Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring is Finally Here and the Campaign Drags On

I can't take it anymore. This is way too long between primaries. The days drag on and on, the accusations go back and forth, and still the Pennsylvania primaries haven't happened yet.

I also find that my vow to keep out of the Democratic fray and just post about John McCain is weakening. I find I just can't muster the hatred for John McCain that I can for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, so I don't have the urge to post about him. Yes, I know he was involved in the Keating Five, I know he called his wife an unmentionable word and is prone to erratic rages, I've learned his positions are not what we might have thought and are as right-wing as any other neocon, at least during this campaign (who knows what he'll do when elected). But I'm just not getting that same strong urge to post about these things that I always felt about Bush.

What I am feeling is an urge to post about the Democrats. And I think I'll have to go back to doing so. Things keep happening that I want to comment about here!

First of all, I was over at Sue J's place, Nailing Jello to the Wall, and her recent post about Obama caught my eye. Apparently he has been using the civil rights struggle as part of his own personal story, and playing fast and loose with the timing -- much as Hillary has been accused of exaggerating her experience landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, or the story of a health care nightmare that turned out to be more complicated than she made it out to be.

As I said over at Sue's place, Obama likes to speak in metaphor and symbolism, and if something doesn't fit, to him it doesn't matter because it should fit - it makes a much better story. And in all fairness to Hillary, it's the same thing as her story about the sniper fire.

Let's face it: Politicians stretch the truth; they have stump speeches with specific examples of situations that may or may not be 100% true because they are metaphorical and symbolic. They say things because people will respond to them. I'm not saying it's good or bad, it just is. And both candidates are doing it. And so is John McCain, if anyone were paying more attention to what he's saying.

What is concerning is that since Obama is the Candidate of Change, I would feel better if he were not fudging the truth this way. We expect it of Hillary, but those of us who support Obama were hoping he wouldn't be doing it.

But I guess when it comes down to it, all politicians are still...politicians.

The other recent event that has annoyed me is McCain and Clinton are jumping all over Obama for having said working-class people are "bitter," saying it was derogatory and elitist. According to the NY Times, this is how it went down:

"At the fund-raiser in San Francisco last Sunday, Mr. Obama outlined challenges facing his presidential candidacy in the coming primaries in Pennsylvania and Indiana, particularly persuading white working-class voters who, he said, fell through the cracks during the Bush and Clinton administrations.

'So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,' Mr. Obama said, according to a transcript on the Huffington Post Web site, which on Friday published the comments.

The remarks touched off a torrent of criticism from Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain and Republican activists and party officials, all accusing Mr. Obama of elitism and belittling the working class. Mr. Obama forcefully rejected those charges when he arrived at a rally here on Friday evening, drawing a standing ovation in a crowded gymnasium when he painted both of his rivals as entrenched Washington insiders.

'No, I’m in touch,' Mr. Obama said. 'I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania, I know what’s going on in Indiana, I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed up, they’re angry, they’re frustrated, they’re bitter and they want to see a change in Washington. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.'"

It seems to me that this election season has dragged on far too long, when a remark such as this, made at a campaign fundraiser, is immediately pounced upon by pundits and politicians alike and blown all out of proportion.

Hillary too has suffered from this problem -- every little thing either of them say is recorded, posted on YouTube, publicized across all the news channels that have to fill their many hours with as many tidbits as possible.

It just results in more tit for tat, more back and forth, more sniping, more divisiveness.

I'm not happy. I wish the campaign had ended months ago. This system is broken; the primary season started in 2006 and has been going on forever. The U.S. needs to have a new system, one more like Canada or the UK: Have a vote of no-confidence in the current government and then declare it time for an election, give people about 6 weeks to campaign and then - boom - have an election.

We'd have had a Democratic administration for the past two years if we had their system, instead of suffering through the endless distraction of these campaigns while other issues get pushed aside.

By the time anyone is elected they'll be so exhausted that whoever is elected won't be able to govern. Especially if it's McCain, who's already old!

On the bright side, at least it's finally spring here in the New Jersey suburbs. We finally got a few warm spring days and suddenly the magnolias are blooming, the cherry blossoms sprouting and the leaves are budding. There are crocuses and daffodils, and bright yellow forsythia.

But throughout it all is the endless drumbeat of politics and I'm getting cynical about the whole thing...I hope we progressives will be able to keep up our enthusiasm and be able to get the votes out in November, if we can ever get there.

I'll end by posting a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of my favorite poets. Although known for her love poems and sonnets, she also had a number of political poems. This one may or may not be one of them, but I find it strangely appropriate, especially the part about the maggots...


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay


Randal Graves said...

O, how wonderful a system like that would be. Which is why it'll never ever ever ever ever ever be implemented here.

Spring is certainly an illusion that we can, er, cling to. Ha, I made a funny! I've nothing against the flowers, but it seems that this season of rebirth merely means another generation of stupidity.

I can see why springtime is so compelling.

Fran said...

Spring is to me - the exhale of hope into the world. An illusion, perhaps, but then again, what isn't?

The campaign is beyond me at this point, I am sick of it all and it is only April!

I love none of them and I just can't get into nitpicking the differences and the inconsistencies, with all due respect.

It is all too much of nothing, nothing and more nothing. They all are flawed and this should not be a surprise to anyone at this point.

I am pausing to take a sip of STFU because I am blathering on too much at this point.

The poem- I so love the poem, so very much!

Mauigirl said...

Randal and Fran, thanks for the comments. Randal, sadly you are right, that system won't happen here - much too sensible.

Fran, that is just how I feel today - I can't get into the nitpicking either. Both sides have done things and said things that aren't great, it is what it is, and I can't wait for it all to be over.

I'm so glad you liked the poem as much as I do!

Christopher said...

CNN described Obama campaign as having this particular controversy "swirling around Obama."

No wonder most people think CNN is a joke and in bed with the Clinton campaign.

Nevermind the fact that John McCain broke the law regarding campaign finance law or that Hillary lied about being fired upon in Bosnia to improve her commander-in-chief bona fides or that the economy is in recession and people are losing their homes and can't afford food.
The Hillbots who run CNN say this particular controversy is "swirling around Obama."

Of course, Hillary Clinton thinks she's entitled to be president. Bill Richardson even said as much about her. Six months ago, she was on her way to winning the nomination and never expected to be challenged by this young, upstart senator from Illinois let alone find herself back 160 delegates and with no chance of catching Obama.

We're witnessing one of the most spectacular political meltdown in modern history as the peels covering the Clintons are being pulled away and their true character is revealed for all to see and it isn't a pretty visage.

Cosa Nostradamus said...

April is the cruelest month. It brings forth the Pennsylvania Primary, which, like their polka, is better with beer.

The thing to watch is not all this rattattat the 'Nets generate to sell snake oil. It's where the candidates' money comes from. The biggest story so far has been Billarycorp's work for the Columbia Free Trade Agreement, even as Hil' excoriates her opponents on NAFTA. McCain is no better. So far, Obama has taken no corporatist dough. We'll see.

But it's up to us to keep watch on all of them, and demand that they represent us, not the Stateless corporations that are trying to run, and ruin our lives. We need to take control of this system, before we can reinvent it.

Otherwise, we could all end up like New Jersey. Well, North Jersey, anyway. Or South Jersey. Or Central Jersey.

The Shore is nice. In the Winter. Ah, the hot toasted corn muffins in the long cold night.

Happy Spring, Mauigirl. We're holding a spot on Haleakala for ya.

Dorothy said...

Most frustrating is the media. People are loosing their homes, kids are not getting good health care. We don't really care about our candidates any more..too much too soon...and we have no control of what the media will be. I would like to hear more about the next Boston Tea Party so we can get gas prices down to where they should be. It is affecting prices for every product we purchase. As almost everything produced today travels at one point or another by tractor trailer. Yet to ask and receive will never happen because simply we are the pawns..

However, thanks for trying to set the record straight..Having a bad chemo week..if this doesn't make sense...

Dorothy from grammology
remember to call gram

LET'S TALK said...

The Democratic race has really changed a lot of bloggers who were set on defeating the Republicans until Obama became the front runner.

It's sad that some would not vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination and it's sad that some will not vote for Obama if he get's the nomination.

I guess we will have another Republican running this country if we do not get ourselves together and put a stop to all this negative feed back from the Democrats.

I really love the poem Spring, even though it is a time of change it also brings a lot of suffering to some who cannot take the pollen. Overall it makes way for summer to arrive and things to grow.

John J. said...

Ok, I can't let your read the mischaracterizations Sue is throwing out without some clarification. The first quote does not say he was born because of or at Selma. His life story wouldn't have happened if not for Selma and that is what he meant. As for the second quote, about the Kennedy funding of the air lifts, It was one year off, and, as far as I know, as soon as the information was clarified, he hasn't said it again. I don't find that even close to a fully fabricated lie meant to completely change one's resume.

Personally, I don't have nearly the same faith in a Britain-like system of arbitrary elections. Such a short election cycle would mean only Clintons, Bushes, and McCains would be elected in such a large nation as ours. Six weeks is not enough time for a relatively new politician like Obama to introduce himself to the rest of the nation the way this election season is allowing. All that could happen is long time politicians keep getting power.

Countries around the world are looking to us with admiration for being a place where near unknowns like Obama and Huckabee can get to where they are/did in the political process. What we need is for the attack politics to stop. The petty, nit-picking mischaracterizations just serve to demean our process.

Mauigirl said...

Christopher, of course you are right that thanks to Hillary and the media, Obama's comments (which certainly did not demean anyone) have been blown out of all proportion. And I agree that the Clintons' tactics have not been pretty.

Cosa, you are right - we have to keep an eye on all of them to make sure the real stories are coming to people's attention. And thanks for that spot on Haleakala - I could use it around now!

Dorothy, you are right - the real issues are not getting any attention, and the prices are out of control. And not just because of the gas prices - grain has gone up as well since the idiots in charge think that ethanol is a good idea to replace oil...sorry to hear you're having a bad chemo week, hope you're feeling better soon.

LT, I know - it really is too bad that Democrats, who should all be on the same side, are divided like this. I noticed I put "when elected" regarding John McCain...Freudian slip? It should be "if." But I guess I'm feeling pessimistic at the moment.

John, you have a point there about the UK-style elections. But of course they have a whole different system, with an opposition leader that is always representing the party that's out of favor. So it is indeed a whole different thing over there. Regarding the Selma thing, when I read the full text of the speech (I didn't rely just on Sue's quote) it did indeed make it sound as if his father specifically came over because of the Selma events. But as I've said, it was really more of a metaphorical take on it, and that's OK...and maybe Hillary did feel nervous about landing in Bosnia and felt threatened even if she didn't literally escape actual sniper fire. Perhaps another metaphor...or a lie. It all depends on which side you're on, sadly.

I don't want you to think I don't still support Obama, I do. I wish the media would quit nitpicking on these small details and stick to things that matter. But not likely to happen anytime soon I guess.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I finally figured out how to get your blog to load properly on my PC, I'm using the Safari web browser.
I'll be back more often now and maybe I'll even comment again.

Sue J said...

Maiugirl, I agree with you completely that they (politicians) are all story-tellers who stretch the truth (when not outright lying). What Hillary Clinton said about her Bosnia trip was wrong. Completely wrong. As you said about Obama, I think she too was trying to make a bigger point about her experience traveling abroad, and she decided the details didn't really matter. That was stupid, and showed terrible judgement.

The reason I decided to write about Obama's story-telling, though, was because while she was derided in the press and the public, he was basically given a shrug, and "eh, no biggie."

They've both stretched the truth. I just wish the press would treat them equally when that happens.

Thank you so much for the poem. That is one I had forgotten about -- but I love it!

Suzi Riot said...

As you know from my own post on the subject, I am SO sick of all of it. I feel slightly guilty for thinking this way, but I just want it to be over no matter if it's Clinton or Obama. Perhaps if I weren't so concerned with beating McCain and perhaps if the differences between Clinton and Obama did not seem no insignificant to me, I would feel differently.

And I love the poem!

Liz Hinds said...

Comments on a few posts.

I too want Obama to be different, to not go along with the others but to have stricter moral truthful lines to follow. But maybe by the time you get to run for president there's not much hope of having retained your purity.

Corn fritters do sound like a strange palate cleanser!

It's a glorious day here today. I hope Spring has finally sprung.

Mauigirl said...

Dr. Monkey, that's good to know, as I too find my blog loads slowly. I keep trying to take things off the sidebar to see if it helps but it doesn't seem to make much difference. I'll have to check out Safari. Funny thing is, it loads fine on my husband's computer, and he thinks it's because he has a dual processor which I guess mine doesn't.

Sue J, I agree with you - the press has been harder on Hillary for her lapses than for Obama. Although this latest fracas about his calling people "bitter," etc., they seem to have jumped all over him on. (bad grammar there). Glad you liked the poem!

Suzi, I feel exactly the same way!

Liz, I seems as if there is no way to remain untouched by the political process once you get entrenched. I'm glad the weather is getting better by you as well!