Monday, June 9, 2008

Oh Hillary, we hardly knew ye.

That speech on Saturday was awesome. I kept thinking "Wow, you ought to run for President!"

At the end of her campaign she may have finally caught on to the mood of the country.

I still look at her policy positions and I have no trouble with the notion of her as the leader of the executive branch. I just didn't like her campaign.

There's an underlying debate going on about two theories of government, The first is that government is always a problem and should do as little as it can get away with while being as little of a burden to the governed as possible. The second is that the government is our collective wisdom that guides us to a more perfect union, the ongoing evolution of a community as expressed in laws, a theory of justice and executive policies.

There's not really a contradiction there. You can do both if you carefully define "as little as it can get away with" and "a more perfect union." The problem I see is when one of these values is sacrificed for the other one. For me, that's the central problem of American government. How much governmental guidance to we need in [$particular_situation] to continue to evolve to a more perfect union?

Hillary actually does struggle with that question, she comes up with different answers at different times.

That what I noticed in the campaign, she would work really hard at crafting a campaign image, e.g., Ms Ready on Day One, Ms. Balls like Prize Bull, Ms. Working Class Hero, etc etc. I saw this as phony and alarming. Who does she really believe she is?

I actually have personal experience with people who worked with her daily and were around her constantly. They liked and respected her. They did not have uniformly pleasant experiences with her, it was a very high-stakes environment, but they liked and respected her. I've never forgotten that. I was never with her in a setting more personal than a public campaign event, but I knew a number of people well who were.

She did what she had to do on Saturday, she did it well, she did it convincingly, it came off as genuine even to those not particularly favorably disposed towards her at the moment, like myself. I think the Media Beatification has been a bit overwrought, though. She doesn't deserve a medal.

She seemed relaxed, and content to give that speech, like a part of her was somehow admitting that she had been wanting to get this over with for a while herself. She seemed to genuinely like Obama and it seemed as if she was glad she could start giving rein to that. It was quite a skillful communication, I'll give her that.

But who is she?

Well, who am I? I certainly don't find any constant unchanging thing that is me when I look for it. I am who I am at the time I look. There's no way to point to something and say "this is rdewald, these are the things that wouldn't be if he didn't exist." I'd like to believe that's just because of my feeble ability to see such things, but the truth is that who I am is so constantly changing that there's nothing to put in the box that stays in the box.

I live by a certain set of values, assumptions really, things that inform choices, that collection of values looks like a something that can be identified as a person, but I share these values with millions of other people. I adopted them one I saw their utility. In that way they are "mine," but others often express them more eloquently than I: don't kill, don't steal, don't rape, don't lie, don't get drunk. Where's that unique individual again?

So, I ask myself why I want a static, graspable, Hillary Clinton when I am perfectly down with Obama as free to be who he is at this time.

There's something there.

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