Obviously, I'm an Obama supporter. I buy his schtick, regardless of how many times critics call it his "kum ba yah" strategy, or "bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake," or the ever-more-odious "Lieberman lite." The truth is, Obama's tapped into a wellspring of support that's not delineated strictly along partisan lines in a time when hyperpartisanship rules the day.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not one to shy away from partisanship, and I'll say that again and again. But I don't know how anybody can refuse to see the value in expanding the progressive coalition to include people who normally wouldn't self-identify as progressive. Obama's great at throwing a little bit of rhetorical red meat the way of independents and disaffected Republicans while simultaneously not changing the progressivity of his platform at all. That's a strategy that I truly believe is ultimately best able to win a mandate, and to sweep progressive legislators into office on Obama's coattails.
I've never actively disliked Hillary Clinton, and I've never specifically been a fan. I'd vote for her over any of the Republicans if she were the Democratic nominee, but I've always thought that I'd much rather see it go to Obama or Edwards. That having been said, I understand and sympathize with those bloggers who say she's been getting a raw deal largely because she's a woman. She doesn't get emotional, she's a robot. She gets emotional, she's shrill. Etc. Double standards abound, and I don't like it any more than anyone else.
That having been said, though, I was quite taken aback during Saturday's debate to hear her explicitly cite her gender as a reason that she's a "change" candidate. It's always seemed to me that Hillary's gender and Obama's race were self-evident, and things that didn't need to be explicitly stated. Obama's a presidential candidate who happens to be black. Seems to me that with her paean to people that her gender implicitly makes her an agent of change, Hillary Clinton's become not a presidential candidate who happens to be a woman, but a woman who happens to be a presidential candidate. I think Obama's got the right strategy (obviously). Only by downplaying the issues of race and gender can we get past them. Obama's is a candidacy, not a black candidacy. But Hillary's is explicitly a woman's candidacy. And while I have no problem with a woman being President, I don't think that someone's gender should at all be a reason to vote for or against them. I wonder if Hillary would argue that Condoleezza Rice would be an agent of change.
I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow night in New Hampshire, but I have a feeling I already know. I was pretty dead-on with my predictions last time, so I'll make some again today (one day early, and even with percentages!), and see how I fare this time.
- Barack Obama - 40%
- Hillary Clinton - 28%
- John Edwards - 22%
- Bill Richardson - 3%
- John McCain - 34%
- Mitt Romney - 26%
- Rudy Giuliani - 14%
- Ron Paul - 10%
- Mike Huckabee - 7%
- Fred Thompson - 2%