Friday, February 1, 2008

Side By Side

There they were, then, side by side. Hillary and Barack, Barack and Hillary. They paid tribute to John Edwards, and acknowledged his contribution to the debate, particularly in his concern for working people and the "two Americas." I was glad they did that, even though I was aware that they needed to attract Edwards supporters to their side.

Who won this round? I'd say a draw. Each of them spoke well, There was no bickering--or only in undertones.

I’m afraid you’re going to be reading a lot of political thoughts on The Buddha Diaries for a while to come. I have noticed a considerable falling-off in posted responses recently, and wonder if this is the reason? I hope not. I feel that I have to do what I can to add my voice to the important national debate in this year’s election, and while I’m not much of a precinct-walker or phone-bank operator, I can write. Given where we stand as a country after seven years of Bush, I cannot simply sit by and observe. I have to act. I will be sending what money I can afford to support, first—now that Edwards is gone—Barack Obama, and then whoever the Democratic candidate turns out to be. If it’s Hillary, I know she has the wherewithal to make a far better president than the current usurper who sits in her former home. I’m sure that, when the time comes, Ellie and I will host a fundraiser for the candidate, as we did last time for Kerry. This multiplied our ability to chip in financially by many, many times, and will certainly be worth repeating. Besides, it was good fun.

That said, The Buddha Diaries has become my voice, and I intend to continue to speak my mind on the candidates, their policies and promises, and the role of the media in the campaign. Today, for example, after last night's debate, I think back to the Nicholas D. Kristof column in yesterday’s New York Times on “The Dynastic Question.” I was surprised that Kristof thought that this “one sweeping topic has gone relatively unexamined.” In my circles, it has been much talked-about, and it was mentioned again last night. Hillary came up with a cute answer--that it took a Clinton to clean up the last Bush's mess, and it might take another to clean up this one's. But still, not counting the years of George H.W. Bush’s Vice Presidency, the Bush-Clinton-Bush… Clinton? thing has gone on, already for nineteen years. Add another year (gulp!) of Bush and then eight of Hillary and you get twenty-eight years of White House occupation by Bushes and Clintons. Says Kristof, “I can’t find any example of even the most rinky-dink ‘democracy’ confining power continuously for seven terms over 28 years to four people from two families.”

This is not to denigrate the good Senator from New York. As Kristof writes, there are those “who admire Mrs. Clinton and believe she would make a terrific president.” Still, he adds, “28 years… two families! That needn’t be decisive, but it’s too important to be ignored.”

What galls some people about Hillary—and count me among them—is that “my turn” sense of entitlement she has sometimes traded on. As Gail Collins wrote in her column on the same page as the Kristof piece, Hillary could improve her chances with many of us by “purging her campaign of the lingering sense that the presidency is her due and anyone who stands in her way is a particularly mean chauvinist. You cannot run a campaign with the slogan: ‘Vote for Hillary--Think of All She’s Been Through.’” To which she added, to balance things out: “And while it seems unlikely, Barack might consider admitting once in a while that it’s possible for a person to reach a greater tomorrow while voting for somebody else.”

Fair enough. Is this all matter for The Buddha Diaires? I think so. When you stop to think about it, it’s all closely connected to the Eightfold Path, which offers us plenty of commonsense guidance on the road to happiness. Besides, George W. Bush’s avowed intentions notwithstanding, compassion is a quality that has seemed notably lacking in our national life in recent years, not to mention our relations with other peoples and countries in the world. I feel an urgent need to do what I can to bring it back.


roger said...

what a wonderful contrast they were to the latest republican debate, actually discussing nationally relevant issues.

robin andrea said...

Write about politics, Peter. It's a passion a lot of us share. We listened to the debate last night and thought that either one would make a fine President. We are not voting in the California primary, so we don't have to make a choice. Our state of Washington is having a caucus, and we're not there to participate.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Roger & Robin. It's good to have your response and encouragement! And, yes, what a contrast! Intelligence and thoughtfulness versus bombast.

Cardozo said...

The thought I can't shake after watching last night's debate was, to borrow an expression from the bard: these two people must be made of some other metal than Earth.

To exhibit such poise under the circumstances - questions rolling in from live bloggers, Wolf Blitzer prodding at their most sensitive areas, undoubtedly running on very little sleep - was simply super-human.

The party is in good hands. Given Hillary's war vote, however, the choice between the two superheroes (for me) is clear.

Glad to have you on board with the big "O," Peter!