Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards Speaks, Will Anyone Listen?

Former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards has finally come down off the fence. (It must have hurt sitting up there for so long. I hope there weren't too many splinters.) Edwards today did what many thought he would do if he ever decided to endorse a candidate. He announced his support for Barack Obama.

Several weeks ago, such an endorsement probably would have meant something. Now, though, who know whether it really means anything at all. It almost smacks of posturing and has me at least wondering, John, why did it take you so long? I can't be the only one wondering.

John, could you not see that Barack Obama's campaign offers at least the hope of change while Hillary Clinton's campaign smells like more of the same smoke-filled, backroom deals that have given politics a bad name? It seems to me the choice would have been an easy one to make. Or was it simply the desire to be or at least feel like a kingmaker that created the delay? Who knows?

What does seem clear is that, at this late stage of the campaign, John Edwards' annointing of Barack Obama as the best choice and hope for the Democratic Party in 2008 will likely have little effect on the vote in the remaining primaries. Where it could and should have an impact is in terms of Democratic super delegates and their decisions of whom to support. The trickle of super delegates moving to Obama has turned into a steady stream and could soon become a flood.

With the weight of such a party power as John Edwards now behind Obama, the rest of the party leadership should have less trouble now telling Hillary Clinton it's time to call her driver and have him take her home.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Democratic Divide

Tomorrow is primary election day in Indiana and North Carolina. A number of the pundits forecast a split, with Hillary Clinton winning Indiana and Barack Obama taking North Carolina. Me, I hope against hope for an Obama sweep.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I am an Obama supporter and have been since the number of candidates dwindled to two (perhaps even before that). Second, regardless of the bright face the Democratic Party leadership paints on this drawn-out race, the increasingly bitter contest between Clinton and Obama is anything but good for the party. It is great fodder for conservative talk radio and the mainstream media, but as far as adding anything of substance to the political canvas, this battle has all the appeal of an episode of Jerry Springer.

The party says this battle has brought new voters into the process and has reinvigorated the political process. They are right - to a point. And that point has been passed. As this race becomes increasingly bitter, increasingly nasty, those same new and excited voters are in danger of becoming disgusted and appalled at the notion that a candidate of ideals and a candidate of change, as many have perceived Barack Obama to be, cannot succeed against a political machine that attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator and it willing to use any tactic, any trick to win and, if necessary, steal the nomination.

Where Barack Obama has shown himself to be a man of ideals, loyal to the party rules but willing to say the unpopular thing because it needs to be said, Hillary Clinton has shown herself to be an opportunist, loyal only to herself and willing to say whatever she thinks will attract votes. Millions of Americans have already seen through this and have given Obama a lead in pledged delegates. Hopefully, a majority of voters in both Indiana and North Carolina will do likewise on Tuesday and send the message to Hillary Clinton that it is time for her to end her campaign - while the Democrats can still win the White House.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wright Message, Wrong Words?

I just got the chance to watch the Bill Moyers Journal program featuring Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and I have to say it was very interesting. Wright certainly did not come off looking or sounding like the fanatic he has been made out to be by the mainstream press and one Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Speaking as a middle-aged white man, I have to say that Wright made some very valid points regarding the treatment of minorities in this country, both in the Moyers interview and in the extended sermon clips that were aired on that program. His unfortunate choice of words does not diminish the validity of his message.

He is also correct when he notes that the victors are the ones who write the histories. As a result, we are able to emphasize the Nazi atrocities committed against the Jewish during World War II because the Nazis lost the war while downplaying our own actions in this country against Native Americans in the 19th Century because we won.

I have always thought that we needed to look at ourselves and our actions before we condemn others. I do not say we should not speak out against oppression, but we should not do so from a position of moral superiority as a self-appointed arbiter of right and wrong. Instead, we should speak from a position of humility, pointing out these things while also recognizing our own shortcomings in such areas. The idea is one of helping others to learn from our mistakes and missteps.

Leading from a position of power ultimately brings resentment, even hatred. Leading from a position of humility should ultimately bring understanding and respect. I know which I would prefer if it were my country being led.