Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oh, why not. (In my humble opinion.)


Since I'm awake.

Another fiery political thing.

I like talking politics with Gemma, and we agree probably 80-90% of the time. If I may be so bold, however, there is one issue where my disagreement is becoming more and more emphatic in the recent weeks. Here it is in a nutshell:

Progressives should not pull punches in the 2008 Presidential election, either in their support of candidates or their hopes for the election in general. I say this for two reasons. First is that the Democrats are already prone to the sort of self-compromising hesitancy that will always look weak and undesirable when matched against conservative campaigns defined by a strident and confident rhetoric.

But where my argument really comes to roost is what seems to be this fundamentally flawed notion that inheriting the country after Bush will doom whoever follows to a nasty, unworkable legacy. This really is not likely unless we elect a mediocre president, and frankly, mediocre presidents don't come off so hot even in less contentious times (ie. Carter, Harding).

The obvious example for my case is Abraham Lincoln. Not only is he considered by just about everyone to be the greatest president, but he took over the position from James Buchanan whose administration was startlingly like Bush's in a number of ways. I'm not talking about slavery (although you all know my feelings about current Republican stances on civil rights). I'm talking about combining a rhetoric of national crisis with an uncompromising unilateral agenda and really crappy cabinet appointments.

There are other examples besides Lincoln. FDR took over from Hoover during the worst years of the Great Depression. The transition to Truman was not smooth, and he had many critics while he was in office, but history has treated him kindly. If I recall correctly, many people considered Bush 1 to be a letdown after Reagan (though I personally beg to differ). Although one could argue that his rehabilitation may have something to do with his son's poor track record.

Truthfully, if I were to claim that a nasty Bush administration is a boon for his successor, I would be jumping the gun, and probably wrong. What I think is a more reasonable conclusion is that, given our very limited sample set of 43, there is no particular evidence to correlate success in office with prosperity / lack of national trauma.

That, and nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Do we really have to bellyache about the race right now?

Shouldn't we be rallying for a vigorous race, whoever enters?

More, shouldn't we be trying to build some momentum out of our congressional victories to turn the national dialogue in a more progressive direction, broadly. That was, after all, what the conservatives did (quite successfully) during the Clinton administration.

At this point, I'm not officially supporting either Obama or Clinton. I think Obama makes a more interesting candidate with politics probably more in sync with my own. But I also respect the across-the-board experience Clinton would bring to the office.

And yes, if they can mount a strident and confident campaign, I think that either could win.



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