Issue January 15, 2008

B-Sides: MUSIC & OTHER EPHEMERA: Another political column? In LEO? Imagine that

New Hampshire’s lesson: Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you win a presidential primary.

OK, so Hillary didn’t cry, per se; it was more of an — what’s the word? Upwelling.
Normally, I leave politics to LEO’s news department, but since it’s an election year …

A couple of days ago, a colleague and I were debating Obama’s merits vs. Clinton’s. Clinton’s got the resume, he argued. She talks strategies for fixing the United States. He pointed to her experience as a Senator, saying, for example, that while Obama wants to end the Iraq war, Clinton has the political toolkit to actually do it.

He asked me why I like Obama, and I referenced his speeches in New Hampshire. The high points are too numerous to mention, but a couple themes stuck out. “I’m running for president because I am betting on you,” he told voters, and festooned his remarks with messages about hope, change and his opponents, who target his lack of legislative experience.

We learned in Iowa, however, that betting against Obama is a mistake, because he understands what John Kerry didn’t in 2004 and Al Gore didn’t in 2000.
We have to like you first.

If you, dear voter, want a candidate’s resume, blood sample or PowerPoint presentation to make a choice, you’re unrealistic, and, worse, are setting yourself up for disappointment.

The next leader of the free world can’t run the table from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.; 535 suits need to sign off on matters of state, too. The president can set the national tone, even lay out an agenda for us to see, read and deliberate over. But whether that agenda becomes reality isn’t up to the Commander in Chief alone.

Obama doesn’t preach about hope and change to sidetrack us with abstract platitudes. He talks about hope because we don’t have it.

He says we need to vote because he knows that consensus and unity undo economic and socioeconomic damage. It’s nice to hear a candidate lay a country’s future at the feet of its people, who, by the way, bear as much responsibility for a nation’s direction as its leaders.
But what he cannot explain, not yet anyway, is a blow-by-blow rubric on how he will govern, because if he wins, he knows the hard part is just beginning.

That vague enough for you?
Mat Herron is LEO’s Music Editor, and hasn’t heard a good protest song in years. Contact him at mherron@leoweekly.com