Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Farewell John Edwards//And the Truth about Mano e Mano

John Edwards withdrew from the Democratic Presidential campaign today, saying the time had come for him to "step aside so that history can blaze its path".

His eloquence and sense of history is not surprising - it became clear when Edwards indicated, earlier this year, that his favorite book was I. F. Stone's The Trial of Socrates. The choice of such a book bespeaks a philosophic depth and appreciation of history that is all too rare in our politics.

Edwards' withdrawal now leaves the field to just Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We should all see just how different this makes the Democratic debate, literally, when Obama and Clinton have the stage to themselves in the California debate on CNN tomorrow (Thursday) night. Just the two of them.

Not mano e mano, however. But not mano e mano for the reason noted by Democratic strategist Peter Fenn on CNN a few minutes ago. Fenn thought Obama v. Clinton would not be mano e mano because Hillary is a woman, and therefore their contest could not be "man to man".

But that was never the meaning of mano e mano - which means not man to man to but hand to hand (mano as in manual, by hand).

But Barack Obama v. Hillary Clinton will not be truly mano e mano - hand to hand - either.

It will be ideas to ideas - the ideas and presentation of Barack Obama v. Hillary Clinton. Although there is a lot to admire in the record of Hillary Clinton, and what it would mean to have a woman in the White House, I think Obama's ideas and his capacity to inspire will carry the debate on Thursday, the primaries on Super Tuesday, and the day we vote for President next November. When it comes to ideas and igniting the better angels of our nation, Obama has the upper hand.
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