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Day of reckoning: Clinton v Obama

A tale of two Democrats capturing imaginations the world over. You can't vote, but you might care...

Published on February 4th 2008.


Day of reckoning: Clinton v Obama

Manchester has deep American links. During the American Civil War we supported Lincoln and the Union for liberty and against slavery, when financial logic dictated that we support the cotton producing Confederate States. Hence the Abraham Lincoln statue in Lincoln Square between Deansgate and Albert’s Square.

Did you know, for instance, that there are more Manchester namesakes in the US than for any other British city – some fifty or more? One of the key primary contests took place in Manchester, New Hampshire, after all. The ties are deep. So as we’ve been such a part of the US’s political history, here’s your chance to have a say on the merits of Cinton or 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 director of Culture Campus, a North Westl 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.”

Matthew Finnegan is founder of the Manchester-based Sound Communication social enterprise cooperative and former communications chief at Liverpool City Council.

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

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2008.

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

NingeFebruary 4th 2008.

I think personally an ideal situation would be Clinton as president and Obama as vice-president. That way they could both have a say, and Clinton would be able to guide Obama assuading any fears over his inexperience. Also, I think that despite their bickering, they would make a fantastic team. Shame they can't come and run this country... Gordon Brown bores me to tears. And I don't recall anyone having voted for him if I'm honest.. ahem..

MichelleFebruary 4th 2008.

Amen to that

A KellyFebruary 4th 2008.

A victory for Obama would be a victory for truth, justice and democracy and a defeat for those who descend to low politics, lies and prejudice to serve their greedy personal interests and spite.

JohnFebruary 4th 2008.

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

Barack fanFebruary 4th 2008.

Disgraced? Deluded as well as miserable old git. Any relation to Sir Diddy? Deal with the argument, matey, not your own private grievances - or can you not construct a credible sentence about the Democratic primaries?

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.

Miserable old GitFebruary 4th 2008.

Just as I was thinking all the world's good guys were rooting for Barack Obama we have this sanctimonious piece by a disgraced ex-Liverpool council spin doctor. Come on Manchester Confidential. Surely there is an expat American living in Manchester who can sound off sensibly without having to rely on PR men. How about asking Manchizzle? This website started so well but seems increasingly to attract the ramblings of failed PRs.

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!

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