Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For months the Obamacolytes have seen the unshakable, unquestionable inevitability of the Gentleman from Illinois's campaign for the presidency and wondered why Hillary Clinton was hanging in there. Why wasn't she bowing to the will of the, uh, them? It was a foregone conclusion that Barack Obama would and should be nominated, wasn't it? The old, morally-compromised cow should shut up and get the hell out of the way.

Thing is, they forgot something: Clinton's been around a long time. True, that means she's had decades to accumulate a walk-in closet's worth of skeletons, but it also means she's seen 'inevitability' and 'invincibility' come and go a few hundred times. Remember when President George H. W. Bush was sworn in as president in 1980? Or how he romped on his way to a second term in 1992? Yeah, good times...

And -- in 2008 -- so much for inevitability. Hell, even Michael Dukakis sees that.

The fact is that Barack Obama is a politician, and people who fail to see or acknowledge that are fooling themselves. Sorry to be blunt, Obama fans, but it's true. You don't become a United States senator and, possibly, president without being an adept politician. You probably can't even get elected to the town board without being an adept politician.

Let me add that 'politician' is not necessarily a bad word. It was, at one time, my career of choice. A good politician knows how to mesh his or her principles with effective persuasion. A good politician knows how to prioritize, and that at times when has to lose a battle in order to win a war. And above all else, a good politician knows that his or her agenda doesn't play out in a vacuum.

You can hate this fact all you want, but Ted Kennedy and Tom Coburn each get the same number of votes in the US Senate... which happen to be the same number given the senators Obama, Clinton, and McCain. Lofty rhetoric isn't a bad thing, but it is not a substitute for hard work and principled negotiation.

[As an aside, for an example of ineffective political leadership skills see the case of the former governor of New York State. Forget the hookers; this guy trounced his opponent and won office with almost 70% of the vote, then spent the following 15 months thinking the vote gave him a mandate to demand, instead of govern. End of story: if the hookers hadn't brought him down, his self-righteousness would have. He managed to lose support of the legislature and the public... and when you make people pine for the Pataki Era, you have failed. Remember that the next time you hear a politician make a 'my way or the highway' type of statement.]

Here's the thing: I really could not care less about the Reverand Mr. Wright's rantings, and I like both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as prospective Democratic nominees. One of the reasons I like them, let me add, is because they make no secrets of the friendships and working relationships they have forged with colleagues from across the aisle.

However, I'm not sorry to see this flare up for a few days, if only because it will force some of the more self-righteous Obama supporters to wipe those smug grins off their faces.

Welcome to the way things are, kids. Barack Obama already knows it; his supporters should, too.