Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath

Photo: (c)Darren Abate/WireImagePhoto: (c) Darren Abate/WireImage

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” - Bobby Kennedy, US Attorney General

They say that cynicism is the armor of sentimentalists, and I confess to grudging agreement with that opinion. Intellectually, I'm a devotee of realpolitik, but I have an inner core of touchy-feely mush.

While I would love to wave the flag for this presidential candidate or that one, I have been cynical most of my life about the politicians who have ultimately been chosen for the presidency of our Republic. After the 1968 Democratic Convention and the defeat of Eugene McCarthy, I came close to despair, and unfortunately, it 's only gotten worse. Time after time, from Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and the utterly despicable Bush Jr, each president has been more manipulative, dishonest, authoritarian and beholden to corporations than the last. To be honest, my heart has shriveled with each new presidential inauguration.

But then along comes this guy Barack Obama from the South Side of Chicago, not a place that one would normally associate with brains as well as heart. I must confess that for the first time in forty years (!) I'm truly impressed with a politician. This is not to say that I'm gah-gah over Obama, as he carries much of the political baggage that one expects from a Chicago politician, and he has outlined some policy details that I don't see as actually fixing the root causes of many problems (health care springs to mind), and his announcement that "all options are still on the table" in regard to the Middle East is troubling. Still, I have to admit to being in awe of the man's attempts to talk straight to the American public, without spin or scripted PR baloney.

He's no Cicero, and he doesn't quite match the rhetoric of the singular Bobby Kennedy, but he's sharp and seemingly honest, talking from the heart while speaking as one adult to another. His recent speech about his pastor, the Revered Wright, was a case in point. It wasn't Shakespeare or Lincoln, but it was smart, honest, and was delivered with the right tone. As a measure of the universal impact of his style and intelligence, David Brooks, the conservative journalist and pundit for NPR's Newhour, was practically gushing as he gave his analysis of Obama's speech the next day.

That said, I have grave reservations about his ability to actually win the nomination at the Democratic convention and ultimately the general election.

While his opponent Hillary Clinton is a throwback left-over of the DLC and a tool of both AIPAC and regressive corporate interests, she is a white woman who has become a Joan of Arc to the female politically correct and a "champion of progressive values" (yeah, right) to male blue collar workers who don't know any better. In short, against John McCain, she will take the nomination and go on to win in November, but without my vote, as I will probably write in Edwards, an actual progressive. At this point, I truly detest the Democratic Party. For the record, I usually register Independent, because we get the longer, fuller ballot. Choice is good.

All the pundits are predicting it's Clinton in Pennsylvania. But if Obama ties there, or comes within 5 points, he can still take the convention, and then it's a close call for the general.

Here's hoping.