30 April, 2008

One on One: Hillary style

"I’m offering Sen. Obama the chance to debate me one-on-one, no moderators. Just the two of us going for 90 minutes asking and answering questions. We’ll set whatever rules seem fair." That's how Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton presented her invitation for a 'one-on-one' debate to Sen. Barack Obama. "Remember that’s what happened during the Lincoln and Douglas debates," she pointed out. Mr. Obama has wisely declined.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas were contesting for a US Senate seat for Illinois, 150 years ago; they debated on issues that mattered. Lincoln, was a relative unknown at the beginning of the debates, and lost the Senate race in 1858, but later beat Douglas in the 1860 race for the US Presidency and went on to become one of the greatest leaders America ever had. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were about issues that mattered to Americans then and were very eloquent and dignified; had Obama accepted Clinton's invitation, would Hillary have allowed her proposed debate to have the same dignity and effect that the Lincoln-Douglas one had?

There's no doubt that Mrs. Clinton is a very smart woman; probably smarter than her husband or Obama. There's no doubt too, that she is very determined to become the first woman president of the US. But, unfortunately, unlike Obama and her husband, with her arrogant and at times deceptive demeanor and behavior, it's very hard to like her; very hard indeed. By Mrs. Clinton being as recklessly too ambitious and divisive as she is, she seems too, to lack the kind of wisdom and foresight that Lincon had and Obama apparently has.

Both Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Obama are politicians; and as politicians, both say and try to portray what they think would attract American voters. The difference is that: Mrs. Clinton has used all kinds of tactics and tricks, no holds barred, to attract voters to her and distract them from the senator from Illinois. She has done whatever it takes, and used some of the ugliest methods, to achieve her goal. She selfishly believes that she is the best and much superior not only to Obama, but to any other American contender for the presidency in America today. To her, losing is simply not acceptable. So far, she is willing to sink as low in her tactics that at times she even sounds as if she is on John McCain's side.

Mrs. Clinton, strangely, very much reminds me of Mike Tyson. 'Iron' Mike Tyson was so intoxicated by his arrogance, belief of his superiority and at winning at all costs, that during his rematch with Evander Holyfield in June 1997, he used some of the ugliest tactics and tricks to try and win the fight. He went as far as biting Evander's right ear and shouting obscenities at spectators, because to him - losing was simply not acceptable. At all. In the process, Mike Tyson managed to degrade the once very popular sport of boxing. Tyson had his license revoked and was heavily fined; and though he was once looked at and revered the same way as other boxing greats like Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali were - since that fight, Tyson's career rapidly deteriorated. Mrs. Clinton won't have her 'license revoked', but most likely - should she lose this race - she would have badly tarnished her political career and her legacy, and terribly shaken the Democratic party.

Politics is uglier than boxing, but the sly Mrs. Clinton has made it look and be even much more uglier. Unlike ever before, news now travels much faster and is watched by many more people and more vividly all around the world. For us non-Americans watching the drama that is now daily being played out for the race for the White House, the on going match between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama is becoming pathetic; and is showing a very ugly side of America. American politics, in particular. Some might say that the way the Demoratic Party is proceeding to get its presidential candidate, is healthy and shows the strength of American democracy. For us outside America, it doesn't. It doesn't at all. And it makes us like Mr. Obama even more.