Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Missed Opportunity?

Has an epic opportunity in history ebbed away? Several days ago in "Do It Now, John" (January 30, 2008) I suggested that a seminal moment had arrived in the Democratic Presidential campaign. The near moment had arrived for a white southern male to make history with the endorsement of a young black man. That morning Edwards dropped out of the race, but chose not to take sides. It was a missed historical opportunity. Now, the morning after Super Tuesday with Hillary and Obama in a neck and neck race to the finish, I sense the diminution of the man and the moment as the political machinations that have been the hallmark of the last twenty years of American are about to take over. What is so special about Obama is that he appears to understand that the political machines on both right and left have subordinated principles to politics. Clinton is up to her neck in that same political machinery and her potential nomination promises the nation another four to year years of the polarization, anger, distrust and hate that was the hallmark of the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. For the remainder of this campaign I suspect that the Clinton campaign will do what it has done in the past. History does repeat itself. It will attempt to destroy the enlightenment that Obama has sought to bring to the table. Then, of necessity, it will move on and take the same divisive politicking to the White House.

Obama's vision has brought hundreds of thousands of young people into the political process. The depth of their commitment is at issue. If they cut and run now, the scenario described above is inevitable. How do I know all this? In my mind, the issue is and always has been, the initial vote for on the war in Iraq. Bush's duplicity and outright lies were evident at the time and any principled politician (who wasn't counting future votes in a faraway presidential election) should have had the guts to speak the truth about the issue. The fact that so many politicians did, in fact, stay silent and vote for Bush's war was the subordination of principles to politics. Just one example, of course, but a really good one. To obviate this potential, two things need to happen; the young people need to stay involved and Obama must elevate his remaining campaign to statesman-like status by taking the high road the rest of the way. He must not allow Clinton to draw him into a dirty campaign.

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