Monday, March 3, 2008

March 3, 2008

     Bob Shrum, a longtime Democratic campaign consultant, may have summed up the party's presidential race this year.  Appearing on "Meet the Press" he said it was generational, as if Clinton were the Beach Boys and then suddenly the Beatles came to America.  She would be singing, what, "Be True to Your School?"   She is kind of the traditional candidate, old school if you will.  He'd be singing, maybe, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand?"   He has kind of romanced the party.
     Mrs. Clinton talks a lot about experience, stressing that she has it and he doesn't.  And you want an experienced commander in chief answering the phone when it rings at 3 o'clock in the morning.  The problem is, her experience in those situations was that of the spouse.  We all assumed, I think, that if that phone rang in the Clinton White House it would be Bill not Hillary who picked it up and said yes, bomb them or no, don't.
     Her experience as an independent decision-making person is, like Obama's, in the Senate.  She's been there longer but you have to be a real optimist to believe that tenure in the place increases one's wisdom.  I don't think so.  
    Their positions on the issues?  Fairly close to each other.  You can cite differences in their approach to health care, say, but they aren't big differences.  Any plan will get scuffed up and changed as it moves through Congress anyway.
     Besides, I've never thought voters really based their choices on issues.  Occasionally, maybe, on really big ones--were you for or against the war in Vietnam, for or against the Civil Rights Act.  But mostly, I think voters judge on character--is he or she a good person?  Believable?  Likely to get us into a war?  These are sometimes hard calls.  Who knew in advance that this president would blunder into invading a dictatorship which, while bad, was no threat at all to the United States?
     Tuesday, voters in four states will ask themselves those questions and, maybe, decide who the nominee will be.  The political junkie in me hopes that they won't settle it.  I still long to hear something I've never heard, the chairman of the convention saying, "As we begin the second ballot...."   We'll see.   

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