Thursday, February 07, 2008

Opinionated political notes

---The debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the subject of health care is often pointed out to be one of the few domestic policy areas in which they have substantial differences. Why would one candidate, Obama, choose a position that is hard to explain in a sound bite setting, and seems to fall short of the ultimate goal. Strange as it might seem, it may be because it's what he believes is the right approach, and more importantly the approach that can achieve meaningful progress in the near term without creating yet another coercive government bureaucracy. Clinton has said that government garnishment of wages is an appropriate, if necessary, way to achieve her mandated program. Clinton accuses Obama of being outside of the Democratic mainstream for not proposing an absolute system of universal health care. Clinton's base now is, if analysis can be accepted, individuals or families with incomes of $50,000 or less, and Hispanics. Her goals may be laudable, but her political promises may not be possible, and worse may not be wanted even by her base if delivered upon. Her political use of this in debating points could be called cynical manipulation of her support. Obama may not beat her, but he cannot be accused of manipulating this issue for political appearances to the Democratic primary voters.

---Romney stepped out today. He was not an attractive candidate, generally speaking, despite the fact that his experience and accomplishments were a matter of record. He got stuck on the conservative values issues from the get-go and that diverted attention from his potential capabilities, that and his perfectly wooden persona. Today, however, was an interesting measure of the man. He had the money to stay on, and he certainly wanted to keep asserting himself. He wanted to be perfect. Stepping down to open the way for unification of his party may be seen by some as a graceful way out, but it is something that I did not expect from him, and I think more of him for it. It certainly differentiates him from Mike Huckabee whose agenda all along has been self-aggrandizement and who has used his considerable speaking skills to go far beyond what anyone expected. Hopefully Romney's move somehow puts Huckabee in the perspective that he deserves to be seen in, another attention deprived pilgrim from Hope, and that any consideration of him for a V.P. slot can be quickly put aside.

---The news that Hillary Clinton funded her campaign with $5 million of her own funds is an issue that is of concern, or should be. Edwards did it, Romney does it, Bloomberg could if he wanted to run, what's wrong with it. What's of concern is that the Clinton family wealth is derived almost solely from the exploitation of the Bill Clinton presidency in an absolutely unprecedented manner. No prior sitting President has remotely approached what he has done. Yes, she has the advance and royalties from her book, which after tax may amount to about $5 million, so it might be her money. The family fortune, however, has been made by Bill Clinton selling off the Presidential imprimatur to commercial interests around the globe. A Canadian businessman wants to trump major energy consortiums to obtain uranium rights in Kazakhstan, so give Bill Clinton $30 million of stock and take him along to praise an iron fisted dictatorship. Want a high profile private equity fund, pay Bill $20 million. Want to get out of jail free, as in Marc Rich the tax evader and profiteer trader of Iraqi and Iranian oil, backchannel millions to his library and foundation. Have some clients that want to be treated special and stay up all night playing cards with the verbose and articulate ex-President, pay Bill $100,000 for a dinner presentation. Obama is raising money, by any accounts available, from a broad base. To see Hillary Clinton fund her campaign with this kind of money does not feel right. We are diminished by this.

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