Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lighting The Vote-ve Candle

Well, I've done my civic duty this morning, and a couple of observations came up.

Here in NYC, the turnout is already heavy. Polls opened at 6AM, as usual. When I vote (and I do, religiously), I am usually there a little after seven.

In a general election, I might be voter number 4 in my election district. In primaries, even in Presidential primaries, I'm usually the second voter.

Today, I was number 11! There's going to be a massive vote from the city, which may or may not favor Obama (my district is pretty white, but it's also got a lot of artists, so exit polling would be skewed).

The weather is not as bad as many feared, which means voting shouldn't be impacted much, but then again, neither should the ticker-tape parade for the Giants, which will likely empty out Westchester & Rockland counties, as well as much of Jersey, and possibly affect the Republican vote more than the Democratic vote.

There were few electioneers on the streets, which usually happens in national elections here: by the time NY votes, the candidate has been all but nominated. I did see some Obama supporters and a few Clinton signs up.

And one honkin' big Ron Paul poster.

Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards remain on the ballot, as do Chris Dodd and Joe Biden.

You have a pretty good idea who I voted for, but I can go to bed early tonight knowing that no matter which of the remaining Democrats is declared the winner, we'll have made a solid choice for President.

I repeat my endorsement of Hillary Clinton here:

I've put this off long enough, even though in truth, I don't have to do this until the New York primary. Since that gets lost in the flurry of Super Tuesday endorsements, I figured I may as well stake my claim now.

I've spent the entire past year on the fence about whom to support for the Democratic presidential nomination. I had my list narrowed down to three people: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and then, Barack Obama.

Edwards I discounted quickly, when his lack of character and toughness was on display for all to see with the whole "Catholic League/Bloggers" debacle. If he couldn't either shit or get off the pot..."Oooh, I don't want to arouse my base against me! Oooh, I don't want to take on the big, mean Catholic League!"...on that ridiculously inconsequential issue; if that's his idea of leadership, then he was the wrong choice. And that was just one issue: his flipflopping apology for the Iraq war vote smelled too calculated, and then there was the whole heartstring tug of Elizabeth's cancer, and running or not running.

Some will say that Marcotte and McEwan resigned of their own accord. That may be true, but I'd be willing to bet if Edwards had personally sat down with them and assured them that he'd take the heat (and that message was reinforced across the board), they'd still be blogging for Edwards today.

In truth, Edwards was on the list more as a hat-tip to the fact I voted for him in 2004 than anything he's done since.

Which left Obama and Clinton.

I admire both of them for different reasons, and none of those reasons have anything to do with the monumental courage each showed by just tossing a chapeau in the ring.

Barack Obama speaks to me of a new generation, a generation of ideals and idealists, unafraid to talk about issues despite the fact that he might actually have to take a stand on them. I like that. It appeals to the rabble-rouser in me. Even in his gaffes, he seems to have at least thought about what he leaves unsaid (as when he shorthanded his answer about meeting with Ahmadinejad, Castro, and Chavez).

Hillary Clinton just knows so damned much and seems to have an answer for every question thrown at her: not only are her answers detailed, they're usually light years ahead of anything anyone else throws out there. Many of her contenders' answers sound more like "And then, at this point, we pray it all works out".

There is no perfect candidate in this race, to be sure, and so this isn't a choice between the more perfect of two people.

Neither is it a choice between the lesser of two evils as even some on the left have tried to paint a vote for Hillary as a vote for evil.

Without disclosing too much, I've known of Hillary since her days working with Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, with whom I've had some indirect contact. No less a conservative than Marty Peretz (nominally a liberal (LINO?), believe it or not) has called Edelman "Hillary's closest sister and ideological soul mate."

Which is why I find all the negativity from the left about Hillary so amusing and confounding. And why I also find the love-fest for Barack so intriguing.

After all, a careful examination of their voting records and public statements about Iraq show they agree on about 90-95% of the issues. And yet, Hillary's a DINO while Barack is a liberal love child.

I ain't buying that. It's easy to say "I would not have voted for the Iraq war authorization" and seem to mean it. It's another thing to skip the vote on the "Iranian war authorization" (not even officially, just a "sense of the Senate" vote), then to chide others for having voted for it, particularly when you've voted for every single Iraq war funding bill that you've been able to.

Ironically, the candidate who's being touted as "change" is not.

In eight years in the Senate, Hillary has shown an unique capacity to enlist the help of people of all stripes. No one who serves with her has too many unkind things to say about her. That could be useful in a Presidency that, for the first term at least, is going to be about cleaning up the messes..."Mom."

On the other hand, it does leave her open to charges of being too conservative, ironically the same charges leveled against her husband prior to his election, and look at what happened in those eight years: the greatest economic boom this nation, the world, had ever seen, without resorting to full scale war, and eight years of protection from terror attacks on our soil.

I say, "ironically," because Hillary was viewed in many corners as a bulwark of liberal thought in the Clinton administration and cabinet.

Barack Obama has demonstrated that he's not a man of character to me, despite his outward image. His actions speak volumes. With Hillary Clinton, we know what we're getting, and guess what? It's not a whole lot different than we'd get with Obama, but at least she's unfraid of her decisions.

Hillary Clinton should be the Democratic nominee for President. She has my vote.