Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Are these the issues that matter?

From The Star's article on the PA Primary:

Conversely, should she [Clinton] win by 10 points or more, the race could fundamentally change at this late hour and the Illinois senator's inability to win another large state, which will loom large in the 2008 general election, will give Clinton an enormous boost for a final sprint.
This makes absolutely zero sense. It's not as bad as Clinton arguing that because she won California and New York, she should be the nominee (after all, I could run against the McCain in CA and NY and win--these two states are Democratic. Period), but it's up there. Because in case it hadn't occurred to anyone, the primary is a contest between two Democratic candidates--not against McCain. The issue is not whether Obama can beat Clinton in PA, but whether he (or she) can beat McCain. The "inability to win another large state" is meaningless when the only contestants are the same party.


Clinton leads among hunters, bowlers (after a stunningly bad bowling photo-op by Obama) and gun owners, the two are tied among beer drinkers (after Clinton's shot with a beer chaser in Indiana).

If this isn't an argument for restricting suffrage, I don't know what is. So Clinton suggests that she used to go hunting (really? I'm calling shenanigans on that one) and so people who hunt vote for her. And Obama has a bad day bowling and suddenly he'll make a worse president? To be honest, I would rather my president be very bad at bowling, because that suggests too much time spent in the bowling alley and not enough time doing things like, say, learning policy. The beer thing is nonsense.

We are in the current disaster that we are facing (i.e. 7 years of Dubya) precisely because people cared about these issues. Dubya was the guy who you could sit and have a beer with. He was "one of the guys" (which, of course, was demonstrably false: he was no more one of the guys than anyone else who'd lived off Daddy's money and going to private schools his whole life). He was in touch with "the common man." He hunted. He has a ranch. He was a dude.

Forget that he had almost no meaningful experience in government. Forget that my parents' dogs have been out of the country more times than he had. Forget that he was semi-literate and barely articulate. None of that mattered, because he was just a regular guy, and we all just want regular guys to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

Screw it. From now on, let's just randomly select the president. And no one with any sort of non-working-class background can be involved in the lottery.

UPDATE: An exceptional article from Andrew Cohen.

Some choice bits:

It's hard to get elected president if you're seen to be too smart. George W. Bush, who is the money and name of the elite, won twice when charm trumped intellect. He was reassuringly simple. Al Gore was seen as wooden and brainy. John Kerry spoke French, wore a field coat and rode a windsurfer. Both lost, and so did America.


When the Roosevelts, Wilson, Kennedy and Clinton got into office, all were kinder to the poor than to the rich. On the other hand, the soothing Ronald Reagan and the brush-clearing Mr. Bush cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Neither was accused of championing the underclass.

The question, then, isn't who is a member of the elite and who is not, as measured by whom you'd prefer to have a beer with - the reason, it is said, that the amiable Mr. Bush was elected twice.

The president should come from among the elite - on the assumption that the people deserve the candidate with the most experience, the best judgment and the greatest ability to lead - none of which implies arrogance or aloofness.

C.V. Wedgwood--one of the greatest historians of the 20th Century who, sadly, isn't widely known--made this exact point in an essay (which I can't find online)--that we should want out leaders to be people we look up to. We should want truly exceptional people running our governments and our institutions.

Sadly, that seems to be forgotten in the US.

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