Saturday, February 02, 2008

Why Barack Obama Will Win the General Election in November 2008

One of the first predictions I heard about the race between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination said that it would be easier for Obama to get the nod. A National Public Radio pundit said that would be easier for white men to envision another man in the office than a woman.

The glass ceiling is made of super-strength safety glass or Plexiglas.

As I watched the Lion of Judah Senator Ted Kennedy, last living brother of the dead president, anoint Obama, I felt as if I was watching a scene from the Godfather. Caroline Kennedy, the last living member of JFK’s immediate family, bestowed the mantle of her dead feather’s inspiring leadership on the youthful African-American.

Eviscerally, my gut claimed this is the Kiss of Death for Hillary.

Hillary, in turn, has trotted out the ghost of RFK in the form of his son to affirm a close friendship with iconic California farm workers’ labor leader Cesar Chavez. This courts the Hispanic vote. As in Hamlet with Banquo's spirit roaming the castle, there are ghosts upon the battlements in this race.

During the Thursday night Democratic debate in a star-studded Hollywood auditorium, Barack and Hillary made nice like a family reunion. Reduced to a contest of titans with the withdrawal of John Edwards from the race, both eulogized him as if he were dead. Politically speaking, he is for the time being. MSNBC's Chris Matthews commented that Edwards would make a terrific Secretary of Labor, the first strong man in that position for decades, and a chance to revive this country’s moribund labor movement. Matthews has that spot-on. My Weekly Reader taught us elementary school students about the Big Three in American politics – Big Business, Big Government, and Big Labor. Like the faded star in Sunset Boulevard, labor now cracks, “I’m still big. It’s politics that’s gotten small.”

Politically active star Susan Sarandan reportedly said, “America is ready for a woman president, but maybe not this woman.” There are too many liabilities to a Clinton presidency.

First, there is a yukkiness to passing the leadership of the country – a putative democracy – between two families, Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton, should Hillary win..

Second, there is the record of sexual peccadilloes of her husband, our former president, Bill Clinton, and other scandals that erupted during the Clinton presidency.

Third, Hillary polarizes voters. I suspect that any assertive female is always polarizing in a sexist society. Females have such limited choices – be sweet and a doormat or tough and a bitch. A man can be tough-minded and likeable.

I find it hard to believe that any Republican can win the general election at this juncture in history. Bush's mistakes have poisoned the country. But then, I sat unemployed one dank November in Baltimore listening to coverage of Regan’s election in 1980. I couldn’t believe that Americans would elect an actor to be president. I ran out to the polls just before closing, but my puny vote didn’t help.

Reagan turned out to be one of our most beloved presidents, but not by me. I was shocked anew when he fired all the air traffic controllers for going on strike in 1981. After all, Reagan had been president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). That action played a huge role in diminishing the power of employed people to get their fair share of the economic pie, safe work environments, and health benefits, and that action reverberates to this day.

I predict Obama’s victory cautiously. Predictions are risky in a tight contest such as this one. Even though I might like a woman to hold the office, I think the markers say Obama and that could be better for the country. So I’m all in.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

Well written article.