Wednesday, June 4, 2008

And the speeches...

Hillary Clinton's deranged "victory" speech:

And the black man with a funny name who will be your Democratic nominee:

Having cooled down a little bit (but only a little bit), I will try to explain my thoughts on why I found her speech so upsetting. It's not that she didn't concede... I didn't really expect her to, though I certainly hoped for it. What I did expect was for her to be gracious and complimentary to Obama and to admit that he had accomplished something. I mean sure, maybe she doesn't want to officially drop out right yet... she wants to still travel the country and talk to the people and help their issues get heard; that's perfectly honorable and there was some hint of that in her speech... but you also have admit you lost(and as Chris Bowers points out, he even won if you seated Michigan and Florida in exactly the way Clinton wanted), and let the first black man to be a candidate for a major party have his moment in the sun. But no, instead she basically pretended to win.

Now, she will drop out... and in the next couple of days, there is no doubt(is there!?)... and I agree with the sentiment that she is probably just trying to rile up her supporters for one last donation push to help settle her campaign debt. But still. The idea of her on a ticket with Obama is completely dead to me right now, and if that's what she is gunning for then she isn't exactly going about it the right way.

The greatest tragedy of all this, that my post is enabling, is shifting the focus from the fact that "Yes we did!" However, I'll let others who are more eloquent than I help correct that error.

Ezra Klein:
Towards the end of the 1967 movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Dr. John Wane Prentice, played by Sydney Poitier, sits down with his fiance's white father, played by Spencer Tracy. "Have you given any thought to the problems your children will have?" Tracy asks. "Yes, and they'll have some...[But] Joey feels that all of our children will be President of the United States," replies Poitier. "How do you feel about that?" asks Tracy, looking skeptically at the black man in front of him. "I'd settle for Secretary of State," Poitier laughs.

Written in the late-1960s, the exchange was, indeed, laughable. The Civil Rights Act had been passed three years prior. Two years before, the Watts riots had broken out, killing 35. Martin Luther King Jr. would be assassinated a year later. But here we are, almost exactly 40 years after theatergoers heard that exchange. The last two Secretaries of State were African-American and, as of tonight, the next president may well be a black man. John Prentice's children would probably still be in their late-30s. They could still grow up to be cabinet officials or even presidents, but they would not necessarily be trailblazers.

I pride myself on being fairly cynical. Like any good child of the 90s, I’ve watched more than my share of Larry David. And I understand the frustrations that Clinton supporters and more hardened, cynical Obama supporters feel when they hear all the naive gushing praise for him — particularly from young people.

But they need to understand that many of us have never had a moment like this. We’ve never really been inspired — we’ve never “looked up” at candidates in a Paul Fussell “Romantic” sense. Candidates have never been bigger than us — we look down on them, we criticize, we tell dry jokes, we watch the Daily Show. We’re just not that inspired.

But for the first time, a lot of people are inspired. I don’t really remember 1992, and I didn’t exist in 1960. So I don’t know what this feels like. But I’m excited — I’m not in cult-like worship mode, but for the first time in my political life, I’m genuinely excited about the opportunities ahead. Maybe that will prove silly — maybe the proverbial 1968 lies just ahead. For now, though, I’m excited.

But even if 1968 lies ahead, who cares. When you see your teenage children experiencing crushes for the first time, you hopefully don’t call them over and say “these emotions you’re feeling now, they will soon be crushed.” You pat them on the back and wish their doomed enterprise well, and maybe savor a few youthful memories of your own.
Right on.

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