Friday, May 9, 2008

Defeating McCain and/versus Defeating Clintonism

Now that everyone except Hillary and Bill and their pimped out daughter (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) realize that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee, the Party’s wise men (and women) would have Obama make nice to that wretched family and their supporters -- for the sake of party unity. Paul Krugman’s column in today’s New York Times makes the case nicely. Obama seems to agree. This is wise. What the Democrats do best is lose elections that are theirs for the taking; and the Clintons have done everything in their power to assure that this will happen again. If we are to avoid Bush III, their handiwork must be undone. [Note, though, that if the party of Kerry and Gore does manage to lose again in November, the Democrats will likely blame Ralph Nader and the Greens again; not the First Lady of Clintonism and her better half.]

As Krugman points out, Obama does need to get white workers of all ages on board. Allowing that bold and urgent pro-worker policy initiatives that his corporate backers won’t like are out of the question, he could still get the job done by choosing a Vice President more progressive than himself – John Edwards, for example or even Bill Richardson, who might also help out with latino voters. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if, instead, Obama goes for a VP who is “strong on defense.” [Hard as it is to believe, there are silly souls out there who think that an Obama-Clinton ticket would be ideal. Fortunately, there is too much bad blood between them now for that to happen.] In any case, the foolishness that brought erstwhile Democrats into the Reagan camp is unlikely to carry over to John McCain. As for those second wave feminists who would support any woman this side of Elizabeth Dole, they will have, as a Clintonite triangulator might say, no where else to go. “Maverick” McCain has already said that he likes George Bush’s Supreme Court Justices, and that he’d appoint more of the same. Also, don’t forget, he’s for “the right to life.” Therefore, unless racist attitudes are much stronger than now appear, getting most Hillary supporters on board should not be difficult. But, to that end, he does have to do what Krugman and the others suggest; he does have to make nice.

But we don’t; not those of us who hope Obama wins faute de mieux (as elitist, secret Muslims might say). It is distressing how poorly this is understood in what passes for the Left nowadays. What ever happened to “critical support”? Yes, better Obama than Clinton, but Obama is hardly the one to lead a struggle against Clintonism. If progress is made on that front under an Obama Presidency, and if Obama ultimately plays a positive role, it will be because he’s dragged kicking and screaming.

Anyone who doubts how Clintonite Obama is should reflect on his appearance in Washington last night at an event honoring Israel’s sixtieth anniversary -- where, not incidentally, Dick Cheney was the keynote speaker. These days, it goes without saying that Democrats (and Republicans too) have to abase themselves before the Israel lobby. But was it really necessary wholeheartedly to praise a settler (and essentially tribal) state, founded on the principle of ethnic cleansing; a state which, with American backing, flaunts international law shamelessly, wages wars with abandon, and imposes an Apartheid regime upon the population it usurped in territories it has occupied illegally for some forty years. I suspect Obama knows better, just as I think Hillary Clinton does. I suspect too that Obama would be more amenable than any American President since Eisenhower to being a tad less unfair on matters pertaining to Israel and the Palestinians. But, again, he’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming. In any case, don’t expect inklings of fairness from Obama before November – and don’t expect them ever unless militant political and social movements force his hand. The point is perfectly general; as this sordid matter goes, so go all others.

For now, then, let Obama do what he has to do to repair the damage the Clintons have done. But for those of us who see an Obama victory as anything but an end in itself, let there be a division of labor. Defeating Hillary Clinton was a necessary first step in defeating Clintonism; defeating John McCain will be another. I am cautiously optimistic that Obama and his supporters are up to these tasks. It’s their job; let them do it -- therefore, let them make nice. But if the larger struggle against Clintonism is to advance beyond just defeating an outright Clinton Restoration, the more of us who will not pull our punches, the better. This will be true, of course, after November. But it is also true now – before the dreadful specter of a McCain presidency is vanquished.

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