I'd forgotten that I really didn't like Bill Clinton

It’s a funny arc: Bill Clinton was a brilliant man with not much in the way of scruples, who happened to preside over a booming economy and compromised away most every principle. (Quick quiz: what were Bill Clinton’s bedrock principles?) People thought he was fine during office, wished he could keep it in his pants, and prayed for something more courageous than Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. They didn’t get it.

Then came Bush. Eight years of cronyism and disaster upon disaster made Clinton look, in retrospect, like Jesus Christ Himself. (The Onion, days after Bush’s first inauguration: Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over.) I’ve thought for most of the Bush administration that Clinton could run against him and win, term-limit laws notwithstanding.

And now we’re on to Clinton II, and we’re all realizing again what we hated about Clinton: no spine, no principle other than winning an election, nothing for which he or she would draw the line and say “Here and no further.” If Hillary Clinton runs any longer, Bill’s reputation may go back to where it justly lay.

…That is, unless a Republican wins the election, in which case we may be on to Dark Ages Volume 2. But that’s too discouraging to think about, so I won’t.

I am tired of this election

I would like to declare that I am officially sick of this election.

I don’t care what Geraldine Ferraro said about anything.

A good friend wants to convince me that I should be paying more attention to the thing about Obama’s pastor, because Fox News may very well turn it into something that sinks Obama’s candidacy, à la the Dean Scream.

If that’s so, then fuck this country and fuck its media. Just because something turns out to be important to a campaign doesn’t mean it’s important that I follow it in detail. My understanding of the “Wright issue” suggests that it tells us precisely nothing about what kind of president Obama would be. So yes, I will maintain my haughty distance from the issue and not obsessively read polls about what effect it’s having on Obama’s campaign. I know which candidate I support. Until someone convinces me that Obama is an Angry Black Man, as “proven” by Wright, I will continue to know which candidate I support.

Some decent fraction of the blogs I read will continue to pore over poll numbers that fluctuate with the wind, and attach massive importance to statistical noise.

And still we have well over 200 days of campaigning left. Joy.

Hillary is a loser candidate

Hillary Rodham Clinton should not be the Democrats’ nominee. She would lose in the general election. I’ve thought this for years, and I continue to think it now.

I’ll gladly accept the possibility that I’m wrong, and that she’ll win the White House in November. If I’m wrong, then at least there will be a Democrat in the White House … which is good for some reason. It’s not clear that she’d do very much at all to clean up the mess we’ve made in the world, but … maybe a Dem would be valuable. I don’t know. If it came down to a choice between Hillary and McCain, I’d have a hard time deciding what to do.

Which is to say: an abstract Democrat doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not going to vote for a party this time. I’m going to vote for the candidate who’s most likely to make things better, and I just don’t see Hillary doing that.

I submit that Hillary loses to McCain in the general election in a landslide. (Gallup says it would be close — or would have been as of June 2007.) I submit further that she’s the only Democratic candidate who could lose to Mitt Romney. That’s saying a lot. If there’s any doubt in your mind who would win in an HRC-v.-Romney race, ask yourself whether that’s a terrible harbinger. I think it is. Obama would clean the floor with Romney, and would give McCain a run for his money. (I don’t get why McCain hasn’t gone very far in previous elections.)

Since it’s now a two-person race between Obama and Clinton (for better or worse), I have to donate lots of money to Obama. I may actually go up to the Federal maximum of $1,000. I just don’t think this country can afford for Clinton to win the nomination.

Gloria Steinem bases a case on very little

Here’s Gloria Steinem, arguing among other things that the presidential race this year tracks American history: black people got the right to vote before women did, and it looks like a black candidate may win the nomination before a woman does.

I hope someone points out to her that just because black people technically got the right to vote in the 1800’s, they didn’t practically get it until the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Whereas women both technically and practically had it as of 1920.

I submit that Hillary is losing because she’s not a charming candidate, and she’s widely perceived as an empty suit that’s ready to be filled with whatever will help her climb the ladder of power. Obama is winning because he’s charming, because his morals seem to be in the right place, and because of his opposition to the War in Iraq.

A lot of this may be tied up with anti-feminist baggage, but that’s not the first place I’d look. And Steinem’s argument rests on a very thin reed — namely that a woman’s second-place finish to a black man is of a piece with our nation’s history. Take out that peg of her argument, and I don’t know how much is left.

Obama's victory

For all Obama’s stirring eloquence in last night’s Iowa victory speech (included below), he still — to my mind — has not answered Paul Krugman’s repeated critique: that our president needs to be mean, that Democrats and Republicans cannot be brought together, and that hope is not a policy. Cosma Shalizi’s review of Krugman’s latest book is maybe the best synopsis of this viewpoint.

That said, congratulations to Obama, congratulations to his supporters, and good luck to the Democratic candidate who’s most likely to help our country.

The man gives great speech, if nothing else.

P.S.: Conversations with my friends over the past few weeks have suggested that most of us, myself included, believe the following: Obama and Edwards have their hearts in the right place, but may not know how to wield the levers of power effectively. Hillary, on the other hand, knows just how to move those levers, but moves them in the service of nothing valuable.

I’d add the following: if charm weighs at all in your decision of whom to vote for, Hillary loses in a landslide. Other than believing her the most electable candidate, I don’t know why anyone would vote for Clinton.