Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whatever It Takes To WIN! (UPDATED)

One of my very favorite political blogs recently contemplated Senator Clinton's campaign, and in the face of Bob Johnson's smarmy hit job on Barack Obama, Steve Benen wondered:

"...Is it possible the Clinton campaign is indirectly making a point about general-election toughness? This probably seems silly at first blush. Indeed, it probably is silly upon further examination. But one of the underlying criticisms of the Obama campaign is that Obama, to borrow John Edwards’ word, is 'nice.' Clinton, in contrast, is saying she knows the Republican Attack/Smear Machine all too well, and she’s willing to play rough with the GOP if she’s the nominee."

Lots of comments followed, many of them arguing, "Hell yes!" Give us a junkyard dog, they said, if that's what it takes to boot out their party and get ours back in. Whatever it takes, some say, to win. We have to be just as tough, dishonest, and smeary as they are. The ends justify the means. So some say.

As I urge people to participate in this election, I ask them to consider this question seriously: what do you want our country to stand for? Who are we?

If we feel there is no way to win an election except by embracing dishonesty and amorality, what kind of government do we expect to follow? If Hillary Clinton is willing to lie to me, distort issues, and destroy decent people so she can win the primary while hypocritically pretending to represent the politics of optimism as other people throw mud, for what reason should I expect the Clinton Administration to be any different?

Has winning become more important than honesty and decency? That reminds me too much of the authoritarian personalities who have come to dominate the Republican Party and defined the Bush Administration.

I harp on this because Hillary Clinton said this on national television on Sunday: "I think that we don't want anyone, any of our supporters, anyone -- and that's why in my campaign, anytime anybody has said in my campaign, anytime anybody has said anything that I thought was out of bounds, they're gone, you know? I have gotten rid of them; I have said that is not appropriate in this campaign." With the exception of Bob Johnson, I suppose, the man who opened up a campaign event with a rambling introduction in which he made a sly insinuation about Obama using drugs, only to cover it with a hilariously transparent lie.

Does this move us any further to reckoning with an economy that is entering a national recession? Does this move health care any closer to the 50 million Americans who lack coverage and pray they don't get sick? Does this move the ball on a solution to illegal immigration that is fair and effective? Does this point us toward a rational, productive policy in the middle east, where we are stuck in an incompetent military fiasco by a saber-rattling president hell-bent confronting one more country before he mercifully retires?

No, it accomplishes only one thing: getting "ME" elected president. By whatever means. No matter what it costs. Even if it costs us our very souls. For the last eight years, we have been governed by personalities who feel that winning is everything, that being on top is more important than being right, who are driven by their own appetite for power rather than a desire to vindicate justice and equality for all.

It occurs to me more and more often, that the United States I was told about as a child no longer exists except as it is rendered in pretty speeches. Revolting candidates parade in front of us year after year, behaving in revolting ways as candidates and being equally revolting after we honor them with public office. We voters, by and large, refuse to behave as if we deserve more and better choices. We continue to elect jerks and mediocrities, and rather than blame ourselves for giving idiots the job, we throw up our hands and say government doesn't work.

And so it makes perfect sense that some voters will pick Hillary Clinton because she is willing to ugly with the likes of Karl Rove. Myself, I'd rather leave that part of the ballot blank.
* * * UPDATE. . . * * *
Gee, maybe Senator Clinton reads my blog! :-)
Bob Johnson issued an apology for his remarks. A spokesman's reply from the Obama camp is classy: "Obama accepts the apology. We're going to leave it at that."

No comments: