Listen to Democratic Presidential wannabe Hillary Rodham Clinton speak and you notice one word dominates most of what she says.
No, the word is not “change.” The word is “I.”
The same word comes out of her husband’s mouth like so much verbal diarrhea.
Now listen to the speeches of challenger Barack Obama, the man who threatens to ruin their plan of another four-to-eight years of free rent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
His most often-used word is “we,” not “I.”
It could be a difference in speechwriters. Or it could be a difference in philosophies. This could be the “we” versus “me” campaign.
When South Carolina voters kicked Hillary and Bill’s collective butts Saturday, she was too busy to give a concession speech so she sent him in her place.
But Bill’s ego is even bigger than Hillary’s so he spent most of the co-called concession speech using the “I” word. In fact, he talked more about himself than his wife and she is supposedly the one running for President.
When Hillary finally got around to speaking Saturday night from Memphis she delivered her standard stump speech, using “I” 41 times.
You might call it a question of style. Maybe. Maybe not. In a crowded Presidential field where so much candidate rhetoric is centered on a candidate’s ego, the simple but subtle substitution of “we” versus “me” might explain why Obama’s words hit home with voters.
You can’t talk of unity and consensus building when you start every sentence with “I will.” You can’t claim to want to build bridges across political divides when so much of the rhetoric is a partisan attack.
America is a bitter, troubled, divided nation – torn apart by polarizing political partisanship. It cannot, and will not, begin to heal as long as the debate on so many important issues is obscured by partisan blinders and philosophical inflexibility.
Obama risked the wrath of lockstep Democrats by daring to suggest that former President Ronald Reagan brought change to this nation. Reagan did bring a change of tide to America at a time when such a change was needed. The question is not if you agreed or disagreed with his ultra-conservative philosophies – and many of us did not – it was whether or not you felt good about this country. Reagan instilled a sense of pride that was needed after Watergate and fours years of Jimmy Carter malaise.
We can argue until the cows come home over whether or not Bill Clinton was a good President but admirers and detractors agree that he and his wife were and are ruthless, take-no-prisoners political warriors who will try to win at any cost. That ruthlessness resurfaced in this primary season and led, in part, to the public repudiation of both Bill and Hillary in South Carolina.
Will that defeat slow down the Clinton juggernaut of hyperbole, ego and dirty politics?
Not likely. It’s too easy to build careers and legacies on the blood of others and the blood will continue to flow right up to that Election Day in November.