What to do? The primary is tomorrow and trying to figure out which candidate to vote for leaves me feeling like a ping pong ball.

I don’t want to be a single issue voter, but the health care issue looms large in my mind, and from what I can gather, Hillary’s plan is better. Paul Krugman, who deserves the mantle of “expert” on this issue, tells us that an M.I.T. health care economist has studied the plans of both candidates and concluded that Clinton’s will cover far more people:

Mr. Gruber finds that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year. An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured – essentially everyone – at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Over all, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.

Krugman understands that if Clinton is president, she won’t necessarily be able to get her plan enacted, but he feels that because Obama has badmouthed mandates, his words will be used against him:

If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance – nobody knows how big – that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.

On the other hand, let me mention some of Hillary’s negatives: Republicans hate her and will turn out in droves to vote against her. She’ll hurt downticket races in Missouri. Furthermore, her stands on several issues are troubling–and then some. She backed the invasion of Iraq and has refused to say that she regrets it or that she will get most of our troops out quickly. She votes for NAFTA type treaties and for H1B visas–both job killers for Americans.

Obama, in contrast, has a history as a community activist in Illinois, and still speaks about economic justice. Clark reported these sentiments from Barack’s speech in St. Louis Saturday night:

From coverage of Obama, you get the sense that he only deals in airy slogans and abstractions, but he gave plenty of policy details and personal stories in his speech last night. He talked about closing Guantanamo and restoring habeas corpus (to the biggest applause of the night short of the last swell of his speech,) and he had a lot of specifics in his domestic agenda, like a $4000 tuition credit for every college student who commits to community service, tax breaks for Americans who make under $75,000/year and a minimum wage increase indexed to inflation.

Still, if you want to talk about policy problems, consider that Obama is lured  (being from a coal producing state) by the possibility of “clean” coal, when he should be talking about a new infrastructure of wind mills and solar energy. Not that I hear Hillary speaking out on the issue of energy independence. They’re both weak, as far as I can see, on the most important issue on the planet, global warming.

But, let’s bat the ping pong ball back across the net, and note that Obama is strong on campaign finance reform. Hillary isn’t.

As far as the issues go, I just keep bouncing back and forth. There is one more area to consider, though, and that is how these two strike voters and how well they might stand up to the Republican smear machine.

We know how much Republicans hate Hillary, but at least she’s thoroughly vetted. They’re not going to find anything new about her. I’m not saying Barack has any skeletons to hide, but he just hasn’t been as thoroughly investigated–for fifteen years! And consider that the Republicans haven’t yet started trying to make Americans hate this black man. Please don’t kid yourselves about how vicious they’ll be. They’ll make the Willie Horton ads against Dukakis look like hugs and kisses.

And unfortunately, some of the Democrats will refuse to vote for Obama. Racism still runs deep in this country.

Finally, I’ve always thought of Hillary as a triangulating manipulator. Her war stance gave me that impression. But at least I feel that if Republicans go after her, she’ll stand straight and tell them where to take their nonsense.

One more bounce of the ball: Obama inspires hope, but he may be too nice. His willingness to echo Republican talking points about the problem with health care mandates makes me wonder if I can depend on him to stand strong against them.  

That ought to do it, don’t you think? Surely, I’ve said enough by now to make supporters of both candidates come wailing and gnashing their teeth at how I’ve misrepresented their guy or gal.