I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Then and now!

Last July I endorsed Hillary Clinton over at The Gun Toting Liberal. The major factor in my decision was that Hillary had the best chance of winning in November. I expanded on that in October. Since then I have become very disillusioned with the Hillary Clinton campaign and while I still am not a big fan Obama's campaign has impressed me. Without endorsing Obama I have been hinting that I had moved into the Obama camp for the last few weeks. At a time when the Democrats should be working on some unity the Clinton camp has gone very negative after a number of big wins by Obama. I must admit that Clinton fatigue may enter into my decision as well. Make no mistake, I don't expect much out of an Obama presidency - I suspect the best we can hope for is to quit going backwards.

Over at The Left Coaster Steve Soto, who endorsed Hillary about the same time I did has come to similar conclusions.
We are now being told by Team Clinton that she will not withdraw or concede, and plans to fight all the way to the convention because 1) she plans to rely upon super delegates to put her over the top; and 2) they dismiss Obama’s lead among pledged delegates, claiming that the lead is made up of caucus and small state contests and not from victories in large states, as if Obama’s success in driving up turnout amongst numerous voter groups in red and purple states is irrelevant. Hillary’s remaining game plan is to draw contrasts and go negative against Obama, count on more aggressive media coverage of him (obviously aided and abetted by her campaign), and assume he will have a poor debate performance along the way. That’s Team Clinton’s rationale for their candidacy.

Sorry, no sale. If Team Clinton made these mistakes and assumed that an opponent's momentum, and a media-assisted counter-Clinton narrative could be ignored in the primary, I now have doubts about how they would do in the general election.

Yes, Obama has holes in his game, such as his willingness to make workers pay for supplemental retirement accounts by way of employer payroll deduction, while he dismisses universal health care paid for by an individual mandate. Yes, John McCain will go after Obama on national security more than he could Clinton, and Obama will have to do better than to deflect those challenges simply with his opposition to the war. Yes, McCain and the right wing smear machine will attempt to define Obama as a terrorist sympathizer; in fact, they’ve already started to do so. And yes, Obama up to yesterday was tacking to the right to draw independent voters and crossover Republicans, an electorally understandable yet philosophically repugnant strategy to many of us in the party’s base.

But Obama gave a solid pro-working class speech yesterday in Wisconsin, calling for major investments in a green economy, a redirection of war spending towards infrastructure and other needs here at home, a speech I could have written. He has the most delegates, is running a 50-state campaign that is now drawing increasing numbers of independents, young voters, African Americans, white males, and now women as well, just as Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy intended. Hillary’s remaining pockets of strength are older voters and Hispanic voters, yet her remaining strategy is aimed at going negative at Obama late in the campaign and relying upon elected officials as her firewall against the voting choices from numerous contests across the country, an effort that will be framed as a last gasp that can only alienate her further from the groups that support Obama now while making John McCain’s job slightly easier this fall.

Up until the last several days, I felt it was politically risky for the party to put its hopes in a movement candidacy against a one-note national security candidate. I know that Hillary could beat McCain in a general election, but to me it is also undeniable that an Obama-led ticket has much greater coattails than she would. So it then comes down to whether or not Obama can go toe-to-toe with McCain and the GOP smear machine, and whether he can run truly as a Democrat instead of running as a movement candidate in it all for himself.

I am now comfortable with an Obama nomination. It was very difficult to move beyond my support for her and initial aversion to his approach and get comfortable with him intellectually. To do that, I read his recent speeches. You'll see a good deal of Democratic/progressive substance there, many of the same things I myself have been saying on the blog for years.
Like Steve Obama was not my first choice but then neither was Hillary. Obama can win in November and he won't be carrying a lot of excess baggage.