Fighting Words with Some More Words

Facing Reality in the Clinton vs. Obama Word War


Senator Barack Obama waves to the crowd in Philadelphia during his speech on race on March 18, 2008 (Tom Gralish/MCT)

Published: April 3, 2008

Barack Obama is certainly one presidential candidate that will be very difficult to forget.  He seems to have everything going for him, from having a very charming, attractive and approachable appeal to being an extremely intelligent individual who is easy to relate to.  If there is one thing Hillary Clinton cannot get over, it would be the senator’s words.  There are many word-related issues the Clinton campaign cannot get over, but should they just end the war over words or do they make a fair argument?

The most popular argument we can very frequently hear Hillary Clinton emphasizing is that she is the candidate with experience, while Barack Obama is the candidate with words.  She tries to make us see that his words are very convincing and everything he says is indeed well said, but we shouldn’t be fooled about who the better candidate is. I think Clinton is very smart to jump on top of the issue in this way, since by pointing out and admitting that Obama’s speeches are superb, and possibly better than hers, we can always have in the back of our heads the fact that experience matters too, and that it, in fact, matters more.  When we hear all that Obama says, we are taken by all the positive energy he disburses and we almost forget about anything else in the world.  Clinton did make fun of Obama’s speeches, portraying them as having a divine-like feel that misled voters into thinking that all their problems will be solved very easily. The fact of the matter is that America faces much more complex issues that won’t go away that easily. “Now I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified. The sky will open. The lights will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect,’ Clinton mocked.  Now that’s what I call fighting words with, well, some more words.  I think her point was very clear to see, and a good one at that.

So sticks and stones may break Clinton’s bones, but words seem to be hurting her even more.  She is apparently quite hung up on them.  Or perhaps Obama’s words, which she feels mislead the public by keeping them away from reality is what is causing her wounds to grow.

Obama’s famous “Yes We Can” slogan and speech has been turned into a music video by musical group “Black Eyed Peas” and has gotten the attention of many young voters.  Since Clinton tries to portray herself as the anti-Obama, her image has taken a very cynical and dark turn into the “No We Can’t” candidate. The slogan has been officially tagged onto her by our famous comedians of the day.  Once again, Obama’s powerful words backfire against Clinton.

His most recent speech about racism has been thought of as the speech that will get the credit for his victory or the blame for his defeat.  The speech was full of powerful words that emphasized his ability to relate to anyone, his being both black and white, and, more importantly, his true care and concern for the well being of our nation.  We know that those words were really powerful, but only time will tell which candidate that speech gave power to.  We fail to look properly into the past and see for ourselves what each of the candidates has done to help make America a better place.  We are all about the here and now.   What is that fantastic Obama saying now?  Even though I’m so depressed about the economy, when Obama says “Yes We Can,” I feel like I can do anything.  Let’s not be this way.  It’s not healthy, practical or smart.  I think words are very important, but I feel we should not let them cloud our sense of judgment.  I don’t think we should ever let anything, including Obama’s charm and good looks, cloud our sense of judgment.  Let’s cut out all of that stuff and look at experience.  Put Obama’s resume right next to Clinton’s. Let’s compare them and fill the position based on that.  Let’s face it that is how it works in the real world. We can’t stay in Obama’s fantasy land forever.

Another word-related war was when Clinton argued during the Ohio debate that she was always usually given the first question, which gave Obama more time to formulate better responses to them.  Clinton’s cry for justice backfired on her once again when news anchors, comedians and the Obama campaign began to ridicule this comment and classify it as close to insane.  I think the woman still had a point, even if it seems like an unimportant one.  Plus, if Obama is a word master, I’m sure he can handle the more pressing questions, and earlier at that.  Comedy sketch shows also picked up on the possibility of injustice with questions when during a sketch on SNL, Obama’s character was asked if he wanted a pillow, while Clinton’s character was asked more serious and challenging questions.  Clinton made light of this in the debate and sarcastically argued that maybe we should ask Barack if he wants a pillow.  Sure, the words that come out of each of the candidate’s mouths are important, but I think it is fair to say that the questions we ask them and the issues we make them discuss should also be of great importance.  There has been too much talk of Obama getting a free pass for more than one reason, and I don’t think this should go unnoticed.

The most controversial argument over Obama’s words was when Clinton accused Obama of plagiarism by basically lifting a speech from right underneath its author.  We all know about the existence of speech writers, but Clinton’s argument was that if all you have are words, then they might as well be your own and not someone else’s.  Obama wrote off the argument as a ridiculous attempt to bring him down since the author was a friend of his and specifically asked him to use the speech.

Clinton claims that words are just words, and she can do more even though he might be saying more.  But right now words are mainly all we have to go off of.  We could look at their resumes to try and make a more educated decision, but unfortunately many Americans find that kind of approach too boring and less appealing than determining who said the better comeback phrase or insult and who looked sexier saying their speech.  I wish that we could run trial presidencies to see who would indeed make the better president, but things do not work that way.  We might be letting the better candidate go just because she cannot create the wonderland of words that we are so eagerly looking to be fooled with. We just might be letting words cloud our sense of judgment and make us forget that actions always speak louder.  Obama’s words might seem more convincing and may whisk us away into a utopian dreamland, but Clinton’s experience is more promising and will lead us into the best reality we can live in.  I’d pick reality over fantasy any day.  After the elections are over, no matter who we choose to be our president, we will be living in reality because Obama can’t really walk on water like they say he can and he certainly cannot make any miracles happen.