Obama and Clinton are going down to the wire. Next Tuesday’s contests in Ohio and Texas could decide who is the Democratic nominee. If Clinton wins in Texas and Ohio, or even one of the two important states, it is likely she will stay in the race longer. The longer she stays, the more shrill she becomes, the greater the chance of a damaging split in the Democratic Party. Already, the Clinton campaign is providing arguments against Obama that will be used gainfully by the Republicans. The notion that we will all be safer if it is Hillary that picks up the phone in the White House would be humorous if it weren’t so ludicrous.
Apparently, the Republicans have already decided that it is Obama that is a greater threat to their ideologically defined pet project in Iraq. So in the last few days we have heard President Bush and McCain and the right wing hysterics at Fox News take on Obama as if he were named “Hussein Al-Qaeda.” And to his credit Obama fired back arguing that there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the US launched its ill fated and devastating invasion, an invasion and occupation that has killed hundreds of thousands and created 2 million refugees and 2 million displaced people inside Iraq.
Obama correctly pointed out that the destruction of Iraq has generated more terrorism and more fear and anger towards the US around the world, and that we squandered the good will of the international community that was present at the time of 9/11. Furthermore, Obama has made it clear that he would talk to people like Chavez and Castro and push diplomatic efforts with other perceived enemies of the United States, whereas Clinton has replicated the irrational Bush policy of demanding results first before talking to people. It was once assumed that you talk with people hoping to alter their behavior, whereas now it is assumed that you threaten people with military violence to alter their behavior. So in this regard, Clinton and the Republicans are not much different than the so called “terrorists.”
My guess is that Obama will end up the Democratic nominee. It won’t be a difficult choice for me if it is Obama vs. Mc Cain. Mc Cain is a candidate who has never seen a war he didn’t want to expand. There is no doubt that a McCain Presidency will be more hawkish and more militaristic, although Obama leaves a lot to be desired with his stand on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he argues that the US should build up its military forces in Afghanistan and possibly launch attacks into Pakistan at suspected Al Qaeda areas without prior approval of the Pakistani government. Here Obama and Clinton are not much different than Bush. The notion that additional bombing (this is what happens when we launch “air strikes”) campaigns in Afghanistan and Pakistan will increase American security is simply ludicrous.
Neither the Democrats or the Republicans display any critical or historical intelligence whatsoever on the Israeli -Palestinian conflict. Both Obama and Clinton were disappointing when they stumbled over themselves in the recent Michigan debate claiming the sacrosanct nature of the “special relationship” with Israel. This special relationship has endlessly rewarded Israel’s ethnic cleansing and expanding settlement of Palestinian lands backed by American weapons and financial support. This uncritical support is what has allowed Israel to act with impunity for years in the Middle East launching numerous invasions of Lebanon and aggressive assaults on the Palestinians. Just look at the kill ratios in this conflict and you can see what is actually going on..Obama and Clinton essentially sanctioned the anticipated Israel military invasion of the Gaza prison they have created. Democrats and the American people better wake up regarding their unquestioning support for Israel’s militaristic expansionist policies, a support that has guaranteed 30 billion dollars of American taxpayer money over the next ten years.
Ralph Nader has entered the Presidential contest at the last minute creating a lot of blustery anger from Democrats who incorrectly blame him on what was clearly a stolen election in 2000. Once again pop psychologists everywhere are claiming Nader is just an “egomaniac,” that he just wants to be in the spotlight. This notion that it is just ego ignores Nader’s history as a public intellectual and gadfly, and is a convenient way of discrediting him and unfortunately the legitimate issues he has raised. Yes, Nader has a strong ego, but I don’t believe that explains why he is running. Also, are we to believe that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are less egotistical, that they have weak egos?
In an interview on CNN, Nader made it clear that he wanted to broaden the debate and press the substantive issues of corporate control of America, the failure of US Middle East policy, particularly with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and address serious environmental problems plaguing America. He added that nothing should stop the Democrats from winning by a landslide, suggesting that if they fail they should hang it up. Nader just picked 42 year old Matt Gonzalez of San Francisco as his running mate. The San Francisco Chronicle red-baited Gonzales in an editorial claiming that Nader “picked a brooding far left running mate who couldn’t get elected mayor of San Francisco.” Yet, Matt Gonzales scared the Democratic Party establishment in the Bay Area by winning 47% of the vote in the 2003 mayor’s race against Gavin Newsome.
In reality, Nader should not be seen as a threat to the Democratic Party since he has little organization behind him and has entered the race at a very late stage. So I will accept him at face value that he is hoping to widen the debate via media coverage. I am not very hopeful that he will succeed since he will most likely be stifled and silenced by the Democrats and the mainstream media. In fact, I would question whether we are a true democracy if third party candidates are to be forever labeled “spoilers” of the two party monopoly of political power in America. We have already see where that has gotten us - a highly militarized and corporatized fortress America bent on world domination at the expense of the long run interests and safety of the American people.
In spite of my above criticisms of the Democrats, I am sticking with my recommendation that progressives go with Obama as the best real hope for reformist change in America. He has stimulated hope for change in Americans with grass roots organizational connections to the labor movement, environmental organizations, and what is left of the Civil Rights movement. And hope is something we have been sorely lacking in America for years. We can only speculate on whether his constituencies will hold him to his promises.
Let’s hope that they are not false hopes.