It would appear, at least provisionally, that both Clinton and Obama have wised up a bit.
I predicted quite a while back that the democratic race would come down to these two - and ultimately the overall race would be between Clinton and McCain. The first predication has come true, we'll see about the second one here shortly.
As most of you know, the GOP and I have gone our separate ways. I can't see myself voting for any Republican candidate in the near future, certainly not for any of the current crop of anal retentive jackasses, and most especially not for McCain (I swear John McCain reminds me of Don Rickles doing a bad John McCain impression). However, I haven't been all that impressed with the Democratic candidates either.
Don't get me wrong, I have no major beef with either Clinton or Obama. I think both would make a fairly decent president. I think Clinton will do an above average job. She's tough, strong, and smart - maybe a little too smart. She comes across as aloof, and she's lacking in shear personableness and in charisma, which is no small thing in a president. She brings a lot of baggage with her, some of it deserved, some not. I don't particularly like some of her voting record, especially her yes vote on the Patriot Act in 2001. But overall I think, depending on her relationship with Congress, she has the potential to be if not a great president, then at least a decent one. Obama, on the other hand, I think has the potential to be a truly great president. Like Clinton he is strong and smart, and he has the charisma Clinton is lacking. Again, I'm not entirely happy with his voting record, I agree mostly with how he voted on many issues, but he missed a lot of votes - and that irritates me. But, I'd be reasonably happy with either one as president.
As I've said elsewhere, I'm not a member of any party, and I don't like politics or professional politicians as a general rule. At the moment I'm leaning strongly towards the democrats because I purely despise the current republican line-up (and that includes their king in the oval office and his court of fools), I like the Democratic candidates' message of health care, civil rights, education, taxes and spending reform, and an end to this idiotic war. And I think properly presented, these things are important to a vast majority of Americans. And I think that many are fed up with Bush and the Republicans in Congress and the mess they've managed to get us into. I think many are fed up with the lies, and the bullshit, and the good ole' boy mentality. I think the time is right for the Democrats to win by a landslide.
But for crying out loud, if they do win, it won't because they resonated with the American people, it'll be because the American people are fed up with Republicans. Democrats as a party are their own worst enemy. The biggest threat to democrats is not republicans, but other democrats. If a Democrat doesn't end up in the White House next year, you know who's fault it will be? That's right, the democrats. Teamwork? Never heard of it. Mutual support? Never heard of it. Standing together on the issues? Never heard of it. Democrats spend more time on average bashing each other, than they do confronting the opposition. And as such they spend most of their time in an ineffective gridlock of their own making. The current democratic Congress is a perfect example - so far they've accomplished exactly squat. Oh, they've talked it up, and rattled their scabbards - but they have yet to draw the sword. The last stirring speech Nancy Pelosi gave on the floor? Yeah, her swearing-in speech. Bah. When it comes to fighting amongst themselves they're all full of piss and vinegar, when it comes to standing up to the opposition - they've got spines made of jell-O.
And, this more than anything has been putting me off both Clinton and Obama. This constant, incessant bickering between the two of them. They're like children in the backseat of a car during a family vacation that has gone on too long. I'm sick of it. When it comes to my vote, I don't want to hear why the other guy is off-base, I want to hear what you're going to do about the problems facing our nation. I want to hear how you're going to pull us together as a people. I want to see you rally the population. I want to see you earn the respect of not only your own supporters, but of those who oppose you as well. I want to see you reach out to your opposition and show me that you can work effectively with even those you dislike and those that don't share your ideology. In other words I want to see you start acting like a leader. If you need an example of what true leadership consists of, read this.
More than anything, an effective leader, a truly great president, must be a bridge builder - he or she must be able to work with both their own party and with the opposition. And it starts with their candidacy. The greatest threat to America is not communism, or fascism, or terrorism, or any other 'ism,' it's America herself. No matter how many airplanes or buildings the terrorists manage to destroy, they can do nothing more than scratch us, they cannot destroy the fabric of this nation, nor the principles it was founded on. Only Americans themselves can do that. It's American leaders who increase the natural divisions within our society rather finding ways to bridge those gaps, that threaten our way of life. It is American leaders who set goals exclusive to only their own party or their personal ideology, who will not compromise or listen to their opposition, who continue to pound the wedge of division deeper and deeper into the fabric of America. A president must represent all Americans, all Americans, both those of his or her party and ideology, and those opposed or even indifferent. And if two competing members of the same party can't run for the nomination without badmouthing each other - then I don't see what chance they have of working together or with their ideological adversaries after they've won that nomination.
Both Clinton and Obama seem to have gotten that message, or at least their coaches and handlers have. Last night's Democratic debate between Clinton and Obama was more civil than their interactions have been in the recent past. And I, for one, am glad for it.