Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Rashoman moment

Now that John Edwards has taken himself out of the race, Democrats must choose between two candidates who, honestly, are very similar on their policy stands. Both want to fix our health care system, end the war in Iraq, increase alternative energy. Both are, meh, fairly gay friendly (both are playing both sides of the fence on this issue.)

So choosing between the two means looking at something other than "he's for this" or "she's for that." It means trying to decide who is better suited to take over the running of our government — once a superpower envied by the rest of the world, we're now a military, economic and environmental mess. The rest of the world views us with a range of benign distrust to visceral hatred.

The next president of the United States has a really big job ahead of them. As in, our lives could depend on them. So this election means looking for a sign of who the candidate really is beyond what they say in speeches and debates. And that's why I've decided to support Hillary Clinton.

Obama's "snub" this week at the president's State of the Union speech showed us a little insight into the heart and mind of both Clinton and Obama. If you listen to the message in the mainstream media, you believe this: Hillary Clinton is a conniving, cynical, games-playing politician trying to embarrass her opponent. Barack Obama is an inspiring, uniting, agent of change simply looking the other way. I ask you to look at the event the other night through a different set of lenses. As in the masterpiece Rashoman, there is more than one way to tell a story. Here's the image:

Now here's another telling of the story: I see in Clinton a politician who understands how to work with people with whom you are annoyed (you know she's gotta be pissed at both Ted and Caroline), who understands the importance of building bridges with people like that, and who has a "sense" of when to make a public gesture such as the one pictured above.

I also see in this picture an inexperienced politician who turns his back on those he disagrees with, who later says he was "distracted" and did not know Clinton was there — which to me only shows a level of unawareness that also speaks to his lack of experience. Obama went out of his way to greet other lawmakers, but carefully avoided his opponent.

Now transfer this incident to the global scene. The massive damage done by the Bush Administration will require a leader with the "sense" and experience to do something just like what Hillary Clinton did on Monday night. And the idea of someone like Obama — back turned, unaware, whether intentional or not — frankly, scares me. There are too many nuclear weapons and pissed off leaders around the world to have him in the White House at this time. Maybe someday, Obama, but not now.


winterbear said...

As a photographer I have to disagree with you on this picture. Its just a moment in time, a snapshot that shows one angle on an event.

It is really easy to read things into a photo like this. Without someone else who was there coming out and saying that they saw Obama doing something inappropriate, this photo just doesnt prove a thing. Its just way too easy to read things into an image like this. Thats why those caption the photo contests are so popular at some sites.

The reason I want Obama to win:

I want real change, not going back to the previous regime.

I also think that Obama will be much harder for the Republicans to beat than Hilary because they already hate her and he will pick up a lot of moderate republicans that would never vote for hilary.

Sue J said...

Thanks for commenting, Winterbear, and welcome to Nailing Jello!

Quite true that this photo is but one second in time (didn't Henri Carier-Bresson call it the "magic moment" or something like that?). But I wrote what I wrote based on the accounts of people who were there, and video I saw of the time before and after this shot was taken.

I think Obama is bright and passionate, and if he is the nominee I will support him endlessly. But I believe this small incident is a little insight into their experience. I think she would be better at re-building the bridges burned by the Bush Administration.

I don't really buy into the argument that the Republican hate machine will take down Hilary. I think she has won over a lot of centrists since she's been in the Senate. That Hillary bashing is "so "90's" to me.

But we shall see!