Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The many faces of Hillary Clinton

So here we are late-February-early-March in 2008, and the Democratic party has yet to decide on their nominee for President of the United States of America. Despite the huge voter turnout in the Democratic party (compared the Republican side), I have to wonder at their chances of beating 71 year-old Arizona Senator John McCain. On the eve of the debate at Cleveland State between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both candidates have dialed up their scathing tone considerably. History has shown that whenever the Democratic party has been this divided over their candidates as this year, the party loses. Case in point: 1972, 1980 and finally, 1988, all consisting of protracted battles for Democratic delegates. The democratic nominee in each of those years lost in the subsequent general election. Also note that many states allow anyone (democratic, republican, independent) to vote in one of the primaries as in my state of Virginia. I suspect that the relatively high number of independents and republicans vote for Obama because the republican race has been over while the contentious Democratic nomination rages on. I gather many Republicans vote for Obama because they fervidly dislike Hillary more than they like Obama or like McCain.

Which brings me to the many faces of Hillary Clinton we've seen over the past couple of weeks.

Now as a disclaimer, I will say outright that I voted for Obama in the Virginia primary, I consider myself a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. I usually vote for the Democratic candidate in general elections because I dislike the religious overtones of many Republican candidates. No, I don't begrudge a candidate's faith, but I do begrudge that faith instituted in law and federal policies. I find it contradictory when Republicans talk about toning down federal government involvement and yet want to ban abortion and, as they call it, "preserve the sanctity of marriage," at the federal level. Mike Huckabee even called it changing the Constitution to reflect God's will, he used those words, I kid you not (Huckabee: "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."). Never mind that divorces skyrocket year after year, Huckabee wants to ban same-sex marriage. Now I'm not for same-sex marriage, but I am against instituting a federal law that bans same-sex marriage under the guise of "preserving the sanctity of marriage." Faithfulness should be more important than banning certain groups of people from marrying legally. Which is why I'm glad McCain remains opposed to socially conservative principles enforced at the federal level. I do agree with Hillary when she says we have to stop George Bush's war on science, there's plenty of evidence of that, just ask the scientists across the country. G.W. Bush uses his faith to enforce policies.

If John McCain is the Republican nominee and Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, it will represent the first year where I will be happy with either candidate despite their stark differences. Being a fiscal conservative and social liberal, I may even vote for McCain. McCain actually has a record of crossing party lines whereas Obama has stuck with his party on almost every vote (though Obama's voting record is short). I would definitely vote for McCain if Clinton is the Democratic nominee. I know many Clinton supporters have said that they'd vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee. Again lending credence to the fact that neither Democratic candidate can win the general election in a hotly-contested democratic nomination.

I sincerely hope I'm not being sexist, but as far as politicians go, I find Hillary Clinton the most disingenuous of the lot. I lived in New York State when Hillary Clinton exploited New York State's lax residential prerequisites to become its state senator. All because of her name recognition in one of the most liberal states in the country. Her move to New York State had less to do with New York State's interest than her own. Which would be fine if I didn't feel like her every vote and every public statement seemed so calculated. When the Republicans deftly blasted John Kerry's liberal voting record in the Senate during the 2004 presidential election, Hillary Clinton's votes moved decidedly more centrist. She voted for the war in Iraq because it had less to do in what she believed in or what was right for the country, but what she thought could advance her political career long-term. Looking towards a general election against the Republican candidate, her centrist votes could be viewed favorably and less susceptible to attack. It's no wonder that right-wing conservative talk show radio hosts such as Bill Cunningham from Cincinnati, OH, and Rush Limbaugh prefer Hillary Clinton to John McCain and Barack Obama.

Over the past couple of weeks, we've seen many faces from Hillary Clinton. On CNN's debate last Tuesday, I wasn't so moved by Hillary Clinton's closing remarks as some of the pundits. I found them fabricated to stave off the sting from her "change you can xerox" criticism of Obama's famed oratory. The audience booed her xerox comment and she closed the debate in a very conciliatory fashion, supposedly "honored" to be on the same stage as Barack Obama. I thought it was fake, and an obvious ruse to atone for her earlier comment which didn't go over very well. Then, we have Angry Hillary as she responds to Obama flyers (which are misleading, see factcheck.org) denouncing her views on NAFTA and criticizing her Health Care plan. These flyers have been out for weeks, so I have to wonder why she's so visibly angry about it now (Hillary: "Shame on you Barack Obama"). Then we have Sarcastic Hillary (and in my opinion, the worst) where she lambastes Obama for his optimism (Clinton: "Now, I could stand up here and say, 'Let's just get everybody together. Let's get unified. The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.'"). I think most people want to believe in optimism and hope, and I find this sarcastic side of Hillary very superficial. Not only does all this make her seem fake, but it makes her appear desperate after losing 11 Democratic contests in a row.

Let's see which face shows up tonight.

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