This has not been a good campaign cycle for experienced Democrats seeking the presidency: Chris Dodd (27 years in the Senate, 6 years in the House, chair of the Senate Banking Committee), Bill Richardson (2-term governor of New Mexico, 14 years in the House, Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy), and my personal favorite
Joe Biden (35 years in the Senate, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) have all dropped out.
As they should have. None of them was polling anywhere close to double digits. Indeed, they weren’t polling in double digits combined. While I think that’s unfortunate (putting it mildly), it would have been a distraction and a waste of money for them to continue. So, I need to pick a second choice between the remaining trio of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.*
I supported John Edwards in 2004. No more. I’m not sure about the reasons for or the timing of his metamorphasis from optimistic man of the people to angry populist, but it’s been a turn-off for me. And, I have to say, I don’t care how humble his grandparents’ beginnings, the fact that Edwards has built the largest and most expensive home in Orange County (to say nothing of his $400 haircut) makes it all seem a bit disingenous to me. I will vote for him in the unlikely event that he is the nominee, but I just don’t see that happening.
So it’s down to Obama and Clinton. By any objective measure, Clinton wins – she’s on her second term in the Senate (Obama’s just halfway through his first term), she has an inside view of how the system works by virtue of spending 8 years as First Lady, and she had a long and successful career as a high-powered corporate attorney. I will certainly vote for her if she is the nominee.
I’m pulling for Obama, though. Poll after poll shows him pulling in Independents and even some Republicans (to say nothing of Democrats) who are attracted to his inspirational message of “a change we can believe in”. By contrast, poll after poll shows that there is a sizable chunk of voters who honestly believe that Hillary Clinton is evil personified. Do I think they are misguided? Yes. Misinformed? Yes. Downright silly? Yes. Likely to change their mind? No. No matter how experienced or qualified she may be, I believe a Hillary Clinton presidency would be one of the most unproductive and divisive imaginable.
So, I’m casting my lot with Obama. He’s only three years older than I am. He’s relatively untested. But, he’s captured both my ear and my imagination, and that is something that I don’t believe Hillary Clinton could ever do.
*I realize that Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich are still out there making noise. See my comment on distraction and waste of money, above.