Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Luxury of Choice

As one pundit put it last night, "This year Democrats have the luxury of choice."

Remember the cast of presidential hopefuls just four years ago: Kerry, Sharpton, Kucinich, Edwards, Dean, Clark, Lieberman, Gephardt, Braun, and Graham? A black man, a woman, a Jew (an orthodox, no less), and a supposed kook who'd seen flying saucers - none of them had a chance. And when the presumptive front runner started "screaming" after his big win in Iowa, he was toast.

And then there were five. Democrats weighed the pros and cons of each, desperate to nominate someone who could defeat Bush and end the debacle fashioned by Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, and the other neo-conservatives who took us to war in Iraq, left Afghanistan to fend for itself, gave tax breaks to the rich, supported big corporations, conceived the failing "No Child Left Behind," and took the country from a surplus to an alarmingly high budget shortfall. (And that's just the half of it!)

I remember trying to sing the praises of someone - anyone who might end this reign of terror. A military guy with no political experience? A nice guy with perfect hair? Two longtime U.S. senators with sound records but little charisma and even less national name recognition?

By default, John Kerry was the last man standing. And we Dems did our best to get over his lack of star power, his pandering ploys, his tendency to be ambushed by special interest groups that painted him as less than a war hero and as a flip flopper extraordinaire.

We can argue Ohio and the final tally until we're blue in the face. But the guy lost and we were left to suffer the fools at the top. Oh, there was great hope midway through when the Dems took control of Congress. But with a razor-thin majority in the Senate, the strides have been minimal.

But today is a new day! We've got Hillary and Obama. Like many people I know, I struggled to make a choice. Information (as in Hillary)? Or imagination (as in Obama)? The tried and experienced? Or the fresh and energetic?

Last night, my demographic - white, "older" women - went for Hillary. I voted for Obama. But with the delegate count almost even and millions of voters yet to vote, it's too close to call. And that's just fine with me. If the man with a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas doesn't make the final cut, then the woman from Illinois, the maligned First Lady, will move to center stage.

I look forward to having a good cry come next January when either the first African American or the first woman takes the oath as president of the United States.

We do enjoy the luxury of choice.

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