[EDITOR'S NOTE:] Today's guest post is from friend of the blog Scott-O-Rama. Since today is Super Tuesday, Scott wanted to share his endorsement in the democratic primary since - like myself - his first choice has left the race.
Up until last week, I had planned to vote for John Edwards in today's primary in my state. With him leaving the race, I was left with quandary: should I now support Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. I first tried to think about what issues are most important to me: healthcare, environment (including global warming and alternative fuels), LGBT issues, education, and restoring America's foreign relations (including the Iraq quagmire). I then researched each of the candidates' positions on these topics. I took into account other issues such as experience, history, vision, speaking skills, and the ability of the candidate to win against a Republican. In addition I also talked to all sorts of different people as to why they are supporting a particular candidate.
I've finally made my decision, and I feel pretty good about it.
I'm going to support Hillary Clinton.
Let me explain the reasons that led me to believe she would be a better candidate than Obama:
- Hillary Clinton is not her husband. While I didn't agree with everything he did, I liked Bill Clinton as a President. I'm smart enough to realize though that electing Hillary is not giving Bill another four years in office. I've read before that Hillary didn't agree with Bill on every issue. For example, Hillary strongly supports allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military (watch video). I think we owe it to Hillary to consider her on her own merits and ideas, not Bill's. Think about your own life: do you agree on every issue with your spouse/partner? My partner and I don't.
- Hillary Clinton's chances of winning in November are at least as good as that of Obama's if not better. This is why:
- Her supporters are very loyal and enthusiastic. Witness the recent primary in Florida: Although no delegates were being awarded to the Democratic candidate because Florida broke the party's rules, her followers not only came out and voted, but there were more of them voting for her than did for the Republican winner John McCain. She also surprised people in both New Hampshire and Nevada where Obama was favored to win. If she is the party's candidate, I think this enthusiasm could be spread to others.
- Clinton has already gone through the intense scrutiny of the Republican machine. Though they tried to make a big deal out of Whitewater, that turned out to be more-or-less nothing. Bill’s affair? How can Christian conservatives point the finger at a woman who takes her marriage vows seriously and is committed enough to try and make it work (although I think the real reason they stayed together was for political purposes). They've already thrown all the muck they could find at her, and she's survived.
- One last thing that makes me think Hillary stands as good of chance as Obama: my partner's dad. He is a veteran who lives in Nevada, and he did participate in their caucus. When my partner asked him about it he said he voted for Hillary. Why? Well he liked Bill Clinton as President, and he frankly didn’t feel too comfortable with Obama. The specific thing he mentioned was the incident where Obama refused to put his hand over his heart while the national anthem played. That did not sit well with his dad. I'm sure the Republicans will make a huge deal of that if Barack becomes the Democratic candidate. Regardless of how honorable Obama's might have been, the incident was a rookie mistake and will make people (esp. veterans) question him as a candidate. It’s little gaffes like that that show how green Obama is and make him vulnerable. Hillary has more political savvy in conducting herself.
- Obama is untested. When Bill Clinton turned up the heat on him, he reacted poorly. It’s only going to get worse -much worse- if he becomes the nominee. There might still be skeletons in Obama’s closet that we don’t know about. The Republicans wouldn’t play that card this early; they would wait until he becomes the party’s candidate and then spring whatever muck they could rake up.
Furthermore, as rotten as it sounds, the Rovian campaign tactics of the Republicans will try to raise a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about Obama, his unusual name, and his ties to the Muslim world. Although he is a Christian, as a boy Obama did study and practice Islam (I don't mean to imply there is anything wrong with that). Already e-mails are circulating trying to convince people he's still a Muslim. And his name? Barack Hussein Obama? Do you really think that they won't try to tie that to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussien? How do you think that is going to play in redneck America? We witnessed in the 2004 election just how low the other side will sink to throw mud or did you forget the Swift Boat ads? Although my sense of fair play screams out that I shouldn't hold Obama's name and upbringing against him, I realize that the other side will.
- We need someone who can get things done in Washington once elected. There are too many issues that need action like global warming to wait around while the new President gets his/her feet wet. Clinton has been campaigning on the theme that the country needs a President who is ready on day one. While that may seem like a bunch of campaign speak, she's right. Having served as First Lady for eight years followed by eight years as a U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton knows the ins-and-outs of Washington politics. She knows how to work with the other side. The term "Washington insider" may have a bad connotation to it, but I think we need one in order to undo the damage of the Bush Administration. Obama has served only two years as a U.S. Senator and has only been in politics for ten. His record doesn't boast any major accomplishments as a politician, so I'm a little surprised he felt he could run for president this early in his career.
- Hillary Clinton supports treaties on reducing carbon emissions like the Kyoto Protocol; Obama is neutral on the issue. The U.N.'s top climate expert recently warned: "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two or three years will determine our future." In other words, we need a President that will take a tough stance in reducing carbon emissions not only here, but worldwide by encouraging other nations to take part in treaties and pacts. Overall, Obama seems weaker in his support of environmental issues, including protection of endangered species, than Clinton.
- Hillary Clinton's commitment to LGBT issues and rights seems stronger than that of Obama's. While neither candidate supports gay marriage (an unfortunate stance necessary to get elected in my opinion) and both support civil unions, I am still bothered by the fact that Obama refused to disavow himself from ex-gay preacher Donnie McClurkin who was part of his campaign tour. This even led to the HRC to issue a statement expressing its strong reservations to Obama. While Obama says he supports and respects the GLBT community, actions speak louder than words. Clinton, on the other hand, has been a friend to our community for years. Her campaign recently reached out to both CBS News on Logo and this very website in an effort to reiterate her support for us and make us feel included. Where is Barack Obama in this regard? He did not respond to Logo's request for an interview. Clinton consistently voted for our interests, and I think we should thank her with our support.
- Clinton's approach to ending the war in Iraq seems more pragmatic than Obama's. Sure, we all want the troops home as soon as possible, but we have to do that in a smart way. Obama is calling for the troops to be out by March 31st. Clinton is supporting a more structured pull-out. We made the mess in Iraq, so in leaving I think it's our responsibility to make sure we don't endanger the people there or our troops. It is my belief that Clinton's plan has a better chance of accomplishing those objectives.
- Obama's campaign of "hope" and "change" is short on specifics. I love Obama's idealism; I really do. I also agree we need a "change." Unfortunately I'm a realist. Hope alone won't bring about the changes we need to occur during the next president's term in office, and I think simply having a Democratic president will bring plenty of change over that of the previous eight years. When I tried to research specifically what Obama was proposing on the different issues, I found very little substance. Take healthcare: Clinton knows the issue like the back of her hand and has a 14-page plan you can download from her website. Obama has talked about the need for healthcare reform, but even on his own website he gives very little information as to how he'll accomplish this other than idealistic statements. This ties back into the issue of having someone who knows their way around Washington; the country shouldn't have to wait for a couple of years while Obama nails out specifics once elected. He should have formulated a plan and be sharing that with the public now. The Republicans will pounce on his lack of substance should he become the candidate.
I'm also quite concerned about Obama's effectiveness as a President should he be elected. If he isn't a strong leader, if he doesn't deliver on his promises, if he accomplishes little, then he'll almost guarantee a Republican victory in 2012 and possibly even 2016. Look at what happened with Jimmy Carter ushering in Ronald Reagan and George H.W Bush. Of course the only way to know how Obama will be as President is to put him in the office. Unfortunately I'm not willing to gamble that. I have a much stronger sense of assurance in Clinton's abilities to be president than Obama's.
- Hillary Clinton has a lot of respect on the world stage. Even in the comments on my blog, people from outside the U.S. have expressed how much they hope Clinton is elected. As First Lady she visited 79 different countries (the most of any First Lady), met with many foreign leaders, traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Senator, and became known throughout the world. Many non-Americans have a very high opinion of her, and that will serve her well if elected. It will take Obama several years to earn the respect that Clinton has today.
There are other reasons why I'm choosing Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama including her positions on free trade and relations with China, but it's too much to go into in just one blog post. As I mentioned earlier, I feel very good in my decision. I don't see eye-to-eye with Clinton on every issue, but I believe in her abilities to be a strong, forward-reaching president.
I'm asking you to consider voting for Hillary Clinton as well. If you are currently supporting Barack Obama, I respect your choice. I don't think he's a bad candidate at all, and I'll support him if he ultimately gets the party's nomination. I would hope though that you'll take into consideration the reasons I've outlined above for my decision, and perhaps take a new look at Hillary Clinton.
Whatever the outcome, either candidate will make a better choice for President than the Republican contenders.