Friday, February 22, 2008

Obama wins? Let's hope

For the first time, I managed to sit through the entire CNN debate (a pretty impressive feat, considering it was, by all accounts, the most boring debate so far). At this point, I can't possibly be considered an objective observer, but I thought that Obama trounced Clinton. He parried every thrust and, in the end, I think managed to land a killing blow. That's not to suggest that Clinton didn't perform well. Like many other political junkies, I am consistently impressed with her grasp of the issues, even when I disagree with her. But I tend to think that Clinton's detail-oriented approach is actually driving voters away from her campaign.

Nevertheless, I keep reading comments like this:

"Obama had some good moments, but her [Clinton's] ability to rattle off policy details on the fly really comes through whereas Obama needs to pause to think."

I couldn't disagree more. By allowing herself to be portrayed as a no-nonsense policy wonk, Clinton has damaged her chances at the nomination.

Obama's responses during the debates have always seemed far more meditative--as if he actually considers the questions being posed. Clinton sounds rehearsed. Her pithy one-liners ("change you can Xerox") are clearly not off-the-cuff improvisations, and her most memorable moments involve mawkish and overtly phony displays. But, more importantly, her choice to focus on policy details rather than policy themes makes her sound more like a bureaucrat than a president.

It's especially distressing for those of us who think that she's dead wrong on many of these seemingly minor policy battles--from health insurance mandates for ALL Americans to a mortgage rate freeze for home owner-occupiers. How can we expect any reasonable degree of compromise (and, thus, any hope of genuine reform) on these specific details when they have become so central to her campaign narrative? And how can we expect Clinton to have the flexibility that a president needs--and that George Bush woefully lacks--to pass any meaningful legislation through Congress?


Ms. Judice said...

what I think you meant to say was, support the Clinton dynasty no matter what.

John said...

Mawkish? Overtly phony? That's a bit of an exaggeration, don't you think?
If anything, I would say that the media exaggerated the intensity of these "emotional outbursts." If you did not see or hear the clips for yourself, you would think that she put Mariah Carey to shame! That's really not the point of your post, but I felt the need to comment on it.

To tell the truth, I'm a bit surprised at the depth of your support for Barack Obama. You may be no superdelegate, but I hope you'll decide to vote this year. Just remember what Diddy says, "Democracy was founded on one simple rule: Get out there and vote, or I will motherf*ing kill you!"

Emily said...

I didn't watch the debate, but I always read the media's analyis of them. I kept hearing about how Clinton's last answer was really emotional and scored her some points, so I found the transcript and read it. It was a a great answer, and for a second I thought, hey, maybe she's not that bad. Then I read that she stole it from Edwards. Damn her.

Did you read the article on NYT today about her spending? If not, here you go:

It's currently the second most emailed article on

I'm glad you started this and I will be checking in frequently!

mikhailbakunin said...

Hey, John, thanks for commenting.

Maybe "mawkish" is a bit of an exaggeration. The "crying" incident was certainly blown out or proportion by the media, and Obama has told more than a few sappy anecdotes during his campaign.

Thanks for keeping me honest.