Thursday, March 13, 2008

What About Barack?

As the smoke clears over the remains of what was once Eliot Spitzer's promising career, it's time to look at the important question: What does this mean for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

The general tone of articles I've seen is that this isn't going to have much of an impact, but it will probably hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign more. If nothing else, she's losing Spitzer as a super delegate. Plus, she comes from the same state and this reminds people of how generally unpleasant and destructive sex scandals in politics can be.

While I see some of the logic here, the first point about super delegates doesn't make any sense. First, the new governor-to-be is also a Hillary supporter so she's got his vote. Also, you can't throw a rock in Albany without hitting a potential superdelegate for Hillary. So don't worry about the replacement. Also, I know it's close, but do we really think this is going to come down to one vote? Seriously?

What I'm more concerned about than the effect on Hillary is the possible effect on Obama's campaign.

Remember, when Eliot Spitzer ran for governor his slogan was "Day one everything changes." Changes? Sound familiar? A little change we can believe in, anyone? Further, he ran on the idea of ethics reform and fixing the way things were done in state governmnent.

In other words, he was the white proto-Obama of New York. More aggressive, more of an attitude, but the similarities are inescapable. I just hope they don't turn out to be harmful.

While I don't think that Obama is going to end up in a prostitution ring and I don't think anyone is going to try to link the two change candidates in that way (though the month is young), I'm more worried about the effect on the electorate. Obama's great strength in this election so far has been his ability to turn people who were turned off by politics into voters. Change and hope and all that good stuff was really connecting. To have seen another change candidate go down in a politics-as-usual-but-worse scandal has to damage the credibility of change.

I worry that yet another letdown by our elected leaders is just fuel for the cynicism fire. Let's hope that I'm wrong and that people can still believe in change.

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