Sunday, May 18, 2008

Their Greatest Worry

by Cody Lyon
The rain was coming down on this chilly May night in New York City faster than Hillary's chances for winning the nomination. Inside the cavernous Crunch Gym on Lafayette, the crowd was `thinner' than usual, no pun intended, but the political chatter was louder than the 90's dance tunes blaring from the speakers on this particularly dreary East Village night.

As Campbell kept the CNN pundits under control on the TV screens above the high tech cardio machines, local gym pundits engaged in some soul searching while engaging in discussion over what they saw as increasing polarization within the Democratic party electorate and perhaps the nation itself.

In the past, the pundits had all been Pro Hillary, but this go-round, the instigator of the chatter heard the voice of a new pundit who hadn't been a part of the discussions in the past.

"Never underestimate the Clintons," said a Pro Hillary Dem to the instigator of the conversations as Clinton supporter continued his arm curls in a rush before he headed off to dinner.

Noting the tremendous numbers in Hillary Clinton's win over Barack Obama in West Virginia, this particular pundit pointed out the danger that spells for the fall, recycling worries that Obama has yet to win over large portions of the traditional Democratic loyalists.

"A lot of people just don't think he's for real or relates to them, for some reason, they don't trust him" he argued adding that the Republicans will have fun with those doubts, in unfortunate, sad and divisive ways that will probably be very ugly in the end.

The Pro Hillary gym pundit recalled the unfortunate history of disappointment of what he called, Starbucks Democrats like McGovern, Dukakis and Kerry.

"The last time a Starbucks Democrat won the Presidency," he paused, then sighed that "the closet thing to liberal who would fit that description, was JFK," he said

But, in 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy faced Hubert Humphrey and Wayne Morris in the Democratic Presidential campaign, Kennedy did in fact go to West Virginia, and made attempts to address the prejudice and "suspicion" over his Catholicism.

In the end, Kennedy did win the primary in West Virginia.

"Barack didn't even really campaign in West Virginia," said the Pro Hillary pundit.

"When he did, he put on one of those stupid flag lapel pins" grunting as he curled his arm "they (the West Virginians) saw through that crap."

Later, the instigator of this increasingly tired chit and chat made his was over to another Crunch "pumper" and posed a general assessment question about the election, gently prodding to see who's team he was on, and quickly found himself an Obama supporter who proceeded to unleash less than kind words for Hillary and for that matter, a number of her supporters.

"Barack Obama would sail to victory if they don't keep riding him with the Wright thing," said the Obama supporter who noted how the undercurrents of racism are still alive in America.

On Clinton, he said "she morphs herself into "whatever" it takes to win a vote," calling her immoral in her tactics.

"They (the Clintons) have always done that, it's not like they really care about anyone other than themselves, she's only concerned about her power," he argued going on to say that "she's staying in the race because she wants something out of all of this."

But, the instigator felt that Clinton had perhaps learned a lesson in humility, since she'd long been held up as a shoe in, only to realize that much of the nation was not in the mood for a coronation of those individuals deemed next in line. The instigator worried that Clinton's image had been so diminished and that in the end, that image had destroyed the truly populist progressive hidden agenda lying beneath all the political baggage.

So, when seeking to challenge his Obama friend, he asked him about the lopsided Clinton victory in West Virginia along with the other wins in Pennsylvania and places like Ohio, "places" in America that progressives have work to do and trust to win, where aggressive attempts to prove to the economically disenfranchised or higher education denied and affordable universal health care starved people that government can indeed do good things for people, but then, the Obama supporter cut deep.

"In the first place, those people who support her tend to be less educated and reactionary, they always respond to that right wing thinking," and then he said "I think he (Obama) and this new movement needs to marginalize them."

At which point the Obama supporter pointed to one of the more unethical moments in American political history.

"It's still amazing to me, that the Republicans were able to use that Swift Boat shit to derail a man like John Kerry" he said noting the sleazy character assassination attempts made by the infamous Swift Boat ads in 2004.

True enough, but the political anger towards those voters outside places like the island we at Crunch gym call home, Manhattan, caught the instigator off guard.

What exactly did he mean by marginalize them?

Unable, for whatever reason to admit his offense at such a comment, since hypocrisy would be the self describing term, because he too, had expressed similar sentiments back when he participated in simplistic Red State Blue State thinking, when us verses them became a source of his own political and regional rage during the early days of the Iraqi invasion, when people and relatives in his home state of Alabama reacted to 9/11 and its horrific outcomes with what appeared to be different emotions, when he honestly believed that he and others in his adopted city saw the world through completely different lenses, so the instigator just nodded his head, listening.

In truth, the instigator had long wondered, why he had not hopped on the Obama bandwagon of spoken idealism and hope, especially since he too, had at times viewed Hillary Clinton as an opportunistic leader who spoke to the direction of the wind.

Here he was, at the height of his own educational and sometimes tortured intellectual attainment that was in a constant state of analytical stimulus, living daily in this metropolis of New York surrounded by exotic, smart, multinational, fashion forward well educated types who he'd assumed shared mostly similar values.

Perhaps at the core, they still did, yet, New York, was no longer politically unified in how to attain those values, at least it no longer seemed to be so united thanks in great part to this campaign.

. Maybe, it was his connection to his life's past, better yet, his where with all coupled with what he felt was a realistic dose of political pragmatism that led him to the other candidate although, knowing himself, at first glance, he'd have thought a bright new light like Barack Obama would have won him enthusiastically over.

He made his way back across the gym to the Hillary supporter.

"I just had a conversation with a friend who is an Obama supporter who basically just made the entire diary community of "Daily Kos" come to life" he said.

"The tone in his voice, the very dismissive nature," and before he could go on, the Hillary supporter said to the instigator " wait one minute because there are plenty of Hillary supporters who take the same tone."

He then argued that somehow, somewhere, perhaps in a smoke filled back room, a conversation or a meeting must take place. Those two, Hillary and Barack have to come together.

"Absolutely," said the instigator but there was something deeper in the Obama supporters comment and for that matter, the aggressive tones taken by other Obama friends and that drumbeat blasting from the professional pundits, other media outlets and yes, Daily Kos diarists that had let the most blood from the instigator's political being and spirit.

Do some Obama supporters believe that voters like those in West Virginia and other states, cities, towns and homes that are labeled as being absent of the widely used but equally simplistic term 'latte liberals' believe those voters could be simply dismissed?

"When you talk about those people who are less educated or those who don't fit the mold of latte' drinking liberals, you're talking about my people," said the instigator.

"Mine too," said the friend, a Florida native who is a Hillary supporter.

Despite that, a clear and deep connection to their New York lives had gained increasing strength in recent years, thanks in part, to outrage over a Republican party pattern of politicking that had successfully planted seeds of doubt in the national electorate by capitalizing on the fear, pain and tragedy the New Yorker's experienced first hand?

As the chances of Clinton's victory diminished, it was perhaps now their greatest worry about Obama as nominee, that being, that those same Republican players would use the same, misleading and fear mongering tactics yet again.

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