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Obama-Clinton Boucherie
Juvenile Democrats

No such thing as staying above the fray

As if it wasn’t enough that a herd of Democrats and a more furtive pack of Republicans are making asses of themselves and a mockery of campaigning by running for the 2008 presidency with almost two years left on the clock, and one year before the first of those hurdling primaries. We now have Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama making asses of themselves and a mockery of Democratic Party objectives, if not principles, she by bitching about Obama accepting big checks from David Geffen, a one-time ally and now big-time enemy of the Clinton camp, and he, Obama, whining about how that kind of discourse isn’t what it’s all about and how he wants to change the tone of Washington: In other words, saying the same thing every presidential candidate says at one time or another about the one thing that will not change, rather than accepting rhetorical crud as an inherent part of politics and proving that despite it all, it’s his message, his plan, that will get the job done. Lyndon Johnson was a foul-mouthed, arm-twisting, badgering, bullying, distasteful sonofabitch—and that was when he took naps. That didn’t keep him from being one of the most effective presidents, at least in his first term, without whose bullying neither the Voting Rights Act nor the Civil Rights Act nor Medicare would have made it through Congress. He was the madman of Vietnam. But domestically his is the last presidency that managed positive social and economic change on such a grand scale. We’ve been waiting for another one since. To counter the negative social and economic changes—the war on social programs, the war on public education, the war on drugs, on terror, on half the world, the catastrophe of inequality—the Reagan-Bush years have wrought, and the Clinton years did so little to stem, what do we have? The last thing I want to hear from a presidential candidate is another plea for civility, another plea for moderation, another plea for changing the way Washington talks. No, what I want to hear is a clear-eyed candidate conceding, like the Framers did two hundred and twenty years ago, that political animals will be animals, but that adversarial democratic institutions aren’t the problem. They’re the best means to force debate, and debate, unencumbered by the smokescreen of civility, is what we must have. The last seven years are a digest of brutalities on almost every front, sheened up by Bush’s pretend-image of a tough man-of-the-people guy who just wants to get things done. Bullshit. The man is a thug, a thug who managed to get his way so destructively that it’ll take a few presidencies to restore American credibility abroad and economic fairness at home. But Obama is worried about “staying above the fray” while Clinton is running around playing the mafioso candidate, forcing big donors to chose between her and Obama, tactically snuffing up the old Bush trick: you’re either with us or against us. As if what we need, as long as the menagerie of candidates has chosen to make a circus of the campaign, is a stifling of the debate between these two or any candidates. As if what we need is the one candidate most associated with divisiveness proving her enemies dead right with almost two years to spare for the character assassins to rev up their swiftboats. As if what we need is more juveniles running for the presidency. As if the last seven years of Strangelove juvenalia hadn’t been enough. “Let’s get busy,” Obama chants? Heed your own advice.

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