More Bill Clinton …

by on December 19, 2007

To the Editor:

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both pro-corporate, right wing candidates who are just not as conservative as the vast majority of Republicans. As much as I’d love to support a non-white and/or a female, but I don’t subscribe to identity politics and would never support anyone like Clinton or Obama. Even John Edwards is more right wing than any progressive should support, but at least he has some progressive ideas and platforms. What goes on between Clinton and Obama is a non-issue for progressives.

Jeff Hoffman
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I am shocked, shocked that someone as smart and well-intentioned as Paul Hogarth appears surprised to find: Bill Clinton (1) acting the partisan politician, almost as if winning is everything, (2) ridiculing Obama with faint praise (Bubba did acknowledge Obama’s incredible political skills) by saying this demonstrably less experienced Senator should wait his turn, and (3) sounding a little desperate (as does Hillary), even incredulous that this upstart threatens her parade, her huge budgets, and undermines the admitted suffering she’s endured (though hardly a reason to deserve being president.)

I think Hogarth badly overplays Obama’s race as a factor explaining the recent nastiness. I’d hesitate imagining the Clintons, of all people, consciously seeing Obama as an “the uppity” black man. I think the Clintons would be as vicious no matter who went ahead of them in the key primary polls, including her own mother.

But my greatest criticism of Mr. Hogarth goes beside all this: when does he stop attacking the Clintons for being Clintonesque and begin to endorse Obama (or whoever) by describing with the same passion the strong points of his preferred candidate? I know the joys of being a hit man, but that’s not really useful if you want progressive politics — or a better president than Bozo.

How useful is it right now to waste bashing Bill after he bashes Obama? Further, I don’t think Bill’s bad behavior in any way makes him a primary “liability,” especially compared to Hillary’s low hits (re: Obama’s kindergarten ambitions or long distant drug experiments.) That garbage offends more voters than Bill’s relative equivocations on a talk show. Like it or not, nasty or not, Bill gains Hillary far more votes than he loses to annoyed progressives like Hogarth (a fraction of the targeted audience.)

I don’t disagree about exaggerated fantasies about Clinton’s actual presidency, and I agree his popularity is not a function of his modest achievements (especially BEFORE he ran for president) but a winning, unthreatening personality. But it is time for Hogarth to stop clarifying the obvious, however entertaining, and start defining his view of what he wants in a candidate and who among those best fulfills it. Obama is still the candidate of hope, not substance, and his policies (re: health care or keeping permanent bases in Iraq) are either suspect or so vague as to offer more aspiration than meaning. Where’s the beef?

There is no question Obama’s unusual political personality contrasts dramatically with all other candidates but right now Edwards offers progressives more to chew on — agree or disagree with — and that must be valued vs. happy visions. Obama does unarguably represent more a “roll of the dice” than Clinton or Edwards BUT I’d welcome hearing why it is necessary for the country to take that risk, why the payoffs are so compelling for our democracy vs. predictable downsides.

In short, where is Hogarth’s own campaign of hope married to substance and reality (like the new guy Obama not getting rolled over by the Washington morass, even black hole for good ideas)?

Robert Becker
Mendocino CA

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