Ever since it became clear that my boy Joe Biden wasn't going to win the Democratic nomination in the 2008 Presidential Election, I had to call an audible and pick someone else to lend my support.
I really used to have a lot of respect for John McCain, and still have a good amount for him as a human being. He's a genuine war hero, and he's one of the most common-sense, moderate high-profile Republicans around. He is not afraid to take his own party to task when he feels it is needed, or work with Democrats on programs that make sense.
But while I think McCain is a great guy, he has really sold-out politically, both for his stumping for Bush in 2004 -- you know, the guy who spread the rumors in South Carolina about his wife being a drug addict and him having a black child out of wedlock -- and his semi-pandering to the far-right, especially making nice with the now-burning Jerry Falwell.
The worst part for McCain is that none of this rear-kissing has gotten him anywhere in the right-wing of the Republican party. McCain is still despised by Rush Limbaugh and Man Coulter, so he had to sell himself without even getting any benefit out of it. I do appreciate that voters have woken up and rejected the right-wing demagoguery of Limbaugh and Mitt Romney in favor of someone who isn't a typical GOP candidate.
Romney is, as my good friend Jables once put it, "a piece of shit." A soulless, empty shell whose ideas -- such as building a second Guantanamo Bay prison -- were downright reactionary and frightening. Mike Huckabee is a guy who I would love to, say, hang out with at a wedding, but I knew he never really had a chance. Besides, it was pretty clear that I couldn't very well vote for a Republican right now, no matter how good the candidate is, because to me, that would be a tacit approval of the current regime.
So because of this, I was basically left with two options, after the interesting but ultimately overwhelmed John Edwards dropped out: Hillary and Obama.
I have never been a Hillary fan, and it's not because she's a woman -- which seems to be a knee-jerk reaction whenever I say I don't like her, even though I thought her husband was a very good president. I have lots of strong women in my life; strong women don't bother me.
I wasn't sold on Barack Obama either... until the Iowa Caucus. He gave a rousing speech outlining what a country can do with hope. I know there is criticism of Obama because they say he is all speeches and very little substance. But the guy has a vision, you can't deny that. And even if he has a thin congressional record, due to his short time in office, he has a history of good works, such as leaving a high-paying job to help the poor in Chicago. And while I don't know whether he ultimately had political ambitions on his mind, they certainly didn't manifest themselves until well into his new and selfless career.
But if there is anything that has affirmed my early approval of Obama, it's his own conduct in start contrast to Hillary Clinton. Whereas Obama seems to take the high road on just about everything, Hillary is looking more and more like a Republican every day, spinning eleven straight losses like Bush spinning U.S. casualties abroad. And while she self-righteously chastized Obama last week for putting out what she deemed to be misleading flyers, someone from her campaign released a picture of Obama in some kind of traditional African dress, ostensibly trying to make him look more Islamic. She says she had nothing to do with it, but someone from her campaign more than likely did.
Which brings me to the most troubling aspect of the last few weeks in politics: the return of fearmongering.
Now, I would expect this from a steaming pile of shit like Cincinnati radio host Bill Cunningham, who went on a rant before a McCain rally, repeatedly spouting off the name "Barack Hussein Obama," which is a transparent attempt to make Obama seem somehow more of a terrorist. Cunningham is a nobody, a nothing. And while his pathetic, desperate attempt to demonize Obama due to his name may sway some guillible Ohio voters (remember, they bought the Swift Boat hoax in 2004), I doubt he'll have any real effect on any intelligent discourse in the public arena.
Honestly, anyone who would truly be swayed by someone's middle name, or would fall for something so simplistic should probably have their vote taken away. Just because his name rhymes with "Osama" doesn't mean he's a terrorist. Remember, one of our great allies is King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan. I don't see anyone bitching about that.
What is truly troubling, however, is that Hillary, in the last throes of a desperate and disappointing campaign, is playing the "Daisy" card in her new ad, implying that in the wavke of a terrorist threat, she would be the best candidate to pick up the "red phone" should it ever ring. This just reeks of a Hail Mary pass by Clinton, basically saying, "if you don't elect me, there is a chance you could all die!"
If this tells me one thing about Clinton, it's not just that she's been outsmarted by a more charismatic and more inspirational candidate. No, to me it's much worse. It shows that Hillary Clinton cares more about being elected -- even if she has to trash a very compelling, squeaky-clean opponent to do it -- than she does about getting the best Democrat elected. The country does not care about who has the most experience -- Rumsfeld, Cheney and Colin Powell had a ton of it, and look where it got us -- or who is "ready on day one." They want change. This is a seismic shift in the American landscape this year, moreso than any year I can remember.
People aren't excited about Hillary. She does not inspire anyone. Her talk of 35 years of experience rings very hollow, considering she spent 8 of those years as a First Lady. Not denigrating her experience there, but I would hardly say she was the one running the show back then. And she's been an okay New York senator, but she ran against two very weak Republican opponents ... oh and she did vote "Yes" to the Iraq War, which to me is gonna be hard for her to explain away.
Obama feels like he has "the glow" this year. Unless something awful happens, I think the country is ready for him to be President. I know he's going to have to endure some godawful mudslinging, especially if they go after his rather loose-lipped wife, but I think anyone who brazenly attacks Obama will find that it will backfire, which it has severely to Clinton, if you ask me.
I hope that people will rebel against the political Black Ops (no pun intended) that have been the calling-card of Republicans for years. How many people who voted for Bush in 2004, if they knew then what they know now, would like to have their vote back? That election just went to prove that it works to attack someone's character. I can only hope that Obama's character and history are squeaky-clean enough to be bulletproof. Because whether he is the Great Black Hope or not, it seems like he's the best option we have.