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Friday, October 26, 2007

On the Campaign Trail: Bashing Inevitability

As I continue my occasional election coverage, which I've too cleverly titled Derision 2008, I find myself wrestling with the seeming inevitability of Hillary Clinton's Democratic nomination. John Edwards and Barack Obama are doing their best to keep their names uttered in the same breath with the word president, but the polls show an ever widening gap, and the big dollars of America's king, now queen, makers are lining up behind the former first lady.

Today is Hillary's milestone 60th birthday, and last night her family trotted out an A-list of musicians and movie stars to help stuff her card with a $1.5 million campaign check (see the AP's Clinton Uses Birthday to Raise Funds). In our backward political system where money becomes the determining factor in every major electoral contest, it's hard not to feel disenfranchised by the mass media using Hillary's financial momentum to proclaim a victor before the first primary vote is even cast.

It's an interesting commentary on our electoral process that alternative voices are so easily silenced by the overwhelming white noise of cascading campaign coin clanking in a rival candidate's coffers. From the highest to lowest national and state offices, the strained call for reform initiated by grass-roots campaigns increasingly stands no chance against the bullhorn of big money championing the status quo.

Already, one-year out, the campaigns of challengers such as Christopher Dodd and Dennis Kucinich, whose politics most closely resemble my own, have been rendered completely inconsequential by the media. Unless there's a sudden reversal in fortune, Obama and Edwards could soon suffer the same fate. The one chink in Hillary's armor may be her continued bellicose stance on foreign affairs, and the two remaining jousters are doing their best to exploit that weakness (see CNN's Iran becoming new Iraq on campaign trail).

I'm told that Elvis Costello played for Ms. Clinton's big birthday bash. As thousands of Iraq War protesters prepare to gather in the streets of downtown Chicago tomorrow, I can only hope that Mr. Costello played one of my favorite songs at the fete. It's an emotionally resonant piece about the sad repercussions of the intertwining of war and industry. Hillary should keep it in mind when she straps on her saber for rattling.

Shipbuilding
by Elvis Costello

Is it worth it
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy's birthday
It's just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we'll be shipbuilding
Well I ask you
The boy said "Dad they're going to take me to task
But I'll be back by Christmas"
It's just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of this shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It's just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or picture postcard
Within weeks they'll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin
Once again
It's all we're skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
WITH ALL THE WILL IN THE WORLD
DIVING FOR DEAR LIFE
WHEN WE COULD BE DIVING FOR PEARLS
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