Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Hillary and Barack Show

Today is "Super Tuesday, " and here in the U.S., election fever is high. Now that John Edwards has officially dropped out of the Democratic race, it really IS the Hillary and Barack show (I figure if you are going to call one of them by his/her first name, you should do it with the other). Although you can get the coverage anywhere in the world, it seems more immediate when it's in the same time zone (maybe just an effect of repatriating, though, since, other than the Food Network, I still don't watch television very often). Because I wanted to see the candidates more "in person", I watched the New Hampshire primary debate, though I missed the one in South Carolina, where both of them really showed their fangs. In the last debate in California, they mostly kept the gloves on, and successfully ducked the obvious question--what about a joint ticket?

For a while I have been sitting on the fence, and being thankful that I have the choice between two excellent candidates, either of whom has a high probability of winning. The two are fairly close on the issues--other than some differences on health care, not a lot to choose between them here as far as I am concerned. Hillary is clearly the more experienced and managerial of the two--I find her answers on Iraq withdrawal to be much deeper and realistic, for example, than Barack's-- but Barack is the more charismatic and persuasive, and I definitely suffer from the "yes-she's-qualified-but-I-just-don't-LIKE-her" syndrome. In the weeks since I've been home, with so many more opportunities to be exposed to these two candidates, I've remained conflicted. Two weeks ago, The New York Times endorsed Hillary, but the following weekend, there was an op-ed piece by Caroline Kennedy endorsing Barack that has me leaning a lot more his way than I was. I thought this article was very well written, and more than this, it speaks to what I have observed here since coming back: people feel that the country has lost its way, and desperately needs new and inspired leadership. Who can best deliver that? That's what I think it's going to come down to, in the end.

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