I started a post as a companion piece to my previous entry; it grew out of my responses to the comments and then grew and grew. But before I finish it up, I wanted to indulge in a brief rant, brought on by the Democratic National Convention and the many different ways the talking heads have been rehashing the discontent among Hilary Clinton's supporters. Apologies to Canadian readers, who, I'm sure, are already bombarded non-stop about an election in which they have no voice.
Here's the thing. I just don't get the Clinton supporters who say they can't support Obama. One reason I reserved final judgment after Edwards dropped out* was that Obama and Clinton have always been close enough on their policy stances that I knew whoever won the candidacy would be generally in sync with my beliefs.
On the flip side, if one were to compare either Obama or Clinton's stances with McCain's, there would be no discernible agreement.
So, if these Clinton supporters feel strongly about even one of her positions, how could they suggest that McCain would be a better choice than Obama? Or, if they're saying that they just won't vote (shades of "I'm taking my toys and going home"), are they really willing to abdicate their voting right and responsibility because their first choice isn't the candidate? And have they always had their optimal candidate in place every time?
From all accounts, Clinton will be making several of these points tonight, though probably a little less stridently than I would.
All of this ignores the fact that the position of president tends to be viewed as more important than it is. The president's main function is as a figurehead, the representation of our country both at home and abroad. (At least if s/he is going to operate within constitutional limitations. Which has been an issue of late.) What is even more important than the specific person in the office is who s/he chooses to function in an advisory capacity.
Exhibit A: The current administration. Bush is, by pretty much all accounts, not particularly bright. But he has a cadre of politicos with lifetimes of experience. Even when recent policies have stepped over those constitutional boundaries (I won't go into that rant tonight), you can be sure it's not Bush who has shaped them, but someone close to him. Bush is the mouthpiece, at least when they use large print and short words on the teleprompter.
The truth is, I find an Obama candidacy exciting. I think he is very much what our country needs right now. He is intelligent, well spoken, and vibrant. He is igniting political interest among the young. He will be able to engage with international leaders on an equal level. This is what we need.
*And now I can say it's a good thing he did, because talk about a campaign ender!