Water Man Spouts

Friday, February 22, 2008

Change is in the Air

"The great disappointment at the convention was Bill Clinton’s nominating speech. I have very high regard for Clinton, an intelligent, spirited and ( I thought ) sensitive man; and I find it hard to understand how he could have perpetrated so tedious and rambling a speech – and then persevered in it when the response from the crowd made it obvious it was not going over.

"I also find it hard to understand how the Dukakis people permitted it to happen. In my day the presidential candidate took care to control the nominating and seconding speeches. ….I hope that this speech will not go down in the folklore along with Paul Dever’s 1952 keynote and Frank Clement’s keynote in 1956."
--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.; Journals; July 22, 1988; page 656.

My house was filled with young people last night, who gathered to watch the debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on CNN. I’m used to having friends over to watch boxing, and did have family and friends here to watch Senator Kerry debate President Bush. But last night was different: rather than the retired teachers and social workers that I’m friends with; it was the students and young social workers that are my children’s circle of friends.

As an old man, I tend to worry the same worry that people my age have had most of the time during this great American experiment: "What kind of country are we leaving to the younger generation?" There is something reassuring in seeing a roomful of the inhabitants of that future watching a democratic primary debate, and listening to them dissect the quality of both the questions posed and the answers delivered.

I thought it was an outstanding debate. I had been concerned that Senator Clinton would be invested in the potentially destructive approach advocated by Mark Penn. That route would not help Clinton win the nomination, but it could hurt Obama’s chances in November, and would definitely damage the democratic party for years to come.

Yet Hillary Clinton’s decency came through, by and large. I had supported both of Hillary Clinton’s Senate runs in my home state, and was impressed by her in the early part of the primary contest, but have been disappointed by her campaign’s tactics in the past seven weeks. People including Mark Penn and Bill Clinton have behaved in ways that I find extremely offensive. And when I sat down to watch the debate, I was concerned that it would be a continuation of the offensive tactics, and part of a downward spiral that would last longer than Bill Clinton’s speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

All of the young people watching the debate here last night were Barack Obama supporters. But they also really like Hillary Clinton. At the end of the debate, when Senator Clinton spoke in a manner that suggested that she knows that Senator Obama has won this contest, and will be the nominee, one person asked if I thought she should be Obama’s vice president?

Most of these young people will be voting in their first presidential election. I said that this was obviously historic, because they would have the opportunity to vote for either a brown man or a woman as the democratic candidate, but that I doubted either would ask the other to take the VP position. No, I said, I didn’t think that was likely.

Old man, my son said, aren’t you the person who always says that "Yes" is more powerful than "No"? Don’t you always encourage us to look at this as a 50 state strategy? Well, with an Obama-Clinton ticket, we could be strong in every state, and change the make-up of the Congress, as well.

I think it is possible that Senator Clinton will end her run sooner rather than later, not just for her legacy, but because it is what is best for the democratic party. Change is in the air, and this nation will benefit from Hillary Clinton’s being a participant in that change.


At February 28, 2008 at 11:04 AM, Blogger sellitman said...

I am not convinced Hillary's negatives are worth it. General Clark or Senator Biden might be a better choice IMHO.


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