15 February 2008


I'm addicted to coverage of the primaries. I can't help myself. Anyway, an observation on some of Senator Clinton's rhetoric. In an attempt to put a the brakes on Obama's momentum, she said in Ohio:

“Speeches don’t put food on the table. Speeches don’t fill
up your tank, or fill your prescription, or do anything about that
stack of bills that keeps you up at night. My opponent offers speeches. I offer solutions”

And on winning the New Mexico primary:

"I will hit the ground running on day one to bring about real change."

These are both common themes from Senator Clinton lately, but they're bogus. Obama is a much better public speaker than Clinton, so she tries to turn that advantage into a weakness by implying it means he is a head-in-the-clouds idealist who won't be able to undertake the tedious task of actually governing. But I think this criticism misses the point of the Presidency. Federal government policy matters, but it is (a) not set exclusively by the President and (b) rarely directly solves people's day-to-day problems.

Democrats tend to get too obsessed with minutiae. Some issues (like healthcare) can be transformed on a personal level by new federal legislation, but most (the housing crunch and shifts in the job market due to globalisation, to name two) can't be meaningfully affected by the Whitehouse. The ideal candidate has both speeches and solutions, whereas Senator Clinton portrays herself as a sort of national auto-mechanic.

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