Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Politics of Cynicism

The past forty-eight hours have really been a textbook example for me of just how much of a cesspool our current political discourse is and has been for far too long. First, Barack Obama makes comments in a San Francisco fundraising dinner last week that addressed the growing discontent across large swaths of this country, after jobs and opportunity have been systematically stripped away through decades of economic malaise.

This isn't rocket science. And anyone who's had to look at a paycheck chopped to bits by ever-increasing taxes, while filling their tank with $4 a gallon gas understands exactly what he was talking about. The only "mistake" he made was to bring up the issues of spiritual and personal security -- God and guns -- that those facing financial difficulties seek solace from in lieu of a disinterested government.

These remarks were on-point, insightful, and when stripped of context or subtlety were exactly what the nuance-free Hillary Clinton campaign needed to broad-stroke Obama as an ivied "elitist" while painting herself as a gun totin', beer swillin' Average Josie. It's the kind of contortionism that would make a Circe de Soleil acrobat wince, and sadly it's right in line with what we've come to expect from her campaign. Just when I think the wink-wink-nudge-nudge cynicism of the Clinton camp can't sink any lower, they find a new depth to plumb.

What Obama said may have been unartful, and I'd even disagree on that score, but it was fundamentally true. And it's a discussion that's not only worth having, but must be had. However, Team Clinton has decided that instead of attempting to address the economic problem at the heart of his argument, instead of putting a discussion on the table that would make it easier for any Democrat to score in a general election, it's easier to borrow a page from the GOP "dirty tricks" manual and play up tried-and-true wedge issues. And once again, political expedience takes precedence over all else.

No comments: