Sunday, March 23, 2008

More Musings on Clinton and Obama

So. Clinton. Yeah.

Honestly, I didn't have any particular problem with Hillary Clinton at the beginning of this campaign, other than a sort of lingering doubt over whether she would prove to be as much of a disappointment as her husband. But she seemed smart and serious and tough and had a lot of great policies, so I would have been perfectly happy to see her become president.

In fact, in any other campaign her tone and her tap-dancing approach to awkward questions like the one about mountain-top removal would have just seemed like politics as usual. It's only when you hold her up next to Obama that the contrast becomes glaringly apparent.

Obama on MTR:
"Strip-mining is an environmental disaster! ...We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains."

See? How hard was that?

Now, Barack Obama is hardly the poster-boy for the environmental movement. His support of so-called "clean coal" technology, bio-diesel and ethanol is naive at best. At worst it may have something to do with his being from a state that produces large amounts of both coal and corn. However, there are signs that he is starting to educate himself and consequently modify his stance on some of his more controversial environmental platform positions. That in itself is pretty unusual for a politician.

But back to Hillary.

Another glaring example of political fuckery from Camp Clinton this week was her heart-stopping tale of her arrival in Bosnia in 1996 on her mission to... well, whatever the hell it is she's claiming she did to beef up her foreign policy resumé as First Lady.

"I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia, and as Togo said, there was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn't go, so send the First Lady. That’s where we went. I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

Wow! That must have been really exciting and scary. Like something out of a Van Damme movie. Too bad we can't see... oh, wait... do we have... yes, we have video!

Cue the video, Hank.

Hillary must really hate Al Gore for inventing the internet.

And before you ask, yes, that was the only time Hillary ever landed by plane in Bosnia (as verified by her newly released schedules), and yes, that's her daughter Chelsea with her, and no, there was no "running with their heads down to get into the vehicles to get to their base" because the base was right there.

Again, in any other campaign this kind of blatant lie embellishment would be considered business as usual. But somehow Obama has changed all that. Our tolerance for bullshit has decreased. Our sensitivity to political obfuscation has increased. It's like that commercial where the picture looks normal until they peel back the haze and it all becomes so much brighter.

We're Claritin Clear!

Even the pundits have been inspired to pull their heads out of their asses once on a rare while, to step back and ask themselves "What the hell are we doing?!" Like this little exchange on CNN last week between Anderson Cooper, Carl Bernstein and Roland Martin:

BERNSTEIN: Obama has called for an elevated conversation about race. And what are we seeing here, is the bottom- of-the-barrel conversation, a talk show nation hysteria, picking words out.

We need to look at all of these candidates, including Hillary Clinton, including John McCain, in the context of their lives. And the remarks that they make need to be understood in the context of their lives. And the choices they have made in their lives about pastors, about marriages, all about -- every aspect of their lives need to be looked at in the totality.

And, as long as we keep pulling these threads out, we're not going to have any kind of meaningful debate in this campaign…

…COOPER: It's interesting, Roland, because these are not the kind of conversations that -- that television or radio programs -- well, maybe radio does it better -- but, in this heightened atmosphere, does very well, that this is the kind of -- I mean, it's a difficult conversation to have, and it's a very nuanced conversation to have. And we live in an environment which is all about sound bites and -- and people yelling on television.

MARTIN: Yes, but we -- but we don't have to do what they do.

We -- we can call for something different. You know, last year, Anderson, when I hosted three faith specials on CNN, it was amazing the number of people who said, thank you for having a real conversation about faith on television that just didn't deal with abortion and homosexuality.

We can do that. The question is, do we have the courage to do that?

Well no, of course they don't, because then they went right back to pulling threads. But still, how often do moments of clarity like that happen on the newsnets?

I don't know. Maybe I'm seeing a trend here that doesn't really exist. Maybe the small changes I'm noticing are only temporary, and once the real campaign starts it'll be back to business as usual. Probably.

I'll keep watching, though. You never know when some of this new clarity might stick.


UPDATE: Oh, I'm sorry. She didn't lie - she MISSPOKE. Wait... where else have I heard that word recently? Oh yeah, that's right.

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