Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Weekend at the Races

Quick SAG Awards reactions. Bardem and Christie look all locked up. Day-Lewis is 90% of the way there. Okay, 95%, but he wasn't competing against Johnny Depp here, and the sentimental hook to give Depp an Oscar outweighs any need to give him an Actor (one of which he already owns, anyway). Things look great for No Country for Old Men, too, which also picked up the DGA Prize this weekend, but Juno wasn't the force among SAG nominators that it apparently is among the Oscar crowd. Then there's the Ruby Dee thing: yep, she's the one "surprise" winner of the night, but Lauren Bacall won here, too, and Gloria Stuart tied. Sentiment hasn't carried the day at the Oscars quite so much, and I just don't think voters will see this as an "Oscar" performance. Still, I think anyone in that category who isn't Saoirse Ronan could win. Will be fun to watch.

Shifting from the essentially trivial to the profoundly important, after much hemming and hawing, a fair amount of reading around, and continued tracking of the primary trail, I'm officially casting my lot with South Carolina victor Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for President. I don't think Hillary Clinton is the Machiavellian demoness that she's sometimes (read: often) made out to be, but I have been extremely unimpressed with her rhetoric and her mystifying decision to afford her husband such a prominent (and increasingly aggressive) role in her own campaign. Beyond the distastefulness of their behavior this week, I just don't like the omens of insecurity, recklessness, and swift reflexes toward antagonism that these choices embody. (I'm also talking about that cynical and retroactive "Let's count those Michigan delegates after all" announcement that she made last week.)

What these behaviors say to me is, she's panicked about whether she's going to be elected, and therefore highly provoked... while, for all of Hillary's "Day One" allusions to preparedness and pragmatism, Barack is the one who (to me) speaks, debates, and operates as though he's thinking about holding the office as much as obtaining it. I appreciated that Guardian article that ModFab linked to as yet another index of why neither Hillary nor Barack wins the Flawless Liberal Award, and his voting record should be scrutinized as thoroughly as hers or anybody else's. But as much as I still believe that Hillary is for change and Barack is experienced, and as hard as I'm working to avoid succumbing to mass-media pitches, I trust more in his longer view than in hers, and my old doubts about the Clintons as tacticians and as judges of character have resurfaced. Hearing Frank Rich spell out with galvanizing force and precision what a lot of us have worried about for weeks or months was also a big kickstart in finally getting me to commit.

What I think about John Edwards holding on is still less clear to me. Frankly, I don't understand the protocols of a Democratic Nominating Convention without a pre-given anointee well enough to grasp the mechanics of "leverage" or "king-making" that Edwards might be affording himself if he can actually recruit enough delegates in the remaining primaries to be any kind of a force. But meanwhile, I'm so convinced that, given the choice, Edwards voters would flock to Obama over Clinton that I kind of wish he'd bow out while he can still accomplish something big for the rival he clearly prefers. A thought that considerably exceeds my own credibility or wisdom, but if I'm not going to speak off the cuff here, where am I going to do it?

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Blogger Catherine said...

See, in my fantasy world, Clinton and Edwards would bicker so much that the two frontrunners would implode, and there would be a huge surge for John Edwards. Despite having one MAJOR disadvantage (white Southern male), he has managed to be the one candidate to consistently talk about the issues, rather than one word soundbites ("Change!", "Experience!"). That said, I do feel an Obama/Edwards ticket could be the way to go.

But then again, I'm not even American so what do I know?

Happy Birthday btw!

2:02 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger John T said...

Re: The Oscars
I might have to eat some crow here, but I don't think it's quite a four-way race (I doubt that Tilda has the sort of fanbase in the Academy that she does on the web-a crime, but surely true). Therefore, I think that since this is the biggest awards show of the and it will be as a lead), and Amy Ryan is essentially an unknown at this point (not that this category is against that, but unlike Rachel Weisz, Mira Sorvino, and Jennifer Connelly, she's not winning any awards the Academy is going to see, and she's not being hailed as "The Next Big Thing"). Ruby Dee, however, is a legend who has never won, and Oscar loves one of those even if they don't as much as the SAG Awards. They also tend to go with a legend when they're confused about a category (James Coburn and Judi Dench were both in "anyone can win years" and Alan Arkin was in a "let's find a way to overthrow the frontrunner" year).

Re: The Democratic Convention
Okay, how Edwards could be the Kingmaker or Bargainmaker is, if say Hillary goes in with 45% of the delegates, Obama with 42%, and Edwards with 9%, that would mean that Edwards could give his delegates to either Clinton or Obama his delegates in order to give them the presidency-the decision is in his court. Of course, if he does this, there's a good chance he'll want something in return-possibly the Attorney General spot, possibly Secretary of State, possibly even Vice President again. I think him dropping out would hurt Obama more than Hillary, as Edwards's largest voting bloc is for blue collar workers (mostly white middle-to-lower income level men) who are voting for him as a way out of the Hillary-Obama debate. These voters have traditionally been breaking towards Hillary when pushed.

5:59 AM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I think Senator Clinton's "let's count the Michigan and Florida delegates after all" gambit is slimy and self-serving, she is, after all, right: is it really a good idea for the Democratic party to alienate any potential voters in Florida? You know, 534-vote-margin-of-victory Florida. Florida.

10:00 AM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger John T said...

Yeah, and Michigan has to be considered the most vulnerable blue state. Job loss there is intense, and the state's residents are blaming Democratic Governor Granholm as much as President Bush, if not moreso.

12:05 PM, January 28, 2008  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

I hate that i have to keep studying all these smart people telling me OBAMA is the way to go but i've watched every debate and I've yet to hear him saying something substantive (other than warm and admittedly welcome vague optimism) --or at least something substantive that i could remember past all the dreamy "change" stuff.

where as I feel like Clinton and Edwards are actually telling me a few things about what they might do. maybe i'm a pessimist but I distrust politicians who don't admit that they're politicians. i guess my hold up is that the things Obama is saying "change" uniting people --vote for me because i'm not someone who is part of politics as usual-- are all the same things Bush ran on, aren't they?


politics are so dispiriting and confusing

4:30 PM, January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with Nathaniel on this one. Obama strikes me as a Neville Chamberlain type, and yes, I do mean to raise that specter. His naivete, at least to me, is not inspiring. It's frightening. I am an unabashed Clinton supporter, and though I adore Nick's blog, I'm afraid I can't stand that endorsement all over the front page! Will be hard for me to keep tuning in. Maybe I'll squint...

Oh, and it's funny, but all the smart people I know aren't talking about Obama. They know that Clinton's the only one who can defeat John McCain. We'll need all the help we can get for that race.

9:10 PM, January 31, 2008  

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