Be kind, rewind…

For those of us who are Obama supporters today is not the best of days. So I’d like to take the opportunity to really spell out why I support Barack Obama. To really do that we’ll have to rewind space & time to circa fall 2002…

[As a bit of an aside, I apologize to those of you who come here for the comics blogging.  I know it’s all politics all the time recently but, like most of the country, I have been swept up in this campaign. I swore that I wasn’t going to get my hopes up again this early but like many things that didn’t work out.]

The day after the disastrous 2002 two election I was sitting in my high school web programing class reading the results of that historic election (seriously why do work?). The Republicans had swept the country, took control of the Senate… all by running on the soon to be launched Iraq war. The Democratic Party had pretty much ceded the war issue to the Republicans, in fact the entire national leadership of the party had supported the war, including Hillary Clinton.

I was against the war. You know I was one of those people who wasn’t in the Senate or the House (like Barack Obama) and thus didn’t have any real responsibility. We weren’t serious people. Hell, I was just in high school. What kind of judgement could I have?

(I  know this undermines my point, but I really did have bad judgement in high school… but I was right about the war!!)

So, I was sitting in class and this Republican asshole I knew came up to me and started giving me shit about the election. He explained how the American people were for this war, the Republican Party was for this war, and the Democratic Party was for this war. He told me I was just some idiot; a unpatriotic, hippie mother fucker who just didn’t understand how the world worked. I wasn’t serious.

I’ll never forget that moment because it really rammed home for me how utterly wrong the Democratic Party leadership was circa 2002 and 2003. The national party leadership (minus a few voices in the wilderness) were completely wrong about the war. They ceded the issue completely to the Republicans and helped lead this country into the disastrous war in Iraq. And I will never forgive them for that.

And Hillary Clinton was part of that leadership.

In 2004 I was willing to put this aside and vote for anyone to beat Bush. I was initially for Dean but when he imploded and Kerry took the nomination, I became a enthusiastic supporter of Kerry/Edwards. Despite my bitterness and misgivings about their support of the war.

And where did Kerry’s candidacy get us? Another four fucking years of George W. Bush!

Yet again, because of Kerry’s vote and his “flip-flops” on the war, the Democrats failed to yet again to contrast themselves with the Republicans. Yet again the issue was ceded the Republicans. The Democratic Party failed yet again to build upon the anti-war feeling the country that has just been growing and growing.

 2006 was better. The Democrats gave less ground on the war. They drew more contrasts (though not enough!) on the war with the Republicans. And the anti-war, bring the troops home, feeling the country has continued to grow.

That brings us to 2008. I believe it is now possible for Democrats to do what they should have done in 2002, 2004, and into 2006: draw a real, clear distinction between themselves and the Republicans on the war. The next president could have the oppertunity to rework American foreign policy in exciting new ways. They could correct the fucked up course that Bush has put this country down for the last 7 odd years.

With Hillary Clinton we won’t get that new contrast, that new direction.

I feel that way for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is her 2002 vote and enthusiastic support for the war well into 2003-2004. Back then she had a chance to use her much played up experience and leadership to lead the Democratic Party against the war. Instead, she didn’t. She supported the war enthusiastically.

Secondly, she still has yet to apologize (or reject, or denounce) for that vote, despite coming around to an anti-war position. Why hasn’t Clinton apologized for her war vote? Perhaps its because she feels that if she does, she’ll be branded “weak” by the press because she’s a woman (there may be a lot of truth to this). Or maybe she doesn’t believe it was a mistake on principal. Honestly, I’m not sure. It saddens me to think that a good candidate like Clinton would be forced to act “tough” just because she’s a woman.

Third, looking at the Clintons’ (both of them, now) record they have always been associated with the “hawkish” wing the Democratic Party. Many of the top Clinton foreign policy people were the ones out their helping Bush sell the war and advising Democrats to vote for it. And look at where they’ve lead us. If Clinton is elected President many of these people would be back in office. The chance to sweep the “hawkish”, serious, wing the Democrat Party into the dust bin of history.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, represents a much cleaner break with this past. Obama was against the war from the start. And yes, I know he was only in the Illinois legislature and not facing the same sort of pressure that Clinton or the Democratic leadership was under. But that excuse can only take them so far. If you had to be in the Congress or in a think tank to really be seriousabout the war circa 2002, what does that say about all of us rank and file Democrats who were against the war from day one? Those of us who were right.

Yes, Obama wasn’t in the Congress then. But he did show the judgement, which many of us did as well, that this war was a huge mistake. Even today, Clinton was willing to give Bush (!!!!) the benefit of the doubt on Iran. Obama was not.

That is the clearest contrast between the two candidates. Looking at Obama’s domestic positions and Clinton’s there is very little daylight between them. Yes, Clinton is for mandates, Obama is not. But they are both committed to expanding health care to many, many more Americans than have it now.

For me the only true contrast is on the war and their histories with it. And Obama comes off better for it.

So that’s why I am supporting him. It’s not because I’ve fallen for the sort of sexist, misogynistic bullshit you hear from Andrew Sullivan or Chris Matthews and their ilk. I like Clinton just fine. If she does win the nomination I’ll vote for her. And not just because John McCain is fucking crazy (bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!). But because she does really seem committed to expanding health care. In the primary, you should support someone you feel represents the best future for your party and your country.

For me that person is Barack Obama.


5 Comments on “Be kind, rewind…”

  1. Dawn says:

    There is a VERY GOOD reason Obama and his campaign are not “fighting back” and returning the volley of kitchen sinks from the Clinton campaign. It’s because he is on track to win, and he does NOT want to alienate those who support Clinton. He knows he needs their votes this November. Clinton has alienated most of Obama’s supporters, PLUS many of her own supporters by dismissing the “little” states, the “red” states, the “Republican states” as unimportant.

    The popular vote from last night is a bit discouraging, but look at the ground we gained in the last couple weeks. We all were hoping to see that knockout punch last night and it didn’t happen, but this just means the process will unfortunately be more drawn out.

    Have faith that the campaign and Obama know what they are doing. We will prevail, and we will not alienate half of the country in the process.

  2. Tito says:

    I can look back at 2002 as a pivotal moment for me politically as well. I considered myself a Republican up until then (though I was below voting age, so I guess it didn’t really count for anything). The dawn of a pointless war was my political awakening. Up until that moment, in most things, I was conservative because my family was conservative. I guess it’s a good things the voting age is 18, because I only really began forming my own opinions a couple months before my birthday.

    As a high school student, my opinion may not have mattered, but I was a Republican who knew the war was disastrously wrong when a large portion of the Democratic leadership did not. I think that’s something Democrats should hold against their elected representatives. You nailed it on the head when you talked about the Democrats continual failure to contrast themselves with the Republicans. Why else would professional society-destroyers like Rush Limbaugh urge their listeners to cross party lines and vote for Clinton? It’s purely strategic. If Bush could beat Kerry, McCain can certainly defeat Clinton.

    While my political sensibilities have changed, they have in such a way that I’ve been pretty much permanently discontent with whoever is in power. Obama is the first presidential candidate in my lifetime to get me to feel anything that doesn’t fall between spite and dispassion. So that’s why I’m supporting him.

  3. Wow, I didn’t know you were a Republician for much of high school.

    I think you make a good point the war. I think it woke up a lot of people our age.

  4. Mr. White says:

    What pisses me most about Clinton’s vote for the war was that she voted for it WITHOUT READING THE INTEL REPORTS! To put American men and women in harms way without doing the homework is simply wrong and a dick move. Though others voted for it, and were wrong, at least the came to that conclusion through information provided by the intel community (no matter how fucked up it was). It shows that Clinton made her decision, on whether to send American troops to fight (and die) based on the political winds at that moment. She has no courage, you really can’t trust her (um, why hasn’t she released her papers from her time in the White House), and her experience card is plain horseshit. If she wins this nomination I’m voting Nader. Fuck it.

  5. […] Posted in Annoucements, Stark Raving Mad by Smith Michaels on July 14th, 2008 After the last few weeks I’ve come to realize some things. Namely, the Barack Obama that I fell in love with in the primaries was a lie. The Obama that’s been operating for the last month or so since he clinched the Democratic nomination is not the Obama who I so strongly supported during the primaries. […]

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