Thursday, August 28, 2008

Surface and Depth

I did not watch the speech as I was home late and too tired to hunt it down. I read some comment threads of people who did watch it (See TalkLeft and Corrente for an interesting mix of perspectives) and then have been listening to the spousal unit reading parts of the transcript. Undoubtedly I've missed the rhetorical flourishes and impact of spectacle, but it struck me as a speech both better and less effective than his 2004 keynote, a speech that I very much liked and which gave us both a strong positive opinion of Obama at the time.

The speech was better in that it had some specifics in it, some mentions of what Democrats intend to do. The 2004 keynote, in comparison, was almost all bipartisan feel-good, see we're really not all that different, unity stuff. Even so, it was a more effective speech because shorter, more focused and free to evoke rather than spell out. That is not a criticism of either speech because the tone and topic of each reflect the different task set before it and the kinds of expectations attached to those tasks.

BTD thinks Obama's speech tonight succeeded. I disagree, though I would not go so far as to say it failed. I think it held ground and was sufficient for the occasion, but it was, at base, deeply incoherent. The lack of internal agreement in the speech points to the incoherence of the anti-Clinton leadership because it reflects some of the deep contradictions of what I have been calling the Stevensonian elite in the Democratic party. It seems my coinage of "Stevensonian" is catching on in the outer 'burbs of the blogosphere, though there's been too simple of a dichotomy made from what I've been trying to describe. Stevensonian =/= "bad" and Truman =/= "good", and at this point there is not a single party leader of any status who isn't more Stevensonian than Truman. The question is where is the balancing point for the party and its candidates between these two modes of political life? Puzzling this out is what drives my political thinking. Obama's success or failure in the GE will hinge on whether he can find this balance. The speech tonight was not reassuring.

The speech breaks down into three parts. The first part was the best from a partisan standpoint, and was a solid, if standard, Dem acceptance speech. He thanked all the right people in all the right measure. He praised the country and the voters. He told stories of people. The best parts were taken wholesale from Hillary and Bill's speeches and that's a good thing. The single best line from it (in my opinion was this: "Well, it's time for them [Republicans] to own their failure. It's time for us to change America." Why is this so good? Because it talks about being responsible for outcomes, and tying political ideology to political failure. The Republicans are the cause of this failure, and we need to change that by tossing them out.

The stories tying his own life to what he heard on the campaign trail was nicely done, though I agree with a few commenters that the people he described are all generic types, not the specific people Hillary spoke of. I myself am uncomfortable at attempts by any politician to make claims about their own authenticity or common touch by comparing themselves to "regular" people, so the stories in the end did not work for me, but I can see how they would appeal to others. So, that stuff is a wash with me, but standard political theater.

The second part was also a standard part of any political convention speech, the inevitable laundry list of policies, plans and ideas that serve as shorthand for what the candidate and the party intend to do once in office. You can make these things killingly dull, but I'm not sure anyone can make them sparkle. It was the dullest point in Hillary's speech on Monday, too, when she ran down the list, so I'll give him a nod on that one. I don't look for specific policies in such things (I just go to the web site... ) and look at it more as a recitation of talking points.

Where the speech lost its way was the part that probably has Chris Matthews tingling all over, the third part where he slipped back into his stump speech and reverted to finger wagging at politicians as such, ignoring the lessons handed to him by the masters on Tuesday and Wednesday. It made no sense, given the political times and his own VP selection. It stood in direct contradiction to the opening, where he finally seemed to accept that he has to campaign as a Democrat.

It is almost unfair to make this speech stand up to the artistry of Bill's presentation yesterday, beacuse there is no better speaker in politics today than Bill Clinton, but it is only through these comparisons that we can see where the party needs to go and how it needs to position itself to capitalize on the weakness of the Right. Bill distilled this election and the fundamental ground of political difference into two sentences:
But on the two great questions of this election, how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America's leadership in the world, [McCain] still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.
This is an incredible statement. In two sentences, he distilled all of the best political and econmic writings of the Left for the past two decades and applied all of the political history and wisdom since Watergate to make clear why the Republicans, as a party and an ideology, must be removed. Here are the issues - domestic prosperity and international stability - and we are in such dire shape now because of the damage the Republicans have inflicted on the nation once they got their way. Clinton made it clear that the source of our woes was the extremist rule of the other party, and that they must be removed, no matter how much we might personally like this or that particular Republican. It was a necessary move away from the drive to personalize politics, which is always a trap for Democrats, by talking about a philosophy of rule that leads to personal and national impoverishment.

Bill knows that trying to tie McCain to Bush won't work. Gore and Kerry both lost running campaigns about being better than the other guy, because the other guy can and will (with the full complicity of the MSM, as the Incomparable Bob Somerby reminds us) trample our goodness into the ground. What the Big Dog did, what Hillary did, was tie both McCain and Bush to the fucked up political philosophy of the Right. They made the argument about more than a single administration - it is against the Republicans as such, from Reagan forward.

Hillary and Bill can deliver these kinds of speeches that go hammer and tongs after the Republicans, speeches that resonate with the core of the party, because they don't feel the need to capitulate on being Democrats. There is no nod to bipartisanship just for its own sake. Struggles in Washington are not always bad if what you are fighting is the pillaging of the nation and an assualt on our basic liberties. They are as partisan as the moment will allow, and now is the time to go all out. What the anti-Clinton faction can't figure out (or won't cop to) is that Bill and Hillary have moved on from the embattled times of the Movement Conservative ascendency and are pushing a significantly more hard-nosed and tough approach to politics (Hillary even more than Bill) than you hear form the rest of the party, which is seems stuck in a timewarp from 14 years ago.

The spousal unit reminded me of an article we read in the Village Voice back in 1992 when we were ardent Jerry Brown supporters. (Side note - Hubby was at a campaign rally for Jerry in Washington Square Park. Jerry was running late as usual. Really late. Carly Simon was there and sang an a capella version of Anticipation. Talk about music suited to the occasion.) It made us sit up and take notice of this fellow from Arkansas. Bill Clinton was asked what he thought of Britain's Labor Party's thrashing in the most recent elections (This was under Kinnock, the party head Joe Biden plagiarized). Bill replied that Labor had not gone as far as the Social Democrats at Bad-Godesberg. Whoa. That made a pair of political scientists sit back and take notice. How bizarre that an American politician was so aware of the European Left, and waas thinking ahead of how to make a Center Left party work.

It is this attention to the operations of power and long-view political strategy that creates conditions for success that go beyond a single election round. This is what Krugman has chronicled about the Movement Conservatives. The Clintons have given a lifetime of study and practice of how to do liberal politics under adverse conditions. What are the compromises to make and why? What will set you up for a stronger move the next time your turn comes up? How do you get to the point where the Left can act?

Listening to the current Democratic leadership, reading the triumphalism on the fauxgressive blogs, and particularly hearing the drumbeat for "bipartisanship", I want to shake these fools out of their inability to recognize what has happened to the country over the last quarter century (actually longer, since Nixon forward). Here were the least palatable parts of tonight's speech:

The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose our sense of higher purpose. ...

And you know what it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know. ...

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

No.

For 40 years, since 1968, the American political landscape has been dominated by the most compact, fanatical, ideologically radical party in the West today. They have brutalized their opponents and despoiled the nation. The crises of our nation (vs. some rather pedestrian political screw ups) have been caused by this group that simply does not agree that we should be a democratic nation. This is not "gridlock" - this is political survival. They have over-reached and now is the time to seize a political opportunity.

From the langauge I have heard through the campaign season and particularly in the last few days, this group is quite cheerfully positioning itself in a weaker position than the Clintons took in 1992, when it seemed impossible that anything could stop the Reagan Revolution juggernaut. They have eagerly taken on the superficial trappings of the Right - pandering to religious kooks, backing down on civil rights, abandoning even the pretense of social and economic equity, flatly saying they will not entertain an ambitious health care reform plan - and have no sense of the depth of change they could accomplish if they would trust to their own party's philosophy.

The speech was all surface and ended by denying its own opening claims, cutting off its deepest, strongest roots.

Anglachel

19 comments:

myiq2xu said...

The Democratic party should have spent the last two years setting the stage for a huge FDR/New Deal sized victory.

At every opportunity they should have introduced bills on a wide range of popular issues, like ending the war, universal health care and global warming. They should have done this with the full knowledge the bills would never pass.

They should have forced the GOP to use parlimentary rules to block those bills, filibuster them, and/or vote against them. They should have forced Bush to veto any bill that made it out of Congress.

This whould have created a record to show the difference between the parties, and they could then offer those defeated bills as a proposed agenda similar to Gingrich's "Contract on America" for the Democratic nominee and Congressional candidates to run on.

Instead, they amended FISA and kept funding the war. They didn't give the voters any reason to support the Democratic party.

It makes you wonder whose side the Democratic leadership is on.

janicen said...

Your post has clarified what has happened in this primary and why so many Democrats opposed the Clintons. It's that, appeasement is easier. The Clintons have a clearly defined vision and set of principles to which they doggedly adhere. This causes intense, almost violent reaction from the right resulting in what's commonly referred to as "Clinton fatigue". I think that people aren't tired of the Clintons, but rather weary of reaction from the right. What a tragedy. It seems many people would prefer to compromise their principles and core beliefs in favor of a smoother ride.

gendergappers said...

The whole pagent reached a peak of hubris last night as he shamelessly stole Hillary's stump speech without any attribution.

Most grating was when he said that "it isn't about me, it's about you." The same point in nearly the same words said by Hillary only 2 nights ago.

harpie said...

While reading your [as usual] excellent analysis the thought came to me that the Clintons are masters at chess, while most other Democrats have convinced themselves they are superior because they have finally proven they can play pretty good checkers.

pm317 said...

Thanks, Anglachel. I did not listen to the speech except to check the pageantry a bit. This is post-partisan, not red, not blue Democrat lite spectacle; in other words, wimpy, don't fight for what you want(if they first know what it is) party. This comes out as a lack of seriousness and urgency about what they can do given this tremendous opportunity and privilege. Most campaigns get caught up with winning and the low-level tactical maneuvers with their boiler plate talking points but rarely ever think about what a gift they are given if they win. This is where they differ from the Clintons, IMO. The Clintons were also in an exceptional circumstance of having gone through that path once, they could fully utilize their 20/20 hindsight. Sure they like the power but I also firmly believe that they are devoted public servants intent on doing good with the given privilege -- much better than the current cast of buffoons on both sides of the aisle. Only two smart winners in the whole wide Democratic party?

shoba said...

Mylq has it right. What got me over and over was the willingness of the dem leadership to fold over the mere threat of a filibuster. The repugs should have been made to filibuster every time -- and the democrats should have stood up for something, say, not giving immunity for breaking the FISA laws.

show me said...

Execellant analysis of not only the speech but the problems with the current Party leaders and the mistakes they continue to make. If there ever was a time to draw the partisan divide it is now.This country is living in the swamp created by Republican policy and no one understands that better than the Clintons.

It is a lazy and igorant public that allows itself to be lied to by the press and the Republican opposition into believing that they are anything less than warriors for the people.

orionATL said...

another superb little essay in which appears this superb paragraph-

"For 40 years, since 1968, the American political landscape has been dominated by the most compact, fanatical, ideologically radical party in the West today. They have brutalized their opponents and despoiled the nation. The crises of our nation (vs. some rather pedestrian political screw ups) have been caused by this group that simply does not agree that we should be a democratic nation. This is not "gridlock" - this is political survival. They have over-reached and now is the time to seize a political opportunity."

i would only add a plea to make that 1958, or even 1948, with the "who lost china" rhetoric, the mccarthy and john birch society era, the succeeding hysterics about south asia that drove eisenhower, kennedy and johnson's foreign policy, and the giant shadow of the soviet boogie man - never as strong as the right loved to make it appear to be, but invoked, and invoked, and invoked again.

the american right-wing is the "enemy within", by far the most malevolent and destructive foe the united states of america, as birthed in the late 18th century, faces.

no foreign force has ever been or will be as dangerous to our future.

No Blood for Hubris said...

I thought it was a good speech, considering Obama was giving it.

I think McCain picking Palin for her gender is a big mistake. Sure rubs me the wrong way.

It does show, however, that someone has been paying attention to women. Probably Karl Rove.

bluelyon said...

Great post, Anglachel. I came to the same conclusion that you did: In spite of the good start, he just couldn't resist slipping back into his tired, old, can't-we-all-get-along schtick, when what we really need is a champion for all things Democrat.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Well, for myself, Obama's speech just became completely moot. McCain picked Palin as VP and she praised the history of strong women trying to break the glass ceiling, giving kudos to Ferraro and Hillary.

Yes, it's a ploy by the Republicans to get my vote. Well, guess what Obama - IT'S WORKING!!!! I'm WAY WAY WAY beyond being scared back into the Democratic camp this election season by invoking the scary "R" word.

For the first time in my life I might actually vote Republican. Un-freaking-believable, but there it is. It all could have been so different if that jerk would have just picked Hillary as VP.

SergeiRostov said...

pm317 -

in other words, wimpy, don't fight for what you want(if they first know what it is) party.

This reminded me of what Patton Oswalt said on Lewis Black's Root of All Evil: Red States vs. Blue States, something to the effect that Blue Staters feel guilty not only about what they want, but even about being blue staters in the first place. If Obama continues to act that way, he's doomed in the GE.

bornagaindem said...

You have put into perfect perspective what the Republican party is all about and why the country is in the mess it is today. My major objection to Obama was I absolutely couldn't stand him saying the gridlock in Washington was the fault of both parties. That was complete bollox. I couldn't understand why democrats weren't screaming bloody murder every time he said that. There are indeed red states and blue states but only the red states seem to realize that this is a bloody war we are in. The problem with this primary was that the insiders in Washington (and I mean the democratic insiders) still hate the Clintons. They hated them from the moment they entered the city. The party needs to fundamentally change in order to fix this and I think we are going to need Obama to lose and lose badly to do it. Then every one of the reach across the aisle crowd can be purged. I only worry that the Clintons will be blamed for the loss anyway. That is what the Clintons concession speeches were all about, positioning themselves for the inevitable loss.

PS Brilliant move by McCain on picking Palin- 1)sucks all the talk away from Obama's big night and 2) gives McCain the perfect foil to talk about the experience thing. Who cares if the VP is relatively inexperienced that is not the president but what if the president himself is the inexperienced one? Then sir you have a problem.

lakelobos said...

I want to address the speech. I haven't listened to it, because this hate monger gives me the hives. But I read many rave reviews of the speech.

As one review says "the sheer majesty of Obama's speech, the confidence he exuded, the promises he made." The problem is that is a description of a bad speech. No one need majesty in a speech; you look for depth, succinct expression, crystallizing of complex issues. Details should be left to the party platform and were needed only because Obama was selling fog for 18 months.

What is missing, and it's not an omission, is comparison to Hillary's and Bill's speeches. The reason is obvious: you don't compare a Nobel prise winner to a high school student.

I apologize, but I still fail to understand the Stevensonian division. For me, the gang now in control of the Democratic party: Pelosi, Reid, Dean and, of course, Obama have given up on all the central issues of the Democratic party, as the post states. American progressives were always foreign policy lefties. Unions, the poor, and other central issues were never there concern.

We, thus, have an unholy marriage of Whole Food progressives and a bunch of political whores who will gladly provide services to the Republican. There really is no Democratic party anymore.

Michael said...

I agree with one of the earlier commenters that while McCain's pick of Palin may be a ploy, it's a very effective ploy. He's won my vote. He's done more to win my vote than Obama has. While I may still call myself a Clinton Democrat, it's a sad fact there will be no Clinton on the ballot, and I am not keen on wasting my vote.

As to the Clintons, I feel they have been diminished through their self-abasement at the convention. All the good things in their speeches aside, it was painful for me to watch them praise and endorse a candidate whom they clearly do not consider qualified for the job, and who clearly does not share their priorities or their passion for improving the lives of American citizens. Next to the proud, self-confident Sarah Palin who clearly enjoys McCain's genuine respect and admiration (compare them on stage, next to each other, to Hillary and Barack, and you'll see what I mean), Hillary Clinton seems like a spent, humiliated wreck. Hillary's congratulations to Palin today had a wrenching air of wistfulness. And this is not the first time this was done to her. She has already once subordinated her political ambitions, to her husband. This time she's had to do this again, and on behalf of someone truly undeserving. I don't even want to know what she's going through right now, just watching her was unbearable enough.

Falstaff said...

As always, you have nailed the ideological drama. And as always, I would offer... not a demur, really, but a complementary frame -- a subtext... or simply a different door through which to enter the same room.

That door has two parts (a Dutch door?). The first has to do with the evolution of these collective organisms we call political parties. Like anything in nature or society, they aren't absolute; they're dynamic. The Republican Party isn't inherently evil, any more than the Democratic Party is inherently good. All of us here happen to believe the Democrats are right, and the Republicans wrong -- but many of us here are also old enough to remember that it was a Democrat, a prototypically non-Stevensonian Democrat (LBJ), who plunged us into the horror of Vietnam.

Pendulums swing, and I choose to be hopeful that the Dems are back on the upswing -- though it will be imperfectly manifest in this cycle. As bornagaindem says above, when Obama loses the election that couldn't be lost, the post-Vietnam/anti-power strain of the Party should finally be purged. And the grown-ups who retake control of the Party will have a nice clear field to play on, because the Republican Party is d-doornail-dead for a generation. (Indeed, if McCain is smart, once next week's theater is over, he will run hard against Bush. He can do so, because Obama has left the door open for him to do so.)

Howard Dean did some very valuable work in this final stage of the past pendulum swing, as a candidate, and with his 50-state strategy -- helping (along with the Netroots) to reshape a basket case into a healthy Congressional party. But that work is done, and these people (Dean, Brazile, Pelosi, Reid et al.) cannot get us past Pisgah.

Bill and Hillary were always anomalies in the modern Democratic Party, because they wanted power. The Party is struggling to get back to the point where that mindset is once more in charge -- as it was from FDR to LBJ, and as it has been for the GOP since then. Our dreams of making it back up to that plateau this year have been dashed. But that doesn't mean we're not on the right side of (the next stage of American political) history.

Part two: I think the emotions at work here aren't simply those of the Democrats, but also those of the Millenials. To me, four compelling feelings have animated the rise of the Obama phenomenon.
The first is the hatred of the Clintons by the parts of the Party that reject power and power-seekers per se -- which (very roughly) translates to your Stevensonians vs. Jacksonians. The second is the misogyny that has always been there, and that Hillary's candidacy awakened into full-throated roar. The third is the dreams of African-Americans, and all those who share their desire to complete Dr. King's dream. And the fourth -- and most relevant to this (overlong) comment's point -- is the desire of young people today to get their parents off the stage, already. All of Obama's "new politics" gornish is, imo, a coded version of this conflict of generations. (When Lewis Feuer's book on the topic came out in 1969, all of us young'uns were righteously outraged. Of course, that was then, and this is now.)

To me, these emotional strains in the dialectic of these ideas/institutions/trajectories help explain the feelings involved. And they also, to me, parse my love for Bill and especially Hillary. Like you, I am in awe of their intelligence, vision and maturity.

kaya said...

hey everyone: long time since i've posted...i just have two coments:

1) i'm surprised that a number of the commenters, and that you yourself, anglachel, did not actually watch the speech. it seems to me that even if watching the speech in no way changed your opinion, it would strengthen your argument. it also seems to me that this election is fairly high-stakes, and we kind of owe it to ourselves and each other to pay as much attention to it as possible, even if some of the speakers "give us the hives." i'm not a fan of john mccain, but i still watch his speeches so that i can at least know that my reaction to him is based on HIM, and not on others' opinions of him.

2) to chinaberry turtle and others who say mccains rather obvious ploy is working on them, i'd really like to know why. when i first heard mccain had picked palin, my instinct was to be insulted: palin is inexperienced, extremely conservative, anti-choice (not to mention anti-polar bear!), and pro death penalty. by expecting hillary supporters to vote for a ticket with palin on it, mccain seems to be saying that he thinks clinton and palin are comparable politicians, which is a huge insult to hillary. he also seems to be saying that he thinks hillary's supporters voted for her only because she was a woman, and not because she was the best candidate. which, again, is insulting.

i'm at a loss as to why more people aren't outraged about that. and if you have an explanation, i would really love to hear it.

Esmense said...

There was something important missing from Obama's speech: An overall theme and, still, a positive reason for his presidency.

There was no "New Deal." No "New Frontier." No "Bridge to the 21st Century". Not even a "Thousand Points of Light" or "Compassionate Conservatism" expressed in specific, new policies like "No Child Left Behind" and "The Faith Based Initiative."

While watching it, I liked the speech -- but when it was over I realized I still didn't have an answer to what an Obama (as opposed to a generic Democratic) presidency would look like, or why Obama wants to be President. He didn't tell me how his presidency would differ, for instance, from Bill Clinton's -- or Hillary Clinton's, or Joe Biden's, or Dodd if they, instead of Obama, had won the nomination.

He ran through the bases; reassured us that he is a Democrat -- with a commitment to the laundry list of basic issues Democrats have long fought for and favored; health care, more teachers, more cops, protecting workers rights and social security, working for greater access to higher education, pay equity, equality, etc.,etc. He made a nod to reassuring us that he respected, rather than dismissed, the Clinton legacy. He took it to the Republicans and made a negative case for "change" -- and an argument for why McCain would not be change but "more of the same" disasterous policies the country can not afford. And he did it eloquently.

But he did not paint a picture of -- his positive, inspiring vision of -- the future America needs, deserves, will be challenged and helped to achieve, in new and specific ways, by his administration. Nor did he tell us why (other than repairing and returning to better times before the damage inflicted by Bush) these times call for, and allow for, persuing such a vision.

This speech answered questions the media and critics inside and outside the party had been asking. But it didn't ask any new or important questions or inspire his audience to ask new questions about how the future should be, or provide any answers to how we can move into, meet the challenges of, that new, inspiring future.

I have begun to suspect the Obama campaign is fighting the last campaign. From Kerry's loss they learned that one must REACT -- quickly and forcibly. But in the process, they forgot that one must lead, positively and imaginatively.

As corny as "Bridge to the 21st Century" and all those other famous campaign themes of the past may seem, themes, supported by specific, new policies, play a vital role in making a candidacy about "us," rather than the candidate. About the country's needs and future, rather than a particular politician's ambitions.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Kaya, here is the explanation you request:

Many people are upset at Obama and the DNC, for a variety of reasons. I am upset at Obama and the DNC for the following two reasons:

(1) Hillary was the target of truly misogynistic attacks by the media throughout the campaign. Not only did the DNC and Obama do nothing to defend her against these attacks, they themselves piled on (e.g. Obama's "tea parties" comments, his "you're likeable enough" comment, his "claws coming out" comment, his "periodically feeling down" comment, his "sweetie" comment).

(2) To many of us, Obama represents the unrepentantly elitist wing of the Democratic party. Obama has pulled together a coalition among African Americans and the intellectual intelligentsia "Whole Food Nation" wing of the Democratic party, that is - the wing of the party that doesn't actually feed from the trough of Democratic policies but instead enjoys talking about saving whales off the coast of Japan at their weekly socialite cocktail parties. This was epitomized by Obama's comments (in a posh SF neighborhood to boot!) about working class white voters not voting for him because they "cling to guns, religion, and antipathy towards people who are not like themselves."

The above two facts have combined to clearly tell me something: the Democratic party is moving away from its roots in two key respects - (a) they're no longer giving a shit about the working poor the way they should (note - patronizingly telling the working poor what's good for them, rather than listening to them as equals instead of rubes, is *not* the same as truly caring about the issues of the working poor); and (b) it's now evident that the Democratic party only pays lip service to women's issues and sexism. When it comes down to crunch time, the DNC and Obama do not stand up for women. I have no doubt that Obama will defend the individual women close to him (Michelle and his daughters), but it is also clear that he will not do so by enacting policies that benefit women in general (including poor working class white Appalachian women).

So, the Democratic party is now straying from its roots, the only roots I care about. Seeing the Democratic party stray from it's core values I am left with a strategic decision:

What should I do in order to force the Democratic party back towards two of its core values: fighting for women and the working poor?

If I vote for Obama, what will that do? It will only convince Obama and the DNC that they can screw over women and the working poor without retribution. While this may be healthy for the Democratic party, it will not be helpful to the above two core issues I am most concerned about. And let it be clear, I am loyal to these ISSUES, not necessarily the Democratic party.

So, instead, I have decided to punish the Democratic party by not voting for Obama. The only remaining question for me was what to do? Write in Hillary or just stay at home?

Then .... McCain picked Palin. Yes, it's a ploy to get my vote. Yes, Palin is antithetical to many of the political positions I believe in. But you see, Obama and the DNC have also been proving that they are, in actual practice, pretty antithetical to the two core issues I believe in as well (women's issues and the working poor). So now, Obama and the Repubs are no longer as chasmically far apart as they used to be.

Your usual retort? But the Repubs are pro-life and Obama/DNC is pro-choice!!!

Kaya - this line of attack no longer holds any sway with people like me. This primary has shed the truth on the abortion issue for me. I now understand, TRULY understand, that Obama and the DNC don't give a flying fuck about the abortion issue, except insofar as to use it as a political bludgeon to keep a particular demographic of women voters in line. This is, of course, precisely how the Repubs use the abortion issue.

What's the difference? The difference is that the Repubs never betrayed me because they never even claimed to be on my side of the abortion issue. So now, to me, they are both the same.

Now, I don't give a shit what either party SAYS it thinks about women's issues. Instead, my new calculus will be based on the ACTIONS of each party. This time around I've watched Obama and the DNC just stand by (and actually participate) while one of the greatest female leaders of our time was torn down with sexist language. On the other side, what do I see? I see McCain picking Palin. Fine - she's pro-life, but she's a woman with five kids. I believe she's innately more in touch with women's issues than Obama ever has been or ever will be.

So in the end Kaya, here's what my vote for McCain says:

"Hey DNC, you want me back in 2012? Well then stop being sexist and classist assholes and maybe we can get along again down the road."

I cannot think of a better way to use my vote for the good of women and the working poor.