Kudos To Obama, Clinton - Really

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - February 13, 2008

Those of us who appreciate the political and elective process owe a big debt of gratitude to Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

That’s right, Hawaii. I am giving credit to the Democrats for something positive. Please don’t fall down. It’s true. Obama and Clinton are the best things to happen to politics in years.

With last week’s Super Tuesday, one could not deny the passion, attention and downright drama “ClObama” delivered. The overall voter turnout among Democrats was near record levels, the TV ratings for their debate were huge and their contest brought political discussion back into the coffee shops and malls around the country.

On the GOP side, let’s be honest: Even Republicans don’t seem to like their own candidates, let alone the rest of the voters. The evisceration of Sen. John McCain as a “fake conservative” is in direct violation of the first law of politics established by President Ronald Reagan. “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” For a bunch of guys who claim to know and have worked with the president, they all seem to be stomping his directive right into the ground.

In comparison to the number of votes cast and ratings for the most recent GOP debate, the Republicans had better get moving to get a piece of the attention pie. The first viable African-American candidate and a former first lady duking it out to be the leader of the free world - it all sounds like a Grishamesque novel, but it’s real life. And that’s what interests the average American. It’s the first reality TV event where the presidency is on the line.

Don’t believe me? Ask any man or woman on the street what the difference is between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and why they support them. Invariably, with some exception, it’s because she is a woman and he is a black man. Oh, the answers may be more delicate or P.C., but the premise is the same. It’s a gender vs. race race.

Now, for clarity, let me address your cries of “sexist!” and “racist!” My observations are neither. I said average Americans “with exceptions” would hold such a superficial view of their candidate. Of course, there are differences between Clinton and Obama, and you who are feeling indignation are clearly not part of that other myopic group. But you can’t deny that the vast number of Americans choose their candidates according to a shallow criterion.

For example, Oprah Winfrey (the most powerful woman in the universe) was recently criticized by other women for supporting Obama. Their criticism was so audacious as to question Oprah’s advocacy and support of women, accusing Ms. Winfrey of “betraying” her gender. Are you kidding me? Have these caterwauling hyper-feminists ever seen Oprah’s program? Oprah did her due diligence and concluded Obama was best for the job. Her critics compared pantsuits and chose Hillary as their gal.

The GOP is falling short in regard to political theatre. As a matter of fact, the Republican race is the second feature at a B-movie drive-in. This is not the fault of Sen. John McCain. He is an engaging and intelligent guy. But the storyline is not the same as the Dems. Watching McCain and Romney spar at the most recent debate was like watching the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. It was a big game, but who really cared?

Don’t think so? Compare the ratings. Almost three times as many viewers checked out “ClObama” than the John and Mitt Show. Yes, “ClObama” has invigorated the presidential season (which seems to have started 100 years ago).

Yes, “ClObama” is the more compelling of the two races. But the GOP is not out of it. Not yet. Given Romney’s withdrawal from the race last Thursday, McCain is all but certain to be the nominee.

Now he needs to step up his game and choose a running mate who will infuse some excitement into his campaign and get the “buzz” going about his candidacy.

Paging Dr. Condoleeza Rice!

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