Thursday, February 14, 2008

If the aftermath of the writers' strike has left you jonesing for that season of 24 you missed, head over to Draft Bloomberg. The latest addition to their web site is a slickly produced youtube video which borrows the show's graphic tics, starting off with a ticking countdown on that fuzzy red clock, with a bomb blast thrown in for good measure. Time is running out, you see --- Mike Bloomberg has only ten days or so to decide whether he's entering the presidential race, and if we don't get down on our knees right now and lick his ... petition, he might not come and save us.

Mind you, the thing does flag in production values toward the middle. The folks who were hired to read lines like "Will we have a President who owes nothing to the lobbyists and special interests?" can't seem to muster any real conviction. And it's hard to blame them --- as a billionaire mogul from the news biz, Bloomberg owes nothing to the special interests because he is one himself. (By the by, isn't a career in one industry a bit too limited to let him claim mastery, on that basis alone, of the economy as a whole? But wait, it isn't him making that claim. It's an entirely separate organization which is seeking to influence him, but which has gotten the money to produce its slick videos and publicity from magical elves.)

It's easy to dismiss this page-15 political news as comic relief to the horror shows that are continually playing on page one. (We have a torture debate. We are debating the merit of torture. And whether the President should be able to give vast and powerful companies a secret free license to break the law.) But before you do, watch that video again, and notice how Bloomberg is being pitched as an alternative to "the bickering in Washington". Bickering is the lifeblood of democracy. What Bloomberg's team is saying in this video (or, if you like, his unaffiliated magical elves) is that they stand for something else.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So, the big argument in favor of Hillary Clinton is experience leading to judgment. Of course, experience is only worth what you learn from it. So, it's a little unsettling that Hillary still won't say flatly that voting to let Dubya invade Iraq was a mistake. The closest she's come is "If I knew then what I know now..." --- which really begs the question. I knew the vote was a mistake at the time it was cast. Why didn't she?

The corresponding argument against Obama is that he lacks executive experience. But then again, Hillary's most recently been in the legislature, for not much longer than Obama, and her executive turn managing health-care reform in her husband's administration was less than a total success. So, it's relevant to note that over the past year or two, they've both been running pretty much the same sort of organization --- a large presidential campaign. So, how have they done?

Obama's done pretty well. From having a low national profile, he's achieved a level of success which I think it's fair to say that no one outside his inner circle would have expected a year ago. As for Hillary, we have an organization which began convinced of the inevitability of its own success, staffed by people chosen more for their loyalty than competence, which planned for a swift, early success, and now seems adrift when that success failed to materialize.

Sound familiar?

Personally, I'll vote for whichever one of these guys wins the Democratic nomination, and I'm not entirely happy with either --- Obama's Harry and Louise act on health care is really ticking me off. But if Hillary's supporters think that experience is the reason to support her, it's that same experience --- and, as I said up top, her apparent failure to learn the right lessons from it --- which is leading me to prefer just about any sane alternative...