Saturday, February 16, 2008

My daisy: Hillary, Barak, Hillary, Barak, Hillary, Barak, Hillary, Barak . . . .

I must confess to terminal ennui with this election.

I can't tell whether Barak will draw so many new and once hopeless voters to the polls that he can beat the Republican terror and taxes machine. Or whether we need a Democratic candidate with chops on the issue of security, namely Hillary.

Here's how I see it: Actually, Bush said it: they will run on taxes and security.

Taxes is easy: "it's your money, and you know how to spend it. They want to take your money and spend it on government boondoggles."

Security is the anti acid to The War. The security line goes: "we haven't had a suicide or other attack on American soil There is a vast radical Muslim conspiracy that wants to crush America. We need a strong defense. And the best defense is a strong offense." This message will be delivered from every loudspeaker in America, over and over and over and over. Loud and clear. If there is one thing the Republicans are good at creating, it's fear.

So, the question is how does the Democratic candidate either win the debate on security and change the subject on taxes? Or, change the subject on security as well?

Changing the subject on taxes isn't too, too hard. (Our little version of fear): schools are crumbling, millions have no health care, our infrastructure is aging, etc., etc.. So we need targetted investments (shades of Al Gore and the oak tree versus the dandelion schools of economics). More fear of public failures than fear of having your money taken away. That's the easy one.

Security: not war. NO, not war. Only Democrats raise the issue of war, and they do it by being against it. Republicans support strong security. And, we could be attacked any where any time any place by virtually any means. We can all imagine where the terrorists could strike. And kill, maim, create chaos and real fear. Just tweak an American and he or she can tell you their favorite predicted terrorist attack. So, the question is change the subject or be able to point to strength on the security issue.

Being against the war is easy. It's like being against taxes. Against waste. Against, well, evil.
Doing security well, and with visible action and results is hard.

On this last score, Hillary has chops and Barak is weak. He can be painted as McGovern, Eugene McCarthy, Paul Tsongas, Ed Muskie. In a flick of the Republican brush. Obama is weak on security (whisper, he was weak on war). Hillary, on the other hand, voted to authorize the president to use force. And SHE HASN'T APOLOGIZED FOR IT. She has taken a principled stand. She has all of the chops a Democrat needs to counter the Republican fear mongering. And double them on diplomacy and restoring respect for America.

But, here's the rub. Hillary is not an attractive candidate (particularly in the beauty contest with Mr. Universe, Obama). Obama is ravishing. As EJ Dionne pointed out in the Washington Post, Barak Obama has had one message from day one. Hillary has had umpteen and they keep changing. Bill overstepped (he was right in what he said, but he shouldn't have said it (how often are we "right" but "wrong" to say it?)). Her venues look set up. She is distant with the press. She is distant from most everyone. So? And actually, her best message is "we need a president who is ready on day one." But that can't compete with the litany of examples of where hope and courage changed history, as Obama is fond of parading in soaring rhetoric.

So, what's a person to do? Chops on security or mountains more voters?

(PS, if Hillary has to use the super delegates at the convention and twist a lot of arms, she will loose horribly. She can't do that. Lots of the old power politics are off the table for the Dems.)

My ennui has turned to perplexity and a wish to get to go and to have it be over with. (Plus, I haven't even begun the chapter about the horrific sexism that pervades reporting about Hillary that she simply can't charm her way out of. They did it to Geraldine Ferraro as well. It's a kind of pervasive, leering, ever so thin veneer of sneer. Disgusting. And women columnists do it too -- Dowd, for example, but she does it with knives.)

What think you?