For the first time since 1992, I attended my local Democratic Party presidential caucus on Saturday. I wasn’t planning to attend, due to a conflict with ski lessons, but Snoqualmie Pass cooperated by closing due to heavy snow and my lesson was postponed.
[That said, I much prefer a primary system as more inclusive, which adds personal irritation to the absurdity that is the February 19th Democratic primary whose results will be ignored. I may vote anyway simply as a demonstration.]
I went to the caucus torn between the two front-runners, hoping that somebody there would say something that would make something click in one way or the other. To my mind, either of the two are far superior to the alternatives on the issues that I think are important (foremost, appointments to the federal judiciary), so I’d be happy with either one. That tends to lead me to focus on crystal ball issues like ability to get elected or to advance one’s agenda once elected, but I prefer not to make decisions based on those simply because at this point they’re too hard to predict with any accuracy (witness John Kerry in 2004). On the substantive issues, I was really digging around the margins. For example, I think Clinton has a better health care plan than Obama.
I’m annoyed by the cult of personality that appears to be surrounding Obama. All of the comparisons to JFK are perhaps too apt, given that the JFK myth — most notably, "Camelot" — did not appear until he was no longer President. For what it’s worth JFK didn’t get picked in his first chance to be on a national ticket, as VP in 1956. I’m more annoyed by the implied threat from Obama supporters that they’ll stay home if Clinton wins the nomination, given that the two are so close on the issues; I’ve not witnessed the same attitude in the opposite direction from Clinton supporters.
But when all was said and done, I thought about the Clintons’ association with the DLC, and how I prefer "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party," as Howard Dean famously put it. And I thought about Clinton’s behavior on the Iraq war resolution. Not so much how she voted on it, but how she has talked about the vote since. It sounds more like trying to cover her bases than to stand for a principle or even advance an effective pragmatism. So in the end I voted for Obama.