Thursday, August 21, 2008


I never expected to go there.

When Barack Obama first started to run I didn't give him the chance of a snowball in hell. But as he stayed on task, winning the excited support of young people as well as disillusioned old liberals like me whose hopes have been dashed so many times over the last forty years we have callouses on our eyes, I finally allowed my self to imagine he might make it.

I even had a flash of fantasy that 2008 could be a replay of 1964, with Obama sailing into office on a avalanche of disgust with the last twenty-five or thirty years with his Republican opponent moving on to a well-earned retirement from politics altogether.

My hopes that this might be the first time in my life to see an election conducted with civility and intelligence have now gone fro weak to dim to gone altogether. The attack and counter-attack ads have just started and the conventions don't even happen until next week. We don't yet know who the vice-presidential picks will be and already the well is being poisoned by vitriol from both sides. Yes, I said both sides. The Obama camp is doing it with more finesse, but if they fail to respond in kind there will be so many nails in their coffin that the Devil himself couldn't pry it open. I expect the trend to only get worse as November gets closer. Adieu, comity... perhaps another time.

I recall hearing, back in the days of innocent idealism, watching the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, that if they would just stop quarreling and run on the same ticket together they would be a "dream team." Maybe so, I said to myself, but here's the rub: If Clinton comes out ahead she will pick Obama as her vice-presidential choice in a New York minute because she understands the way politics really works. Whatever differences they may have are pliable enough to be mended. But if Obama comes out ahead, he will never pick her because it would be a betrayal of all he stands for.

As it turns out that second scenario is playing out, and it appears that Obama is not, in fact, about to pick Clinton to be his vice-presidential running mate, for much the same reasons that I imagined. And the issue is being made worse by the PUMA Democrats. As he slips in the polls from way ahead to dead heat, as the race slips from principles to politics as usual, I have come to the conclusion that Obama would do well... no, I said that wrong... he would follow a practical and politically expedient course, to announce Hillary Clinton as his running mate.

There. I finally said it. I hate it. I don't want him to do it. But in the same way that I know a doctor will stick his finger up my backside during the course of a physical exam, I know this political expedient may be necessary for him to win this election.

I have read a lot of pros and cons, but the piece at Rom Watson's place pushed me over the edge.

Make no mistake: I am proud to support Obama, proud to have him as the nominee of my party, and whomever he chooses for VP, I will work my tail off for his election. Obama is incredibly intelligent and authentic, substantive and thoughtful. He is an orator of the highest quality, a superb organizer, and has a knack for building coalitions. While I have lately had disagreements with some of his moves towards the center, he has progressive instincts and core beliefs that have been equaled by few major American politicians in recent years. He is clearly still a work in progress – how could he not be? – but he has the potential to be a great President

My concern right now – and this should be the concern of all Democrats and progressives – is that he get the chance to be a President at all, whether a great, good, or indifferent one. I am concerned that Barack Obama will not win the election.

The writer lays out his reasons and they are compelling. I'm left with the idea that it is better to be safe than sorry.

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