Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ms. Iscol, This Is How I Dare

On May 26, about an hour before I went to bed (I never go to bed that early, but I was worn out by the hellish last leg of my flight home from my vacation), Jill Iscol posted this HuffingtonPost. Clearly, she feels passionately about the Clintons and Hillary's candidacy. I respect her passion.

That said, I don't agree with her logic. I don't speak out when Hillary is called foul names because being disrespected is part of the game of politics and she chose to run for senator and now for president for reasons I don't fully grasp. I've always had the feeling she was more interested in power or status than in any specific agenda, and I have the natural misgivings of someone from my time and place (a second generation Southern California born Californian, even if I do live in Tennessee now) of people who move somewhere new so they can run for office. Maybe, as a man, I find her off-putting, I admit it's theoretically possible... but I don't think so. I think I find her off-putting because, as someone interested in voting on qualifications and issues rather than personalities, she has so carefully trimmed and tacked her answers on nearly every issue and because her campaign rhetoric says one thing about Iraq and her votes in the Senate say something else.

John McCain was accused of fathering an illegitimate baby by a black woman and forcing his wife to consent to the adoption of said baby. Bill Clinton was accused of everything, almost literally. Adlai Stephenson was called an ivory tower scholastic with no understanding of the real world. Andrew Jackson was accused of being an adulterer and his wife was called a whore, they also called him a murderer. George Washington was accused of stealing his step-childrens' inheritance. Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all poured so much abuse on each other in the political spectrum that it made what happened to Bill Clinton look mild. Then Hamilton was actually shot and killed by a political opponent. Slurs, insults, and slanders are part of the parcel when you decide on a career in politics. Hillary knew that and Ms. Iscol knows that too, and her feminist ire regarding the words 'bitch', 'whore', and 'cunt' doesn't change that fact. Worse things can be said.

Ms. Iscol is outraged that that the Clintons have been 'smeared as racists.' I don't believe that they are racists and I will say it repeatedly if desired: Hillary Clinton is certainly not a racist.

Yet she had not received those smears for no reason. Her campaign (and her husband) have stooped to race baiting tactics and pandering to racist impulses. When she tells unemployed or underpaid blue collar, blue-dog white Democrats in Kentucky or West Virginia that she is one of them, what does Ms. Iscol think she means? Senator Clinton is not blue collar, not unemployed, not at all poor, and claims not to be a blue-dog (though her voting record on the GWOT perhaps belies those claims), so what is left? She is white.

As a liberal Democrat seeking radical solutions to egregious social ills and injustices, I never had any intention of supporting Hillary and I did not vote for Obama. Having been raised in a pacifist church and having opposed the Iraq war from the first, I take strong issue with Hillary's anti-war rhetoric when every vote she has cast in the Senate on the issue has been in support of the Iraq war and she more recently voted in favor of a declaration that may be used by a Republican president as an excuse to invade Iran. I may vote for Obama in the general election, but Mike Gravel's proposed third party candidacy may win my vote. My principles may overpower my party loyalty, and I like Gravel. So I am no Obama supporter bashing Hillary for political gain.

The Democratic party needs a candidate and, for good or ill, we have two choices. Neither is a genuine liberal, both are center-left at best. Obama may be a closet conservative, though at least he has genuine ideas that can be described as progressive. Hillary is definitely a moderate, in most of the worst aspects of the word. In time of great moral and ethical debate in politics, moderates make the safe choice because they don't want to rock the boat.

That may be more damning than any 'b' or 'c' or 'w' word out there, and it's why I feel entirely comfortable not coming to Hillary's defense.

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