Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It's occurred to me that the political events of the past week have led me not to joy, but to relief. While there's still an arduous general election campaign to go through, the finish of the Democratic primary race has been a long time coming. I've expressed before my general preference for Obama over Clinton, and I won't rehash the reasons now that it's over; I've also expressed my reservations about my choice - I'm willing to walk beside the bandwagon, not ready to hop on just yet.

Now that things have quieted down somewhat, the pundits have moved on to the vice-presidential choices, and their favorite speculation is the "dream ticket" of Obama-Clinton. I'm not in favor of this for a number of reasons, primary among them that Obama needs to establish his independence from the previous party dominance of the Clintons.

Of somewhat more interest are the post mortes that are being done on the Clinton campaign. Much is being made of sexism as a factor in Hillary's failure when the evidence of that being a net negative is sketchy. The campaign brain trust clearly suffered from hubris, severely underestimating the Obama challenge (and overestimating the extent to which Hillary could turn around her huge negatives).

In the end, however, I think the biggest factor was this: America is sick and tired of the Clinton psychodrama, the Billary marriage dynamic, the probing into the minds of these personalities.

Sure, there is a fascination with it, how Hillary has dealt with her husband's recklessness, what has driven her as she has tried to emerge from Bill's large shadow, what they actually talk about in Chappaqua at night after flipping off Letterman. Books are written, books are sold, (some) books are read, and those tomes will continue to come as the nation tries to understand this family. The comparisons to Shakespearean plays will propagate (Hillary as Romeo, Bill as Juliet, with James Carville as the Nurse) as analysts reach to find some analogy to make sense of their turbulence.

But, interesting as some of this is, the nation is faced with stark and simple-to-understand problems. There's an economy, a war, an occupation, a warming planet, a lack of cheap energy resources, a food crisis, a water crisis, and on, and on. We're hungry for our leaders to understand that these are problems, real problems, and that they are planning to take a stab and making them better. What is entertaining against a relatively benign backdrop (the '90s do seem somehow quiet and simple now, don't they?) is distracting in the world we face at the moment.

I, for one, don't want to have to think about how President Hillary will tamp down her past demons about the failure of her earlier health care initiative when wading into the fight; I just want a president who will zero-base the problem and make some progress with it. I don't want to have to think about what role Bill would play in the government, even if he's Second Dude instead of First; I'm perfectly content to have him jet around and support foreign dictators in return for putting another shelf in the presidential library (or whatever is done with all that money).

The Kennedy family went through that same kind of collective fatigue, I believe. While it seems this country will always have an interest in their doings, there seems to have been a serious decline in the utter fascination (which, paradoxically, has allowed Ted to be more effective as a senator). Similarly, I expect to see articles about Chelsea the rest of my life, but banking the fires of interest in the Clintons can only help.

I think the country as a whole is ready for the Clintons to move away from center stage, to start taking the character roles that more befit people who have started to melt from the footlights. Enough, already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever detractors she may have (and I am one), she has a lot of supporters.

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