What came to me last night as I fretted over the numbers on CNN was a realization of just how emotionally invested I have become in the prospect of Barack Obama becoming President of the United States.
I stated some of my reasons here, back when I was still ok with the idea of any of the three democratic front runners bagging the nom. But today, with Obama doing well but Clinton ahead in the overall delegate count (and seriously, what the fuck is a ‘superdelegate’?!), I am struck by the thought that if she wins, I will be… disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure she’d make a fine president. It’s just.. I dunno. It would just seem like more of the same somehow. I can’t even get all that excited over the whole ‘first woman president’ thing. After all, just about every other western democracy has already had a female president or prime minister at some point, including ours. Even now we have a black female head of state, so the novelty factor for either candidate doesn’t hold much appeal for me.
But the idea of an outsider with fresh ideas becoming president by inspiring a populist movement of the young and the disenfranchised demanding more and better from their government and their country? That excites me.
Jason Cherniak is not excited. Jason is thoroughly unimpressed with Obama's ten years in politics, is dismissive of his legal and social activist credentials, and is baffled by the appeal of a man who he describes as "no different than any other pretty boy who thinks his looks and charm will get him everything in life".
Hillary, on the other hand, he admires and respects.
In Hillary Clinton, we have a woman who has taken every advantage offered to her to make a difference in the world. In Barack Obama, we have a young, charismatic guy who just decided one day that he wanted to run for president. This isn’t a high school popularity contest. It’s a vote for the person who will literally hold the lives of billions of people in his or her hands. Experience has to count for something and I’ll never understand how so many Canadians can ignore that important fact. We’d never elect the Canadian equivalent of Mr. Obama to lead the Liberal or Conservative Party. We never have.
Ok, there’s no way I could let that one slide.
I go on at length, so just check the comments for the rest of my rant. I'm number three of 46.
Of the 45 other people who commented on his post, most seemed to agree with me about Obama’s worthiness as a candidate, if not my comparisons to Trudeau. But I can understand where Jason is coming from. He has his reasons for rejecting the whole notion of charisma and inspirational oratory as the basis for electing a leader. He even tips his hand when he offers Joe Clark as "a good example of how a smart person can win without any charisma at all".
I may be wrong, but I don’t think he’s just talking about Clark here.
Face it - as much as many of us may admire and respect Stephane Dion and support his leadership of the Liberal Party, one could never accuse him of being charismatic. And that’s ok too. Jason is right - you don’t need to be charismatic or a brilliant speaker to be a good or even a great leader. But having those qualities as your greatest strength should not disqualify you, nor should it negate the rest of your experience and qualifications. It should only enhance them.
Or as one particularly dim pundit on CNN put it, "voters like to vote for people they like".
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Cherniak.