Well, I just watched the Democratic Presidential debate in Texas as my news for the day. I try to watch or listen to at least one news program each day. Some days, I listen to NPR. At other times, I drink in the wise words of Rush Limbaugh. Often, I watch the NBC Nightly News. And, when a Presidential debate is on, I count that as my news program for the day.
Hillary made a closing speech that was, quite frankly, moving. One of the moderators asked the candidates what struggles they have overcome. Hillary responded that almost everyone knows that she has been through struggles, but what she has gone through is not as rough as what many Americans experience each day. She referred specifically to wounded soldiers, but I’m sure she was also referring to other challenges that people face. She said that she has been privileged, and that she has long felt that she has a calling to help other people. She then stated that she does not know if she will win, but she will be all right if she does not, since she has the support of her family and friends. She just hopes that the American people will be all right.
I liked her closing speech for a variety of reasons. She admits that she has led a relatively charmed life, and that many of us little people have to go through struggles. She pointed out the necessity of loving our neighbors as ourselves. She also seemed to be trying to dispel the portrait of her that is popular in American society, the impression that Rush Limbaugh has of her: that she is a cold-hearted woman who has stuck around with Bill Clinton and his infidelities for a long time because she is desperate to be President, and she needs him for her political success. In her words, she isn’t really power-hungry at all. She’s like Reagan (except for the policies), who was content to work on his ranch and didn’t need the Presidency to feel good about himself.
Is she for real? I can’t judge her, but I tend to believe those who have observed Hillary behind the scenes, the ones who have concluded that much of what she says and does is for show. In Rewriting History, Dick Morris presents examples of how she has distorted who she really is to create a popular image. So I have a hard time accepting that she doesn’t care if she wins or not, as if all she’s really thinking about is us. But I also think that she sincerely wants to help people. She just looks to government as the best means to do so, and such an approach will prove costly and possibly ineffective if it is enacted.
Although Hillary gave a good closing statement, I don’t think that will be enough to stem the tide of Barack Obama. Obama is a teflon candidate. He is like Reagan: you can accuse him of many things, but he is able to defuse them in such a way that no one cares about them any more. Reagan’s approach was always to crack a joke, but Obama is different: he just comes across as a regular, down-to-earth, reasonable guy.
Take the debate this evening. Obama was asked about accusations that he has plagiarized the speeches of the Democratic Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. Obama simply replied that the governor is on his staff and offered him advice on what to say. When Hillary then proceeded to criticize Obama as a plagiarizer, many in the crowd booed her. She came across as the bad guy (or girl), the one who is practicing politics as usual through her focus on trivialities.
As a conservative, I don’t really agree with Obama on policy. I had to groan when he said that the government should be spending money on pre-kindergarten rather than the Iraq War, or when he suggested that we should give a bunch of money to Latin America. I mean, what’s with all this eagerness to get kids under government control before they even reach kindergarten age? And why should the United States be the welfare agency of the whole wide world? But the way that Obama says things sounds so down-to-earth. He is like Reagan in that he has a far out, non-centrist ideology yet comes across as your next door neighbor. I noticed this quality in him when he debated Alan Keyes during the 2004 U.S. Senate race. Keyes was huffing and puffing and yelling and screaming and waving his hands, whereas Obama just spoke in his logical, down-to-earth, matter-of-fact manner. It will be hard to stick anything bad onto Barack Obama, since he doesn’t come across as bad.
Hillary, however, has a fairly sullied reputation. To many, she is a conniver, someone who does things for show. She comes across as power-hungry, crooked, dishonest, and polarizing. Her attempt to take delegates from states where she wasn’t even supposed to be on the ballot only reinforces (or validates) this image. She has more to overcome than Obama does, so I doubt that anything positive she did in the debate will help her beat him. I could turn out to be wrong, but that is my impression at the present time.