The name of the game

February 27, 2008 by barbara

barbara writes

I keep saying I don’t watch television. Then I follow up with the revelation that I just did. Busted. Yes, I’m now up to about six hours a year. Way too much, as it turns out. Last night, after we hunted down the remote, we tuned in to the Obama/Clinton “debate." Judas priest! Such a deal.

Two candidates from the same party, vying to restore the severely damaged “leader of the free world” reputation of the presidency, sat side by side, facing the Ohio audience. The tension was palpable. Obama and Clinton have been exchanging increasingly testy snipes over the past few days.

Tim Russert and Brian Williams fed Obama and Clinton (no, wait, Clinton and Obama) vapid questions, with forays into irrelevant weirdness. Each time Clinton muscled her way into the spotlight (and there were many instances of that), talking over Obama and the Nincompoops (hey! great name for a rock band!), Williams seemed largely unwilling or unable to rein her in. Alpha female was desperately determined to be heard. I think Williams was afraid of her. Russert, maybe not so much.

Clinton calls herself strong. Last night, she was aggressive. She was pushy and extremely rude. More here.

Throughout the debate, I found myself wondering (and worrying) how Clinton might conduct herself in sensitive negotiations with national and global leaders. Would she snark Vladimir Putin, too? Would she jam her thumbs into his soul-connected eyes?

After last night, I’m more convinced than ever that Hillary Clinton is the wrong person for the presidency in 2008. Maybe ever. Lord knows she’s smart. Her self-described 35 years of experience encompasses roughly 75 percent of Obama’s life. Big deal. I’ve got clothes older than he is. Should they run for president, too?

The point being that, to me, Clinton’s experience looks more like longevity than quality. Clearly she has the ability to hunker down, dig in her heels and protect turf. But much of that has been to advance her personal goals. Think how long ago she began positioning herself for this run. Think of the vast amount of money she raised for a Senate race that she was absolutely assured of winning. Money that ultimately was funneled into her presidential campaign chest, as I understand it.

If I’d been running myself ragged for as many months/years as Clinton has, only to see the Obama uprising completely cloud my sky, I’d probably be pissy, too. But there comes a point when checkmate looms. And though I’m not privy to the game board, it seems to me she’s there. It is, as Paul Loeb wrote a few days ago, time for her to fold ‘em.

Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a superdelegate who just shifted his support from Clinton to Obama, said his decision was based on his area's overwhelming support of Obama. He said, "Something's happening in America, something some of us did not see coming. Barack Obama has tapped into something that is extraordinary."

The phenomenon that is Barack Obama runs far more than a mile wide and a quarter-inch deep. It is about Obama's abilities and talents, about his ability to articulate what the rest of us wish we could, and perhaps most of all, it is about America's hunger for integrity.

Obama, too, is smart. He, too, has a lifetime of experience. The thing is, much of Obama’s experience is closer to and more in touch with current time. Stated another way, it seems to me that he has his finger on the pulse of this country. Which is a totally different thing from finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. It is clear that Barack Obama listens and inwardly digests what he hears.

Note to Hillary Clinton: It’s time to give Obama a chance to do what needs to be done. The future of this country is riding on that. And by the way, LeftyMN has suggested that you’d make a superb Senate majority leader. Can we just get rid of Harry Reid? Yes we can!

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Comments

susan | February 27, 2008 - 5:07pm

Barb strikes again! I'm finally home -- and yeah, I travel too much and re-entry takes its toll, especially when you go from no news to the blood-soaked biscuits and inane political bickering that passes for news in America.

Major digression: I was in a remote patch of the Cascade mountains in British Columbia, skiing with grandchildren at a provincial park. No cell phones, no internet. The "business center" was a small room with two pay phones hanging on the wall, only one of them working. We stayed in a small so-called cabin, which turned out to be more of a FEMA trailer, one of 36 set side by side in a large semi-circle. We're not talking chalets and gondolas here.

Although there were other people around and lots of highschool school groups coming in from Vancouver for overnights, we never locked the cabin or the car. We -- and everyone else -- left our backpacks sagging open at trailside, our boots and jackets in the rental shop with no worries, because, as everyone said with a big smile, "Ay, it's Canada." (My fears of a broken bone, which didn't happen, were also allayed with this cheery thought.)
One other meaningless observation. Most of the young people working the resort, what we once called ski bums, were from Australia. From their get-up -- mulitple tats and piercings, waxy white pallor and black clothing, I assumed they were more of the snow board culture than the ski culture. And I made other assumptions as well. But they were the most well-mannered, helpful and good-natured workers you could hope for, not the sort of vain preeners of the slopes I remember from long ago. So, good on ya, mate.
I came back from this snowy news-free world of Aussies and Canucks to the crusty muck of late MN winter -- and the crusty muck of late season American politics. And felt instantly depressed. Big time.

Okay, I'm a big Obama supporter, and he's on a roll, so why the blues? Let's see.

1.) I'm exhausted by the duration and expense of this primary season without end, and trying to explain it to the Aussies who found it nuts.
2.) I cannot stand another so-called debate when there's no issue left to shred, when it's reduced to trivial bickering by those in charge, who cannot seem to tell the difference between choosing an American idol and an American president.
3.) I am tired to the bone of Hillary Clinton. I've defended her -- though never supported her in this race -- but I've given up. It's painful to watch a woman I once thought better of coming apart the way she is. (Although the fact that she has to continue to show up and try to be cheerful at each appearance, even as she sees her dream vanishing does make me feel pity for her. Still, enough. Get it over with and enough with the "I admire you/I admonish you" bit.) C'mon Ohio and Texas, do the deed, put an end to this woman's -- and our -- suffering.
4.) If Barack gets the nomination, as it appears he will, there will be blood. Yeah, maybe that kind, (please god, prove you exist and just say no, not this time) but certainly the filthy dirty blood of right wing smears, which are already beginning. The photo of Barack Hussein Obama in native dress, ie., which is then laughingly brushed off by people like my dentist, who say, "Why does this make you people so uptight? Aren't you proud of Barack Hussein Obama's Muslim heritage?" And with him holding the drill and wads of gauze in my mouth it's hard to argue.
5.) If Barack Obama wins, there's very little chance he can magically transform our deeply traumatized and damaged nation overnight -- as Hillary C. has pointed out in one of the most annoying bits of her campaign speeches. I don't think he's promising that it will be easy, but we are such a culture of instant gratification that if he doesn't fix things -- get us out of Iraq, restore jobs and the economy, revamp medical care, get the greedy corporate hand out of government, clean-up the air and water -- and have that pony in everyone's yard by 2009, the Repubs, pundits, and the newly enfranchised voters who embraced him will be going off on how he misled and how he failed us, blah blah blah.
6.) I did say "IF" he wins, right? Because the LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows him in a statistical tie with John McCain. Yeah, McCain outpolls Hillary by more. But the poll shows McCain has overall higher approval ratings than Obama and also rates higher on -- HANDLING THE WAR?? And on handling the economy, which McCain admits he knows nothing about.

Well, that's enough of the stressy blues for now. The list goes on, and I'm sure you can all add plenty more. Please do.

And yeah, on the side there's my dear niece who has just had twin boys delivered way early in an emergency C-section and they are fighting for life as I write, and then there's always Barb and David's fight with cancer for a back drop.
Perhansa once wrote to me when I was depressed that those of us who have so much owe it to those who have so little to hold on to hope. So okay, I'm holding on to hope. For David and Barb, for my niece Emily and husband Ben and their babies, for Barack Obama and for all of us.

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paul miller (not verified) | February 27, 2008 - 8:07pm

I'd get a new dentist.

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barbara says (not verified) | February 27, 2008 - 8:20pm

Good one, Paul . . . LOL!

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barbara | February 27, 2008 - 8:22pm

Hey, welcome back, Susan!

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susan | February 27, 2008 - 11:33pm

LOL on the dentist, Paul. Fact is, he's not as bad as I made him sound, and usually we have a good debate, but in this case he was razzing me a bit. And I've told him no fair talking when my mouth is out of commission. What's depressing is that he's a nice guy, not a drill-wielding Dittohead, but I can tell that he really hangs on to the notion that Obama is something vaguely -- other. That first salvo -- that Obama studied in a madrasa -- seems to be sticking like, um, plaque.

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barbara says (not verified) | February 28, 2008 - 8:38am

Republican dentist. Chicken egg. What's with these guys? My dentist father = rigid Republican and bigot. Hard to imagine how horribly he'd be spewing now in light of Barack Hussein Obama. My current dentist. He's a really nice guy. We bob and weave, but never go for knock-down.

Barack Hussein Obama. LeftyMN routed me to Juan Cole yesterday. Cole did an excellent, excellent piece on naming. Do take time to read this.

Eventually, I'll move this upstairs into a post, but as I've said before, Edwin Friedman wrote a book titled "Generation to Generation." It's about family systems, but is applicable to other systems as well. Say, for instance, political systems.

The piece out of Friedman's huge tome that has stayed with me over the years is roughly this: "Differentiate yourself and maintain a non-anxious presence."

That's how I experience, how America is experiencing Barack Hussein Obama. May he have the strength and courage to keep on keepin' on with that.

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Anonymous (not verified) | February 28, 2008 - 4:14pm

Have ANY of you bothered to read Sean Wilentz in the New Republic W/2/27?

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leftymn (not verified) | February 28, 2008 - 5:39pm

honestly , anonymous, if you are going to troll here, you should at least choose a nom de plume...

hi Susan, keep the dentist, if he is like any of my thinking Republican friends, he will be voting for Obama.

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susan | February 28, 2008 - 7:27pm

Thanks Lefty, it's gonna cost me to keep getting all these unneeded crowns, but I'm determined to win the guy over. And he told me his 18 year old daughter supported John Edwards, back when, so there's some good blood running somewhere in his veins.
Dentists. Shall we do a whole post? I'm sick of politics.

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susan | February 28, 2008 - 11:11pm

Barb's moving her comment up to a post and I'm moving a post down to a comment. Because weren't some of us looking for a laugh? Or was that just me wallowing in the slough of despond? Well, here's a change-up, from The Onion.
Check it out!

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dknyc (not verified) | March 2, 2008 - 12:58pm

Last Thursday I spent the better part of an hour carefully writing/editing a piece to send to CLB re Clinton/Obama/dentists. Due to one of those annoying inexplicable (to me) computer glitsches, it ,POOF, disappeared with an accidental brush of my hand. "Hell with it, I said to myself. But since, oddly, it involved a dentist story of my own, I'll try again.
Let me tell you about my dentist and my first visit to him. Don't know if this is standard, but this guy here in New York has a TV screen in front of the chair - CNN was playing debate snippets from that last debate. No comments from me, the hygienist or the dentist himself, until I heard the hygienist sigh. "Why the sigh?' asks I. "They're just so damned unfair to her, the media, I mean", she replied. "I agree" says I. "No doubt about it she's a hell of a smart cookie" chimes in the dentist.
"Okay, so dare I ask who you're for?" says I. Dentist shoves my lighted Xrays (not pretty) aside and replies slowly, "Ya know, I've tried SO hard to be for Obama. I read his stuff, both books, I watch him debate, and I watch his speeches when I can. I look at his website - but I just -can't- catch on to him. I'm just not at all convinced by him. It's really odd. I voted for Hillary in the primary, even though I was, even then, already trying to vote for him, cause I suspect he'd beat McClain better. But I dunno."

I muttered something in agreement, and then dentist said "It's like he thinks he's the Messiah, and he's JUST NOT. At least not to me. But I'm still trying. And no doubt about it, the media sure does a job on her. Makes it even harder to like HIM"

That's what my dentist said. No need to argue his opinion, or mine here. I pretty much know what you'd all say.
But here's the point I would like to make:
You know how it is when you wear a campaign button; like- minded folks come up and high five you, you talk, if there's time. And when we do talk, I hear pretty much the same stuff that my dentist was saying. We're Democrats and we'll vote for O in November if need be. But we're not ready or willing to demonize Clinton, because we just don't think she's a demon. We New Yorkers are a bit loyal to HC. We remember how she was never going to win the Republican "upstaters" and then she did. She would be hated when she got to DC, the baggage thing, you know. And then, by all reports, she got along on both sides of that much cited aisle. Brought the guys coffee when she went for hers. Gets re-elected. Her election both those times she was just about our only good news during these last eight years of "cold grief". ("Cold grief" courtesy of my neighbor, Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker.)
I think we all know Hillary Clinton is pretty much finished. The pundits are hoping she'll bow out "gracefully", or "graciously" I forget which, after losing Texas or Ohio, or bla bla bla. I'm hoping so, too.
But please, could you be a little gentle, a little considerate, to your fellow Democrats who still have some perfectly good reasons to love Hillary? And maybe you'll make it easier for us to fall in line with your guy when the time comes? I mean, who wants to join a team that's been screaming atcha for months? Let's not forget - we ARE all on the same side, aren't we?

(Non sequitur) I notice that some of you seem to assume that "anon" is one and the same person. It's quite possible, no, that many different people don't bother with a "nom de plume" and are thus called "anon"?. I've written in as "anon" many times, til I decided to go by dknyc.

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barbara | March 2, 2008 - 11:28pm

"No doubt about it she's a hell of a smart cookie" chimes in the dentist. I know this, I do.

"Ya know, I've tried SO hard to be for Obama. I read his stuff, both books, I watch him debate, and I watch his speeches when I can. I look at his website - but I just -can't- catch on to him. I'm just not at all convinced by him. It's really odd. I understand this, DKNYC, though substituting "Hillary" for "Obama," and "her" for "him." At one point, I guess I thought I owed it to the sisterhood or someone, somewhere to try to embrace her as my candidate. So I tried. I really tried. I did little "Hillary, woo hoo" dances in my tiny mind. I couldn't make it stick.

That's what my dentist said. No need to argue his opinion, or mine here. I pretty much know what you'd all say. It being Susan's blog, I guess we/I (going way out on limb to speak for Susan) reserve the right to say what we/I want to say, even though you know what that will be. I think open communication is compromised when we read each other's minds and pre-empt responses. (((barbara climbs off soapbox)))

We're Democrats and we'll vote for O in November if need be. But we're not ready or willing to demonize Clinton, because we just don't think she's a demon. Likewise, most Minnesota Democrats I know (and they're a merry mix re gender, age, income, geographic area, religious persuasion or lack of same) say they'll vote for HC in November if need be. Quid pro quo on this one.

". . .during these last eight years of "cold grief". Stunning concept.

I think we all know Hillary Clinton is pretty much finished. I reckon so. There is no good outcome for all Democrats. Someone is going to feel devastated. Been down that road with Al Gore and John Edwards. The latter of whom the press decimated not in attack mode but by concerted indifference.

But please, could you be a little gentle, a little considerate, to your fellow Democrats who still have some perfectly good reasons to love Hillary? A fair and forthright request. I will try, in spite of the steaming piles being heaped on Obama, who, by the way (whom?), I had to learn to care about. It didn't come easily, but it came.

And maybe you'll make it easier for us to fall in line with your guy when the time comes? I mean, who wants to join a team that's been screaming atcha for months? Been there, too, so I understand. Let's not forget - we ARE all on the same side, aren't we? We ARE.

(Non sequitur) I notice that some of you seem to assume that "anon" is one and the same person. Actually, no. I agree that there may be a passel of little anons out there. It's been clear that some of the "anon" comments come from folks who don't troll under the bridge.

dknyc, I think it was gutsy of you to post this comment. You know very well, I think, that Susan has been more inclined to promote Obama than to dis Clinton. I found even that immensely painful when Edwards was slipping down the slope to non-candidate. I was uber-sensitive at that time, and probably inclined to magnify everything.

That said, I do understand at some level how painful this might be for you. I do. And btw, it is by no means certain that Obama will end up being The Candidate in November. I don't know why I'm saying that, but like Susan, I worry. About a lot of things. Wait and watch and worry.

Anyway, I admire your loyalty to Hillary. I admire your willingness to speak your truth in this little corner of the world where Obama is the acknowledged favorite. Without being pissy. That's very classy. Thank you.

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