Thursday, March 06, 2008

“Wanna See My Picture on the Cover ...”

With Senator Hillary Clinton’s race-altering presidential primary wins in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday, there are more than a few bloggers suggesting that she drop out of the race “for the good of the Democratic Party.” And there are even some of her own campaign advisors wondering whether she should go on in her pursuit of the Democratic nomination against the more charismatic Senator Barack Obama. Others, though, insist that it’s still too early to call for Clinton’s withdrawal or to compromise by pushing a unified Obama-Clinton (or Clinton-Obama) election ticket.

Meanwhile, Walter Shapiro, Salon’s Washington bureau chief, suggests that the continuing rivalry will be good, in the end, for Democrats--and immensely frustrating to John “100 Years War” McCain, George W. Bush’s now anointed clone and the Republican’t Party’s own Hubert Humphrey (“Captive to his own partisan support for a disastrous war; too timid to stake out an agenda for change; passively permitting an unpopular president to embrace him as heir; squandering what little was left of his good repute in shabby political maneuvering.”). Shapiro writes:
John McCain announced Tuesday that he would be heading for Florida on Thursday to campaign in West Palm Beach. But the problem McCain faces is that he still has a faceless opponent with the Democratic race far from settled. So, in effect, McCain will be shadowboxing against a vague entity called Obama-Clinton. The result is that (just wait and see) McCain will find it difficult to make news since there is no longer any drama to anything that he does until it becomes time to pick a running mate. The Project for Excellence in Journalism, which monitors media coverage, found that last week the Democratic race generated four times the attention of the Republicans. And that news blackout occurred when McCain still had a nominal opponent in Mike Huckabee.

So rather than fantasizing about a soporific and conflict-free nomination fight, the Democrats should recognize the value of what they have stumbled into. The contest between Obama and Clinton--this battle of historic firsts--has the entire nation hanging on the edge of their seats. Who with any sense of show business would think of pulling down the curtain when the audience is shouting for more? But, then, if the Democrats had any sense of what the public craved, George W. Bush probably would not be in the White House.
Like many people, though, the editors of Rolling Stone magazine hesitate to let this contest play out, to wait and see if Hillary Clinton can sell her (admittedly dubious) argument to American voters that only she can beat the aged McCain in November--and in the meantime allow her to bloody Obama even before the Republican’t hate machine gets him between its teeth. For the first time ever, the music-and-issues magazine is endorsing a contender for the White House during the primary season: Barack Obama. In its March 20 issue, editor, publisher, and Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner opines:
Obama has emerged by displaying precisely the kind of character and judgment we need in a president: renouncing the politics of fear, speaking frankly on the most pressing issues facing the country and sticking to his principles. He recognizes that running for president is an opportunity to inspire an entire nation.

All this was made clearer by the contrast with Hillary Clinton, a capable and personable senator who has run the kind of campaign that reminds us of what makes us so discouraged about our politics. ...

Obama also denounced the Republican campaign of fear. Early in the campaign, John Edwards took the lead, calling the War on Terror a campaign slogan, not a policy. Obama rejected the subtle imagery of false patriotism by not wearing a flag pin in his lapel, and he dismissed the broader notion that the Democratic Party had to find a way to buy into this entire load of fear-mongering War on Terror bullshit--to out-Republican the Republicans--and thus become, in his description of Hillary Clinton’s macho posturing on foreign policy, little more than “Bush-Cheney lite.” ...

We have a deeply divided nation, driven apart by economic policies that have deliberately created the largest income disparities in our history, with stunning tax breaks for the wealthiest and subsidies for giant industries. The income of the average citizen is stagnant, and his quality of life continues to slowly erode from inflation.

We are embittered and hobbled by the unnecessary and failed war in Iraq. We have been worn down by long years of fear- and hate-filled political strategies, assaults on constitutional freedoms, and levels of greed and cynicism, that--once seen for what they are--no people of moral values or ethics can tolerate.

A new president must heal these divides, must at long last face the hypocrisy and inequity of unprecedented government handouts to oil giants, hedge-fund barons, agriculture combines and drug companies. At the same time, the new president must transform our lethal energy economy--replacing oil and coal and the ethanol fraud with green alternatives and strict rain-forest preservation and tough international standards--before the planet becomes inhospitable for most human life. Although Obama has been slow to address global warming, I feel confident that his intelligence and morality will lead him clearly on this issue.

We need to recover the spiritual and moral direction that should describe our country and ourselves. We see this in Obama, and we see the promise he represents to bring factions together, to achieve again the unity that drives great change and faces difficult, and inconvenient, truths and peril.

We need to send a message to ourselves and to the world that we truly do stand for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And in electing an African-American, we also profoundly renounce an ugliness and violence in our national character that have been further stoked by our president in these last eight years.
Rolling Stone’s full editorial has been made available on the Web, here. Elsewhere in the same issue can be found Tim Dickinson’s profile of Obama’s grassroots field operation.

We’ll see how beneficial this endorsement really is. Rolling Stone did Bill Clinton considerable good, putting him on its cover back in 1992. But similar efforts in 2000 (for Al Gore) and 2004 (for John Kerry) proved ... well, less than decisive.

READ MORE:Poll: Obama and Clinton Lead McCain; Change vs. Experience Is the Roadmap,” by Gary Langer (ABC News); “Amazing Race,” by Bruce Reed (Slate); “Time to Bow Out,” by Marc Ash (TruthOut).

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