Obama won enough delegates yesterday to almost certainly become the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee. A number of articles about that fact make use of the word “historic.” Indeed, it is.
Of course, if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination instead, it would have been equally historic. Obama would/will be the first African-American to secure the Presidential nomination of either major party, but Hillary would have been the first woman. And, if the two manage to unite the ticket as running mates, it will be doubly historic—or perhaps even historic squared.
I’ve made no secret of my disapproval of Obama’s record, proposed policies, failures of judgment, naivete, associates, arrogance, and extreme liberalism. Some people on the Right have wanted him to become the Democratic candidate for those very reasons; they think he’s so weak and so controversial that the American people will reject him.
I disagree. I think the antagonism towards Republicans is so strong this year that Obama stands a good chance of winning no matter how egregious his errors, cloudy his judgment, empty his record, or shady his mentors. I’m not a Hillary fan and would not vote for her, but I would much have preferred her as a candidate because I think she has a certain basic common sense despite her flaws.
Hillary may be an egotist, like almost all politicians. But unlike Obama, I can’t see her as having the combination of ignorance, hubris, and naivete that would make her think she could magically reach the Iranians by the force of her magnetic personality and her willingness to dialogue with them. She is more of a realist than that.
In summary, I believe Hillary’s Presidency would have resembled that of her husband, whereas Obama’s Presidency would resemble that of Jimmy Carter. I judge the latter to have been far more damaging to America than the former.
That said, I try to be philosophical. Despite everything, I take some joy in the “historical” nature of the Obama nomination. I grew up in a time when segregation was still the rule in much of the deep South, when African-American professionals were few and far between in all areas of the country, and when one hardly ever saw a black face in advertisements in mainstream magazines (the covers of Ebony on the newsstand were the sole exception, and that was not regular reading matter in most white households).
The idea of a black Presidential nominee was a distant dream back then, and in the abstract I’m happy it has finally been realized. The general idea is good; unfortunately the particulars of Obama’s point of view are not good.
It’s of some interest that a black man has been nominated before a woman of any race has reached that pinnacle. I think that might just be an accident of these particular personalities and the peculiarities of the rules of the Democrat primary season; Hillary might have made it but for Obama’s charisma and his ability to work the caucuses.
I recall what a big deal it was when Kennedy won another “historic” victory by becoming the first Catholic President. That seems odd, doesn’t it? After all, we’re so far beyond that now.
Except for one thing: to this day, Kennedy remains the only Catholic President.
Not only that—there has only been one Catholic nominee from either major party since JFK, and that is none other than John Kerry.
And he, of course, is Jewish. Sorta.