Thank heavens! People are going to vote again. It's been much too long; Mississippi was more than a month ago. The candidates have been busy of course. John McCain has been busy smiling; he's won his party's nomination. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been doing what candidates usually do when a race gets long and tough; they've been getting more negative.
That's about as surprising as the sun going down in the evening. But it's interesting to wonder whom it might help and/or hurt. Obama started out preaching a kind of transformational politics, and that's something he's very good at. Sometimes he was inspiring; his speech on race was thoughtful, maybe even profound. The question always was, yes, but how is he in a knife fight?
Well, here's a Pennsylvania sample: "...her message comes down to this--we can't really change the say-anything, do-anything...special-interest-driven game in Washington, so we might as well choose a candidate who really knows how to play it....She seems to have a habit of saying whatever it is that folks want to hear." Hmm. Maybe he can handle a knife after all.
We never, I think, doubted that Clinton could fight. Obama, she said, is "so negative. He has sent out mailers, he has run ads misrepresenting what I have proposed. I really regret that because the last thing we need is to have somebody spending as much money as he has downgrading universal healthcare." For the record, both senators have healthcare plans, though they do disagree on the details.
In fact they agree on most issues. With rare exceptions, like the Vietnam War, I don't think people vote on specific issues much anyway. The vote on character: Can I trust him or her? Is the candidate honest? Will this candidate get us into a war (maybe less relevant this year, since we're already in a couple)? Those are the kinds of questions voters have, more than the specifics of a tax bill or a healthcare plan.
So, does Clinton say what she thinks you want to hear, and does Obama misrepresent her, are fair questions. Clinton's husband is a fair question. So is Obama's former pastor though I think he's answered that one. Politics is character driven more than issue driven. Always has been.
Anyway, they're voting again. Excellent. We need some new numbers.