UPDATE: Clinton is on Letterman as I write this, and she’s doing great.  Cracked a few jokes, looked comfy, handled Dave’s random questioning and quips well.  Am I projecting when I think of the socialization of women as caregivers when she talks about waking up in the morning (as President) thinking about other people’s needs? 

I watched Clinton’s virtual townhall tonight, and was charmed by her absolute delight when Chelsea Clinton appeared on screen from Hartford.  Clinton is not a “natural” in front of the camera.  She’s poised, articulate, polished, but not particularly at ease.  This is evident in her enthusiastic praise for every person who posed a question: “I’m so glad you asked that question,” she repeated practically verbatim, over and over.  She’s quick with the praise and the positive reinforcement, but she doesn’t look particularly relaxed dishing it out.  When she saw Chelsea though, and she called out, “Hi Mom!”, the joy on HRC’s face was unmistakeable, and I swear I could see her shoulders drop as she basked in her daughter’s smile.  It was sweet, and left me charmed – and comfortable, more so than ever, with my choice of a candidate.  Clinton is the right choice for me – sharp, tough, successful, bright, prepared, thoughtful, has a range of life experiences, and is female to boot.  Watching a mom smile down on her kid – a female only child (projecting much, Redstar??) while they jointly campaigned for her Presidency – that works for me. 

Then the M.A.S. and I watched a few minutes of Obama’s speech at his Boston rally.  And my heart hardened. 

This Campaign has given me yet more insight into my risk aversion, and my cynicism.  Obama’s sweeping messages of post-partisan hope and change fall flat with me.  Like with Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” 2000 campaign, I feel voters are setting themselves up for a crushing reality by buying into the “anti-establishment” candidate’s seeming progressive politics cloaked in a rhetoric that appropriates deceased leaders for political gain, former leaders whose canonization over time glosses over the painful resistance that surrounded them (in the case of MLK), or their qualified impact (in the case of JFK).  “Obamaholics” are projecting an incredible amount onto Obama.  His oratory leaves him open to this, and the associated expectations of, for instance, release from our racist “past”, are frankly dangerous for our national psyche, as the disappointment sets in that he is a moderate liberal willingly constrained by conventional D.C. operating procedures – should he win the election. (The M.A.S. is concerned about his ability to fight back against McCain.) 

I don’t like surprises – never have.  I don’t like hype, and I don’t like the plasticity of politics.  This is one of many reasons why I likely won’t be President someday (despite my own “audacity”), and why my skepticism kicks into overdrive when Obama starts up.  (Never mind that this change agent surrounded himself with the Massachusetts liberal establishment on stage and the irony just overwhelmed me.  Our two Senators have a combined seventy years of Congressional service; Kennedy currently is the second longest serving Congressman.)  I much prefer Clinton’s gendered schoolmarm awkwardness to Obama’s easy pontificating for how we’ll be coming together.  And I prefer knowing the battles facing us with a President Clinton than think about the potential for a rude awakening that some might get with a President Obama. 

That I could comfortably work as a policy scholar in both their Administrations, well that’s my secret Campaign fantasy!


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