Saturday, May 3, 2008

This is not a Pretty Sight

Republican Politics, American Style
Published on May 1st in Metro Eireann By Charles Laffiteau

The results are in from Pennsylvania and the Clintons as expected, won the popular vote by just over nine percentage points against Senator Barack Obama. Looking ahead, next Tuesday voters in North Carolina and Indian will go to the polls to cast their ballots in what I believe will likely be the last two contested Democratic primaries of the 2008 primary election season. Yes there will be still be five states plus Puerto Rico that will be voting for a Democratic nominee in the remaining four weeks of this season which ends on June 3rd , but I don’t think Billary Clinton will still be in the race anymore following the their losses to Senator Obama in these two upcoming May 6th primaries.
So what lessons about the nature of US politics can be drawn from the results of last week’s Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania? Well, thirteen percent of the white voters in Pennsylvania said that the race of the candidate was an important factor for them and 75 percent of these voted for Clinton. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Clinton supporter, had predicted race would be a factor back in February when he told political journalists that “You’ve got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.” While they may represent a slowly diminishing segment of the total US population, the number of voters who cast their ballots for Mrs. Clinton because she was white arguably represent most if not all of the margin of difference between the two candidates.
Another thing we saw was that despite the distaste most Americans express for negative and or personal political attacks by candidates on their opponents, the fact remains that such tactics continue to work in favour of those who use them as the Clintons are now demonstrating. Until such time as these tactics have been shown to yield unfavourable results for those who choose to use them, we can expect them to continue regardless of what the opinion polls say about voters growing tired of them.
The Clintons have a lot of experience on both the giving and receiving end of negative personal attacks and have shown themselves to once again be very adept at fighting this kind of trench warfare. But the fact that they have increasingly resorted to such tactics ever since their initial defeat by Obama in Iowa isn’t really surprising all things considered. After running their Presidential campaign into the ditch and then finding themselves drowning in a sea of unpaid campaign debts, mud slinging was their only desperate resort to wrest the Democratic Presidential nomination away from Obama.
Watching the Clintons go down and out in this desperate grasping manner is not a pretty sight for me and many other Americans to watch however. In fact it actually saddens me because unlike many of my fellow Republicans, Independents and a sizeable number of Democratic supporters of Senator Obama, I do not see the Clintons as an evil or diabolical political duo.
I believe Hillary Clinton is one of, if not the most intelligent and astute women to have ever resided in the White House. Her daughter Chelsea is a reflection of what a good job she did as a parent under often trying circumstances. Hillary has also done a fairly good job as a US Senator for the state of New York over the last eight years, notwithstanding some of the very questionable politically motivated votes she has cast during her time as a US Senator.
For his part, I believe Bill Clinton is one of the most gifted and personable politicians that I have ever had the pleasure of campaigning against and or voting for. (Yes I voted for him when he ran for re-election in 1996) Bill Clinton also did fairly good job during his tenure as US President given the fact that he was dealing with a Republican majority in Congress during most of his two terms in office. Until he got involved in the current Presidential contest, Bill Clinton had also requited himself fairly well as a former President by acting as an Ambassador of good will for the United States.
Unfortunately however, the Clintons are now hard at work tarnishing their notable legacies of public service to the American people. Hillary Clinton sees the Democratic nomination as her just reward for all that she has endured through the years as the spouse of gifted but morally flawed former Arkansas Governor and US President. She believes that she has paid her dues as a political figure subjected to ridicule and years of public attacks by muckraking conservative pundits and Republican politicians. But she has also refused to acknowledge that some of her own actions have played a role in these attacks.
Bill Clinton erroneously views his wife Hillary’s bitter fight for the Democratic Presidential nomination as a referendum on his own Presidential legacy rather than as a gauge of the Hillary Clinton’s abilities as a Commander in Chief and Chief Executive Officer of the most powerful country in the world. Granted, Hillary never could have gotten to where she is today as a Senator and as the first woman to run for US President had she not been married to Bill Clinton, but this election is not about Bill Clinton or his legacy as US President.
The Clinton’s have refused to acknowledge the painful reality that their campaign is based on the politics of the last century. They continue to live in denial which is why they truly believe that it is their duty to save the Democratic Party from nominating a man who will not win the General Election because he is an African-American. Their denial is so strong that it allows them to ignore the damage that their scorched earth political tactics are doing to their political legacies and the Democratic Party. I truly hate to see them ending their political careers this way.

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