What Obama Can Do
So Barack Obama has Big Momma on the canvas. When it comes to fundraising, he has essentially beaten La Hillary at her own game, nearly matching her $26 million but with far more donors.
And since were all a wee bit tired of her, hes the sentimental favorite. Its the young underdog versus the aging Überfrau.
When youre the brawny Goliath, you cant play for a tie. A draw with skinny little David cant be spun as a moral victory. If the bookies are picking you to squash him like a bug, youd better not let him embarrass you.
Obama has already beaten the point spread. This can only sap the Clinton teams morale and give prospective donors grave doubts.
Obama is on his best behavior. Hes running as Bill Cosby, not Richard Pryor, as if hes afraid of seeming uppity and would rather be safely solemn. Too bad. Think of the fun he could have by abandoning strict propriety and tweaking Hillary a bit:
Mrs. Clinton, if elected president, would you return at least some of the White House furniture you and your husband made off with?
Mrs. Clinton, you are known as a feminist leader. What steps would you as president take to protect female White House interns from harassment in the workplace?
Mrs. Clinton, it has been said that if you win the presidency, we will have a known sexual predator back in the White House. Care to comment?
These are the sort of questions the public would remember long after her answers, supposing she could answer at all. But such playfulness just isnt Obamas style. In a more serious vein, however, there is something else he can do, something unexpected that would enhance his stature.
He can call on President Bush to resign from office.
Many Democrats would like to impeach Bush but dont dare to try. For one thing, they think its too late, and they have a point. Bush has less than two years to go, and impeachment is now a long, slow process, almost as protracted as a presidential race.
This is regrettable; it should be no harder than overriding a veto a short debate and a vote, followed by summary dismissal, if warranted. In essence, its the firing of a servant, a public servant, for abuse of his office, compounded, in this case, by gross incompetence. But he could still have his pension and other lavish perks usually denied to a disgruntled former employee of the U.S. Government.
In other societies, honor has imposed much sterner penalties on disgraced rulers: suicide, beheading, hara-kiri. Obama wouldnt be asking Bush to fall on his sword; hed merely be urging him to behave honorably for the sake of the country. Is a single act of honor too great a sacrifice to demand of a man who has sent so many others to die?
Nor could Obama be easily accused of partisan motives. At this point Bush has become a burden to the Republicans and an asset to the Democrats. If he stepped down, it would help his own party more than their opponents. And most patriots would be relieved.
Last falls elections amounted to a national no-confidence vote on this president. If he were a prime minister under a parliamentary system, he would already be gone.
We can assume that Bush, being Bush, would not resign. In todays politics, the very idea of honor is, as they say, outside the box. But by asking for his resignation in the name of honor, Obama would set a new standard for politics, in the sense that everything old is new again.
Such a gesture would have deep resonance and inspire serious discussion. Bush could hardly ignore it. And it would earn Obama great respect. Honest Republicans might join him, agreeing that Bushs presidency can no longer be salvaged.
The shadow of dishonor would fall across the remainder of Bushs term. As it should.
But the decks would be cleared for a new Republican presidential candidate in 2008, one who had kept his distance from Bush. The big loser would be John McCain, who not only supports the Iraq war but, as 60 Minutes has just shown, lies about it even more brazenly and preposterously than Bush does.
Obama has the chance to win the gratitude even of Americans who have given up on voting.
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