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Potomac Primary: Don't Answer That Question

The candidate was more than an hour late, and the crowd, stuck in a stuffy high school gym in Arlington, was getting antsy. A campaign staffer took the stage with a big pile of T-shirts to give to those who answered trivia questions about Hillary Clinton.

Her birthplace? Got it. Her law school? Piece of cake. How much of the country would Clinton's health plan cover? "All," came the answer. Okay, final question: "This person is the next president of the United States . . ."

Suddenly, all around me, the bleachers in the Washington-Lee High School gym shook with shouts of "Obama!"

"Oh, no," said Linda Cooper, a Chantilly homemaker and Hillary fan who was sitting next to me. "I guess she doesn't have the young people."

No, she doesn't. Teachers gave Washington-Lee students the option of attending the Clinton rally as a civics lesson, and more than a thousand kids grabbed the chance to see democracy in action. But as much as they appreciated a glance inside the machinery of retail politics and contemporary celebrity, most students seemed far more taken with Barack Obama or John McCain than with the former first lady.

"We're mostly for Obama or apathetic," said Patrick O'Malley, a senior at Yorktown High who considers Clinton "manipulative and underhanded."

"Hillary is so establishment," said Morgan Henry, a junior at Wakefield High who will cast his first vote for Obama. "And I don't want two presidents." He quoted his stepfather's comment that he's for Obama but would switch to McCain if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, "because even though he doesn't agree with McCain on issues, he respects his honesty and integrity."

If there was a certain lack of spirit and cheer for Clinton in the gym throughout the afternoon, it came from two sources: those who really preferred Obama, and those who deeply admire Clinton but recognize that she faces a tough road lined with lots of folks who just don't like her.

"She has had to be tougher because she's a woman," said Cooper, who came to the rally with friends with whom she ran a Girl Scout troop back when the kids were little. "Anytime she shows any emotion, it's viewed as a bad thing. So people see her as wooden. But to us, she's such a powerful symbol."

"I have a daughter, and I'm active in Girl Scouts," said one of Cooper's friends, Carol Cross of Oakton. "It's all about growing woman leadership. And what could be a better example of it than this?"

That enthusiasm was strongest among the middle-age white women who, aside from students, made up the largest contingent at the rally. "She's so smart and so concerned about average people," said Catherine Giovannoni, a lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington. "And I want a woman in the . . . White House. She'll bring a different sensibility. You can see that in her emphasis on health care and education."

Every one of the women I spoke to who avidly support Clinton said they like Obama and would have no problem voting for him in November. But it's also true that among the many Obama supporters I talked to in the gym, well more than half said they would at least consider voting for McCain over Clinton.

"Obama is inspirational," said Giovannoni. "Hillary is what she is -- a smart, powerful woman. And that's not always a positive in this society."

That said, Giovannoni is convinced Clinton can top McCain: "He's an old white guy who says we'll be in Iraq for 100 years and the jobs just aren't coming back. She can beat that."

But many women at the rally questioned whether other Americans share their passion and pride in someone they see as a model working mother. "We loved the Clintons, but I don't know how much everybody else loves her," said Pam Lockridge, a special education teacher at Washington-Lee. "Because of her, girls have hope. That's important. But there has been a change. People want something new. Obama is like the new wine."

The Bible, like American voters, is of two minds about new wine. Luke suggests that the old is good; after all, "No one after drinking old wine desires new wine." But in Matthew and Mark, the emphasis is on putting the new wine into new skins, for the old vessels simply cannot withstand the power of that which is still fermenting.

By Marc Fisher |  February 10, 2008; 6:54 AM ET
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Is It wrong to question the government 2-10-08
Peter Macdonald 465 Packersfalls rd Lee NH 03824 603-659-6217
I have a Dover NH police file on U.S. NH congress woman Shea-Porter having me arrested 7002-942. I have a VA medial record at the Manchester NH VA hospital that I will give the public the right to read. The NH Director of medical care for NH Veterans Mark Levenston stopped my medical care for political self gain. My records are open to any one. I have nothing to hide. I like Shea-Porter I voted for her. I believe she is a caring person. Her view of the Iraq war is my view. I believe President Bush put us in this war for his political legacy. Carol and I differ because I believe she must take care for the people of the state of NH and the U.S. first. I will next week place for the record the letter to the editor she had me arrested even though it did not get printed. It does not matter what the letter said. The people's opinion is by law free speech. Carol when having me arrested this did not meet her needs, she had NH VA doctor Biswas file commitment orders to put me in the nut house to stop my letter. The Dover Wentworth Douglas hospital has a file which I give my permission for any one to read. After a long night at thousands of dollars in cost the order was determined to be with out merit. The VA is telling me that I must pay for this. The VA director saw a chance to make points for political reasons so he stopped my medical care to please a congress woman. I am 100% disabled from injuries received defending this great nation. It is against the law to use a Veteran's medical care to silence free speech. It does not matter what the letter to the editor said. To harm a persons health (anyone) is a crime.
If a elected official does not like the publics free speech about them do they have the right to destroy your health in their efforts to control how you think and speak. The newspapers refused to print my opinion any way. Shea-Porters letter never made the papers. Censorship is rampart. The ethical standards of the news media is censor or alter the opinion of the people to the editors view. Some news reporters say that they want to help me, but my proof is not available. The proof is kicking you in the face. NH takes a 100% disabled veteran's freedom for 6 months before dropping the bogus charges. The news writes articles questioning this disabled Veteran's character in the public eye. The NH state police harass my family at work and home and the news does not care. The police refuse to allow me to file a complaint. The news does not care. The NH governor sells me time to tell him my complaint, he take my money and rejects the visit.
I have volunteered every day helping people that I do not even know since I came back in 1974. I have violated no laws. My life changed when I lost my health defending this great nation. What is happening here is wrong. (against the law) When what NH and the U.S. does to Veterans happens to some one you love then it is to late because your boat will be sinking as mine is now. Veterans give their lives for your freedom. You speak highly of veterans until they ask you for help. The proof exists read it.
Peter Macdonald Sgt USMC Semper Fi

Posted by: Peter Macdonald | February 10, 2008 10:16 AM

Across Generations, Even My Mama Likes Obama

We know for certain that real change does not mean drinking a new flavor of Kool-Aid and calling it champagne, or sustaining another cycle of Clinton and Bush political dynasties. Moreover, the passive-aggressive political attack and smear strategy of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband revealed their true integrity and political values. Senator Barack Obama's campaign, ideas, issues and movement affirms that America is overdue and poised for a new political paradigm. This is the essence of genuine change.

Thankfully, as an Independent, I am free to be more discerning about the details and substance behind any candidate's platform, plans and principles. On those benchmarks, and as an eyewitness and hands-on political activist, Mr. Obama scores higher than any candidate I've known or voted for in either party in the last 35 years. For my mother, it's been a 7-decade reality check about American politics and the hope for genuine change.

Moreover, even as a vice presidential choice, I'm genuinely fearful that Mrs. Clinton's political value system, lack of integrity, sense of entitlement and win-at-any-cost personal ambition will enable her to undermine real and effective change in an Obama Administration. The smear and voter suppression tactics in New Hampshire, Nevada and beyond are proof of her values. Another family franchise co-presidency or aristocracy is an additional corruption of true democracy -- also known as status quo politics.

I have concluded that the success of Senator Obama's candidacy is more than just about change, but is actually a positive paradigm shift in how we see ourselves as Americans and our true potential as a united nation. As such, District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia voters of every political persuasion should think hard, smart and be fully confident about the qualifications and ascendancy of Barack Hussein Obama to President of the United States.

Dennis Moore, Chairperson
District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control Party

Posted by: Dennis Moore DCICC | February 10, 2008 12:17 PM

I can't get past "I have a daughter and I'm active in the girl scouts..."

Posted by: Meeg | February 11, 2008 3:02 PM

This is one of your sillier columns. Typical Washington Post advertisement for Obama. It is like the column Dana Milbank did when Clinton had 8000 people in downtown DC and he focused on three tired children.

Clinton will most likely lose these three primaries and they don't mean much at all. Obama will get a delegate advantage of a few delegates and we will move on to the really important primaries in Texas, Ohio and PA. The total delegates up for grabs in the District are 15 and the total for the area are 139. Together Texas, Ohio and PA have 600.

Then reading Dennis Moore's nonsense, he writes diatribes against Fenty and anyone else he doesn't like at the moment and pretends he runs an organization when it is all him, and he speaks for no one but himself. The party he claims to lead is his own. He is the citizen and I guess he would like to Control things. Actually the only Independent on the City Council today endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: peterdc | February 11, 2008 4:22 PM

Wakeup and Smell the Political Paradigm Shift

Amazingly blogger "peterdc" above is a typical example of the obvious and subliminal message coming from the candidate he supports, and myopic District critics. Mrs. Clinton's dismissive arrogance in not even acknowledging and thanking the voters that did support her in states she lost to Mr. Obama underscores the basis of recent and upcoming campaign failures. Though "peterdc" and his candidate believe and behave as if these voters "don't mean much at all," this disrespect will come back to haunt them before the Democratic Convention in Denver. A more enlightened "peterdc" would understand that every primary matters, not just the "really important primaries."

As for me, as chairperson for the District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control Party (a certified DCBOEE registered political party), I "speak for" and effectively advocate on behalf of more citizens and D.C. voters than "peterdc" will ever get to know in his lifetime. FACT: Independents (registered, unregistered and officially undeclared) are the largest and fastest growing electorate in the District, and throughout the U.S. Though he characterizes my straight talk on diverse District governance and socioeconomic issues as "nonsense," the results of the DCICC's activism during this and future D.C. election years will be clear evidence that will make sense.

Lastly, "peterdc" should attempt to be more discerning and fully informed. D.C. councilmember David Catania is an "Independent" in label only. His legislative actions, political pronouncements and D.C. Council arrogance toward testifying citizens have resulted in him being worthy of replacement. His advocacy on behalf of stadium and condo developers, and legislative lobbying for drug companies doing business with D.C. government, are indicative of his Republican special interest legacy.

Just because a Democrat or Republican cannot sustain support from their own party and a broad constituency, doesn't make them a qualified Independent. There are significant core beliefs and principles at the foundation of our platform on numerous governance, socioeconomic, legislative and fiscal policies. Hopefully, "peterdc" will take a little time to do his homework beginning at our website:

Dennis Moore, Chairperson
District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control Party

Posted by: Dennis Moore DCICC | February 13, 2008 6:38 PM

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