Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday has come and gone. While the Conventional Wisdom has it that the Democrats decided nothing, I personally would rather be -- marginally, I admit -- in Barack Obama's shoes this morning than Hillary Clinton's. As for the Republicans, John McCain took a decisive lead on Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, but nonetheless ended the day with ominous question marks for the future.

For Hillary Clinton, every day that passes with Barack Obama in the race as a strong candidate is a bad day. A year ago, her campaign assumed that yesterday would be a knockout blow setting her up for a triumphal parade through the remaining primaries and caucuses, culminating in a coronation convention. She figured to be loaded with unspent cash and backed by a party that had been unified behind her for months. Now she's locked in battle with well-funded, well-organized, incredibly charismatic candidate whose campaign thrives on continued exposure. Think of it as the best-of-seven World Series. Clinton is the team whose best shot is to win in four or five games; Obama is the team that benefits the longer the series goes on. 

Some maintain that the Clinton-Obama contest may split the Democratic party. The argument is that the strength of each emerges from contending coalitions: African-Americans, students, men, and college graduates for Obama; women, Latinos, seniors, and blue-collar workers for Clinton. Nonetheless, there's no reason to think that these coalitions can't unite behind one candidate, especially in a year when there is so much enthusiasm within the party. Much depends on the tone of the campaign, but consider that her early stab at going negative reflected poorly on Clinton and drove undecided voters into the Obama camp.

As for me, I'm supporting Obama at Saturday's Washington state caucuses. On some issues, such as health care access, I'm closer to Clinton than Obama. In the end, though, I can't get past Clinton's vote to give Bush war-making authority in Iraq or her refusal to repudiate the vote. (She blames Bush for abusing his authority -- the subject of another entry). I'm supporting the intelligent, inspiring candidate who appeals to the hopes and aspirations (check out this video) of all of us, to the better angels of our nature. But you know what? I'm proud to be for either.

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