On February 5th, "Super Tuesday," millions of Americans will select either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for President. Both carry historic liberal values and are capable of doing an excellent job as president. The question voters will have to decide is not who can do the job "on day one" they both can but rather who would be the best fit for these tumultuous times.
Each candidate has strong points. Senator Hillary Clinton is smart, experienced, and has the advantage of having been part of the 1992 and 1996 Presidential campaigns of her husband, Bill Clinton. Although some pundits describe her as a centrist, in comparison to the likely Republican Presidential candidates she is a progressive. Ms. Clinton has retained contact with many of the people who served her husband for eight years; there is no doubt that if she were to be elected President, she would hit the ground running on January 20th, 2009.
Senator Obama is the surprise candidate. Five years ago, few Americans would have predicted that an African-American with the unlikely name of Barack Hussein Obama would be a contender for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination. Although he has only been a member of Congress since January of 2005, Mr. Obama has a compelling personal history: the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, he has worked as a community organizer as well as a civil-rights attorney. He has surrounded himself with experienced advisers Senators Durbin, Kennedy, Kerry, and Leahy, among others and would probably have no difficulty making the transition to the 44th presidency.
Although the details of their proposed policies differ, both Clinton and Obama offer a stark contrast to the Republican position. Iraq? Clinton and Obama want a plan for withdrawal; Republicans want to stay until we "win." Healthcare? Clinton and Obama favor a national plan that serves the most needy; Republicans want to deal with the problem by "tax incentives." Recession? Clinton and Obama favor tax credits to help average Americans and programs to create jobs; Republican want tax cuts that favor corporations and the rich. On issue after issue, the differences between Clinton and Obama are barely perceptible, while they and their possible Republican adversaries are miles apart.
The important difference is how the two candidates conceive of the presidency. During the
Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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