by Nomi Prins
- USA -
Hillary Clinton’s speech has been highlighted, delivered and duly dissected. Bill’s, too. But, as focus shifts to Obama, the elephant in the hall that will linger past the DNC convention for the nearly 9 million engaged Hillary voters that aren’t yet throwing their vote to Obama is the question: why didn’t he choose her as his running mate? The Democratic Party would be naïve to suggest these people just ‘get over it,’ Hillary’s verbal push and roll call acclamation not withstanding.
Hate her or love her. It’s still a valid question given the 18 million votes and major swing states she captured, particularly for the women who did and do identify with her, and for the men who advocate equality. And it’s a question that Obama needs to at least acknowledge, if not address.
Now, a strong person campaigning for the most powerful office in the world should be able to handle a few personality conflicts at home. But it’s not about defending whether he should have picked her - it’s about his ability to identify and answer difficult questions head on. You know, that leadership quality. Aren’t we all fed up with the politics of secrecy and self-centeredness? And, in a tight race, can he really afford to play this one so close to the vest? Is that wise?
There may be little Obama can, or feels he should, say on the matter. Some would argue, that dwelling on the Hillary question is sour grapes, that Joe Biden will be just fine, and that the VP post isn’t a deciding factor anyway. But those are very presumptive thoughts in a dead heat. A proportion of Hillary’s 18 million votes could just carry the swing states that Obama needs to win. It’s about math, not emotion, not ego. It’s about hedging your candidacy. So why risk it? Why play old dodge-the-hard-question politics rather than face the difficulty and move on with strength?
Pundits that rendered this a personality referendum on Hillary, or the Clinton name, are missing a point being discussed in diners, playgrounds, hospitals, truck stops, and factory floors. The six degrees of separation rule alone suggests everyone knows someone who doesn’t understand why Obama didn’t chose Hillary as VP. For Obama to step up and put forth a sound explanation is a matter of political balance, and more than that, of character.
There is of course, more than this required from Obama to engage the votes, minds and hearts of undecided or disenchanted American voters. Personal economics is the issue that weighs most heavily on our daily lives, and on this, he needs to provide empathy, compassion, and clarity. He must illuminate a plan to deal with the housing crisis, as well as the looming credit card and student loan problems. He must delineate a program that will provide health care for all, and reduced insurance premiums for those burdened by them. To date, he has not connected with the fear of medical catastrophe that plagues many Americans. He must combat inflation of gas and food prices by not just talking of future energy policy, but also about the need for a present curtailing of speculation in those commodities. He must explain exactly how he will handle the issue of wage deflation amidst rising expenses.
Obama has to be precise about what he can do in the near term as well as for the future of the American economy, and he has nine weeks to do it.
About the Author
Nomi Prins is a journalist and Senior Fellow at Demos, a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization. She is the author of Other People's Money: The Corporate Mugging of America and Jacked: How "Conservatives" are Picking your Pocket (whether you voted for them or not). Other People's Money, a devastating exposé into corporate corruption, political collusion and Wall Street deception was chosen as a Best Book of 2004 by The Economist, Barron's and The Library Journal.
Before becoming a journalist, Nomi worked on Wall Street. She has appeared internationally on BBC World and BBC Radio and nationally in the U.S. on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CSPAN, Bloomberg TV and other TV stations. She has been featured on dozens of radio shows across the U.S. including CNN Radio, Marketplace Radio, Air America, NPR, WNYC-AM and regional Pacifica stations. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Fortune, Mother Jones, The Guardian UK, The Nation.com, The American Prospect, Frank151, The Left Business Observer, LaVanguardia, Against the Current and other publications.