January 27, 2008

Obama looks to America's future

My vote in the Florida presidential preference primary will go to Sen. Barack Obama. In every presidential election from George McGovern in 1972 to John Kerry in 2004, I have voted for Democrats over Republicans - but no vote of mine has ever reflected as much conviction and optimism as the one I am casting for Sen. Obama Tuesday, January 29. (I voted by absentee ballot several days ago.)

Nearly a year ago, February 19, 2007, I ranked the major contenders’ chances of becoming the 2008 Democratic Party’s nominee for president:
1- Gore, 2- Obama, 3- Clinton, 4- Edwards, 5- Richardson, 6-Dodd.

Except for the absence of Al Gore in the race, my perceptions and expectations have changed little in the past year. Admittedly, politics is not Gore's strong suit, as I recognized at the time. (Take Lieberman. Please.) But if we could get inside the 2000 standard-bearer's head and heart, we might find that he shunned the 2008 race because of his intimate knowledge of the Clintons’ political survival skills. It has become obvious in recent weeks of the campaign that Bill and Hillary would have done to Gore what they have done to Obama. Perhaps in remaining clear of the fray, Gore put the country and his party ahead of personal ambition and the bloodletting that would have split Democrats and handed the White House to a Bush clone, regardless of who won the Democratic nomination.

The "ready on day one" candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, has demonstrated a level of cynicism that should preclude her from ever seeing day one of a Hillary presidency. Her husband defined the "Clinton doctrine" last week: Run every race as if it's your last because if you don't, it could be your last. Translation: Win today at any cost, then worry tomorrow about staunching the wounds.

I have supported and defended Bill and Hillary Clinton since 1992, despite my disagreements with them on many policy issues. After viewing the first couple of presidential debates, I was leaning strongly toward Hillary because of her demonstrated knowledge of the issues, although I still questioned her judgment on the most critical issue of our time – the Iraq War. In the past three weeks, however, she has lost whatever support I had for her, and I see no chance of her ever regaining it.

When the Iowa caucuses made Hillary's nomination less than inevitable, the Clintons pulled out the old reliable playbook of fear, division and intimidation. South Carolina rejected that strategy, but the stage has been set for future primaries where voters have not witnessed the tactics close up, and where name recognition and the economy of the 1990’s give her a distinct advantage, deserved or not. The Clintons will dismiss their own underhanded tactics as hardball politics, yesterday’s news, media eruptions or manipulation by the Obama campaign. They will attempt to bring the competition down to their level. As Hillary quipped following a heated exchange at the last debate, “We’re just warming up.” Coming from a woman who spent the past 33 years sparring with Bill Clinton, that’s a warning to take seriously. But ready to be president on day one? No.

Sen. John Edwards has added an edge to his stump speech and honed his message, yet he has not become a serious contender. If he wants to see a Democrat in the White House, and I believe that he does, he should at some point make a deal with Obama to deny the nomination to Clinton. He could accomplish more as Attorney General, or another office of his choice, than he could as a gadfly without a portfolio. If by chance Edwards himself becomes the party nominee, I would support him again, as I did in 2004. This year, however, I am supporting another candidate.

Sen. Barack Obama is my choice for president because he possesses the skills and abilities to unite the country in ways that no other candidate can. He is by no means a perfect man - and he makes no claim that he will know everything on day one - but he demonstrates an expansive grasp of the issues, the good sense to bring people together for a common purpose, and the judgment to make wise decisions on matters of monumental significance, like going to war. As no other leader has done since the 1960’s, Barack Obama engenders hope for a brighter future. I trust him when he speaks, and I believe in his potential to achieve great things for this country. That’s all I can ask.


oddjob said...

The Clintons will dismiss their own underhanded tactics as hardball politics, yesterday’s news, media eruptions or manipulation by the Obama campaign.

That's what the Bushes always do, too.

Maheanuu Tane said...

I preferred Kucinich, as I believe that he is one of the very few honest people in government. Obama ran a very close second, but when Dennis dropped out, I switched allegiance to Barak and only hope that he can persevere. I will not only vote for him, but will campaign for him..

My only hope is that he will bring these morsels of feces to justice and rid us of the dogma that is now dragging us down the drain..

Just this old chief's 2¢

Aikäne said...

Oddjob, you're right... pages ripped straight from the playbook of W. and Turdblossom.

Maheanuu Tane, I liked Kucinich too. My hope is that Obama gets the chance to lead. If he can't win outright, perhaps there's still a chance of combining forces with Edwards (fingers crossed) to stop Hillary. She's fine as another "hard worker" - in the Senate - but not as an inspiring leader for the country. The Clintons are fully aware of her limitations, as their tactics have demonstrated so blatantly in recent days.

Paul Nichols said...

I don't know if you remember me from our slight sparring over at Blondesense back in '04, but I check back from time to time to see what "your side" thinks of a particular issue.

I like your post on Obama, and naturally, I'm against the Dems, but I have to admit that Obama's "likeability" factor is pretty high. And of course, his wife is just peachy.

I understand the attractiveness of Obama, but my question (still) is what "change" is he talking about? What does he want to do? His campaign hasn't touched on any of that yet. I'm hoping that he does, because if this really is the year of the Dems, I pray it's Obama and not Hillary.

And I like your theory on Edwards - I was thinking that this was why he was hanging in the race. If it's tight, he can broker his delegates. Make for an interesting season.

Aikäne said...

Hi Paul. Yes, I remember, and thanks for dropping in. I hope you will keep an eye on Obama and consider voting for him in the fall if he wins the nomination. :-)

Regarding "change," the Republican candidates are promising a continuation of Bush-Cheney's disastrous policies, so it's not surprising that all the Democrats are promising change. Hillary would bring a change in policies but not in divisive politics. Obama and Edwards promise change in both policies and politics. I voted for Edwards in the 2004 primary, but I believe that Obama is the leader most likely to succeed in changing the approach to problem solving and uniting the country in shared goals.

The charge being made, that Obama provides no specifics for change, is little more than a slick campaign tactic used by his opponents. For example, Hillary attacks him because his "specific" health care proposals differ from her proposals. She attacks him on offering "specific" suggestions for solving the Social Security shortfalls, yet refuses to offer her own solutions until she becomes president. To accuse Edwards of not being specific - while attacking him on the basis of specifics - is quite a trick.

Obama inspires hope, both in his personal story, his vision and his oratory. To raise the question of specifics, mainly because speeches of inspiration and hope are, by necessity, not burdened with minutiae, is another attempt to diminish him and his message. Opponents would like to turn one of his major strengths - a power to move people that they lack - against him by misleading voters into assuming there's no substance behind the speeches.

No surprise they would fall back on their own strengths - minimizing the opponent's assets and leadership skills. They can't deny the great speeches, so they claim he lacks substance; they can't deny him a major victory in SC, so they remind voters that another black man also won there in the 1980's, although those caucuses had little in common with the 2008 primary - other than the color of the candidate's skin. That brand of politics can only be changed by electing candidates who don't practice it.

Paul Nichols said...

As much as all of us have to admit that Obama is one heckuva likeable guy, he just comes across as being too much of the socialist stripe.

I don't believe that I have to tear the rich guy down in order to succeed myself. That sort of argument just turns me off.

But that doesn't mean the Rep's are not full of crap also....

Aikäne said...

Amen to that last sentence. :-)

When I hear Republicans rail against "socialism" and "class warfare," I always remind myself that these are the same people who applaud borrowing billions of dollars from the Chinese to conduct an endless war and occupation in Iraq, creating a debt that threatens future generations.

At the same time, they oppose spending a fraction of that amount on roads, bridges, education, health care and providing a safety net to the neediest of their own countrymen.

oddjob said...

my question (still) is what "change" is he talking about? What does he want to do? His campaign hasn't touched on any of that yet.

Go to his campaign website for policy proposal specifics. I haven't myself, but I've read in more than one place online that the website has them posted.

Aikäne said...

The Clintons are attempting to run the Mondale "where's the beef?" campaign which, if Hillary wins the nomination, could yield a similar election result to Mondale's in 1984

The Clintons and Republicans, sharing the same old campaign strategies, want to raise doubts that any candidate can embody simultaneously both intellectualism and idealism, specific details and insipiration - abilities that Obama has demonstrated, abilities that both Hillary and McCain lack.

When it comes to details, specific differences exist between Clinton and Obama: Hillary's Iraq vote is the same as McCain's, yet she wants to sell the idea that she, rather than Obama, is "the one" to end the war. That tactic should work as effectively as Kerry's changing positions in 2004 - and he was running against George Bush, a man with none of McCain's credibility on military matters.

Hillary wants to make universal, mandated health insurance her major issue, yet neither she nor Obama will be able to get anything enacted without the cooperation of Congress - including compromises - so that's a false choice she presents between her plans and Obama's. Either of them is better on health care than Republicans, and they will need to work together, regardless of which of them wins the nomination.