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Why Obama over Clinton

By Tyler S. Clark (Contact)

Published February 29, 2008

Illinois Senator Barack Obama is certainly not waiting his turn. Indeed, that is a principle issue that seems to be roiling the Democratic establishment. Hillary Clinton, one of their own, with all the right connections, DLC leanings, not to mention the historic trappings of being the first woman nominee is poised for the White House, and this young upstart thinks he can come along and take it from her?! It is this same presumption that has doomed the Clinton campaign and would cause it to falter in the general election, though it is unlikely now to make it that far. It's a good thing, too.



When it comes to taking back the White House from the party whose idea of ringing in the new millennium was disgracing and bankrupting America, it's imperative that the Democrat with the best chance of winning the general election wins the nomination. There is no question that Obama wins this the electability contest, and it's not just in the polls, though he's leading in matchups both versus Clinton and versus McCain.

It's a simple matter of logic. McCain is not winning the conservative lovefest. He's nurtured his stature as a maverick well, and the conservatives will not turn out for him in significant numbers on election day, UNLESS their perceived anti-christ Hillary Clinton is his opposition. Somehow, they've decided that Hillary represents all that is evil in the world, and if she is the nominee, the GOP will coalesce around their candidate, be he Ron Paul or RuPaul.

Obama is a different story for two reasons. Firstly, yes, there will be racists in the Democratic party who will jump ship and vote for McCain, but they will be far outnumbered by the youth coming to the polls as a part of the incredible movement surging around the Obama campaign. This youth movement, however, will be far less significant for a Clinton candidacy, unless perhaps Obama is on the ticket as Vice President. Secondly, Obama will pull some independents and moderate conservatives. Frank Rich covers this in a recent New York Times article:

"I was startled to hear last week from a friend in California, a staunch anti-Clinton Republican businessman, that he was wavering. Though he regards Mr. McCain as a hero, he wrote me: “I am tired of fighting the Vietnam war. I have drifted toward Obama.”

Similarly, Mark McKinnon, the Bush media maven who has played a comparable role for Mr. McCain in this campaign, reaffirmed to Evan Smith of Texas Monthly weeks ago that he would not work for his own candidate in a race with Mr. Obama. Elaborating to NPR last week, Mr. McKinnon said that while he is “100 percent” for Mr. McCain and disagrees with Mr. Obama “on very fundamental issues,” he likes Mr. Obama and what he’s doing for the country enough to stay on the sidelines rather than fire off attack ads."



Both Democratic candidates are proven, capable leaders and executives. After pabulum like that repeated in Bertram de Souza's recent column—that because one Obama supporter couldn't speak intelligently about his Senate record, he must not have accomplished anything of substance—you might be surprised to read real research about Senator Obama's legislative record:

"I was blown away as I started going through his record.  I've already mentioned his bills on health care and energy. In addition he had introduced bills on Iran, voting, veterans, global warming, campaign finance and lobbyists, Blackwater, global poverty, nuclear proliferation, and education. … Obama appears to have a better record last year in the Senate on getting his bills and amendments passed than does Clinton."



Obama's opponents would have you believe he is all puff and no punch. This is mostly a desperate attempt to deflect damage from one of Obama's most potent weapons: his oratory. Neither Hillary nor McCain can hope to compete when it comes to inspiring their audiences like Obama, and let's face it; we're desperate for a new vision. But listen up, because there's policy in the poetry, and lots of it. Don't take it from me, here's the Chicago Tribune:

"Yes they are filled with platitudes, but they discuss policy as much as his opponents' speeches do."

"In San Antonio, where Obama delivered a typical version of his current stump speech, his address veered at one point into a two-minute description of his health-care plan. He mentioned the age cut-off for children on their parents' plans, the estimated cost reduction of premiums for those with private health insurance and a time frame for implementation.

He outlined the high points of his energy plan with numbers and industry jargon, calling for strict caps on greenhouse emissions, increases in car fuel-efficiency standards to 40 miles per gallon and creation of green-collar jobs, right down to those working on 'cellulosic ethanol.'

He ticked off the dollar figures he says working families and senior citizens could save with his economic plan, and promised to raise the minimum wage yearly to keep pace with inflation."



I've been watching the Vindy.com message boards lately, and it's been fascinating to see how fervently some people in the community want to spread lies and innuendo about Obama. To hear some of these people, you'd think he was some kind of white-hating, flag-burning, Muslim-extremist candidate whose wife hates America. It's opportune for his opponents to use his inexperience at politicking against him: inconvenient sound-bites, misstatements, and poor photo ops.

But isn't the unfiltered idealism what many of us have been looking for? Someone not jaded by the system? Someone with as much optimism and hope for the world as we have and not beaten down by the system to the point that they have a sense any longer of the possible, merely the feasible? We watched The West Wing on NBC and wished we could have Martin Sheen as president—someone with that kind of clarity, conviction, and courage.

Suddenly he shows up in an unexpected package and threatens the status quo, threatens the white men in their bowling leagues and fraternal orders, so it's time to play the fear card. But don't let them fool you.

Don't let them make you fear his religion. He professes to be a Christian, like millions more in this country. I am not a Christian, but members of my family are, some of my friends are, and I am not afraid of Mr. Obama's beliefs or his church. I've reviewed the church's information and videos and articles about it and invite you to do the same:

Trinity United Church of Christ – Web site tucc.org/about.htm

"A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith" – Jodi Kantor, New York Times (4/30/2007)

Don't let them make you fear his patriotism. Mr. Obama's life suggests a deep love of country and his fellow citizens. In Chicago, he was a community organizer, working with low-income residents in public housing developments. After Harvard Law School, he returned to Chicago and represented civil rights and discrimination cases and lectured on constitutional law. His wife, Michelle, worked in public service, a couple of years for the city of Chicago, and as director for Public Allies, a nonprofit public service advocacy group. (Newsweek profiles Michelle Obama in its February 25th issue and notes that when "The Audacity of Hope" became a best seller, the couple finally paid off their school loans and "got out of debt.") So, if you read that Obama neglected to place his hand over his heart one time when the National Anthem was sung, yes it's true. But dig deeper before deciding that means he can't be president.

Finally, don't let them make you fear to hope. It's okay to want more. You deserve it, and America deserves it. This country has limitless potential, and by coming together and believing in each other, we can work together to achieve greatness. Obama doesn't claim to be savior of the universe. But look at the alternatives, and you'll see why he's our best hope for the future. It's a future with a hope of peace, a hope of engagement, and a hope of unity.


Keep it Fair

The Democratic establishment may yet try to bring along the formerly discarded Florida and Michigan delegates and rig this thing in Hillary's favor. That would be a shame. The worst thing they could do at this point is tell the millions of excited young voters who have come into the contest that the superdelegates and party elite know better than they do and aren't interested in their opinions. The momentum is clearly going in Obama's direction, and when Hillary fails to win the necessary margins Tuesday in Ohio and Texas, she should step aside. To borrow a phrase, it's time to give hope a chance.


1pfezziwig(1 comment)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

Obama's been answering questions more befitting a celebrity, how can you profess to know where he stands with such vague questions and answers. Clinton gets the hardball questions and is critized over the details. It's a strategy that does work of course, people would rather hear someone like Anthony Robbins/Obama give them a pep talk than boring details on things like a 100 billion dollar healthcare plan. Staff, HealthcareReviews.com

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2botc(2 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't you think we've had enough of the "I'm a fighter" routine? We've had a president with a chip on his shoulder for the past 8 years...and look at what he's gotten us into. The "tough guy" message is pretty weak from my perspective...and suggests real vulnerability. We need an emotionally mature president...we need someone who can lead with their head, not with their chin.

And what is it with Bill? I was, until this election, a fan. I thought he got a pretty rotten deal during his presidency. Talk about undermining the status of x-president...what a child. All he needs is a diaper and pacifier...and all will be well.

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3Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

"To hear some of these people, you'd think he was some kind of white-hating, flag-burning, Muslim-extremist candidate whose wife hates America."

I've not seen the posts that you are refering to. I suspect this statement is hyperbole.

Hopefully, we are all mature enough to discuss race and religion in a factual manner without being deemed rascists if we disagree with you.

Stating that a candidate for America's highest office belongs to a church that is Afrocentric, not inclusive or universal is very different than stating that he is, "white-hating."

Stating his open refusal to wear the American flag on his lapel or presenting his unconventional response to our National Anthem for a potential Comander-in-Chief is very different that accusing him of, "flag-burning."


Discussing his family's history of practicing the Muslim faith, his formative years in Jakarta or reviewing information regarding his geneology is very different than calling him a "Muslim-extremist candidate."

Directly quoting his wife as stating (twice), "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.", is not the same as stating that his "wife hates America."

I used to favor Obama over HRC until the more I learned about him, the more concerned I became. Each voter similarly has the duty to do their own research and vote accordingly.

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4tylersclark(182 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

pfezziwig, There have been twenty debates and many more questions, and I have personally heard plenty of answers. There are lots of answers here, too, so I do feel like I know where he stands on the issues: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/
In a Democracy, I feel there is a responsibility to do some research. I don't expect to be fed the answers through the media or the debates alone, though sometimes you get lucky. I don't buy the argument that the media's been so tough on Clinton and so easy on Obama, though it makes a nice story for her. She had a pretty good ride in the beginning and wasted it through poor organization and spending, and that's her fault. Now she's the underdog, and that's how the election game is played. If the tables were turned, the circumstances would be reversed.

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5tylersclark(182 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

Nonsocialist, you haven't connected the dots as to why an African-American attending an Afrocentric church makes you uncomfortable. Or why someone not wearing an American flag on their lapel matters a whit. Or why someone's family's Muslim background, or their childhood in Jakarta, when they're a U.S. citizen and converted to Christianity should make a difference to you. You simply assume that others comprehend your vague fears.

Do you prefer your presidential candidates to live in a flag-festooned lily-white house in the middle of the American prairie singing "God Bless America" their whole lives in preparation for their term in office? Some of us experience more complex relationships with our nation, our world, and our god, should we have one. We can respect the complexities in other people's lives and look at their integrity and abilities.

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6keywestboats(1 comment)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm 42, white.I've lived in Pittsburgh, Akron. New York and now Key West. Theres good money here.... Last summer I drove through Youngstown twice. I had thought Pits and Akron were in a slump. I stand corrected. Neither Hilary or Obama will get us out of Iraq as quick as they want. McCain says a thousand years. This war is ruining us. We have 1 in 100 Americans BEHIND BARS(really, we do)This place is a complete mess. . NAFTA killed us, the war is draining our money into the pockets of the wealthy. Face It, Hilary is a tool of the powerful. Obama might not be. A leader leads and we can only hope he or she will chose good advisers. Isn't that what a leader does, pull us together and give us a vision of what we might accomplish ??. Hillary is to divisive, while I don't hate her, to many others do. I also believe she may have to prove something and get us in another mess like GW stupid (bush). Another thin to face, Obama may push through minority right legislation which may prove beneficial to whites in another decade or two when WE BECOME THE MINORITY

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7RacerX(26 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

"...reviewing information regarding his geneology " -Nonsocialist

I still can't imagine how you can think that his genealogy has anything to do with his ability. Unless, of course, you're a racist.

"I've not seen the posts that you are refering to. I suspect this statement is hyperbole." -Nonsocialist

Now THAT is funny. Don't forget that people can view your comment history with a simple click of a button: http://www.vindy.com/users/Nonsociali...

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8Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

I'll say it again slowly for you this time...Race can be researched and discussed in Presidential politics without anyone being deemed a rascist. The practice of character assasination of any opinions different than your own are poor form in open public discourse.

All news outlets discuss the impact of race in this election. After all, it is a ground-breaking election in many ways. Children will read about the racial factors in this election for the remaining history of the United States. Much of the vote in the primaries to date have followed racial lines.

No one has said that any ethnic group does not have the ability to lead our nation.

It seems to really bother you that a reporter who has written for the NY Times and Miami Herald has reviewed the Kenyan records and has concluded that Obama has a partial Arab-American geneology. Should his findings be covered up and hidden? Personally, it would be my preference for another reporter to conclusively re-affirm or refute these findings.

It matters because we simply have the right to know if Obama would be the first African-American or the first Arab-American President. Wanting to know this doesn't make anyone a rascist.

Is it rascist to know that Bill Richardson is a Hispanic-American or that Elaine Chao is an Asian-American, and so on...?

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9RacerX(26 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

You love playing up the "reporter who has written for the NY Times and Miami Herald" appeal to authority fallacy don't you? Show me where he has written for these papers. All I have seen is a blurb on his blog claiming he has been published in those papers. Nothing about his being a reporter employed by them. Anyone can freelance. If you want to make claims about his race and pass them off as fact, you're going to have to cite more than some racist talk show hosts blog. As for refutation, read any biographic entry for him on the web. Hell, just look at this picture and tell me this is someone who is Arabic:


It would be much better for your cause if you just faded away after being called out on your BS.

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10tylersclark(182 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

Even so, the larger point is whether we are so fearful of someone merely because of their nationality or heritage. It is their personal character, experience, and beliefs we should be focused on, particularly in a contest for our Presidency. I supported Bill Richardson because he is Bill Richardson. I support Barack Obama because he is Barack Obama. The rest is incidental. Let's look at the person and let the rest fade away.

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11prolady70(3 comments)posted 8 years, 5 months ago

1) Hillary already had a chance to fix healthcare back in '93- didn't work. What makes us think she'll do it now?

2) Hillary - show me the taxes! Where is all that money ($5 million she lent her campaign) coming from? Why the lack of transparency? Obama has submitted his for 2006 AND 2007.

3) Obama has been in elected office longer than Hillary. He's got more experience. Look it up.

4) Who do I want at 3am? I guess someone who's not going to vote for another BUSH-type war!

5) She is one of the top 10 senators in earmarks. $340 MILLION DOLLARS for 2007. Obama - one of the lowest in earmarks.I've changed my mind. I'm voting for Obama. I am proud to be a woman – I have too much respect for women to vote for this corrupt one.


I Don't know who is worse - Hillary or McCain! They'll both keep us at war and she'll be worried about her self-serving interests.

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12botc(2 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

Its all about fear...don't you just love it when people play on the ignorance of fear. I feel like I'm watching a republican primary...What's Carl up to anyway...

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13debraweaver(30 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

I have read the post by Tyler and all of the responses. My feeling is that if there is this much passionate discussion of race and religion in a democratic primary; race and religion will undoubtedly be the primary focus of discussion in a general election should Obama be the nominee. Between sexism and racism in this country, I doubt that any accurate prediction of electability can be made. Both "isms" are rampant, how can we actually make a determination about which is less likely to impact the American voter. It is a ridiculus argument. What we need to do is examine qualifications without bias. I hate to say it but unfortunately in American culture the best way to level the playing field is by viewing each candidate as a white male, looking at the qualifications and then deciding which is the most qualified. Then let's push to get our candidate elected because our country can't take another four to eight years of a Republican presidency. So, let's take groupie passion out of the argument. Let's take our personal likes and dislikes out of it and hire the most qualified individual for the job. Probably the best response on this posting is the one made by botc(anonymous). " What's Carl up to anyway?". That is the question of the day and one that we should all be seeking to find an answer to before it is too late!

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14HipsterSarah(2 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

People who say Obama is all talk and no substance have not done their research and obviously have not read his "Blueprint for Change." He has delivered so many ideas and answers regarding his vision for America, I do not understand how he is taken as all talk and no substance.

Clinton lies about her foreign policy experience, will not release her tax returns or white house papers and relies on vilifying Obama, rather than explaining to Americans how she will represent change as she takes money from lobbyists.

America, continue to turn the page. Most of us have Clinton fatigue and cannot stand another Clinton administration with lies, secrecy and scandal!

Obama 2008!!

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15Hillery_is_not_Bill(3 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

It's not NICE to mess with Sen. Clinton. Hillary has a brilliance about her. She has raised a lovely daughter. She is not somebody's exwife. She is more like your mother or your sister, Mother Nature or Mother Earth. Quit hurting Obama's chances to get her [or him] onboard. Quit dogging your dream team! Hillary's demonstrating a micro learning curve in displaying her innate charm, poise and humor. Give your dream team a chance.

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16Hillery_is_not_Bill(3 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

Even Obama is trying to defend Hillary from bumkin insults. I think he genuinely likes and respects her.

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17tylersclark(182 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

I do think that there's no need to put Obama down to emphasize Hillary's strengths and vice versa. As I said, both are solid candidates, and we're lucky to have them both. I hope they do team up once a nominee is chosen. Each will need the other's supporters in November.

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18DaveinFlorida(2 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

Very nice, Tyler.

I agree with a lot of your points.

At the end of the day, people need to do their own research and choose who they feel is the best candidate, but I feel Obama is really a special individual and he'll be one of our greatest leaders.

I think Hillary was the overwhelming favorite going into this election because she simply had name recognition already and many democrats liked Bill Clinton as a president. She had a huge head start in this race. But as more and more people began studying these two individuals, Obama has started to really emerge.

He's made an amazing turnaround in a short period of time. Certainly a lot of it has to do with his ability to speak and inspire people, but it goes well beyond that. So many people see everything that he can bring to the table and it's exciting. He'll do a great job bringing people in this country together and also strengthening our foreign relations. I think people get scared by the idea of change but the world is progressing, it's a reality. Our leader needs to be the leader of the progressive world, not in the 1960s America or 1992 America, but as we move forward.

It's actually quite surprising that there is such a candidate in Obama at exactly the right time.

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19Vote2008(2 comments)posted 8 years, 4 months ago

Dear Youngstown Voters:

Don't make Hillary the new MVP of the Republican party. If you allow Hillary to continue to divide the Democratic party, you are playing right into the hands of the Republicans. If you have any doubts whatsoever about Senator Clinton and think that Senator Obama may be able to inspire true change in Washington, please cast your vote for Obama. If this campaign goes further, the race will then be decided by superdelegate meetings behind closed doors and by Hillary suing the Democratic party to allow the delegates of Florida and Michigan to vote, even though those states ignored and violated rules with crystal clear consequences. Your vote for Obama is also a vote to save the Democratic party from certain destruction.

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