I don't normally blog about politics. Pandagon, Feministe and a few others do such a fantastic job that I'd be embarrassed by the comparison. But I do following it closely. I'm concerned about all the usual policy issues that liberal pinko lesbian mommies care about: our various wars and potential wars, health care, abortion, gay marriage, etc ... but I also follow it for the psychology. I love the psychology; it's a people-watching project at it's finest.
Part of the fascination is the marathon aspect of a two-year election cycle. American elections aren't won and lost in a single moment (with Howard Dean's scream being the possible exception), they're generally decided by a couple of candidates jockeying for an advantage, looking for a toehold, hoping to find some little something that will push them ahead long enough to gain that elusive momentum. Candidates get tired and accidentally speak candidly. They say things that sound human instead of presidential. Or they try to change directions, with disastrous results. Think of Hillary's "Yes, We Will" Obama ripoff. Now think of New Coke. Bad ideas. Go back to what was working for you.
Part of the process of electioneering is good campaigning, and part of it is strategic smearing by proxy. The polls say Americans don't approve, but it generally works like a charm. Karl Rove, for instance, speaking off the record about an illegitimate biracial McCain baby, can be more effective than a comprehensive healthcare policy at getting the public engaged. Swiftboating, Whitewater, plagiarism ... those buzzwords might be the lever that prys the election loose. Many voters don't know or care much about the stories behind those labels, they're just pretty sure that they're incriminating. And any lie repeated enough becomes the truth. If you can get the words to stick in people's minds with a negative connotation, it might be enough to put one or the other over the top.
I love the psychology, the sports parallels, the strategizing, the history. It's fun to view the sport of electioneering through a long lens and watch it evolve, or not, over centuries. The Founding Fathers were as vicious in their campaigning strategies as any Karl Rove. Allegations of sexual misconduct, racketeering, and outright treason are as old as democracy itself.
By a hair-thin margin, I think I'm for Obama. His platform is almost exactly the same as Hillary's, but I think he might be able to restore our international credibility somewhat better than Hillary can. He's fresh and new, and he's black, which might help cause the rest of the world to give us a second look after the eight long dark years of fascist White Guy domination.
Even though I support Obama, I like Hillary Clinton. I admire her toughness and intelligence, but I think a Clinton presidency would be a grim business. She'd be working hard trying to restore our nation and the Clinton family's personal legacy. I don't see a lot of joy emanating from a Clinton White House.
And that's too bad. I think Bill Clinton must have been one of those guys who knew how to think and work and strategize when he was "on", and then knew how to relax and laugh when he was on his own time. Hillary will be the sort of president who's up every night until 2a.m., poring over position papers and memos until she has a heart attack at her desk. She's a hard worker. She's like the kid who's number one in her class and isn't about to lose that spot by staying out late and skipping a homework assignment.
In the end, I'll be happy with either Obama or Clinton. I think both of them will dedicate themselves to undoing the last eight years of shameful American foreign and domestic policy and digging us out of this massive debt sinkhole Bush has created.
In fact, the biggest advantage either of them has is that they're not Bush. The only good thing about George Bush is that he set the bar so low, virtually anyone looks good in comparison.