As we go into today's NV caucuses for the Dems (and the SC primary for the Republicans... the Dems will be there... Tuesday?)... Sen. Barack Obama is forced into having to directly challenge the hot and cold running smears coming at him from the Clinton camp. It's not quite "no more Mr. Nice Guy"... but after whatever-it-was-that-worked-for-her-in-NH... the Obama team simply cannot take anything for granted any longer. In short, transcendent campaign or no, the nitty gritty cheap shots from the Clinton campaign (and now, from the Edwards camp) must be rebutted. A sea-change? Or just a reality check?
Well, let me not take anything for granted, either: with just over two weeks to go until Super-Duper Tuesday, which Bill and Hill (and I mean in that order) are going to do their damndest try to make so toxic that we should call it "Super-Fund Tuesday", let me unequivocally join Pat Leahy and Janet Napolitano and John Kerry... and endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination (Barack may end up winning the delegates from my district in Brooklyn anyway... but he can count on my vote!) Sen. Obama presents our best shot at the kind of genuine progressive reform we need to take the country off the shnide of never-ending-fiscal-irresponsibility-for-the-benefit-of-the-super-rich, to restore investment in our infrastructure and the tools to face the future (and that includes national pensions and universal health-care and first class education), to reengage with the rest of the world as a responsible member of the international community to restore our once proud moral authority, and most importantly of all, to restore the moral authority garnered by governance by the rule of law.
For me, it always comes down to character. And in the end, on the signature issue of our day, the Iraq war, while it may have been fortuitous as he wasn't then in the U.S. Senate, Clinton and Edwards were, and they voted the wrong way, failing a critical character test.
While Obama may say things on the campaign trail that harken to arguably right-wing talking points, be they about "Social Security crises" or Ronald Reagan... while I may or may not have been ambiguous on this point before, let me say now... I just don't care. If running for President were just about pitching to left-wing bloggers, then President Feingold or Dean and Vice-President Boxer or Kucinich would be running for reelection right now. This is a VERY conservative country (whether because it actually is or because a corporate-whore media makes it operationally so doesn't really matter at this point)... it's why our first female Presidential candidate with-a-shot-at-winning is a dynastic one. It's why our first Black Presidential candidate with-a-shot-at-winning... has to strike tones that are occasionally tinny to left-blogistan. Ultimately, a winning candidate has to garner broad constituencies.
Is this to say that the country would not be better served by Sens. Clinton and Edwards than by any of the Republican candidates? No... we surely would. Even the once sainted John McCain (sainted until he sold us out on torture, of all things) is... problematic. And after McCain, the GOP bench gets very thin indeed (even if the GOP itself may not see it that way... although, none of their candidates would be as good, none would be totally catastrophic save 91u1iani... who must be stopped, period.) So, if either Edwards or Clinton prevails with the nomination, or even some Democrat to be named later after a deadlocked convention... they'll have my support.
Right now, however, IMHO, Obama is our best shot for putting this nation on the right track.