Water Man Spouts

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nine Days

"There are those who regard this history of past strife and exile as better forgotten. But, to use the phrase of Yeats, let us not casually reduce ‘that great past to a trouble of fools,’ for we need not feel the bitterness of the past to discover its meaning for the present and the future." – John F. Kennedy, 1963.

{1} Hillary Clinton: A few years ago, my brother-in-law and I drove to the village of Sidney, NY. Senator Clinton was making an unannounced stop there, to meet behind closed doors with area business leaders, before heading to Binghamton for a large public meeting. We wanted to discuss a couple of issues with Senator Clinton, and figured it might be more better to try to speak to her in an informal setting.

Senator Clinton took the time to meet with a small group of people for about an hour. First she spoke to the group, taking questions, and just speaking off the cuff. I had a chance to talk to her after that, about two topics of interest to me (the Plame scandal and the EPA). No newspaper reporters, no television cameras. Just a US Senator taking the time to have a conversation with people, because she was interested in what they had to say.

When people say that Hillary Clinton is just a corporate politician, who is not very different from the republicans, and that she doesn’t care about the "common folk," I know that they are wrong.
{2} Barack Obama: When Senator Obama spoke last night, after his victory in the South Carolina primary, it was more than the typical politician’s speech in a primary campaign. In a very real sense, it is too bad that the message he delivered was in the context of a victory speech, because it makes it likely that it will be ignored by those who most need to hear it.

The people who support one of the other democrats in the race, or who reject Obama for other reasons, would benefit from listening to that message with an open mind. That does not mean that they need to switch and become Obama supporters before Super Tuesday. In fact, that is the type of thing that should be removed from our thinking before we listen to Senator Obama’s speech: it deserves our attention beyond "politics."

Gandhi said that "truth never damages a just cause." The same cannot be said of some of the tactics used by campaign strategists. There are those who will attempt to spin Senator Obama’s message in a negative way. I prefer to listen to people like Caroline Kennedy, who are invested in the just cause of repairing our Constitutional democracy.

{3} John Edwards: As we watched the results of the South Carolina primary being reported on MSNBC and CNN last night, my son asked why John Edwards was not getting more votes than he is? He said it doesn’t seem fair, because Edwards is campaigning on the issues that should be the most important for the American people who reject the damage done to this country by Bush and Cheney.

Life is not fair, I reminded him. But isn’t that more reason to support a candidate who has worked so hard to represent those people who have been treated unfairly, he asked? This will be the first election that he will be able to vote in, and as a citizen as well as a parent, I welcome the interest and the energy of his generation.

This is a fascinating primary for anyone participating in their first election. We are witnessing history, and it may be that a primary that involves a black man and a white woman being given this serious of consideration for president will overlook Edwards’s qualifications and passion. Yet John Edwards is in a unique position, because even if he decides to withdraw from the contest, his endorsement would be perhaps the single most important in the nation at this time.


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