Saturday, February 16, 2008

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

The new message from both McCain and the Clintons seems to be, “don’t get your hopes up,” and “I may not speak as well as Senator Obama, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have good ideas.” And I’m here to tell you they are cynical and stupid messages to be sending to people who hunger for hope and intelligent discourse.

Yesterday a friend of mine, who is a retired History Professor and knows the things that interest me, sent me an email with a book review from New York Times. The book is called, The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby. I have been complaining about the dumbing down of all discourse, the generalized decline in the level of public conversation, or in the case of news pundits, commentary, and it’s driving me a little mad. I’ve attributed much of this public stupidity to nearly eight years of listening to President Bush mangle the language every time he speaks. But, of course, it goes much deeper, and started much earlier. How else can you explain all those grown men standing behind their podiums and raising their hands when asked to “Raise your hand if you don’t believe in the theory of evolution.” Apparently the schools have gotten a lot worse since I attended. This is the stuff of junior high biology, isn’t it? Have we stopped teaching biology as well as civics?

But in Senator Clinton’s case, to claim she can’t give a great speech is nonsense. It’s politically shortsighted and stupid to assert. But the “don’t get your hopes up” message is cynical and makes us, the Democratic base, justifiably furious. Senator Clinton should not cry, except in private. She should not claim she’s being picked-on and her feelings are hurt, and she should not ever say this process is unfair. She has a very well know brand name, and a well oiled political machine. She personifies the term “Washington insider.” She has a husband who is, at least among the Democratic base, well liked and respected, so claiming that things aren’t fair is a little disingenuous. But saying Senator Obama offers us false hope is vile, and will come back to bite her.

We, as Democrats, are going to need the passionate young people who are so inspired by Barack Obama. They are the future of our Party and of our Country. Without their enthusiasm and energy we have no future. They are our children. They are our grandchildren. And they sound a lot smarter than their elders right now. Maybe we should listen to what they have to say. Maybe we can all learn something new. Maybe we, too, can learn to speak a little smarter.

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