Saturday, June 07, 2008

Reintroducing Ethical Politics, One Candidate at a Time

Kudos to Senator Clinton for her most eloquent endorsement of Senator Obama, but I think there's a certain degree of the metaphorical Emperor's New Clothes going on here. Don't get me wrong, I know we'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt and the ability to revive her image, but do not forget that Senator Clinton gave only one classy, inspiring speech out of a thousand that were dry, dull, unimaginative, and more than a few that were offensive to the her opponent, the party itself, and the American people. That this speech happened to be her final official act and a marked change from her previous conduct in a grueling campaign should not supersede her previous acts.

Before anyone can label me as sexist, in saying this, let it be known that there are any number of female Senators, Representative, Governors, and elected representatives who I would gladly give my vote to if they ran for President. No one except for a few misguided chauvinists would ever dare denote even one of these female candidates as a bitch. And, to make it further plain, in saying this, let me make it clear that Hillary Clinton would have gotten my vote in November if she had become the presumptive nominee. I wouldn't have felt good about it, but I would have voted for her in spite of my numerous reservations.

She wouldn't have been the first women I have ever voted for, either, and certainly not the first who has received my vote when seeking a high elective office.

What disturbs me is that there is some disconnect in this society which assumes that any strong woman will seemingly automatically be called a bitch by default. In turn she receives a social acceptable crutch and a pass to behave in a manner that is neither endearing, nor classy, nor acceptable. The strongest women are those who need never have their regrettable and offensive conduct excused as "being strong and assertive".

Moreover, I can think of many talented men with regrettable personal conduct, Bill being one, who many people are eager to excuse as some kind of charming rogue. I have never forgiven Bill for acting ethically sleazy and particularly in his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. While this conduct was certainly nothing I would consider to be an impeachable offense, it did nonetheless denote him as a person of at best dubious ethical standards.

Obama, by contrast, is a gentlemen, which seems to be a dying profession but one which I hope is revived by his good example.

The Clintons' ego and hubris did them in at the end, and let us not forget that no matter how gracious and conciliatory a speech she gave today, it was given on her terms and her terms alone. Only the Clinton ego would transform a rather routine matter, albeit a historically important occasion into the press spectacle it was today. By contrast, when Gore conceded, I didn't see him bothering to go to the trouble to corral the press, make some dramatic lasting statement about the historical impact of his run, and in doing so get a cheering section of a few thousand of his supporters to provide an amen corner to underscore his main points.

Yes, this speech today has gone far to revive her image. Yes, it's obvious she wants to be Vice-President or better yet, to reserve her right to run again for President at some future time. But, pomp, circumstance, and pagentry aside, what I was struck with mostly is the complete self-centered narcissism of Team Clinton, which shouldn't be forgiven just by a good apology to the American people or a concession to the presumptive nominee, Senator Obama.

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