Last year I wrote that I wouldn’t say any­thing more about Obama unless I had to.

Yeah, well.

The Dem pri­maries are really bring­ing out a stack of ugly, aren’t they? Apart from the locker-​​room think­ing that goes toward dis­parag­ing Edwards or Kucinich, we’ve got the usual gang of inbreds and their com­ments on Clinton and Obama. It’s funny, in a wretched gut-​​twisting sort of way, to see the right wing care­fully step­ping through their self-​​laid mine­field of misog­yny, sex­ism and racism as they try to find legit­i­mate rea­sons to dis­like the lead run­ners. It seems that, to them, the race has become all about gen­der and color.

But as Pam has pointed out, this isn’t hap­pen­ing with just the right wing. We know that cretins such as Limbaugh and Coulter are going to sav­age any­one in the Dem camp — it’s their rai­son d’être — and we know that they’re going to use the veiled (and not-​​so-​​) lan­guage of priv­i­lege in order to accom­plish it. Seeing it hap­pen from the left as well is sim­ply shabby.

There are legit­i­mate rea­sons to have qualms about either can­di­date; for instance, Clinton voted in favor of attack­ing Iraq, and Obama gen­uinely is a lit­tle green (though, to be hon­est, there’s sim­ply no way in hell he could do a worse job than the inbred care­taker at 1600 Penna Ave right now, but that could also be said of Clinton). I’d rather see Edwards and Kucinich get­ting more atten­tion, because it seems to me that they’re closer to the mark in terms of what the nation actu­ally wants — but hey, this is our polit­i­cal American Idol, innit? So we can’t count on being right win­ning out.

But when qualms become covert attacks — par­tic­u­larly racist ones, or fear­mon­ger­ing ones, or attacks that try to make an issue of some­thing that’s already been dis­cussed openly and in pub­li­ca­tion — it makes it a hell of a lot eas­ier to knock out of the run­ning the can­di­date whose cam­paign appears to be sup­port­ing the tac­tics. For me, that shoves Clinton to the back of the line, I’m afraid.

It’s bad enough that we’ve got one major polit­i­cal party using the tac­tics of big­otry. It’s bad enough that the other major party is so con­cep­tu­ally lim­ited that it won’t even do what the elec­torate is demand­ing of it and impeach the sin­gle worst, most dis­hon­est, most uneth­i­cal pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion in American his­tory. When that party resorts to the very strate­gies employed by its rivals, it’s clear that the process in the US is not sim­ply bro­ken, but actu­ally metasta­tic and prob­a­bly beyond hope.

America is an empire in decline. Our hey­day passed some­time in the 1950s (the early 1950s), when we had a chance to actively and mate­ri­ally improve the sta­tus of the entire damn planet but chose instead to pour all our resources into a damned-​​fool cold war and big­ger! faster! more waste­ful! cars. (Oh, and attack the odd nation or two that we didn’t like for some made-​​up rea­son or other.) Rather than remain a shin­ing bea­con on the hill, we sucked our­selves into a decades-​​long delu­sion of enti­tled supremacy.

That delu­sion was never valid, and those who were lied to all their lives are mad as hell now that they’re being awak­ened by real­ity, and pretty much all of them are still Bush sup­port­ers. Unfortunately that 25% or so of the US pop­u­la­tion still has far too much sway in domes­tic and inter­na­tional decisionmaking.

The only way — the only way — we can remain rel­e­vant into this cen­tury is to lose all of our arro­gance, learn to get along with the neigh­bors (this is the rest of the planet, you know, not just Canada and Mexico) and start ask­ing how we can help instead of impos­ing our will on nations which, increas­ingly, don’t par­tic­u­larly want to have any­thing to do with us.

And until we get some­one in either party — or any party — who’s will­ing to actu­ally say these things in a pub­lic forum, we’re going to con­tinue our degen­er­at­ing spi­ral, left and right wings bro­ken, until we slam into the ground with pre­dictable and final results.

Update: I’m not sure how to feel that Harold Bloom and I seem to be in sync on the empire-​​in-​​decline front.

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