By Larry Johnson on January 12, 2008 at 8:19 PM in Uncategorized
Yes, I have a bias. Until the New Hampshire primary I was keeping my powder dry and my options open when it came to supporting a Democrat for the Presidency of the United States. I was open to both Edwards and Clinton, but Tuesday pushed me over the edge. I will support Hillary Clinton for President and am now a financial donor to her campaign. And for the clowns who insist I’m sucking up in order to get a sweetheart government position or to have a lobbying insider deal I have but one word–horseshit.
If Hillary’s elected I will be happy to offer advice and volunteer time to get her administration up and running. But I do not want the daily grind of going to work. I like to sleep in until 830am if I can. And I like to play golf (call me selfish).
I support Hillary because she is a thoroughly tested, scandal free candidate. No one in the race to be President–republican or democrat–has experienced the scrutiny and attacks that Hillary has. I support Hillary because she has shown a willingness to learn from mistakes and has demonstrated a shrewd, nimble intelligence. I have briefed her in private and she knows how to think on her feet, think spontaneously, and be very smart in the process. I also support Hillary because she has more successful time in legislative and executive positions than either John Edwards or Barack Obama. Finally, I support Hillary because she understands that what she says in the primaries can and will be used against her in the general election and if she is sworn in as President.
So why not Edwards or Obama? The Edwards decision boils down to this–He is not a viable national candidate and lacks the muscle or money to get thru the primaries. I will be happy to be proved wrong and will contribute the max to his campaign if he triumphs. But I don’t think he can pull it off. However, I have given his buddies–Wayne Williams and Brad Parker–full privileges to sing his praises at No Quarter. I believe that John Edwards does have the experience and has been vetted sufficiently to do well in a national campaign.
I cannot say the same for Barack Obama. Obama, although an inspirational speaker, is not qualified by accomplishment nor sufficiently vetted to warrant getting the nod to be the Democratic candidate. Can we at least be honest that there is no legislator in the history of the U.S. Senate who deserved to be President after only two years on the job? Obama’s national level experience in government would not be such a concern for me if his record at the state level was extraordinary. But it was not. Had he eradicated poverty and crime in Illinois during his stint as a state legislator then I would be leading the parade to elect him. But he did not. He did what every other ambitious, smart politician has done–he avoided problems and positioned himself to move up to the next rung. Good on him for that. But he is not the political equivalent of Lebron James–he’s not ready to start.
How about private sector experience? Has he met a payroll or commanded a large, complex organization? Nope. Obama has generated ammunition, however, that can and will be fired at him. For example, the national media has barely probed his ties to crooked political fund raiser, Tony Rezko. Obama himself said it was a mistake and that will become one of the key stories. If Guiliani is going to get hammered for helping nominate someone like Bernie Kerick to be in charge of Homeland Security, do you seriously believe that Obama will get a pass on characters like Rezko? I say no.
And don’t start rattling off the list of Hillary’s sweetheart deals and stock windfalls. My point is those are already fully known, explored, and analyzed to death. I am not holding it against Obama that he may have some of the same dirt in his past that has plagued Hillary. But Hillary has been thru the wringer of independent prosecutors and national public scrutiny. There is no new “news” there. No so with Obama.
While Obama is a good looking, articulate candidate, he is still on the media honeymoon. You know, they love the inspirational story. They love the rags-to-riches, bootstrap mythology. The media are still misty eyed and in their minds hear the refrain,”I was born a poor black child.” But the media honeymoon will end. They are a fickle lot and will become bored with the Obama hagiography. The saintly man will be transformed into a sinful boy (and yes, I deliberately use the term “boy” to capture the racial and ethnic slurs that will be used to sully him).
Fair or not, Obama’s race will become a major issue. The time between March and August is long and the media will hunger for a story line grounded in conflict. If they cannot find one they might even invent one. I am not saying that Democrats should avoid nominating a black man or woman. But do not kid yourselves that most of America is yearning or ready to elect Obama. The first black President will be a man or woman throughly tested at the national level. Obama could eventually be that man, but he is not now a viable black candidate, especially with only two years of mediocre legislative service in the Senate. If Colin Powell was running we would not be discussing his race or qualifications. We would argue about some of his decision making and advice, but not his ability. Obama’s resume does not yet have that kind of heft.
Finally, I am troubled by his apparent ineptness or lack of vision. I think he knew when he entered the U.S. Senate that he would run for President if the opportunity presented itself. So what did he do to start positioning himself for such a run despite the limitations of being a first term Senator? Did he chair any signficant hearings? No. Did he use his position as Chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Europe and Nato to burnish his lack of foreign policy experience? No. It is tough to accuse Obama of being a calculating politician because he did such a poor job of positioning himself for the current run. He failed this part of the calculation.
I hope for the sake of Obama that he gets more seasoning and more experience. But I will not support a guy who is less qualified than George W. Bush to be President. Having another likable but inexperienced guy in the White House is a risk I will not take.