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Election 2008:Pt. 2:Style v.Substance

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After seven years with George W. Bush in the Oval Office, it's understandable that the idea of the next President having “experience” is appealing. Of course, one has to believe that the biggest problem with the Bush Administration has been “incompetence”. Personally, I think it's all gone pretty much according to plan (except for those pesky Iraqis who refuse to accept having their country occupied and their oil stolen by American corporations). With no Congressional restraint, Bush has made a huge power-grab for the presidency, appointed right-wing reactionaries to executive branch agencies and the Supreme Court who all seem committed to hurling us backwards to the pre-New Deal era.

But, I digress. Hillary Clinton touts her experience,saying Barack Obama isn't seasoned enough for the Top Job.

I like the fact that Obama has grassroots experience as a community organizer. Frankly, I'd like to see fewer lawyers or big businessmen and a lot more people on city councils, in state legislatures and Congress, who's politics has been shaped on the ground in their communities. I'd like to see more teachers, nurses, union organizers, activists and small business owners representing We the People. Most elected officials---with the backing of huge sums of campaign cash, unavailable to the 75% of Americans who make $50,000 or less—don't even seem in touch with everyday reality.

Maybe, Obama has more of that perspective. While his speeches are short of details, his website appears to have some solid ideas. . From bolstering safety nets and re-training for displaced workers and investing in green energy jobs, Obama has some good ideas. The question is: is he going to the root of the Corporate dominance created this economic car-wreck or just offering band-aides for the working people who are bleeding while CEOs cash in? He sticks it with “free trade” agreements that it appears ought to be renegotiated (as only Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucnich recommends).

It's understandable that people are uplifted by Obama's slogan “CHANGE We Can believe In”, but, to quote an old campaign slogan, “Where's the beef?” If nothing much changes in the way Corporations are allowed to consolidate in endless mergers or how corporate lobbyist write legislation that's passed by corporate-sponsored members of Congress, how much of a “change” is that?

But, what is Hillary Clinton's “experience”? She puts forth her long association with the Children's Defense Fund, founded by civil rights luminary Marion White Edleman. However, Clinton never mentions being on the board of Wal-Mart—a company leading the corporate assault on the American economy and who was the subject of the biggest sex-discrimination law-suit in U.S. history. Clinton insists she should get credit as a “co-equal” in governing, for being First Lady for eight years. If the Clinton presidency is the New York Senator's main claim for the Democratic nomination, then, policies instigated during the Clinton years should be fair game for debate.

The North American Free Trade Agreement that Bill Clinton pushed---and Senator Clinton says she still supports---escalated the export of American manufacturing jobs that continues to gut the economic lives of whole communities and families.

Republicans have sought to end New Deal social safety-nets but, Bill Clinton pushed through “welfare reform”--dumping the nation's poorest mothers and children off welfare, yet, leaving most of them in poverty. The Children's Defense Fund has raised deep concerns about the actual results of this policy. Hillary Clinton wrote a book “It takes A Village” but, seems oblivious to the damage to families that“welfare reform” is causing. She wants to be seen as a lifelong feminist but doesn't propose the concrete solutions for single mothers raising children in poverty: access to education, decent housing, and quality childcare.

Clinton refers frequently to her attempts at health care reform as First Lady. But, her bulky plan was incomprehensible, created in secrecy and kept insurance companies in charge. Her newest plan may be simpler but, she keeps things as they are with insurance companies' , HMOs' and Big Pharma's profits trumping the public interest. To be fair, both Obama's and Edwards' health care plans aren't much different. At least, Edwards is honest that (after some 'reforms' and public subsidies for the poorest), everyone will be REQUIRED to buy health insurance as they're currently required to have liability on their car. Is this what Obama and Clinton also plan to do—deliver tens of millions of captive customers to insurance companies who continue to raise the cost of premiums, co-pays and prescription drugs?

Hillary Clinton seems to be courting the right-wing as she downplays women's reproductive rights---even as 87% of counties in the U.S. have no abortion provider and insurance companies still refuse to pay for women's contraceptives—although Viagra is covered.

On issues tearing apart communities of color—the failed “war on drugs”, high incarceration rates and a grossly inequitable death penalty, Clinton is silent—echoing her husband's stands. But, then again, so are Obama and Edwards in their public speeches (though Obama offers drug courts, more drug treatment and addressing the big sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine on his website).. I guess even most Democrats feel there's still plenty of money to be made building corporate-constructed and run prisons, The “war on drugs” has been an invaluable model for expanding police powers and social control and so “successful” a model that the domestic front of Bush's “war on terror” was based on it.

With his “Two Americas” talk, work on poverty since 2004 and fiery vows to fight Corporate dominance, John Edwards comes closet of the three Democratic front-runners to (at least rhetorically) campaigning on what really unite most Americans' real interests. Obama and Clinton look like primarily symbolic “ground-breakers” who actually represent the top-down DLC and their Corporate sponsors—who've hedged their bets, giving each candidate $100M.

None of the three media-picked “front-runners” is willing to take on the huge (and ignored) issues that should be the heart of the 2008 debate: $500 BILLION in a Pentagon budget (plus “suplemental” bills averaging $100+B) that's half the national budget, draining resources from a crumbling infrastructure, desperate human needs, and shrinking access to educational equity, health care and home-ownership. Why isn't the Incredible Enlarging Military Budget (along with it's younger sibling the Department of Homeland Security) worthy of debate? What about the billions “disappeared” , un-accountned for, to private contractors in Iraq?

Will Clinton. Obama or Edwards is going to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue , issue Executive Orders to close Guantanamo and end water-boarding or restore the core civil liberties that Bush-Cheney have been busy burying under their relentless exploitation of the September 11th attacks?

None of them is putting these issues at the heart of their campaign speeches.

What do the top picks offer on global warming, peak oil and their impact on every aspect of our lives

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http://blog.myspace.com/lydiahowell

Lydia Howell is a Minneapolis journalist, poet, activist and producer/host of "Catalyst:politics & culture" on KFAI Radio, all shows archived for 2 weeks after braodcast at www.kfai.org
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Excellent article.  I'd like to answer yo... by 4justice on Saturday, Jan 19, 2008 at 5:51:59 AM