Wednesday, January 16, 2008




Hillary managed to pull her carcass out of the fire in the New Hampshire Primary. But her 39 to 36 percent victory over Senator Obama seems rather shallow when you consider that she was seen as the presumptive Commander-in-Chief in waiting just prior to the Iowa caucuses. In just a few short weeks Hillary has gone from the anointed one to a woman who was, literally, brought to tears over concern for her political career—and those very tears points out an issue that begs to be examined.

If Hillary's tears were genuine (and that's a big IF), we need to ask ourselves whether or not she has the emotional strength to handle the job of President of the United States. If she breaks down into tears under the stress of simply running for the job, what can we expect from her under the awesome responsibility of actually doing the job? Some may say that's a cheap shot that's only being leveled at her because she's a woman, but actually, it's a sword that cuts both ways. If Barack Obama would have broken down under similar circumstances, his candidacy would have been over. So when we're discussing the most powerful job in the world, we can't think in terms of whether the candidate is a man or a woman, we must look at their character, strength, and stability alone—and that's exactly what my question seeks to address.

The fact is, we know very little about Hillary Clinton, other than she's married to Bill. She projects the image of a strong and independent woman, but how independent is she? Truly independent women are indeed something to behold, because they rely solely on their own resources under tremendous odds. No old boys club for them–it's just one women against the world. But Hillary seems to fall short in that regard–she tends to have no problem at all with embracing her husband's accomplishments as her own. With all of her talk about experience, for example—it's not her experience, it's her husband's. The only experience she has is that she slept next to power for eight years. If you take that experience away, Obama is more experienced, hands down. Hillary's claim of vast experience is completely analogous to if Mamie Eisenhower suggested that she was qualified to take over as commander of the allied command simply because she was married to General Eisenhower.

Of course, I'm being facetious--but only slightly. Because the point is, just as Mamie Eisenhower would be basing her claim on her marital status, Hillary Clinton actually seems to consider the office of the president community property. One can see it in her irrational anger towards Senator Obama. She seems to look upon the senator as a young interloper seeking to take away something that is rightfully hers. That's why she can't resist attacking him every chance she gets. Even when she became "tearful", she just couldn't resist implying that Barack didn't know what he was doing: "Some of us know what we will do day one, and other's haven't thought it through." How does she know what Obama has "thought through", and what makes her such an expert on the presidency—other than she slept with one?"

While Hillary tearfully claimed that her primary reason for wanting to become president was so she could bring change, and move the country in a different direction, her combative, calculating , and mean-spirited behavior clearly belies such altruistic motives. Everything she's done since she made that statement embraces the old-style approach to politics. Rather than emphasizing what she has to offer that would make her the best choice for president, she's chosen to use the old, Rovian, attack-dog style of campaigning in an attempt to undermine Obama's appeal–and history shows that appeal is a president's most valuable asset.

She campaigned in South Carolina with Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, in order to appeal to the Black voters, for example. Then Johnson immediately went on stage to attack

Senator Obama, and serve Hillary's purpose well–or did he? Hillary showed very poor judgement in using Johnson, and judgement is another important presidential quality. One would think that if Hillary truly had the best interest of the Black community at heart, she wouldn't have even wanted to appear on the same stage with Johnson. While, granted, Johnson is a highly successful Black entrepreneur, he's also responsible for spreading more pernicious dysfunction and cultural degradation among more Black youth than any Black man who's ever lived. This man's thoughtless greed has contributed directly to the destruction of life, and the functional viability of, literally, millions of Black kids. If Hillary didn't know that, she's out of touch with the Black experience; if she did, she simply didn't care.

It was the height of irony that she would send Johnson on stage to criticize Senator Obama. The senator has spent his entire adult life trying to create a better life for the people in the Black community. On the other hand, what has Johnson done? After building the perfect tool to educate Black youth and introduce them to a better way of life, what did he do with it? He made a fortune by spreading a culture of gangster rap–with its glorification of murder, disrespect for women, saggin' pants, and the perpetuation of a dysfunctional vocabulary that all but ensures that countless young Black people will never be able to get through a job interview. Then Hillary brings this man up to criticize Obama?! If you call that love for the Black community, that's a love I can do without.

On the other hand, let us look at Obama's background. After high school Obama moved to Los Angeles and attended Occidental College for two years. Thereafter he transferred to Columbia University in New York. He majored in political science and specialized in international relations, receiving his B.A. in 1983. Thereafter he worked for Business International Corporation, and later, the New York Public Interest Research Group. After moving to Chicago he became a community organizer–he worked with low-income residents in Chicago's Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing project. He went on to Harvard in 1988, and in 1990 became the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review in 104 years. After obtaing his law degree, magna cum laude, in 1991, he returned to Chicago to direct a voter registration drive. He then became an associate attorney in the law firm of Miner, Barnhil l & Galland, representing community organizers, doing discrimination and voter rights claims. He then went on to become a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

In 1996 Barack was elected to the Illinois State Senate where he represented the 13th District on the south-side of Chicago. While a state senator he worked with both Democrats and Republicans to draft successful legislation on ethics, health care reform, tax credits for low-income workers, welfare reform, subsidies for child care, a law monitoring racial profiling, and led the passage of legislation requiring the videotaping of homicide interrogations. Yet, he still managed to win the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police. 1

But while I'd be less than honest to contend that Hillary hasn't demonstrated some compassion for the plight of the average American, her tendency to discount Obama's experience, competence, and qualifications to be president is grossly disingenuous, and the Johnson affair clearly demonstrates that her judgement under fire is highly suspect. What is also clear is that Obama's preparation for the highest office far exceeds her own. After all, while she, and her healthcare plan, was being soundly trounced by her Republican opponents, Republicans were working with Barack in Illinois to get his passed. And while she was giving tea parties in the White House to help the poor, Barack was in the trenches, and public housing projects, directly involved in the struggle. So while both senators have challenged the opposition to "bring it on", Barack was on the ground, while Hillary, was on the phone.

Eric L. Wattree

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