Thursday, April 24, 2008

Not Today

I'm an Obama supporter and I'll tell you why. I like that at least for a period of time he ran a somewhat clean campaign focused on what he had to say as opposed to what Hillary has said or done wrong. That's obviously changed, but way back when I voted in the Utah primary it was still true, and even if I was voting now I'd still vote for Obama in the dim hope that it would send a message to politicians and commentators alike. I also like him on certain issues. When Hillary Clinton was voting to support the Iraq War, Barack was speaking at anti-war rallies. But that's not a deal breaker for me with respect to Hillary Clinton at all. She was basing her vote on inaccurate information and at the time I agreed with her. They're so close in other respects that it doesn't really matter to me.

That is the heart and sole of the problem with this primary. If they are so close on policy then what is there to talk about? Well the news media is happy to fill that gap with questions focused on controversy. The Pennsylvania debate was a serious travesty. All of the initial questions had to do with not just old news, but previously covered missteps. I already know about Hillary's sniper fire debacle. I already know that Barack has attended church with a pastor who said "G** D*** America" they've both had several opportunities to talk about it--why do we need to ask them again? Because asking them about policy is boring. Because bickering gets higher ratings than meaningful discourse. Because health care doesn't make for a decent sound bite.

Here's a quote from that same debate:
SENATOR CLINTON: Well, Charlie, I'm going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that one of us takes the oath of office next January. I think that has to be the overriding goal, whatever we have to do.

Obviously we are still contesting to determine who will be the nominee. But once that is resolved, I think it is absolutely imperative that our entire party close ranks, that we become unified.

I will do everything to make sure that the people who supported me support our nominee.

I will go anywhere in the country to make the case. And I know that Barack feels the same way, because both of us have spent 15 months traveling our country. I have seen the damage of the Bush years. I've seen the extraordinary pain that people have suffered from because of the failed policies; you know, those who have held my hands who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq, and those who have lost sons or daughters because they didn't have health insurance.

And so, regardless of the differences there may be between us, and they are differences, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and Senator McCain.

So we will certainly do whatever is necessary to make sure that a Democrat is in the White House next January.

It didn't make the news summaries, even though both candidates expressed a similar sentiment. What do we get instead? We get Charles Gibson asking them if they would commit to being on a ticket together regardless of the primary outcome and both of them being silent. It's funny, and it seems to be making a point that they don't like each other. The real point is that Charles needs to address questions to a candidate by name in a debate.

Now according to this story it seems that race is an issue for 18% of Pennsylvania Democrats, so much so that 68% of that group wouldn't support Barak Obama in a general election. That sounds like a staggering number. A damning commentary on our current opinions about race and the electability (which is not a word btw) of Barack Obama. But let's unpack this number a bit 68% of 18% is about 12%. 12% doesn't sound quite so edgy and divisive but man 68% sure makes the eyes pop out. I say let's stop making the Today Show news writers the biggest swing vote. I say stop trying to make news and just freaking report it.

The news is that both these candidates want a Democrat in the White House, but the "story" is that they are tearing each other apart and that their supporters would rather vote for McCain than the opposing camp. Here's my pitch to the commentators/chief political correspondents/White House Bureau chiefs: If you talk about what's actually happening, you'll be novel enough to get those ratings you're trying to drum up.


brooke said...

well said on all of it Andy - really. i just differ with you on the 12% of those PA dems who wouldn't vote for Barak because he's a man of color. Even though it's not the divisive number that 68% is, it's still a sad statement on our society. That race even matters at all - that we haven't overcome all those -isms is just sad, and angering. But this comment shouldn't surprise you coming from me.

Anyhow - I'm glad someone with a thoughtful mind is watching the debates for those of us who don't. I'm not watching because I'd probably get angry, and then have to go out and work on the campaigns - which would give me yet another reason to procrastinate from working.

Andrew Walker said...

I got all kinds of hope though. My first thought is that question was worded to draw numbers, not a representative response. The other is that Pennsylvania (a state that I completely love btw) is a very diverse place. Demographics that you'd expect to see somewhere like Texas and even in places like the Bronx. Democrats there come in all kinds of flavors, including truly working class folks. If a purple state like that with a stacked question only hits 12% I of course with it were 0% but I still think that's a good thing. A generation ago or two generations ago think what that number would have been, and think what it will be two generations from now (especially after Barak wins).

Brian said...

Just when you THINK you know someone...too funny.

It's been a while since I checked in on your blog (o.k. to be honest I think I've only done it one other time months ago) Anyway, I knew you were fairly hardcore in your views as a quote-unquote "liberal democrat" I guess I just didn't know how throughly involved you were. We'll have to have some more political discussions in the future. I don't break out singing to the choir very often in my nerdy political speak; usually because I think A) people either don't care or, B) they will get turned off.

Way too long of a comment. Sorry.