Monday, February 4, 2008

For The Record

Now that John Edwards has withdrawn from the 2008 Presidential Race I've received a few emails asking me which candidate I'm supporting now.

Well, since I was originally hoping for an Edwards/Obama ticket I am now supporting Barack Obama.

When I compare the positions and voting records of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton I could find reasons to go either way. I don't doubt either candidate's sincerity, ability to perform the duties of the office or their passionate desire to do the right thing for the American people. Both campaigns have had their high and low moments, thrown a few cheap shots but, as of today, tried to rise above the muck.

Sadly, members of the media have taken more cheap shots at Hillary Clinton than anyone in the Obama campaign. I expected this from the GOP but from people like Chris Matthews, Tim Russert and Wolf Blitzer it's been a bit hard to take. If the media thinks that Hillary Clinton's moments of emotion are less flattering than a Vice President standing on the Senate floor telling a Senator to go f**k himself, John McCain's rants or Mitt Romney choking back the tears during a second place finish in the Florida primary, it says more about their personalities than Hillary's.

As a woman, I could not be prouder of the grace and strength that Hillary Clinton has shown. And even if I disagree with her conclusions I always have to admit that Hillary Clinton has a command of her facts. If there was ever a doubt that a woman could hold the office of President of the United States of America she has dispelled that thought.

I once accused Hillary Clinton of pandering to her audience and trying to sound like Bill during a visit to a southern African American church. Let's face it, on her best day Hillary isn't going to sound like a Southern Baptist preacher. However, during the course of the past year. I believe that she has found her voice. Hillary Clinton and today, Maria Shriver, have shown that you can be a strong woman, married to a strong man, and still have your own ideas and your own voice. For that alone, a generation of women will be better off.

Yet, there are a few factors that swing my vote to Barack Obama, if only slightly.

Yes, Obama was against the war from the beginning and I applaud him for his stance. However he wasn't a Senator at the time and I'm not naive enough to believe that he wouldn't have been affected by the same political pressures that affected virtually every other sitting Senator post 9/11. I don't have amnesia and I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't admit that I too, was convinced back then that Saddam might have had WMDs. I'm sure that many in the House and in the Senate had that gnawing feeling in the gut that things were moving too fast and the US should have given the inspectors more time but who wanted to be accused of being unpatriotic or soft on terror? I remember the political atmosphere in this country at the time of the initial Congressional vote on Iraq even if everyone else wants to pretend that they've forgotten. Remember, George W. Bush had Americans convinced that an Al Qaeda operative was hiding under every bush, that every letter in the mailbox could contain anthrax and that they needed to run to the hardware store to buy tape and plastic sheeting.

In light of that, I forgive Hillary Clinton for her original vote on Iraq just like I forgave John Edwards. Even though many of us had our suspicions about Bush and Cheney, we had confidence in Colin Powell. I doubt that most of us could have foreseen the lengths that Bush & Co. would go to manipulate us into a war that they were eager to wage before 9/11. If Hillary was "naive" for believing that Bush/Cheney wouldn't abuse the power that they were given what does that say about the media, the fourth estate, which bought the Iraq story without question and in turn sold it to the American public.

What I cannot overlook is Hillary's "Yea" vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. Yet, even though I totally disagree with her stance, I admire Hillary Clinton's courage for taking a stance. Barack Obama and John McCain did not return to Washington for this critical vote, which is disappointing.

While I do not believe that Barack Obama will be as tough on the pharmaceutical, insurance and oil industries as Edwards would have been, I do not believe that he will be as in debted to them as Hillary Clinton. Those bastions of corporate corruption and greed need to be taken on and their hold on Congress broken.

I do believe that Clinton's proposed healthcare plan is better than Obama's but Obama's is probably more achievable. Clinton's plan is to shoot for the stars in order to land on the moon. By setting the bar high with a goal of universal healthcare she is leaving herself room to negotiate with the GOP. However, simply because her name is Clinton, the GOP will probably fight her plan much harder than Obama's and a prolonged battle is not in the best interests of millions of uninsured Americans.

On the issue of foreign trade, I do not believe that NAFTA is serving the best interests of most Americans . Now that America barely manufactures anything anymore, all of our trade deals, ( especially with China, India, & Mexico) need to be re-evaluated. I don't honestly think that Hillary Clinton will scrap the trade deal that her husband negotiated.

I do believe that the election of an African American as President will send a positive message to the world. However, I don't think that it will have as much impact as many Americans want to believe. especially in the Middle East. It wasn't that long ago that the Egyptians were deeply offended by an African American, Louis Gossett, Jr., portraying Anwar Sadat in a television mini-series and refused to air it. In the end Barack Obama, despite GOP rumors to the contrary, is a practicing Christian. What will matter is their belief that America has no intention of having permanent military bases in their region.

On the basis on electability, I believe that both candidates are electable if the DNC unites behind them. However, the general election campaign will, no doubt, be easier with Obama than Clinton. It's a funny thing reality when you recognize that there is less racism in this country than there is Clinton hatred, especially in the evangelical community. I couldn't bear to see this country once again become distracted by ministers like John Hagee who once spent the better part of an eight week sermon series on the subject of "witchcraft" referencing Hillary Clinton. I guess he forgot about Nancy Reagan's widely recognized habit of consulting astrologers.

So, barring any unforeseen revelations, when Pennsylvania finally votes in the Democratic primary I will support Barack Obama. And after the Democratic Convention I will support the party's candidate and work hard to get that candidate elected in November.

A final note.

To whoever is selected as the Democratic Candidate for President,

Here are a few of my thoughts on potential cabinet appointments, for what it's worth:

  • former Senator John Edwards as Attorney General
  • Senator Joe Biden as Secretary of State
  • Robert Kennedy Jr. as Secretary of the Interior
  • former Senator Max Cleland as Secretary of Veteran Affairs
  • Colin Powell as Secretary of Defense ( yes, I said it. He is still widely respected around the world. We all know he was duped by the evil duo. Do you think he'll make the same mistake twice? )
  • Congressman Dennis Kucinich as Head of a newly created Dept. of Peace
  • Robert Reich back as Secretary of Labor
  • Senator Patrick Leahy as Head of the Department of Homeland Security
  • Bruce Marks for Secretary of Housing
  • Lieutenant General Russell L Honore as Head of FEMA
  • Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano should been considered for a position in an office that addresses immigration issues.

So now I'm on the record.

Happy Super Tuesday, Go Vote!


  1. This is a thoughtful recounting of why you will probably vote for Obama and is eminently fair to Clinton. Just one factual difference. NAFTA was an expansion of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement that was enacted in 1988 and it had already been negotiated and signed when Bill Clinton took office; it just hadn't been ratified by the Senate. I do not think HRC would have any trouble overhauling it. What is fascinating is that the very reasons you mull over are the reasons that I have decided to vote for Clinton! I do agree that we will all need to work hard for either of these people to win in November.

  2. Dear Winnicott,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    You raise an interesting point about NAFTA which I'm happy to expand upon.

    You are certainly correct in stating that NAFTA was an expansion of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement of 1988. However, it is an "agreement" which has since gone through a few incarnations.

    As cited by Wikipedia:

    "The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) eliminated the majority of tariffs on products traded among the United States, Canada and Mexico, and gradually phased out other tariffs over a 10-year period.

    Restrictions were to be removed from many categories, including motor vehicles, computers, textiles, and agriculture. The treaty also protects intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights, and trademarks), and outlines the removal of investment restrictions among the three countries.

    The treaty is trilateral in nature, that is, the terms apply equally to all countries, in all areas except agriculture, in which stipulations, tariff reduction phase-out periods, and protection of selected industries, were negotiated on a bilateral basis.

    Provisions regarding worker and environmental protection were added later as a result of supplemental agreements signed in 1992.

    NAFTA was an expansion of the earlier Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1988. NAFTA is a treaty under international law, though under United States law, it is classed as a congressional-executive agreement rather than a treaty."

    Based on the evolution of NAFTA and the evidence that emerged in the late nineties that elements of NAFTA were failing, I attribute some the responsibility for the negative impact of NAFTA on today's economy to the Bill Clinton Presidency.

    Of course, in all fairness, Hillary is not Bill. However, I'm not convinced that she has the political independence to overturn a policy that is so closely identified with her husband's presidency.

    The following link is a video of Hillary trying to address this issue during last November's Democratic presidential debate from Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Debate Clip

    Another good link for information on NAFTA is:
    Public Citizen

    NAFTA aside, it is fascinating that while we are both considering many of the same issues we are supporting different candidates. That's why I love democracy.

    What excite me the most is that for the first time in a very long it seems that Americans are really considering and discussing the issues and not the divisive rhetoric of the Karl Rove years.

    Thanks again for your comments and stop in for coffee anytime :-)


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