday, it stirred sisterhood.
At Hillary’s victory party in Manchester, Carolyn Marwick, 65, said Hillary showed she was human at the cafe. “I think she’s really tired. She’s been under a lot more scrutiny than the other candidates — how she dresses, how she laughs.”
Her son, David, 35, an actor, said he also “got choked up” when he saw Hillary get choked up. He echoed Hillary’s talking points on the likability issue. “It’s not ‘American Idol.’ You have to vote smart.”
Olivia Cooper, 41, of Concord said, “When you think you’re not going to make it, it’s heart-wrenching when you want something so much.”
Gloria Steinem wrote in The Times yesterday that one of the reasons she is supporting Hillary is that she had “no masculinity to prove.” But Hillary did feel she needed to prove her masculinity. That was why she voted to enable W. to invade Iraq without even reading the National Intelligence Estimate and backed the White House’s bellicosity on Iran.
Yet, in the end, she had to fend off calamity by playing the female victim, both of Obama and of the press. Hillary has barely talked to the press throughout her race even though the Clintons this week whined mightily that the press prefers Obama.
Bill Clinton, campaigning in Henniker on Monday, also played the poor-little-woman card in a less-than-flattering way. “I can’t make her younger, taller or change her gender,” he said. He was so low-energy at events that it sometimes seemed he was distancing himself from her. Now that she is done with New Hampshire, she may distance herself from him, realizing that seeing Bill so often reminds voters that they don’t want to go back to that whole megillah again.
Hillary sounded silly trying to paint Obama as a poetic dreamer and herself as a prodigious doer. “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” she said. Did any living Democrat ever imagine that any other living Democrat would try to win a presidential primary in New Hampshire by comparing herself to L.B.J.? (Who was driven out of politics by Gene McCarthy in New Hampshire.)
Her argument against Obama now boils down to an argument against idealism, which is probably the lowest and most unlikely point to which any Clinton could sink. The people from Hope are arguing against hope.
At her victory party, Hillary was like the heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph. Saying that her heart was full, she sounded the feminist anthem: “I found my own voice.”
What a wonderful way to start the New Year. With a vacation and an Obama victory. The familias has been in the mountain all week, we just landed back on terra firma this morning. The kidlets are exhausted from playing in the snow all week long: Loo tried skiing for the very first time. The verdict is still out.
I love everything Obama stands for. Here is a thoughtful, considered person, who has managed to be in politics for several decades without making his money first or taking money to do it. I believe he has all but mortgaged his future in order to run for President. It’s depressing that we require this of our public servants, but it is heartening to think that there are still those out there who believe that it is worth risking everything to serve this great country.
And yet, there is so much negativity out there about him being too “green”, too “naïve”. He may be so, or maybe he has just had such the magic touch in all his more local political efforts that he has no reason to doubt that his enthusiasm can carry him where others have failed. He has had an enduring positive outlook on where we can go, and he has convinced this lifelong cynic that there may be something about a pure message of hope that can elicit change.
I read his book The Audacity of Hope several months ago, and in the book, he lays it all out. His plans to help the problems plaguing America with respect to education, health care, the environment. He talks about working out of compromise. His plans are not all Pollyanna flights of fancy. I can’t recreate the book right now, but I’m planning to revisit it over the next few months, and if I have time, I may jot things down.
I haven’t looked very closely at the Edwards campaign, though one of my favorite bloggers is an ardent supporter and I have a great deal of respect for her. I get the feeling that Edwards and Obama are not actually that far apart, but I fear that they may cannibalize each other leaving the field wide open for Hillary. Yes. I despise Hillary. She may have the right creds for a life long liberal like me, but every single one of her actions has suggested that she mouths the words out of greed, in order to advance herself. As far as I’m concerned, she has the same ethics as all of the greedy financial bastards that sunk our country into the abysmal state that it is in currently. I want Obama and Edwards to join forces. No. I desperately want them to join forces, and I don’t think I would particularly care which one takes top dog billing. Seriously. Anything to stop Hillary.
Anyways. The vacation has been phenomenal. Work has definitely been sloping downwards, and with the way the market has been this week, I have my fingers crossed that 2008 will be significantly more manageable that 2007 was. I am pretty happy right now, an thus started the year relatively resolutionless. Well, except maybe that I need to lose some of the stupid babyweight I still carry around.
Happy New Years Y’all. Onwards to New Hampshire!!