I gave John Edwards more money than I’ve given to any candidate in my life, and I’m glad I did. He raised critical issues about America’s economic divides, and got them on the Democratic agenda. He was the first major candidate to stake out strong comprehensive platforms on global warming and health care. He hammered away on the Iraq war, even using scarce campaign resources to run ads during recent key Senate votes. He’d have made a powerful nominee—and president….
…Here are a dozen reasons why I feel proud to have my energy, dollars and vote now go to Obama:
1. The Iraq War: Obviously, invading Iraq remains the most damaging single action of the Bush era. Obama spoke out against it at a public rally while Clinton was echoing Bush’s talking points and voting for it. Obama’s current advisors also consistently opposed the war, while Clinton’s consistently supported it. It’s appropriate that Clinton jumped to her feet to clap when Bush said in his recent State of the Union address that there was “no doubt” that “the surge is working.”
2. Clinton’s Iran vote: The Kyl-Lieberman bill gave the Bush administration so wide an opening for war that Jim Webb called it “Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream.” Hillary voted for it. Obama and Edwards opposed it.
3. The youth vote: If a Party attracts new voters for their first few elections, they tend to stick for the rest of their lives. Obama is doing this on a level unseen in decades. By tearing down the candidate who inspires them, Clinton will so embitter many young voters they’ll stay home.
4. Hope matters: When people join movements to realize raised hopes, our nation has a chance of changing. When they damp their hopes, as Clinton suggests, it doesn’t. Like Edwards, Obama has helped people feel they can participate in a powerful transformative narrative. That’s something to embrace, not mock.
5. Follow the money: All the candidates have some problematic donors—it’s the system—but Hillary’s the only one with money from Rupert Murdoch. Edwards and Obama refused money from lobbyists. Clinton claimed they were just citizens speaking out, and held a massive fundraising dinner with homeland security lobbyists. Obama spearheaded a public financing bill in the Illinois legislature, while Clinton had to be shamed by a full-page Common Cause ad in the Des Moines Register to join Obama and Edwards in taking that stand.
6. John McCain: If McCain is indeed the Republican nominee, than as Frank Rich brilliantly points out, he’s perfectly primed to run as the war hero with independence, maturity and integrity, against the reckless, corrupt and utterly polarizing Clintons. Never mind that McCain’s integrity and independence is largely a media myth (think the Charles Keating scandal and his craven embrace of Bush in 2004), but Bill and Hillary heralding their two-for-one White House return will energize and unite an otherwise ambivalent and fractured Republican base.
7. Mark Penn: Clinton’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, runs a PR firm that prepped the Blackwater CEO for his recent congressional testimony, is aggressively involved in anti-union efforts, and has represented villains from the Argentine military junta and Philip Morris to Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster.