Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both have websites in the colors of the American flag. On Hillary's site, you see a literal American flag. On Obama's you see something like the flag turned into a doughnut.
Hillary's site is linear with a few crisply outlined blocks of type. Obama's features a background of deep blue with swirling light, like illuminated clouds, and a less linear design.
Obama is pictured squinting, looking ahead and upward, his white shirt dissolving into the light. Hillary is grinning, showing her teeth, laughing it up with three voters. She's been around.
I wish I were 18 again. If I were, there's little doubt I'd be ringing doorbells for the dreamer. His speech at the 2004 Democratic convention was the most inspiring I've heard in decades, probably since Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were silenced by gunshots. For young, progressive-minded voters, Obama's oratory and his vision of a united country has to be brand-new.
I'd happily vote for either candidate, and I think that shared opinion is partly what generated last week's hysteria about events in Iowa and New Hampshire. We know the nomination process is basically the election itself. Unless one of the Democratic candidates turns out to be fellating Osama bin Laden, Republicans don't have much hope of occupying the White House. So whoever wins the Democratic nomination wins the presidency.
Although I've been an Edwards fan, I've been more inclined toward Hillary than Obama. Although Hillary's not easy to pin down on issues, either, Obama's rhetoric of "change" is too much like those swirling clouds on his home page. In the debates, he's been far less impressive and, like Hillary, he hasn't submitted to many interviews.
Most importantly, I share others' suspicion of his urgency to "reach across the aisle." It has a lovely sound, but it echoes George Bush's promise to be a "uniter, not a divider" eight years ago. Bush told Salon.com this in 1999:
"I think that each person ought to be judged by their heart and by their soul and by their contribution to society. Group-thought will balkanize our society, and I have rejected the politics of pitting one group of persons against another."
I don't think for a second that Obama is a George Bush in disguise, but I know Republicans will make just about any claim to acquire and maintain power. I question whether a bipartisan strategy is what is required to reclaim our full rights. I suspect a confrontational strategy is needed.
What's wrong with Hillary? It's true that she's a reminder of the past and has too often supported imperialistic policies. But she does not deserve the unabated hatred the idiotic press directs at her. There isn't space here to document the long history of the media's Hillary-bashing, but it was on spectacular display following the Iowa caucus with the breathless and totally wrong predictions of her career's imminent ruin.
Also on spectacular display was the misogynistic motivation behind the hatred.
Often accused of being a soulless bitch with no feelings, she was contrarily accused of being an emotional mess when, exhausted, her voice cracked and her eyes welled up while answering a voter's question. If press members didn't depict her as out-of-control, they accused her of crocodile tears. Bill Kristol, the Satan of neo-cons recently installed on the New York Times' op-ed page, said this on Fox after Hillary's win in New Hampshire:
"It's the tears. She pretended to cry. The women felt sorry for her. And she won."
The women! God bless 'em, but who gave 'em the vote?
Gender remains the primary axis around which our culture is organized. Bias against women is more widespread and unrecognized than racism. You see it in men such as Kristol but also in females such as Maureen Dowd, whose flat-out stupid, post-New Hampshire column both overstated and reviled the importance of Hillary's 30 emotional seconds.
Political journalism has become the exercise of projection. Reporters and pundits accuse Hillary of the very characteristics they exhibit: an inability to fathom emotions, sexism, power hunger and shallow analysis more calculated to exhibit themselves than illuminate their subject. When they look at Obama, they see stars, fame they covet for themselves. They get all misty.
I look forward to the candidates themselves discussing the issues with more depth, but I have little hope that the press will treat this election, like the last two, as more than a personality contest. When Gore and Kerry tried to talk about substantial issues, they were immediately branded elitist bores. But – thank God! – here comes cranky, outrageous John McCain to rescue journalists from boring old Hillary and Obama.
Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology. For information on his private practice, go to www.cliffbostock.com.