ISHTAR

“And, from my vantage point as a pragmatic Clintonite/DLC, neo-lib, New Democrat, Hillary (now that Feingold has departed and Kerry self destructed) stands as the least pragmatic choice available for 2008. If propping her up is the real reason behind efforts for Dean’s removal, I’ll yell out a hog-call for Howard and the level playing field he ensures, as I prepare to support Bayh, Biden, Richardson, Obama or Gore” --Gatemouth 11/13/06

Now that I’m attending the Democratic National Convention as a credentialed blogger, it’s probably time I commented on the Presidential race; I haven’t done so since the high holidays, and then it was the Republicans (I basically concluded that if a madman held a gun against my testes and threatened to shoot if I didn’t state my preference among the GOP candidates, I would reluctantly name McCain).

I'm a Clinton Democrat, but originally was "anyone but Hillary" because I thought she wasn't electable. I was hoping Gore would run on grounds of both electability and policy.

Barring that, I preferred Edwards--but only on electability. On policy and gravitas, I liked Biden (Richardson almost qualified, but seemed too much a loose cannon--which is saying a lot when you are comparing someone to Biden), but both Clinton and Obama appealed to me more than Edwards on policy.

I fully acknowledged that, in general election, a white woman seemed more electable than a black man, but we're weren’t talking about a generic white woman and a generic black man, and I wasn’t sure who was more electable in a contest between this particular white woman and this particular black man. However, when it comes to electing a Democrat, I'll take a cracker everytime. Won for us in 64, 76, 92, 96 & 2000 (LOL!).

Once Edwards was out, I was stumped. Since electability was not the issue, I had to consider policy. Clinton and Obama seemed equally willing to deviate from the party received wisdom, which was good, but in each case, their deviations were equally likely as the other's to be wrong. Actually, Clinton impressed me more, but Obama seemed extremely willing to stand up to the teacher's unions, which earns a lot of points in the Gatemouth/Domestic Partner household (our youngest son, Dybbuk is about to start school, a process which in New York City requires intrigues which would have shamed the Borgias). I was really undecided.

That is, until LBJ became an issue in the race. I went off the deep end when Obama called Hillary's historically accurate remarks concerning the symbiotic roles of LBJ and MLK in passing the Civil Rights laws "unfortunate". And the more I watched the race, the more annoyed I got with him. Though I prefer single payer, on the neo-liberal grounds that employer based health insurance is hurting American competitiveness, I thought Obama's health care plan was especially lacking, and while I could hardly blame him for copping out on individual mandates, I could and did blame him for attacking Clinton on it. Frankly, after the LBJ thing, I just found Obama more and more annoying every time I watched a debate. To me "Hope" ain't nuthin but a little town in Arkansas, and it's just as likely to produce a Mike Huckabee as a Bill Clinton

Domestic Partner was unrelenting in trying to persuade me into voting for Obama, basically threatening me with a Lysistrata. One evening, in an effort not intended to persuade, but merely to get DP to leave me alone, I went through my list of reasons. Finally, I ended with "and what do you think Obama would do if there were another Bosnia or Kosovo?"

"I don't know"

"Exactly; neither do I. But I do know that the "just say no" (to any use of American force, ever, for any reason, even to stop genocide) crowd is backing him. And I do know what Hillary would do, because she already did it. It was she and Al Gore who persuaded Bill to get off his ass and do the right thing."

And Domestic Partner switched sides, genocide being the ultimate character issue, at least for the child of someone who spent three years living in an attic like Anne Frank. Later, during the Hillary is a “power hungry monster” incident, I learned of Obama advisor Samantha Power’s work in this very area, and I realized that Obama, who’d sought Power out because of her book on genocide, was also good to go on this issue (Outside of horny adolescent males, I may be the one voter in America who found Power a net plus for Obama). But, by then, Domestic Partner had acquired the fervor of the convert, and is still holding out for a Clinton victory as we speak.

But, as I’ve said, conversion wasn’t my intent. By then DP’s sister, Feygele, had converted our five year old into a rabid Obamaniac. Since Dybbuk was so excited about Obama, I was really hoping that one of us would be able to take him to vote and actually let him pull the lever for his guy.

There was no reasoning with Feygele, who talks about Clintonian evil in terms resembling those of Richard Mellon Scaife and other members of the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy”. I'm still waiting for her to bring up the murder of Vincent Foster. At any rate, my son now hates Hillary. When I showed him the letter Bill Clinton sent him after he was born, he responded that he liked Bill Clinton but still hated Hillary. Still later, when he saw Chelsea on TV with Hillary and Bill, he asked who the girl was. When I told him, he asked me if she had a boyfriend.

Domestic Partner went with Dybbuk to Obama Headquarters in Lower Manhattan and got him a poster. But the poster had no picture. On the Sunday before the primary, I saw a sandwich poster with a picture of Obama at the local subway stop. I carefully peeled the tape to remove one poster, but leave the other hanging, and took it home. I realized that this was probably the first campaign that, when they hung signs, had more to worry about from supporters than opponents.

A couple of nights later, when I was reading him his bedtime story, Dybbuk told me his Obama poster was talking to his ET poster, which is sort of how I feel about the Obama campaign myself.

One night a couple of weeks later, Dybbuk told me that he was scared of ghosts. I told him that we were downstairs if he needed us, but he was still not placated. Then I said that Obama and ET were there to watch over him. He responded, "but they are not real".

Exactly!

On primary day, I let Dybbuk pull down the lever for Obama, then I put it back up so I could vote for Hillary. Since it had no impact on delegate allocation, I did allow him to vote for two Obama delegates, the better to block one guy I disliked. Dybbuk seemed OK with that.

In this era of Rev. Wright, those heady days seem like an eternity ago, even to a guy who remembers the 80s like yesterday. And speaking of the 80s, the Clinton campaign put me in mind of the Hollywood mega-disaster All-Star money-pit referred to in the title; I’m picturing our Senator and her spouse stranded in the desert with a blind camel (is it Terry McAuliffe?) yelling at the vultures that they’re not dead yet while singing "Telling the Truth is Dangerous Business". And what became of the hope engendered by the Obama crusade? Is he just Warren Beatty to Hillary’s Dustin Hoffman? Sadly, I fear we may be in for a McCain landslide of McGovernite proportions. But, that’s the good news; it won't be a Reagan/Carter type landslide.

In 1972, the Democratic Presidential nominee lost 49 states, but there were no significant loses in Congress, we might even have picked up a few seats. By contrast, Jimmy Carter’s 1980 loss was less daunting than McGovern’s, but his party lost control of the Senate, as well as enough House seats to allow Republicans to often achieve working control of that body as well.

What the recent special Congressional elections in Ole Miss and the Big Sleazy prove is that making Obama the issue won't work. Obama may lose, but it won’t save the Republicans down-ballot from their well-deserved and long-overdue thrashing.

By contrast, if Obama is denied the nomination after winning the majority of elected delegates, so many black voters will stay home, or even desert, that both houses will be lost. I think the party hacks understand where self interest lies, and will go with Obama--I know I would.