Pleased, not satisfiedFebruary 22, 2008
After last night's Democratic debate, the likelihood that Barack Obama will be the nominee is greater than ever. His incredible momentum since Super Tuesday (11 consecutive victories by large margins) is stunning. He is now even with Senator Clinton in the national polls and is within single digits in both Texas and Ohio. Clinton not only must win both of those states, but win by double-digits if she hopes to close the current delegate gap. Obama continues to garner commitments from super delegates and might raise as much as $40 million in the month of February alone.
I believe that these facts have started to sink in within the Clinton camp. There's just the slightest hint of resignation in her campaign. The senator seems to understand that the only option left is to truly go after Obama and last night it was clear that she's decided it isn't worth it, and simply wouldn't work with a candidate of Obama's current appeal. There's another debate next week, but I predict Obama will win Texas and finish close in Ohio, and Clinton will suspend her campaign by the following week.
On January 2nd, I posted my endorsement of Barack Obama and John McCain. These weren't predictions, just who I thought were the best candidates in both parties. Two months later, I'm terribly surprised that it appears that they will both be nominated and face each other in the general election. I have a lot of respect for both of these individuals, so I can't help but be pleased.
However, I'm not satisfied.
In the last week, we've been reminded of what a general election campaign is like. Primary season, as rough as it can be, is nevertheless a temporary honeymoon from the bitter back and forth that happens when two well-funded, entrenched parties go up against each other; particularly the bickering and almost pathetic gamesmanship (the Republican Party sent out 6 press releases attacking Senator Obama during the debate last night). It's impossible to read the attacks from both parties, their surrogates and spokespeople and not think of schoolyard taunts, as if the press corp reacts to each charge with "Oooooo! Did you hear that she just said?"
The policies of each candidate clearly reflect each party's base, nothing more and nothing less (though McCain does indeed stray from the party line a bit). In other words, each of these smart men will address the American people with a straight face and earnestly claim that their party has an exclusive monopoly on the best solution to every challenge we face. Does anyone actually believe that? I am heavily persuaded by Obama's call to bring people together and find common ground, but other than the oratory and spirit of his campaign (which are a refreshing step in the right direction), his policies themselves are liberal orthodoxy through and through.
It's for these reasons that I still wish that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg would run for president as an independent. This will almost certainly not happen, now that two people known for reaching out to independents are running. I, too, thought there would be no need for a Bloomberg candidacy if Obama and McCain were the nominees. However, in my heart of hearts, I believe that the core issue is that the political system itself is broken and the two parties are responsible, despite the fundamental goodness of these two men.
I can write more about why I would consider voting for Bloomberg, but this is simply a wish that he would run. I believe it would have a positive impact on the race and on the country, even though he would be unlikely to win. A Bloomberg candidacy would be a daily check and balance on a campaign that will start on the highest of ground, but slowly descend into the politics we know far too well.