Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clinton, Obama: Reaching for Higher Ground

By Joe Sims

In a great display of maturity and statesmanship, Barack Obama took the high road today, calling for a change of tenor in a Democratic campaign plagued by responses and counter responses on the issue of racism. Senator Hillary Clinton replied in kind stating that she and Mr. Obama were on the same page when it comes to equality and opportunity for all of the people in the US. (I do wonder why others didn't take the initiative.) Hopefully this will allow candidates to return to the important issues of health care, jobs, and end to the war and the looming economic crisis.

Worries about the economy have already prompted a recalibration of campaign talking points, with Clinton and Edwards calling for new government spending to offset the credit crunch and other aftereffects of destabilized financial markets and recession fears. Obama on the other hand called for targeted tax cuts. Sounds like trickle-down to me. Wonder who is giving him economic advice. With the two main candidates vying for the working-class vote in Nevada and South Carolina, focusing on remedies that would relieve the crisis of everyday living would seem to make more sense.

Speaking of constituency and basis of support, Obama yesterday make a valuable point downplaying the possible effect of racism in the New Hampshire primary. Noting that his vote increased among white men, he attributed his loss to more women voting for Senator Clinton. If race was the motive factor, he reasoned, it would have also effected the male vote. Good point.

Hopefully now the campaign will return to better footing, as divisions in the different camps of the presidential hopefuls were not a pretty sight. It was reported that Rev. Joe Lowry on PBS yesterday, (Tuesday) was masterful in defending the Obama campaign against unfounded charges of "using race" in the campaign. One can not say as much for others in the civil rights and Congressional leadership who took both unfortunate tones and positions.

Congressman Rangel of New York for example again raised the issue of Obama’s experience, indicating it was fair game. I had a conversation with a thoughtful person on the same issue a few days ago, who argued that it wasn’t racist to raise the issue of Obama inexperience. I had suggested to him that to me "inexperience" sounds too much like "unqualified."

I wonder if in similar circumstances these same people would raise the issue with Abraham Lincoln, who if I’m not mistaken didn’t finish his term in the Illinois legislature before becoming president. My friend said, " You think Obama can be an Abraham Lincoln?" My reply: "He has at least an equal chance." Keep your eye on the prize.

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