Say you're a progressive democrat trying to decide who to pick in the primary. It shouldn't be too difficult. After all, we know that democrats just love their candidates but, now that there are two frontrunners, who's going the wear the progressive mantle?
Obama jumps to an early lead on foreign policy. Clinton voted for the 2002 authorization to use force in Iraq that ultimately lead to the Iraq war. Obama couldn't have voted for or against it, not being in the Senate in 2002, but he's on record speaking forcefully against war at the time. Furthermore, even recently Clinton displayed a disturbing pliancy to the administration's foreign policy rhetoric by voting for the president's September, poke-Iran-with-a-stick resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. (The Iranians responded by declaring the CIA a terrorist organization. . . touché, though lumping in the U.S. Army was just gratuitous.) So kudos to Obama for seeing the folly of hijacking U.S. foreign policy to get into pissing contests with middle-east despots. How does he do on the domestic front?
Sadly, not well. As Paul Krugman points out over and over and over and over and over again, a lot of Obama's domestic policy positions, specifically on health care and the economy, lie well to the right of reality. Hillary has a more credible health care plan and the sense to realize that, when dealing with the right-wing machine, a conciliatory stance is a weak one.
So what we need is a president who will keep the country out of horribly ill-conceived military debacles that compromise our security and standing in the world. In Iraq, people are dying. We also desperately need a president who will work to restore a strong middle class and really guarantee health care for all Americans. Here at home, people are dying.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure how to finish this. The fact is, they're both politicians (yes, Obama too) and it's hard to see, while they're trying to win the vacuous popularity contest that is the U.S. presidential election, what they'd actually do in office. Here's wishing the stakes weren't so high.