From campaign financing by special interest groups, to rising government budget deficits, to the mishandling of the Katrina disaster and the war in Iraq, to the utter distrust for anything politicians say, I think it is more than clear to everyone that the American populace is increasingly fed up with the antics in Washington. So a call for change is extremely appealing.
So on the Democratic side, which candidate is the candidate for change, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? (or one of the others?)
Barack Obama is clearly a fresh new appealing face. He speaks eloquently and is inspiring larger and larger groups of supporters. Hillary Clinton in the past week has been arguing that ‘talking about change’ is different from ‘making change happen’
The point is valid. I have read parts of Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” and as an example, he writes knowledgeably and convincingly about the problems with campaign financing and what it takes to be elected. He seems to understand precisely what many of the problems are. And yet, we really must question whether knowledge of the problem is sufficient to change the problems for the better. Certainly it is a necessary first step, but is it enough?
On the other hand, I sensed one thing this week that probably won’t change if Hillary Clinton is elected; that is the so-called “politics of personal destruction.” During every President’s tenure, he is assailed by the opposition. Investigations, charges of misconduct, extreme distrust has become the norm in politics … to most everyone’s dismay. President Bush has been put through the ringer in many respects, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad for Bush as it had been for the Clintons.
We have heard that Hillary Clinton has very high negatives among the general population. Indeed, after listening to right-wing talk show radio it’s probably accurate to say that many people despise her and her husband. The Clintons, after having been attacked and investigated for so long during the 1990s, continue to harbor great hostility towards their critics.
The hostility to opposition surfaces occasionally as it did this week in the discussion about race and gender between Obama and Clinton. On Monday, Bill Clinton, who would probably become a kind-of co-president if Hillary Clinton is elected, indicated that there were 80 instances of personal attacks by Obama against his wife in the past six months. He also ridiculed stories about Obama’s stance on the Iraq war, calling them “fairy-tales.”
What seems obvious is that the Clintons can both still be riled pretty easily by attacks against them …. and it is no wonder given what they’ve been through. That annoyance and anger towards opponents surfaces in many of our politicians, but it seems vitriolic in the Clintons.
If Hillary Clinton is nominated as the Democratic candidate, I think there is little doubt that personal attacks by the Republican opposition will be harsher than those towards another candidate who pretty much shares the same views. If Clinton is elected President, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the personal attacks continue for four more years. Now maybe there is no more dirt to dig up on the Clintons … but I doubt it … where there’s a will there’s a way in politics.
The politics of personal destruction may not disappear, (read about the antics in SC) but it would sure be nice if it could be toned down a little. I doubt if there’s any hope for change on that front if Clinton is elected. With Obama, there a better chance for change if only because he has not been attacked as much … at least not yet!