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Day of reckoning: Clinton v Obama

Liverpool has always looked across the Atlantic, and, as 24 US states decide who will head the race to be leader of the free world, two Democrats are capturing the imagination. You can't vote, but you might care...

Published on February 11th 2008.


Day of reckoning: Clinton v Obama

Liz Lacey says Hillary Clinton is a strong and safe pair of hands

“Run, Hillary, Run!” This is the USA’s hottest political car bumper sticker. Democrats put it on the rear bumper, Republicans in the front.

Hillary Clinton has polarised opinion since she was Bill’s First Lady. Now that she is a frontrunner for President, her personal and political history, marriage and trouser suits are all constant topics for debate, from coffee shop to television chat show.

She will bring experience, intelligence, and competence to the White House. Hillary Clinton as President
is exactly what
America needs to restore its dignity

Barack Obama is a fresh faced incorruptible, or that’s how it looks at the moment. He sounds impassioned, and looks good. As a presentable young black man, he appeals to an important section of voters, for all sorts of reasons, liberalism being only one. He is as hip as it is possible for a Presidential candidate to be.

So, why Hillary Clinton for President? For a start, she’s been around for considerably longer, and has survived not only political, but also personal storms. Her performance in debates shows a firm grasp of issues.

Her legislative record in the Senate is equally impressive; she has long been campaigning for the rights enshrined in the Constitution to apply as much to women as they do to men. I bet it came as news to many that they didn’t. As she says; “Women’s rights are human rights.

She has battled energetically on behalf of low-income families, fought for free health care for all, and upheld the continued access of women to abortion.

She has great advantages, one of which is that she has been there before. Her close involvement with the years of office served by Bill has allowed her to be party to the down and dirty. He freely admits that he consulted her regularly.

As First Lady, she was criticised for being too prominent, too much of a presence. A brilliantly successful lawyer, she refused to stay home and bake cookies. She knows the game, the players, and has a grasp of world politics which can only be a good thing for the West’s last superpower embroiled in increasingly complex relationships with the rest of the world, and with new threats which require cool management.

She has certainly behaved with grace under pressure; her open annoyance with Bill over the Lewinsky affair belied her image as aglacial politico .She has many enemies: women who were appalled by her stoicism or opportunism in staying with Bill, men who find her threatening and chilly. She is always judged as a woman first, politician second. But, her Presidency holds out the hope of loudly shattering the glass ceiling and demonstrating that the potential of women is limitless.

Her story has not been without drama. The plain girl who made the most of a hard-won education to try to change things for the better, the betrayed wife, and the woman who presents a paradox to feminists and reactionaries on both sides of the fence, she will bring experience, intelligence, and competence to the White House. Hillary Clinton as President is exactly what America needs to restore its dignity.

Furthermore, there will be no sex scandals with this Clinton.

*Liz Lacey is a writer and director of Culture Campus, a Liverpool based international centre and environment for learning and research which aims to attract and retain creative talent in the city.

Barack Obama is the real deal, says Matt Finnegan

I’m fired up.

Like the day I first heard Jack Kennedy speak of the torch being passed to a new generation. Or when Martin Luther King proclaimed: “I have a dream.”

I’m fired up with real passion.

I want Barack Obama to win the Democratic nomination and then become the next President of the USA so badly that it hurts.

Not because he’s black. Not because he’s ferociously bright. Not because he’s refreshingly young - although these are welcome and unusual qualities in the next Commander in Chief of the US of A and leader of the free world.

But because in an age of insufferable artifice, when timid politicians say what they think we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear, Barack Obama is authentic.

He speaks from the soul, without calculation. He pauses to reflect, without embarrassment. He appeals to the emotions, without apology.

I have been observing the thoughtful young Senator from Illinois since he first made that spine-tingling speech to the Democratic Convention in 2004.

On his website. On YouTube. On the published page and in the public prints, both sides of the Atlantic.

This guy is the real deal. The once-in-a-lifetime candidate. The antidote to the global legacy of cynicism and despair left by Bush. The answer to a politics which has been perverted by the distant party machines which ruthlessly use and abuse the people they are meant to serve. A politics dominated by the pundits and the pompous and seemingly run for the benefit of the power-crazed and the patronising.

Barack Obama is authentic. He speaks from the soul,
without calculation.
He pauses to
reflect, without embarrassment.
He appeals to
the emotions,
without apology

Obama offers hope. Of real change for the better and of reconnecting with the electorate.

He gives voice to those left alienated by politics. He articulates the deep yearning in the human spirit for decency and compassion. And, in this increasingly cynical world, he honours the primacy of love in all human relations. Most of all he enthuses people with the universal poetry of idealism and commitment and belief.

When was the last time you saw an audience of black and white, young and old, blue-collar and suited professionals, Oprah and Ted Kennedy, clap and roar their approval with real and genuine excitement at the prospect of change? Even allowing for the over-exuberance of Americans?

“Yes we can!” they chant. And I believe them.

Obama is a remarkable inspiration. It helps, too, that he has been consistent. Against the disastrous war in Iraq. Against those who divide and prosper. Against the Washington establishment, the vested interests, the lobbyists and the phoneys.

So what does Obama stand for? Peace. Unity. The powerless. Really big themes.

His truly modern campaign has been breathtakingly creative and revolutionary too – both online and in small-town communities, rallying the little people against corporate America.

Yes, I have noticed steel glint in Barack’s eyes this week as the primaries have got nastier and Super Tuesday nears.

But I have never once seen the hope dim.

And, as another Martin Luther proclaimed: “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

*Matt Finnegan is founder of the Manchester-based Sound Communication, a social enterprise public relations cooperative, and former communications chief at Liverpool City Council.

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38 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Kevin PeelFebruary 4th 2008.

I understand the hype surrounding Obama in a country and a world desperately yearning for change, but don't understand why people assume that because Hillary has been around the block, she can't be the one to represent this desired and needed shift?! She is a ferociously passionate woman who clearly cares deeply about bringing change to America and hopefully to the world. She has the drive, the energy and the experience to push through this change and drag America with her. She has already withstood everything the worst fringes of right wing America has to throw at her and come out stronger and louder than before. Obama has gotten off incredibly lightly so far under the flare of the media, but this won't last if he takes the nomination. I think he will literally crumple under the furore that has yet to be directed at him - John McCain will eat him alive. America and the world needs someone who doesn't just talk the talk about change, but has the experience to show that he/she can bring it about and that person is Hillary Rodham Clinton. There'll be no sleep for me tonight while I wait for the results to come in!”

Stanley StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

As someone once said "The United States has two political parties, and they're both Tory".

CarolFebruary 4th 2008.

Oh I don't know. I'm interested in it. Our office was talking about it all morning. There is a life outside the goldfish bowl of Liverpool, you know, especially if you've got a son or daughter who might be maimed or killed in Iraq, like our neighbours have, or if you care about the environment, for example. These are things that are directly down to American policy makers and it's a bit silly to be wandering around the internet telling people where they should and should not post their thoughts on things. That's just my opinion though.

Dale StFebruary 4th 2008.

What absolute nonsense. If Bush had not won, do you think this country would now be at war - with British men and women dying on the streets of Baghdad and Basra? Both Clinton and Obama say they will end the war. Of course it matters - to us in Britain and it matters to the rest of the world. Which is why we should care.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2008.

Where does Oldham stand on the issue?

JinkiesFebruary 4th 2008.

So, on the Democrat side of things it's either America's first black or first female president. Whilst the best the Republicans have to offer is another religious nut sent by god (praise hallelujah). I wonder which will finally get into power eh? For what it's worth I really rate Obama, for the first time in decades I think the US has a real chance of change under his leadership. Clinton though, I'm just not sure about her, not just her stance on issues in the past - I just can't trust what she's saying. She always seems like there's a hidden agenda we won't ever hear about and i'm really not sure if she'd be better or worse than the god squad on t'other side.”

Pierre HeadFebruary 4th 2008.

Fool

Baleful BobFebruary 4th 2008.

Hilary will be the president at the end of the day because they still aren't ready for a black man to run the world. The thing that is important here is that it IS the rest of the world we are, in effect, talking about, but the people of the US, largely, will not realise that when they cast their vote. What a responsibility for such an inwardly focused nation of sinfully obese people who do not even know where India is half the time.

GoGoObamaFebruary 4th 2008.

By heck, Bob, you don't half live up to your posting name. It's true to say, though, that the future of the world, and thus every one of us, could depend on the outcome of the US election. Hillary seems keen on invading Iraq so I'm keeping everything crossed for Barack

KaliFebruary 4th 2008.

But you can't knock their soup.

Tony McFebruary 4th 2008.

who ever wins won't mean a toss to us, for we shall be shafted by the next lame brain idiot that big business and israel allow to win. Our deluded population is just as gullible as the USA's, Media allows what we can and cannot see or hear, and that is owned and directed by guess who....

ScouserFebruary 4th 2008.

Why are there many more comments about this on the Liverpool site than the Manchester one? Is it because, contrary to the prevalent stereotype, that many Liverpool people do look outward, not inward, and do recognise that we are all part of an interconnected world? Whereas Mancs are obsessed with their own little universe? Or it could be that Liverpool just has better, more intelligent, more thoughtful, more worldy-wise viewers/readers. Discuss.

Peter StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

Scouser, I think it is more likely that the Mancs who are interested in the showbiz sham that passes for democracy in the United States have gone straight to the 'USA' folder of the Guardian Unlimited "talk-board" (which is where 'Dale Street' ought to be). I come in here to chat about life in Liverpool, eating, drinking, taxi-driving, art, culture and that, not about rich, overprivileged yanks in a vulgar and silly pantomime.

Philip HirstFebruary 4th 2008.

I am sure that there are several Oldham's in the States. No doubt some are taking part in Super Tuesday. Perhaps it would make an interesting feature for the Oldham Chronicle?

Dick SamFebruary 4th 2008.

Unfortunately we have the Lib-Dems in Liverpool and they're making a right mess of everything. Can we have them all sent to the U.S.? With any lot they'll all be shot or arrested.

Martin LewisFebruary 4th 2008.

History has taught us that one person CAN make a difference. which is why it DOES matter what we think and say. No one pretends that America is perfect - far from it - but Tarleton St appears to hate it so much that he/she can see no goodness at all and no hope for change. To categorise the kids in Brooklyn, or the farmers in Kansas, or the blue collar workers in Detroit as barbarous is, frankly, absurd. I am not sure what he/she is advocating? Ignore America? Pretend it doesn't exist? Nuke it? It is the philosophy of despair and I for one, will have none of it. I am hopeful too.

Peter StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

But of course Mrs Clinton wanted to establish a proper health service for Americans, which made her widely hated in the U.S., but on the other hand….Mr. Obama sounds a splendid chap, at least according to good egg Mr. Paul Robeson Junior!. - Mrs. Clinton voted for the illegal violent invasion of Iraq, whereas…Mr. Obama voted against it, and he has been on a pub crawl in Britain (even if it was a wretched southern bum-hole like Bracknell). So I come out favouring Mr. Obama really (though I wouldn’t put it past the fat, ignorant, racist American electorate to lynch him and burn Mrs Clinton as a witch!)Now can we talk about the cultural Burlesque evening?

HopefulFebruary 4th 2008.

In general, I am on the side of people like Carol than people like scousekraut. It must be horrible to be so cynical and to have no hope about anything that matters. I would vote for hope over cynicism any day of the week.

Tarleton StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

Martin, you watch too many Hollywood films and trashy American television! The Littlest Hobo will not save the day.

Peter StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

Come again?

Peter StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

Who cares tuppence for the American elections? Whichever of them wins makes no difference - this country will carry on being used as a doormat-cum-toilet roll by our American overlords in the White House. Our coprophageous ‘leaders’ in our Westminster government will continue to kow-tow to their puppet-masters in Washington. What I really want to know is when the next Burlesque evening is!

Michael FishFebruary 4th 2008.

I forecast that he will win California - and go all the way to the White House.

Paul Newman's paramourFebruary 4th 2008.

I wouldn't vote for either of them, and that Ken Livingstone is a horror too. According to my fella, whose really clever and explains all this stuff to me and is dead romantic, the Lib Dems would do an excellent job over there.

Dale StFebruary 4th 2008.

woweeeeeee! an international policy debate!!!! Your point-scoring point about 'winning' is absolutely correct, of course. Very well done. Now if we can move on, Blair wouldn't have had any soldiers to expend, if the US had been led by a President of Clinton or Obama's ilk. Which is why who the Democrats now decide on, and who the Americans elect, is more important than the next Burlesque evening.

scousekrautFebruary 4th 2008.

No matter who wins there will be more wars, more poverty, more drugs and more violence. Both are heavily financed by Wall Street and have both raised over 100 million dollars already.Obamar is a complete fraud who has some well worn catch phrases that are meaningless but who is in fact being advised by the same old faces who represent the same power mongers as usual. He is bought and paid for.Clinton has always been bought and paid for. Whitewater was just the tip of the iceberg. The Clintons and Bushes play for the same team in different positions and anybody who thinks they are getting anything different is a sucker.

Graham BandageFebruary 4th 2008.

'History has taught us that one person CAN make a difference.' I think you'll find that was Knight Rider, Martin Lewis.

Uncle Sam's cabin boyFebruary 4th 2008.

I think Hilary Clinton has had a raw deal, but what does it mean there will be no sex scandals with this Clinton? That's a bit mean. And anyway, there's plenty of potential for her husband to continue being an arsehole.

Tarleton StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

‘Hopeful’, that's just it, it DOESN'T MATTER what we in this country think or say. We're not dealing with a civilised country, we're talking about the United States: it has 35 million in abject poverty, 6 million in gaol, they have a death penalty, they practise torture and are against world-wide campaigns to stop global warming and ban landmines! They defy international law, stab their allies in the back and our own, British government is so in awe of the U.S. that it will actually extradite its OWN citizens ILLEGALLY to a country so backward and barbarous it has a death penalty!

GoGoObamaFebruary 4th 2008.

I wouldn't say Hillary was utterly without compassion but I do get the overwhelming feeling that she is interested not so much in the job as the title that goes with it.

Tarleton StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

In the last U.S. election The Guardian newspaper encouraged its readers and users of its web site to try to influence the Americans to get rid of the warmongering dope and complete failure Dubya Bush by appealing to their reason, writing e-mails, participating in discussions in American chat rooms. Far from getting rid of the world’s worst bogeyman, the American press picked up on this and the reactionary, xenophobic numpties in the American electorate gave him a majority he didn’t have the first time around!Americans like a white, male, fundamentalist Christian, millionaire Freemason in the White House, unafraid to bully the rest of the world; so I forecast another Republican win.

John Lennon AirportFebruary 4th 2008.

I care,and so do my family, even though we can't do anything about it, because we've all had to sit and watch the global misery of the last few years under George W and his attendant poodle. It's easy to turn into a jaded old fart. Most people do turn into that jaded old fart, and that's why the machine keeps turning. People in power bank on this as a way of getting away with stuff. It happens in local politics, national, and international politics. I'd love Obama to win and not become jaded and corrupt, but either way, anything's got to be better than what we have now.

Robret de NiroFebruary 4th 2008.

Look, if I'm backing Barack, you guys better do the same. Or else.

GoGoObamaFebruary 4th 2008.

When I say Iraq, I mean Iran, of course but what's the last letter of a four letter proper noun between friends?

Peter StreetFebruary 4th 2008.

What nonsense! In the first place Dubya didn’t actually ‘win’ his first term, he was appointed by the Politburo (Supreme Court) before the votes had even been fully counted.Secondly, British servicemen and women are being maimed and killed because Bush’s poodle, one Anthony Blair, thought that British lives were expendable in order to suck up to American imperial adventurism.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2008.

When did he win California? The vote's not till tonight our time.

JohnFebruary 4th 2008.

Can I be the first to congratulate Senator Obama on winning California? He will beat her again at the convention.”

KaliFebruary 4th 2008.

On the one hand, I think Obama is an idealistic breath of fresh air. On the other hand, Clinton has a wealth of experience on the world stage. And on the other hand, as an Indian god, I don't have any sort of vote in this election, so any opinions I have are as pointless as a circle. Still at least I've got one more hand where I can have an opinion on soup. Mmm, I like soup. I'm not that keen on broccoli and stilton - I'm a Heinz Cream of Chicken deity all the way - but I understand and accept there are some fans of that flavour. What a dull world it would be if we all liked the same soup.

David WalshFebruary 4th 2008.

I want Obama will win it too. Will he become corrupt? I think so.

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