Wednesday, June 04, 2008

# Posted 8:15 PM by Patrick Porter  

ITS AU REVOIR rather than goodbye, I suspect, for the Clinton comeback kids. Hillary will remain a significant force in politics, and the memory of Richard Nixon is a permanent reminder that events can bring defeated and jaded figures back to the top.

But we can be delighted that Hillary has lost the nomination. Its the end of this campaign with its many obnoxious postures, its self-pity and self-absorption (the Clintons have suffered for us and we owe them); the word-game parsing dishonesty (misspoke, the bogus 'experience'); the tedious double-standards (at times weeping and wounded to appeal to our emotions, but at other times taunting her enemies that they 'can't take the heat'); the cheap, off-the-shelf gender dodge (opposition to Hillary is sexist and personal); the convenient rewriting of history over Iraq (Bush was obsessed with Iraq, Iraq was foisted on us by a small cabal, Hillary was only in principle in favour, no really); the selective appeals to democracy (count every vote, but the Republicans should just stand aside and not contest the next election); the vacuous identity politics (grand-dad with his gun, small town family village folksy values, I have the white vote); and of course the beetroot-faced, shrill anger of Bill, the guy whose presidency I think did a lot of good who ran as the fresh outsider, now reduced to a backfiring rambler sermonising on experience and the virtues of the political establishment.

Obama and McCain have their flaws. Obama can get a trifle pompous at times (can't we all?), remains a bit vague on policy detail, and is a bit inclined to overrate rhetorical uplift and portray the US as a sinful nation that can atone for its sins through him.

For his part, McCain is slightly mad and intemperate, given to flirting with the evangelical hard-right and is really a Hawkish Democrat (or rather, embodies some of the best things the Republicans used to be).

But each of these guys is someone who seems to want to do something with public office. This distinguishes them from Hillary, who, on the whole, stood for the empty pursuit of power for its own sake. The lust for power may run in their veins. After all, something must keep them going through this drawn-out, exhausting run. But the presidency for them is also a means to an end, not an end in itself.

There is talk that both nominees will have extended, free-flowing debates. There may even be an outside chance that the US will be gifted a substantive conversation that doesn't insult its peoples' intelligence. Having just got back from Austin, Texas, where I was lucky enough to meet people from across the spectrum, from liberal Democrat humanists to staunch conservative Roman Catholic Republicans, its clear that there is something really great (and very polite!) about the American people, and they deserve some serious discussion about serious things.

As Hillary makes her way to the exit, hopefully not to run for VP, lets hope Obama and McCain can inject some style and gravitas into the political space that opens in her wake.
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