Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Saddening

Folks keep giving me a lot of flack for openly coming out and saying that I won't back Hillary Clinton in the general election based largely on the conduct of her campaign (though it's worth noting that it's also because, quite frankly, I see little difference between her and John McCain in some key elements of foreign policy), and I want to be clear on this ... my lack of support stems overwhelmingly from disappointment and disenchantment. It's as if watching a good friend continue to indulge in a self-destructive behavior despite encouragement not to, and then ultimately accepting the reality that you can't go there with that person anymore.

And what's most troubling to me is that it's going to get worse and, on top of that, Barack Obama is going to have to get down and sling the same type of nonsensical mud that Clinton routinely tosses around just to be viable (despite the fact that he still leads decisively in pledged delegates). It's going to get ugly (actually, as noted by the Clinton campaign lying about darkening Obama's complexion in an ad, it's already there) and though a lot of folks are saying this is good for the party, I think it's quite the opposite. Anything Clinton says about Obama can be used by Republicans in the fall, while the same holds true for whatever he says.

One of the main reasons I'm attracted to Obama is because of his ability to transcend the petty politics of the past, and her attacks belittling that have offended me, if he resorts to having to do the same it'll be disappointing as well.

This is shaping up to be perhaps the greatest wasted opportunity for progressive politics in almost 100 years.

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is looking like proof that liberals, indeed, are not tough enough to lead in times of peril.

If He Whose Middle Name Shall Not Be Spoken isn't man enough to handle a few sharp elbows from Hillary Clinton, what on earth is he going to do when terrorists leaving calling cards?

(Of course, when your foreign policy is Let's Leave Iraq To al Qaeda And Have Tea With Ahmedinejad, that's an open question to begin with).

He Whose Middle Name Shall Not Be Spoken needs to cowboy up, or settle for the VP slot HRC offered this morning.

Reggie

3:29 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

To be fair, Reggie, while I also come form a similar persepctive as you regarding "liberal" attitudes towards PC and so forth, I think Obama is genuinely caught between a rock and a hard place here, and that it's not just because he's a "sissy liberal" who doesn't know how to lead.

It is not ridiculous for Obama to want political discourse to be something different than it has been. We are not just talking about people criticizing each other over policy difference, which should always be fair game. We are talking about subtle and not-so-subtle rhetorical craftmanship that deliberately scores "cheap points" by playing to other people's prejudices, fears, or subconscious psyche. Just as advertiser will put the pretty girl in the commercial to create a positive association for their car, politicians routinely use ridiculous associations to belittle their opponents. Any society whose citizens have a modicum of self-respect and logical acumen should boo such people off the stage. But we don't. This is not about "tough people just need to suck it up and fight back." Sometimes it is noble to try to stand for a different way of fighting.

But now it looks like Obama will have to fight the same old way, or he will lose. That is sad. The people have spoken, and the people are too stupid to tell statesmanship from mere ambition.

And, again, I'm not a fan of Obama per se. In fact I think a lot of his own rhetoric about change and hope is vacuous crap. I'm only speaking to this particular issue of political discourse, and the idea that it sure does seem like it is in need of an overhaul. Telling Obama he should stop being a wussy liberal and should just start making blatnatly misleading and dishonest commercials about Clinton is a sad response, not a gutsy one. But I don't know what else Obama can do, either.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

I missed the memo where a US campaign for President is strongly analogous to murder.

5:38 PM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

I have been enjoying the democratic debates of late as discussion over policy has shrunk into arguments over direct mail. Move over reality TV.



And in all the hoopla, there is a striking similarity between this national contest and a not so distance contest in our own town of Athens. On one side, we had an established politician saddled aside her equally politically savvy husband. On the other side is the underdog who has a shot at being the first African American to hold that office.



The tactics seem the same as well.



First, the establishment attacks whether the Black candidate is black enough. Nationally, it crescendos with Bill Clinton questioning the actions of Martin Luther King and the effectiveness had enterprising politicians such as himself had not offered a boost. Locally, it was cozying up to Atlanta’s mayor for a photo opt which was then hastily mailed to Black voters.



Next, the Black candidate is painted as not being Democratic enough. For Obama it was his cheery picked comments about Ronald Regan. For Athens, it was whether or not one supported the local Chamber of Commerce, an apparent hotbed of Republican sympathizers.



That is followed by the accusation that the Black candidate is full of platitudes and hype. Establishment cronies assert that “hope” and “empowerment” are nice ideas but have little political reality. The response to detailed policy recommendations is that there is simply not enough substance.



Lastly, the establishment dips into a special store of deeply hidden racism and suggests that the Black candidate is not qualified for office. Of course, the prescribed qualifications are never specified, just in a general way it is suggested that the Black candidate is incompetent, cannot think for themselves and does not understand how things in government get done. This of course resonates with much of the electorate either because they believe African Americans should stay out of politics or because they believe African Americans should be involved in politics to the extent that it helps white Liberals get elected. Either way, the establishment appeal is that Black candidates should know their place and stay in it.



The eventual path for the national contest will be the same as the local contest. There will be an appeal to special interest, muck raking and outright lies. And in the end we will prove once again to Black America that they are equal except when it comes to holding office.



I can hear the jeers over this now. “It’s not the same”. But it is. A black man is running against an establishment who thinks they have bought, and now own, the idea of hope. The establishment cringes at the stark fact that their ideas and approach is outdated and they will stop at nothing to keep as much power as they can.



The underlying theme of Obama’s book is hope but I appeal to another aspect mentioned in the title. It is audacious to stand up to expired and increasingly less relevant 60s era democrats and question their methods and, more importantly, recent results. It is audacious to run against a political machine that likes minorities so long as they follow instructions at the polls.



It’s audacious to suggest hope. And not just when you run for President.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, JM.

That's one of the best things I've read on the web in a while.

I wonder if the boys on Thomas Street would consider publishing that?

It might help them on one of those rare days when they're not bashing the sheriff or making fun of Bob Smith or picking on the Clarke Co School Board.

Reggie

5:57 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

A crucial difference between the two cases, Mr. Snowden, is age. Yet another reason to vote Obama is that he is from a different generation than the ones that already had their chance at screwing up the world.

7:19 AM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

I completely agree with the age thing. I must admit that part of what draws me to Obama I feel like he understands our generation and challenges. But it’s not just his age. His economic situation while growing up and living in a single parent household also make a distinction between him and Clinton. His choices and expierences have helped craft a perspective I like.

When I signed on to help Charlie, it was because of these very same personality traits that I admire. He grew up in public housing but worked his way out to head the labor department for this area. He became the chairman of the housing authority and worked to get students out of neighborhoods while increasing the supply of affordable housing. He has busted his ass (and even had it kicked on the way to the polls) fighting for civil rights for black Athenians.

So what happened? Ryan Lewis from The Banner Herald says Charlie cannot think for himself. Andy Rusk says Charlie says Charlie intends to bring smokestacks to cover the Athens landscape. We had to take out full page ads to discuss economic development which, ironically, had the exact same language on Animal health and Media that you recently praised on Online Athens’ blog. What did the paper say? Just Platitudes.

I agree that the situation between Obama and Clinton sucks. I think Obama has the right message for a country that needs it. I also think Athens has needs. I backed the guy who said he would work to enact the floating homestead tax exemption for the elderly and who would make sure that PPA did not turn out to be committee meetings. He was the only candidate with a real proactive plan for bringing businesses to Athens rather than waiting for whatever shows up. Like Obama, Charlie is a good man with a good heart.

And we all got to see what those in power will do to keep it.

8:03 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

So what happened? Ryan Lewis from The Banner Herald says Charlie cannot think for himself. Andy Rusk says Charlie says Charlie intends to bring smokestacks to cover the Athens landscape. We had to take out full page ads to discuss economic development which, ironically, had the exact same language on Animal health and Media that you recently praised on Online Athens’ blog. What did the paper say? Just Platitudes.

If you would like to show me one of those ads, I would happily rethink my position. My remembrance is that it was platitudes, but that may be false.

Still, Jeff, can you really argue that Charlie Maddox is more economically liberal than Heidi? You may well believe that his methods for fighting poverty are better than hers, but they certainly did seem to line up with the views of Athens Republicans.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tactics used against Maddox were shameful. Basically it was: Black folks can't think for themselves; he must be a shill for white folks we don't like.

I don't know to what extent that has been used against He Whose Middle Name Must Not Be Spoken, but there are plenty of interesting parallels, and Mr Snowden pointed out them out quite well.

Reggie

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mighty bitter tears from the ad agency man and attempts to equivocate Charlie Maddox to Barack Obama show your pugnacious ephemeral racist generalizations

9:01 AM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

Okay, Mister Wisely anonymous (AKA Dan),

Which of the parallels that I made between the unfair and vicious attacks on Obama and Maddox are untrue? And tears? You bet. I believe in Charlie and I find it funny how you can decry the same underhanded tactics when it doesn’t help your cause.

9:10 AM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

As to bitterness, tell me this. If Clinton calls in favors from superdelegates to edge out Obama, will you stop wanting him to be President? Will you support a 2012 primary challenge if he chooses to mount one?

I believe in Charlie because I believe that everyone who lives in Athens should have access to what Athens great. You shouldn’t have to live in a special neighborhood or hangout with a particular crowd to get the quality of life that our leaders love to preach about. These ideas don’t end with a single campaign. Call me bitter all you want. But if you then turn around and complain about how Hillary Clinton is using her cronies to lie and mislead voters about Obama, then you are a damn hypocrite.

9:24 AM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

Send me the e-mail address you would like me to send the ads to. Mine is Jeff@sn-ta.com.

Here is the copy from that part of the ad:




Our government officials have acted irresponsibly in promoting economic development. Don’t let the smoke screen fool you. Poverty, housing and opportunity are inexplicitly linked to jobs and this current administration has failed miserably to pursue good, well paying jobs. While under funding our Job recruitment activities by hundreds of thousands of dollars, our current leaders have scared off opportunities for jobs coming to Athens.

As mayor I will fund job recruitment efforts in the manner needed. Moreover, I will repair the state and local relationships for job recruitment that have been destroyed in the past four years. Under my leadership we will focus on economic development in attracting companies with the right characteristics for Athens. We will set ground rules for the protection of our environment, and we will consistently apply such rules to allow companies to understand what it will take to bring business to our wonderful town.

Please understand. I am a life long resident of this town. I will not support anything that will harm Athens or its citizens. But I will not sit idle as our current administration has done and allow our job situation to continue to deteriorate.













Major initiatives for Economic Development

• Adequately fund Economic Development Efforts.
o Increase local contribution
o Rebuild partnerships with local industry
• Focus and carry out business recruitment on our strengths rather than waiting for industry to come to us.
o Hospitality
o Animal Health
o Media Arts
• Repair damaged local and State economic development partnerships with.
o Other adjourning counties
o Georgia Department of Economic Development

• Set clear and consistent guidelines for those who choose to do business in Athens.
o Protect our natural resources
o Incentivize desirable business
o Attract clean, well paying industry


I am with those who seek real answers to our cities problems.

9:54 AM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

Hillary, I’m not sure what you mean by “economically liberal”. Charlie had a plan to focus economic development efforts so that poor people could get better jobs. I’m not sure what political ideology that lines up with.

But the easy bet was to impugn him as a Republican so that’s what happened. Since were talking about examples, what exact economic policy are you referring to that Heidi is supposedly more “liberal” on. I recall Charlie asking the Mayor why she won’t enact the Floating Homestead exemption which keeps seniors from being taxed out of their homes. Charlie said that would be the first thing he would do as mayor. The Mayor has done nothing.

How does that line up with the whole liberal vs. Republican thing?

10:03 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

You may well believe that his methods for fighting poverty are better than hers, but they certainly did seem to line up with the views of Athens Republicans.

His views for fighting poverty were, more or less, any development is good development -- let's take any work that we can get regardless of its long-term implications. Mainly construction. Charlie is a really nice guy, and for that reason I'm sorry to have opposed him. But I would oppose anyone with the same views.

WTF does that have to do with Obama?

Back to other recent comments...I don't think Obama "has" to fight dirty. For one thing, while I hear all about the nefarious dirty politics of HC here, I don't notice them in real life. All I hear are people enthusiastically supporting Obama.

the local Chamber of Commerce, an apparent hotbed of Republican sympathizers.

Dude, please. They created a PAC for the express purpose of running "non-partisan" candidates, all of whom just happened to have recently been closely aligned with the republican party and to push republican initiatives.

In fact I think a lot of his own rhetoric about change and hope is vacuous crap.

Ditto, but I'll vote for him if he wins.

Either way, the establishment appeal is that Black candidates should know their place and stay in it.

Huh. 'Cause as I see it that's the establishment view of women.

Finally, I oppose the floating homestead exemption because it is discriminatory, and I'm getting really sick of being the only person in Athens that pays any frickin' taxes. (Well, not really, but I'm sick of being part of a rapidly shrinking "sucka" demographic, while various forms of pandering reduce everyone else's tax burden.) There are ways to enact meaningful relief for homeowners in danger of losing their homes which are not discriminatory -- but that's not the point of the floating homestead exemption.

10:15 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

Hillary, I’m not sure what you mean by “economically liberal”. Charlie had a plan to focus economic development efforts so that poor people could get better jobs. I’m not sure what political ideology that lines up with.

I mean enriching the poor at the expense of the rich. Not providing any kind of jobs for the poor to enrich them a small amount while allowing those who provide those jobs to make loads more money (or at least taxing the heck out of them for doing so). Unrealistic? Fine. But that happens to be where my political priorities generally lie, in the extremely progressive wing.

It also may not be fair to say that's where Heidi is. My guess is that she's more economically conservative than I am. Most people are.

I'm not in favor of a floating homestead exemption for seniors unless it's tied to income and wealth. No reason to give those who can afford it a big break on their taxes.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa! Charlie and Obama, in the same sentence? Never mind comparisons between my friends Heidi and Al and the tactics of the Clintons?

Charlie tried to skate by without telling anyone whether he was a Dem or a Repub, and conned the Chair of the Dems at the time into letting him present himself, and his materials, at meetings and IN the office, despite the fact that the whole front of the Republican party office was covered up w/his signs, and they had his materials too... it was freakin surreal and a travesty.

His candidacy was the first attempt of the Republican party to take advantage of their winning the non-partisan "guess my political affiliations if you can" elections, which cost us our local primaries here, too.

He is the one who had the shady tactics, and tried to use race to get the vote... we are very lucky that most of our community was smart enough to see through the smoke screen and see that while he is a nice guy, he was being backed by some of the most powerful and resourceful Dixiecrats and Republicans in town.

Not only that, but he couldn't think on his feet, didn't handle any of the public appearances I saw or heard on the radio well, just kept going on and on in platitudes about how he cares about Athens.

Well, lots of us care about Athens. And while I'm a little upset and hardly a yes gal these days for the current M and C, (over water and their campaign to force the NBAF down our throats among other, less critical issues) I can tell you that Heidi's campaign was CLEAN, and DIRECT, and HONEST.

I admit I have only seen clips of Hill on CBS, I'm an American Morning, Morning Joe, Morning Edition and Tim Bryant gal, but I didn't hear Hill baby offering Obama the VP position, I heard her laugh out loud at the idea, and say that it's being talked about, which it is, but not in either of their camps, lol.

Their campaigns have been screaming at each other over irregularities in the caucuses, the fact that Ohio yet again failed to provide adequate ballots or polling places for AA or young voters... and polling places that were ordered to stay open closed because they didn't have any ballots.

I don't see any hand holding and kumbayah singing going on between those two, not in the near or distant future.

I don't see Hill baby as anything but a vindictive, horrible person, and doubt she ever gives up a grudge. Heidi is no Hill baby, and Al is no Bill. He's a brilliant strategist, and I love him, but he's not a convicted perjurer, doesn't do strong arm tactics, or screw subordinates, and the FACT that Shirley Franklin endorsed our Mayor is hardly comparable to the fight for super delegates that's going on now... I mean please.

Just because you CAN draw comparisons between ANY race in this country between a white female and an African American male and the presidential primary doesn't mean you should.

Charlie lost, fair and square, because he was a flawed, superficial candidate, backed by right wing asshats (okay, maybe I do read BfD a little too often).

He might have done better if he'd had a bobble headed doll at the debates, then at least we could have read some motivation into his candidacy, and not been embarrassed by his inability to find or hold any position on anything at all except his vision of making Athens safer for his rich friends, at the continued expense of the poor, and the public who pay the bills for the employers who keep their people in economic slavery, by refusing to pay decent wages.

I love it when formerly poor people tell us how they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, both he and Red Petrov are masters of that crap.

It's all part of that blame the poor policy we hear every time someone from the chamber bemoans the lack of soft skills in our local work force. Of course, they're exploiting that lack of soft skills all the way to their own banks, while leaving the rest of our community to figure out how to pay for health care, education, provide food, housing, heat and air, child care, transportation, etc. for their employees, who helped them pay for their houses in Oconee County, education for their kids at Athens Academy and memberships at their country clubs.

I don't always agree w/Heidi, or even Al,(sorry bro) but to compare them to the Clintons, and poor Charlie to the brilliant Obama is just about the goofiest thing, EVER.

I suggest you read Obama's first book, "Dreams from my Father", and compare that eloquence (I haven't gotten to his next one yet) to the well intended but bumbling campaign of Charlie Maddox. I don't believe I'd be bragging on any participation in that debacle, it was NOT a well run campaign. How do I know?
I saw it in the results, that's how.

I am afraid he'll be back... he was at Gwen's roast the other night, w/John Jeffreys, of course.

If not, it will be some other "guess what party I'm in, no really, guess!" candidate backed by Doc and his ilk. And I just hope that Athens sees through that candidate, too, and tosses them to the curb just like we did Charlie.

He is a nice, decent human being who got used by the Chamber and the local Repubs, just like he's being used by the AHA, and any other orgs he fronts. I do feel sorry for him, but that won't keep me from doing everything I can to defeat the next sucker they put out there to run, whether it's him or not.

Obama isn't being USED by anyone. He isn't a FRONT for anyone, and isn't just TALKING about a grass roots campaign, he's running one. You'd never catch him in the opposition party's office trying to use their gotv operation to his own benefit, lol. I mean, please.

Athens is too smart for a con artist Republican who wraps himself up in Democratic issues these days. Or wait, are we?
We let the developer Brian Kemp get away with running as the environmentalist, TWICE, for which we got our town torn into districts that would elect his brother in law. Clearly, we still have some work to do here.

I think it will be much easier for us to keep what progress we've made here and build on it w/Obama at the top of the ticket than with Hillary. That is the ONLY connection we should be making between the presidential primary and our local political situation.

aquariusrizing

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maddy:

Save it for 2010. He is definitely running.

Blake

5:11 PM  
Blogger jmSnowden said...

Maddy. You are seriously Athens’ very own Uncle Ruckus.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Re: The darkening of Obama...http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/did_clinton_darken_obamas_skin.html

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the heads up, Blake, I mean, really, lol...

Maddy

9:00 PM  

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