Yeah, I know – you don’t think so. You think Hillary is irredeemably damaged and Obama is fresh. You think Hillary is divisive and Barack is uniting. You think Obama will win against McCain and Hillary will lose. I think you might be wrong. Just think about these points, and then go ahead and do whatever the hell you think is right.
1) There is Nothing Wrong with Hillary
Look...Can you think of any two people in this world who have had more brutal treatment at the hands of more talentless hacks than Hillary Clinton and her famous husband? Seriously. Not only were both of them undermined in the most unfair, lying ways by a determined right-wing echo-chamber since they dared to pop up out of Arkansas in 1992 – they also were never accepted by the Democratic and media establishment in Washington, who not only allowed, but facilitated phony "scandals" like Whitewater, the travel office and, yes, Bill getting some from/with an intern in the hallway next to the Oval Office.
I always thought both Clintons deserved some sympathy and support for suffering at the hands of these various knobs, but, alas, the conventional wisdom remains that they somehow got (and get) what they deserved. Hillary, for her part, ignored all that noise and became a successful, landslide-margin senator from New York. Despite her success, she remains the repository for all manner of ill will and the target of insufferable hate from insecure people who project their various sexist issues regarding successful women onto her. She is either a closet lesbian seeking to emasculate men everywhere or she is a pathetic anti-feminist for climbing to power on the back of her horny husband. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
If she was any other independently-successful wife of a successful political husband – say, Maria Shriver or, yes, Michelle Obama – she would be celebrated as just the kind of talented woman who should break the glass ceiling in the White House. But, because the Democratic and media elite decided long ago to foster bizarre stereotypes about both Clintons, she is not allowed to be judged on her own merits. Many of those following the Clinton Rules (definitively nailed by Paul Krugman in this recent column) are like the guy at the end of the bar who just wants to be agreeable – everyone else is laughing at her/them, so he will, too.
2) Listen to Them
Have you heard the wing-nuts in the last week? After holding their fire for months - hoping that Obama would be it - the right-wing figures Obama is finally the frontrunner and the presumptive nominee. Now they are piling on with the usual bullshit, comparing him to Jimmy Carter, George McGovern; calling him dangerously messianic (one particularly deranged commentator comparing his movement with the Crusades); he says nothing; he says too much; he is socialist; the most "liberal" senator and candidate ever...etc.
Obama himself says he wants to get above and beyond the "partisanship of Washington", but he can’t do it unilaterally and can’t really believe that the right-wing – which has nothing going for it but the politics of personal destruction – would give him a pass. They won’t and they aren’t. By the time they get done with poisoning the political well about Obama in a general election, you are going to wish you had only to defend the quaint, familiar supposed deficiencies of Hillary Clinton. They are going to paint him as weak, unaccomplished and radically liberal. And that’s before they get into the personal stuff they will dig up, which we have to assume is fertile ground for a former community organizer in Chicago, or anyone else with a real life.
Translation: A Republican campaign against Obama will be just as personally ugly as a campaign against Clinton. Those expecting a change in the political tone from these people are dreaming. I think it is entirely possible that the Republicans will eat Obama alive, or at least cast enough of a poisonous spell that the electorate will think it safer to go with the known war-hero McCain. Those who think he has so much integrity he can withstand this kind of attack without being affected are kidding themselves. Which leads us to...
3) Obama Has Already Peaked
National polls currently show Obama beating McCain by several points in a general election. The same polls show Clinton pretty much tied (not behind, as you have been told). This is all meaningless, of course, but it is given great weight by those wrongfully considering Obama more electable. Given that we are only in the beginning of the anti-Obama right-wing campaign and that the long knives of mainstream media reporters are out to make their nut by taking him down a notch or three, I think you can pretty much count on this being the high point of Obama’s popularity – it’s all downhill from here. Hillary, on the other hand, can only go up.
When she began her New York senate campaign, the chattering class said she was shrill, rigid, demanding – all the things she is called now by those who don’t know her and hope the worst for her. Unlike recent political has-been Rudy Giuliani, however, the more people see of her, the more they like her. There is no reason to think that won’t be the case in the general election, especially when she is compared to the clueless John McCain. Polling nationally now, most people don’t really know either McCain or Clinton. Once they get to know each – and, more importantly, their positions on the dramatic challenges facing our country – they will know that McCain’s compelling personal story will never make up for the utter wrong-headedness of him and his dying party. Hillary can drive that nail into the Republican coffin as well as – I would say, better – than anyone.
As I've said before, if Obama's the nominee, I'll be with him 100%. But those of you thinking you are making your/our political efforts easier by nominating him are kidding yourselves.