One of the major tenets of the Hillary Clinton Campaign was her "Ready on Day One" speech/line/slogan. It has become something of a talking point for all of the candidates, even if it is rarely mentioned explicitly. I'd just like to take a moment to look at this statement for each of the candidates still in the race (sorry, Ralph Nader doesn't count).
Hillary Clinton Ms. Clinton made "Ready on Day One" a part of her stump speech for much of her campaign, and the line still shows up from time to time. The process of the political campaign itself has belied this statement, however. A true leader who is ready to be president would also be ready/prepared to run a political campaign. The Clinton campaign took a daunting lead from a year ago and appears to be in the process of turning it into a primary loss. Clinton had the advantage of the backing of the Democratic political establishment, the donor list from her husband's presidency, and very high name recognition from her prior position as First Lady. She also had strong feminist backing as the first politically viable woman candidate for president.
What has happened since then has been a string of losses and messes brought about by a warring internal campaign staff, which finally culminated in the booting of Mark Penn this past week (I believe this was highly politically motivated, but more about that later). The Clinton campaign is deeply in debt, trying to bend every rule possible in their favor to salvage a poorly run campaign, and along the way has increased the negative ratings for Hillary Clinton in terms of likability and trustworthiness.
Hillary Clinton presides over her campaign, and is ultimately responsible for the management of it. Fiscally the campaign has been very irresponsible and blew excessive amounts of money on non-necessities early on. It has had to endure a public loan from the candidate herself, and at times working on a shoestring since Super Tuesday while waiting for donations to catch up. It has also allowed significant debt to roll over month to month to improve its cash on hand numbers. This allows the campaign to look more healthy than it is.
If this is the sort of fiscal and management responsibility we could expect from her as a president, then there is no conscionable justification for voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
John McCain John McCain's campaign was dead in the water in November of 2007. He was broke and had suffered major internal turmoil amongst staffers. He retooled the campaign and fought back from behind the scenes to take New Hampshire. He has marched onward through Romney, Thompson, Guliani, et. al. to the Republican Nomination. Still it is very clear from statements McCain himself has made that he knows little about the economy. McCain is a throwback in that he will be a President for the Military-Industrial Complex. He cavalierly joked about bombing Iran in a stump speech last year "Bomb Iran" sung to the tune of the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann". Have people forgotten about this?
Now I am all for a strong military. I also believe that you do what you can to avoid a fight as long as it doesn't weaken you. Name calling, posturing, etc. is all standard playground behavior, and doesn't necessarily call for a violent response (there are multiple levels to diplomacy that can take care of many things). When a punch is thrown or a weapon is drawn by your adversary, then the rules of diplomacy go out the window. At that point it is a matter of survival, and you use whatever tools are at your disposal to win.
John McCain, like George Bush, believes in preemptively taking out the bully. While there are circumstances where this may be justifiable, in general it is a very poor approach. Combine the extremely hawkish nature of McCain with the lack of an economic grasp in the middle of a major economic downturn, and McCain is very much not the right candidate.
Barack Obama Barack Obama is the wild card in this race. For some it's a simply matter that he is neither of the other two candidates. He is not an establishment candidate in the traditional sense. He is speaking to the country at a time of economic uncertainty that comes after a major expansion (very similar circumstances to when JFK took office). He brings a positive message of what we can be as a nation instead of pointing out what we aren't. There are perhaps legitimate questions about his readiness for the presidency, but in a field where none of the three remaining candidates can claim real experience that qualifies them for the presidency (being a POW, or picking out the china patterns and curtains for the White House do not prepare one for the presidency) this is a moot point.
The campaign of Barack Obama is a very telling representation of the man as candidate. I am not talking about the slogans or stump speeches, but about the organizational completeness of the campaign. The Obama campaign has been on the ground in every contested state earlier and with greater organization than Clinton, McCain or any of the other erstwhile candidates. The level of detail in campaign management bespeaks of a man who has put together a crack team of talented managers, but political and real world managers, who have helped keep the campaign on track for many months now. The campaign was able, for the first time, to harness the power of the internet in the political process. They have brought millions of new voters into the political process for the first time, and have excited an electorate that had until this year only shown up to vote less than 40% of the time.
Obama has also shown the ability to rise up at times of peril and soothe the wounds (like with the Reverend Wright fiasco). He has also benefited from timely missteps by the Clinton campaign. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt who is better prepared from an organizational management standpoint.
And what is the Presidency, if not the manager of one of the largest organizations in the world?