Sunday, March 09, 2008

Words and Images

Though I have no love for Hillary Clinton, I've been somewhat amused at the way that some of her critics (read, Obama's supporters) have gone about characterizing her motives and tactics. First, there's the much ballyhooed Daily Kos charge that a commercial released by Hillary's campaign revealed "a concerted effort by Clinton's ad people to make Obama look darker, more sinister, and with a wider nose." I confess that my first reaction to reading this was, "So, it's okay for Obama to "blacken" his voice, but sinister racism for a Clinton ad to darken his face?" While my second reaction was, "Hey, I'm darker than Obama and my nose is wider, does that make me more sinister?) And yes, I know the history of media representations of black people, but it does begin to sound like the hidden message of the Obama campaign is: "Vote for Obama: A (not very dark) black guy who doesn't scare white people!"

And then there are the "interpretations" of Hillary's observations about McCain's foreign policy experience relative to Obama's. Again according to the Daily Kos one can't miss the "disturbing fact that Clinton is praising the presumptive Republican nominee while simultaneously attacking the Democrat who very well may be his opponent." The same complaint was voiced by Bob Herbert in the New York Times, who opined:
More serious was Senator Clinton’s assertion that she was qualified to be commander in chief, and that John McCain had also “certainly” crossed that “threshold,” but that the jury was still out on Mr. Obama.

In other words, if a choice on national security had to be made today between Senators Obama and McCain, voters — according to Mrs. Clinton’s logic — should choose Senator McCain.

Well, that was not Mrs. Clinton's logic. What she was saying is that those voters in the general election who make national security their priority will be more likely to vote for Hillary over McCain than they would for Barack over McCain. This may or may not be true, but it's hardly an endorsement of McCain over Obama. To claim that as a candidate you're likely to match up better, in the eyes of some voters, to the Republican nominee than does your Democratic rival is not underhanded politics--just politics. And from where I sit, Obama's people seem to be giving as good as they're getting.

8 comments:

Matthew Saroff said...

The problem for Obama is that Clinton is bitch slapping him, and his response, and that of his campaign, is to wring their hands and say, "It's not fair."

Hillary is bitch slapping because it raises the question, "If he won't stand up for himself, he won't stand up for us."

Whining is the WORST response, and what Hillary is dishing out is 100x better than what McCain and His Evil Minions™ would dish out in the general.

Anonymous said...

I find that post hilarious. Senator Clinton gave the Republican spin machine a quote to use against a Democrat and you defend it. See, you may realize that she was making a point, but it is a point that is as easy to spin as cotton candy, a point that leaves me angered.

This is politics at it's most realistic point, racism, sexism, and ageism will all play a role and can't be thrown away. But, it has gotten ridiculous with the way the campaigns are handling it.

I am having trouble though with Senator Clinton, her campaign is bipolar and how is that going to win a general election against the Republican Party. I will vote Democrat no matter who the candidate is, but I don't want 2004 again. Plus, I want turnover in the Oval Office, my entire life with 3 families in the Oval Office is just downright embarrassing.

This Republic must have diversity, it must have change, it must have turnover. It can't have 12 to 16 years of one party rule and I wish we didn't have to deal with 3 families in the Oval Office for 32-36 straight years. This Republic and this Power must have a complete turnover or I fear free fall of the hegemony. I am a liberal but if Democrats were to rule the Oval Office for 16 years this country would not get anything done, complacency would surely set in.

Anonymous said...

I would like to make a point about the whole experience crap too. Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, JFK, and Bill Clinton had little experience with foreign diplomacy in this century.

Teddy Roosevelt-Achieved more goals as President than any President in American History, he told Japan and Russia to stop arguing through peaceful diplomacy. His experience was being a crazy rough rider during the Spanish-American War, he was war monger who never actually went to war.

Woodrow Wilson- I do not like Wilson for his racist beliefs and the lies he said to win the White House. That does not demean the precedent he set as President. Wilsonian diplomacy is a form of diplomacy that every president has used since Wilson himself. He was Governor of New Jersey and President of Princeton.

John F. Kennedy- His Father left a legacy as an appeaser to Hitler, that plus his lack of Foreign Experience put him on the spotlight. The Bay Of Pigs he handled well, because it was actually conceived by Eisenhower. Eisenhower also started US involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy handled the Cuban Missile Crisis perfectly, if they would have invaded there would be no Earth, those missiles were already armed, something we just found out.

Bill Clinton- Handled the lone power of the world well. His dealings with Israel and Palestine were amazing for a person with little experience with diplomacy. His dealings with the Balkans were well organized, he mishandled events in Africa but handled Taiwan and China with ease. Barack Obama has more experience in foreign matters than Bill Clinton did in 1992.

So why didn't you attack that whole experience argument and put it to shame. History has a way of being ignored or looked at with narrow mind. Experience is 50/50 in foreign policy, Nixon used Detente and succeeded, but failed with domestic pressure. Abraham Lincoln had no experience, but was able to keep Britain out of the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence as a foreign policy document to the French, that worked. So where was that argument against the baseless strategy of Senator Clinton and Senator McCain.

the professor said...

Well, "anonymous," i'm not going to be able to assuage your outrage. I'm unsympathetic to the worry that Clinton gave the Republicans a quote they can spin because, for those who care about that issue, Obama's inexperience was going to be an issue whether or not Hillary uttered a peep about it. It's not like the Republicans hadn't noticed that Obama is a junior senator with a limited foreign affairs background.

As to why I didn't "attack the whole experience argument and put it to shame," well, first of all, that was not what I was writing about. I was merely pointing out that Hillary was neither saying nor implying, as Herbert claims, that voters should chose McCain over Obama.

Second, the only honest thing one can say about foreign policy experience is that sometimes it doesn't matter, and sometimes it does. So if people want to support Obama because, sometimes experience doesn't matter, then fine by me; but that hardly counts as a persuasive endorsement. But by the same token, I'm not persuaded that foreign policy experience is a reason to favor Clinton or McCain for that matter (to be sure, I couldn't be persuaded to vote for McCain no matter how much experience he can lay claim to). The "experience" argument is not my argument, I was merely pointing out Herbert's willful misconstrual of Hillary's point.

Anonymous said...

I was venting because sometimes I read this blog and see a pattern that is overt. A pattern that seems to unexplained, I am an Obama supporter, but I am not one of those crazy idiots who can't explain why they like him. I have clear cut reasons and feel that he is the best candidate for the White House (Originally for Biden). I also feel the blog has taken on a sort begrudged attitude towards the Junior Senator of the great state of Illinois. I have looked at months of posts and have seen this pattern. I guess I am just naive, but I find that as a blessing in this new era of media and politics. I may have a better chance of discussing this matter in person, for I can use my wit and charm.

the professor said...

wit and charm are always appreciated even by the curmudgeons among us.

Anonymous said...

I had to pull out a dictionary for that word.

red rabbit said...

you're killin' me, anonymous