Archive for February, 2008

Hillary-Obama Combine

February 6, 2008

Now that the Democratic race for the nomination has shrunk to these two formidable and transformative contenders who’re in a dead heat, separated by a whisker, i’ll indulge in a few more thoughts.

Either will be a historic first, and each stands in the way of the other. To which Hillary has replied: “It’s a good problem to have, but it is a problem.” So to prepare the ground–she seems to be saying–let’s retain the color and change the gender of the President first. Then, after the better half acquires a voice, we can change the color of the President so that men and women of all shades are justly represented and a new age ushered in. How’s that for a convenient compromise? A white female policy wonk hungry for change, followed four years later by a black male visionary with character who will supposedly transform a nation. Since America is a land of immigrants, the more recent ones no doubt want such a force to integrate meaningfully with the lands they left. Their fervent hope is to escape the insularity that infects so much of the land they chose to settle in.

But apart from these historic shifts in gender-color, one has to study the differences between the two. However attractive they are, however transformational they seem, whatever promise they hold out, they’re still mortals, subject to human vagaries and realpolitik like everyone else. The office of the presidency stands above any candidacy, as does the rough and tumble of campaign politics that tests a candidate’s engagement with the public. Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek, offers a valuable insight: the differences between Clinton and Obama in terms of beliefs are slight, but policy is another matter. While Clinton is wary of acting on her beliefs, Obama shows more promise and committment when it comes to action. eg. America’s Cuba policy, where Clinton defends the status quo, perhaps out of fear of jeopardizing the Florida Hispanic vote. Realpolitik tends to suppress actual belief. Obama advocates an active engagement with Cuba in order to weaken Castro’s regime, thus reversing the decades-old isolation and sanctions against Cuba and its people.

see Jan9 post: “Billary finally becomes Hillary?