Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brief thoughts on the Democratic race

1) John Edwards inspires in me a great desire to smack him whenever he opens his good ole' mouth. I wanted to smack him twice when he maintained that his electability argument ('vote for me because I can campaign in rural areas not just in big cities') had "nothing to do with race and gender." And I cheered Clinton when she went after him about his self-righteous "lobbyist" shtick, and when she noted that trial lawyers are a special interest, too.

2) I'm a little surprised at how many people are shocked (shocked!) that Bill "we'll just have to win, then" Clinton is a dirty fighter on the campaign trail who may not always be entirely truthful. I mean, I guess that I understand why progressives don't remember the events of 1994-8 as Clinton fighting dirty, relentlessly savaging Congressional Republicans, Ken Starr, and Monica Lewinsky. And I share in the general retrospective sense that Clinton was a much better President than I realized at the time.

But does no one else remember the brutal, scorched-earth, deceptive victory Clinton won over Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Florida primary? To the degree that Barack Obama is this year's nice-guy good-government intellectual progressive reformist in the Adlai Stevenson model he's in trouble-- because one of the very first things Bill Clinton learned in presidential politics was how to eat a candidate like that for lunch, with none too many scruples about truthfulness.