Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Election 2008 likely to get more brutal
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Some time back, this column opined that many Democrats feared that
nominating Sen. Hillary Clinton for the presidency risked setting off a
national psychodrama that could cost their party the election. Both as a
woman and a Clinton, she is hated on the right with near-psychotic
intensity. That said, it’s clear that the 2008 general election campaign
will be brutal regardless of whether Democratic primary voters choose
her or Sen. Barack Obama. The way things shape up, Republicans will have
almost no choice but to vilify the Democratic nominee. With the wreckage
of the Bush administration at its collective feet, the GOP has no
candidate acceptable to all of its factions. Talk radio blow hards Rush
Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, for example, spent the week previous to the
South Carolina primary warning that nominating either Sen. John McCain
or former Gov. Mike Huckabee would be to destroy the party. McCain and
Huckabee finished onetwo, although it’s worth noticing that McCain took
33 percent of the vote vs. 42 percent when he lost South Carolina to
George W. Bush in 2000. Had Huckabee and Grampa Fred Thompson not split
the Grand Ole Opry vote, McCain might have come in second. Overall, he
received approximately 80,000 fewer votes than eight years ago. That’s a
bad omen for November.

That’s why Clinton and Obama were so wise to walk back the burgeoning
racial controversy that threatened to divide Democrats just previous to
the Nevada caucuses.

“Neither race nor gender should be a part of this campaign,” Clinton
said during the Las Vegas debate. Obama affirmed that neither she nor
Bill Clinton had racist motives and warned against “falling into the
same traps of division that we have in the past.... Dr. [Martin Luther]
King [Jr.] stood for that. I hope that my campaign has inspired that
same sense, that there’s much more that we hold in common than what
separates us.” It’s mystifying that Obama let the controversy go as far
as it did. Bad-faith allegations of racism such as were made against
Clinton for mentioning former President Lyndon Johnson’s role in helping
bring King’s dreams to fruition only damage Democrats generally. As the
conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer pointed out, false charges of
bias leave a bitter aftertaste—bitter enough, sometimes, to induce
otherwise sensible people to vote against their own self-interest.

The last thing Obama’s campaign needed was to make him a “black”
candidate in the ethnic or sectarian sense. Amplified by TV networks
eager to exploit hot-button controversies to build ratings, the
kerfuffle over King’s legacy threatened to do exactly that. Maybe it’s a
pipe dream to imagine that Democrats can transcend identity politics,
but it’s also central to who they are.

But that doesn’t mean sharp arguments are out of bounds. Which brings us
to the latest Obama-Clinton controversy regarding how Democrats should
talk about former President Ronald Reagan, himself a veritable saint to
Republicans. OK, that’s an exaggeration. Today’s GOP candidates invoke
Reagan mainly to avoid saying “George W. Bush.” Obama started it by
comparing former President Clinton unfavorably to Reagan.

“I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that
Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not,” he said
in Nevada. “He put us on a fundamentally different path because the
country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses
of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown, but there
wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I
think people—he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which
was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of
dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.” Now if Hillary
Clinton’s campaign wanted to get nasty, it might have wondered aloud
which Ronald Reagan Obama admired, the one who opened his 1980 election
campaign in Philadelphia, Miss. —the scene of infamous civil rights
murders during the 1960 s—talking about “states rights’,” the one who
talked about “welfare queens” in Cadillacs or the one who sold guided
missiles to Iran. Instead, Bill Clinton forcefully defended his
administration’s economic record against both Reagan and the current
president, pointing out that Reaganism started working Americans on the
downward-running escalator that Bush’s policies have only speeded up. He
even got a little red in the face, which the high school hall monitors
on CNN, MSNBC and the rest found upsetting. So did Obama, who wondered
aloud in the South Carolina debate about which Clinton was his opponent.
It’s beginning to look like a pattern. Obama says something provocative,
then complains about being misrepresented or double-teamed. In
basketball, to continue a metaphor that Obama, an enthusiastic pick-up
player, would certainly recognize, it’s called “working the refs.”
Players do it when they’re losing.

—–––––•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and
recipient of the National Magazine Award.


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