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Monday, December 24, 2007

Obama and Clinton are not our friends

My inner Frenchman dumps me out of the chair and takes control.

I'm always surprised when I hear a fellow liberal singing the praises of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. It surprises me because these people share the same basic values I and most of you hold dear: the belief that government can and should work to better peoples' lives; that discrimination based on gender, race, or sexual orientation is not only wrong, it is evil; that economic injustice is as great a threat to this nation's well being as any external enemy, and that basic human rights must be defended at all cost.

Over the last two decades or so, we've witnessed these values come under continual assault, and the results are what we see today: torture is a preferable option rather than an evil; the denial of basic constitutional rights like habeas corpus and due process are heralded by politicians, pundits, and a sizable plurality of the people; support for wiretapping and other invasions of our privacy is deemed patriotic; dissent is called treason; and support for a failed war is considered to be "thinking seriously."

All of this is a result of a kind of values creep that occurred over this period. Authoritarian conservatives instituted repressive policies, and our supposed leadership, cowed by the conservatives' strident rhetoric, either joined in with their support or put up only token resistance. Filibusters and other parliamentary tools the minority can use to shape policy were abandoned out of the fear that Democrats would appear to be divisive. The public interpreted this failure to fight as a signal that the values at stake were not really all that important after all and their own values shifted.

So what does this all have to do with Obama and Clinton? Let's take a look at them and see.

Barrack Obama's whole campaign is based on "cooperating" with those who have destroyed these values. Bipartisanship--what Grover Norquist likened to date rape--is a central theme of his campaign as well as his service in the Senate. Remember where he was on the Social Security debate, the only issue over which the congressional Democrats seriously fought the president? He wanted to compromise, to find a bipartisan solution.

His ideal choice for a seat on his cabinet: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To Obama, liberals are too strident. We are divisive. We are not willing to compromise with those who've destroyed this country. He does not see us as his allies. He sees us as the enemy and attempts to dig up dirt on liberal bloggers. He will do everything possible to marginalize us if he is elected president.

Time and time again, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated that she represents the corporate wing of our party--she will represent the owners in our burgeoning ownership society. She surrounds herself with the worst our party has to offer, people like Chris Lehane, who was recently hired to break the writers strike; Lanny Davis, who called Markos Molitas an anti-semite because of what a single commenter wrote about Joe Lieberman; and Mark Penn whose company represents Blackwater and cites union busting as one of its specialties. When asked to release Penn because of his union busting and Blackwater work, Clinton refused. Her refusal shows where her loyalties lie.

Sure they talk a good game. Both said they supported Chris Dodd's filibuster of the FISA Bill, but were absent on the critical day. Both say they want to bring back the troops as quickly as possible (which is in a decade if you look closely at their actual plans). Clinton has never voted against major Iraq funding legislation and there are few people in government who are more hawkish on Iran than she is.

A Clinton or Obama presidency, although preferable to a Republican one, will set liberals back even further, Obama's need to compromise and Clintons fealty to the corporatists will only institutionalize the worst of the Bush Era abuses, resulting in further values creep.

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