Blogs > Cliopatria > The Day Before

Feb 18, 2008 8:16 pm


The Day Before



The Wisconsin presidential primary is tomorrow. Barack Obama was in Eau Claire Saturday. Apparently, weather kept Hillary Clinton from also making an appearance here. Mike Huckabee is here right now, I think. John McCain did not make it to Eau Claire, but he was in LaCrosse, which is not too far away.

Wow, that’s more politicking than western Wisconsin has seen in a really long time. And that doesn’t count the phone calls, door-to-door canvassers, and politically fortified junk mail that’s been coming.

On the whole Wisconsinites are happy that at least the Democratic primary vote might make a difference. For the Republicans, McCain’s surge to the front has been recent enough (and Huckabee’s folks are loyal enough) that they still have a fair amount of energy, too.

Not all students at all campuses are energized. As best as I can tell, students at the larger campuses, including UW-Eau Claire, show a lot more awareness than at the smaller one. Probably that’s not so strange. It takes a critical mass of interested students to stir the uninterested ones to pay attention.

So finally, I have to make a choice. Obama has a first rate personality and what looks to be a real gift of transcending division by reconceptualizing issues. Clinton has more understanding of foreign policy and more experience in a number of the backstage areas so important to a presidency. (I bet she would do a seriously better job of cabinet creation than Bill did when first elected).

But she has two serious impediments both as a candidate and as a potential president. The first is her husband. If I were Obama I would have been tempted to flood the airwaves and the web with video clips of Bill and simply ask this.

"Do you want to have him around for another four years? Do you think anyone else does?”

Cheap? Yeah. But, even if Obama does not do it now, McCain sure might do it in October.

My antipathy to Bill is not simply a style thing. I supported HRC far more before her husband campaigned in South Carolina than I do now. As a result I am more worried now of how disciplined he can be as the nation's"First Gentleman." And if this was, in fact, a disciplined and deliberate campaign, it provides evidence for my second concern.

The second is that she sometimes reminds of Richard Nixon, in that I fear that her anger can warp her judgment. I don’t know if it goes all the way to paranoia—after all there are a heck of a lot of people who were and are after her. Much of the s—t she catches is unfair. Maybe I'm being unfair, too, but the concern keeps creeping into my head.

So why have my posts tended to favor her? One is that her doggedness and wiliness are admirable, even if they hint sometimes of something darker. As a senator, she has done some good things, by my lights, with those traits. The second is that, at least in her first year in office, I think she would shape a Congressional agenda with far more skill. The third, closely related to the second, is that I simply cannot tell how quickly Obama can learn on the job. The fourth is that the learning curve question is even more critical in foreign policy.

I know which way I am leaning now, but I won’t share it. I want to leave my options open. I really may be one of those undecideds who goes into the booth, decides, votes, and if he gets a chance, lies to an exit pollster just for the joy of it.

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