Sewell: America needs honest president

By By James Sewell

By James Sewell

As the Pennsylvania primary approaches, the intense battle between the two distinguished and distinguishable Democratic senators will converge and coalesce around whatever the issue is of the moment, namely, Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments and Hillary Clinton’s ridiculous response to them.

Sen. Obama is in trouble because he dared to say what everyone knows and no one can fathom saying out loud: that working-class people are, in fact, bitter about what they see (or, more accurately, don’t see) going on around them. They haven’t seen job growth at home, but they have seen job growth become America’s No. 1 export to the rest of the world. Outsourcing is now the norm for manufacturing jobs that once were filled by American citizens who thought working hard for an honest wage was the ticket to middle-class mediocrity, which is all they really wanted. Now, those dreams have evaporated.

Sure, maybe it was ill-advised for him to call these folks bitter, but what other word is there? Disillusioned? Angry? All these words fit the situation, but they don’t fit the campaign message that Hillary Clinton is trying to get across. She said these white, working-class folks aren’t bitter and they don’t cling to religion or guns or racism. But they do. So now Clinton is the avatar of hope? I think not. She switches her message to suit the cause of the week, the hour, the instant.

One could claim that Obama is also guilty of switching gears, from the audacity of hope to the veracity of our problems. At least his campaign is based on a recognition of the real ailments of the country and not some fairy tale that Clinton’s trying to get voters to buy just long enough to get them to the voting booth and punch their hanging chads for the gal from Chappaqua.

It’s ironic (and deeply troubling) that the Clinton campaign has been subjected to two major shake-ups of senior advisers in the last few months as they scramble to cover their keisters from the embarrassments of Mark Penn and Patti Solis Doyle, yet Clinton claims to be ready to lead from day one. Hardly. The campaign to elect Hillary Clinton has been gestating since before Bill was getting his jollies in the Orgy, er, Oval Office. Ready on day one? She’s not even ready on day 3,378.

It is a miserable fact of modern political life that pretty much any candidate who makes it far enough to attempt the presidency will have said something that can all too easily be taken out of context and twisted and turned into a sound byte, which is then all too easily swallowed whole-hog by the media and regurgitated to the general populace without regard for accuracy or proper analysis.

The fact is, Hillary Clinton is a coldly calculating political machine who is not going to ever speak truth to power lest that power turn its back and take its money with it.

Obama’s comments might have been ill-advised, but they weren’t off-base. The ability to recognize and articulate (can we still say something anymore without controversy?) the nature of the problems we face is the first real step to solving them.

Obama is ready to lead, and we’re nowhere near day one yet. But it’s coming, and we cannot afford the kinds of gaffes which have lately plagued her legacy application for presidency of the United States.

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