Sunday, 2 March 2008

Voters’ cares

Not so many weeks back, the chattering classes intoned delphically that ‘the economy, stupid’, not Iraq, was back on first as the REAL topic of this election, and in fact polls do show voters acutely aware of pocketbook issues. But what does that exactly mean for the fate of our remaining candidates?

It’s curious that as Hillary C throws everything she can at Obama to make something, anything, stick, she keeps getting hoist on the petard of her pro-war vote to authorize the Iraq conquest. They debate and squabble over NAFTA and health care and how to lessen the pain of globalization and the competition from Chinese sweatshops. But the big pitch for Hillary’s seasoned, tested, experienced candidacy—telegraphed through her 3 a.m. mommy ad—was immediately undercut by that fateful vote enabling George Bush to spend $3 trillion to invade a foreign state.

Time and again when it comes down to distinguishing between the platforms of the two Democratic candidates still standing, not much space appears between them in strictly policy terms. But then there’s that politically expedient decision of Hillary Clinton to avoid looking soft when the country was convinced by W’s lies that it needed to go to war.

If she really didn’t know any better as she claims, then she doesn’t deserve to be president. And if she did, even less so. There’s really no getting around the fact that at the key moment in the last decade when we needed our leaders to take a principled stand and swim against the tide, Clinton voted for her ambitions.

Perhaps the voting public isn’t quite as self-absorbed and gullible as the commentators (myself included) insist. Perhaps ever-so-vaguely the collective mind is associating the fact that the country is sinking into the slough of recession and can’t afford to resolve any of its pressing domestic needs, that the job market sucks and 1% of the adult population is in prison, with the pouring of vast treasure down the Iraq sinkhole. Perhaps the tactical shift by congressional Democrats to emphasize the economics of this crazy war is a sign of a broader awakening among the abused masses.

In short, perhaps the war really is the number one issue in this election cycle after all. And perhaps the inspirational candidate, aside from the soaring rhetoric, is the one who best captured something stirring in the hearts of his compatriots: a yearning for common sense, diplomacy, decency and peace.

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