Sense from Seattle

Common sense thoughts on life and current affairs by a Seattle area sexagenarian, drawing on personal experience, years of learning as a counselor to thousands of families and an innate passion for informed knowledge, to uniquely express sensible, thoughtful, honest and independent views.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Learning about the Candidates

As the general Presidential election campaign proceeds, voters, especially young ones, are going to be learning more about who the two candidates are. John McCain has been around for a long time, but his positions and record are actually not that well known outside of Arizona, particularly among young voters. Barack Obama is so new on the scene that everyone has much to learn about him. Both campaigns, and their surrogates, are working to make the candidates better known to the voters, painting a positive picture of their own man and a negative picture of the other.

The McCain camp portrays their man as a Vietnam War hero who is tough on national security and long on international experience, with a history of reaching across the aisle and being independent of party domination. The most noted aspect of McCain's heroism is his defiant survival during five years of North Vietnamese imprisonment. But quietly in the background, there have always been those who question the affect his imprisonment has had on his psychological makeup. Coming from a family with several generations of naval officers makes it easier to understand why McCain's concept of national security includes the perpetual military occupation of any nation we subdue for whatever reason.

McCain's bi-partisanship has been limited to only a few areas, while his overall voting record is essentially quite conservative, with occasional eccentric lapses that have garnered him the maverick label he relishes. The Obama campaign has done a good job of boxing McCain into the frame of running for the third term of George Bush, on whose side he has voted 95% of the time. To young voters, it is obvious from the start that in McCain they would be getting an old, awkward white man who has been around Congress forever and who does seem to represent more of the same failed Bush style Republicanism.

Barack Obama continues to be of more interest to voters, because he is fresh, young and not just another white man. He is a central casting gem for the role of a legitimate change agent. His personal story is fascinating in its diversity of experience. His intelligence, understanding, eloquence and dedication to progressive ideals is inspiring. But the full reality of his story is not known by most voters. The Obama campaign must get his personal story across to voters in the next few months, while also stifling the many false rumors that are being spread against him and his wife.

The anti-progressive right has falsely labeled Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate, but if the majority of voters actually compared the positions of Obama and McCain on the issues, without letting anyone label the positions as liberal or conservative, they would see they are actually more in agreement with Obama.

The Obama campaign has started a web site,, to correct false stories being disseminated about the Obamas. Chris in Bangkok has sent me an interesting piece from Christopher Beam, a political reporter at Slate, who does not think the rumor squelching site is a good idea and suggests instead a satirical treatment. I don't agree with Beam, because voters sophisticated enough to appreciate the satire don't fall for stupid rumors. But the humor is great and my reader [s?] are sophisticated enough to get it, so below is what Beam wrote.

The Barack Obama presidential campaign introduced a new site last week,, that it hopes will debunk persistent myths about the senator: that he's a Muslim, that he won't say the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. As we have argued before, restating the myths often reinforces them, no matter how persuasively they've been refuted.

Rather than restate untruths about Obama, the campaign would do better to start some rumors of its own. Here's a template e-mail the Obama campaign might consider disseminating.

From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]

There are many things people do not know about BARACK OBAMA. It is every American's duty to read this message and pass it along to all of their friends and loved ones.

Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.

Barack Obama says the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE every time he sees an American flag. He also ends every sentence by saying, "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL." Click here for video of Obama quietly mouthing the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE in his sleep.

A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.

Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.

Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.

Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.

Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.


Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What Does Hillary Want?

Now that Barack Obama has amassed the requisite number of delegates to be the Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton still refuses to go away. Everyone is speculating about what she wants. Her ultimate desire has been clear all along; she wants to be President. But now that she has failed to win this nomination, what are her immediate goals?

Hillary wants money, power and prestige. She has huge campaign debts she wants someone else to pay. She wants to parlay the votes she got into political power. And she wants the prestige of being considered an indispensable asset because she came so close to winning the nomination.

The money issue should be easy to solve, since so many people are anxious to part with their cash to help elect a Democrat President, even if it means helping pay the second place Democrat finisher.

Hillary has power, based on the fact she has high roller contributors and some fiercely loyal voters - loyal that is to Hillary, not necessarily to the Democratic Party, the need of the country to have a Democrat President, or the career of any other Democrat woman politician. Her claims of greater electability are not borne out by the polls. Her contention she won the most popular vote is contrived. After Super Tuesday burst her balloon, she was trounced in the contest for super delegates.

The fact that Hillary is her own number one cheerleader shows how far her prestige has fallen. Going into the primary campaign she was a 30 point favorite. After Super Tuesday, it seemed quite likely she was going to lose. The fact she survived and continued to battle and win some electoral contests did not help her prestige. Her initial appeal of invincible inevitability ended up becoming the appeal of a person claiming to be falsely labeled a loser. Granted, she does have her base, mostly older women,less educated white males and Hispanics, but the image she played on in the last half of the campaign was of the downtrodden. Many Americans root for the underdog and bet on losers they hope will turn out to be the next Seabiscuit. Hillary ended up tapping into those sentiments when it was clear she was on the ropes. At the same time, some support for Obama eased up so as not to alienate Hillary supporters by running up the score on her. If the primary season could be replayed, with voters knowing what they know now, I think Obama would beat Clinton by a greater margin.

Hillary cannot be President in 2009, barring the horror she managed to work in to the mix by her reference to Bobby Kennedy in 1968. If McCain wins or if Obama in any way tanks in his first term, Hillary will run again in four years. If Obama has a good eight year run, Hillary will be there in 2016. So is she using her power and prestige to try for the VP spot? Sure she is. As VP, if Obama loses or falters in his term, she will be saying I told you so and offering herself as the savior. And if he makes eight, she will be the heir apparent. Will she be able to finagle Obama into giving her the spot? Not unless he is a fraud, a nut or a masochist.

Hillary has a tricky hand to play now. She has to shift from candidate to supporter, offering to deliver her donors and voters, while holding on to some of her cards and trying to play some of Obama's. She'll want him to let her appear to be a significant player, even though she doesn't get the VP nod. This will probably mean letting her have input on the VP choice and maybe accepting one of her supporters for the spot. It won't be a woman, because Hillary doesn't want any challengers for her monopoly, having been careful throughout her career not to mentor any women who could rise to become competitors.