MD has a post about Obama in which he writes the following:
Obama seems to be a decent person with good character. But my problem with his candidacy (note, candidacy and not the man) is that a vote for him is a vote for a symbol rather than a vote for a person.
This is my hunch, anyway. The proof would be the in the pudding. Ask your average Democrat voter why they are voting for Obama, specifically. Are the answers vague (change, new politics, hope) or are they specific?
This meme that Obama is an empty shell that anyone can project their hopes and dreams too (i.e. he’s light on policy) I’d like to address. For the record, I’m an independent–so technically I don’t count as your average Democrat voter but I thought I’d give some specifics as to why I am voting for him (assuming he gets the nomination. If it’s Hillary vs. McCain I’m considering abstaining though I haven’t made up my mind on that front).
Obama is a liberal–he is not an empty shell. He’s more liberal than I am to be sure, but between the remaining three (sorry Mike Huckabee), Hillary, Obama, and McCain he is the one I’m most comfortable in charge of the executive branch.
Here is the link to Obama’s Issues Page on his website, with blue papers and policy proposals, more than you probably would ever want.
He (Obama) was wise enough to realize that the case for war in Iraq had not been made by the administration and that it would distract from the vital mission in Afghanistan. That judgment has been proved I think demonstrably correct.
Much more after the jump
McCain stated recently that someone who worries about the military’s occupation of Iraq doesn’t understand the military. Well since Army Chiefs of Staff are saying (like Centcom Commander) that the US can not support the current mission in Iraq, I would disagree with the Sen. from Arizona. The military can not sustain the surge and the strategy/goal is unachievable in Iraq whatever the shifts in tactics.
He has discussed more openings with Cuba (as opposed to Hillary and McCain who support the status quo embargo, one of the worst policy decisions I think lasting decades). Here is some video and analysis from Steve Clemons highlighting some of Obama’s thoughts on Latin American Policy. Nice to hear Obama talk about trade agreements–one of the things that does rub me the wrong way in the current Dem race is anti-free trade talk, so hopefully he will push for agreements (e.g. Peru is outstanding).
Hillary voted for the bill authorizing the president to label the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) a very wise foreign policy expert voted against it as did Obama. Obama has made overtures that he would engage the Iranian Regime, a policy I support.
McCain was infamously caught singing “Bomb Bomb Iran” to the tune of Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys. McCain is an uber-hawk and dangerously so. He has not learned the lesson of Iraq and the post 9/11 world: the military can not solve all problems. McCain’s rhetoric on Russia has been intemperate at best, destructive at worst. McCain, someone whom I thought was an interesting candidate in 2000, has increasingly freaked me out with his hawkish tone.
–Health Care. I like the fact that his policy does not involve a mandate. His economic adviser Austan Goolsbee from UChicago, has emphasized policies different from Clinton’s in terms of incentives.
–National Infrastructure Bank. (Details here). Much needed in my view.
–Campaigned to repeal Bush Tax Cuts. Can not cut taxes in a time of war and then worst of all massively increase federal discretionary spending as the current President has.
The change, new politics issue.
Hillary, even in sympathetic bios (like Carl Bernstein’s), has a history of secrecy (think Hillary Care ’92 debacle) and a difficulty with the truth–e.g. her tortured explanation of her Iraq War Vote. That worries me in an increasingly powerful executive branch.
McCain has a very nasty temper and can be rash in decision making. Again worrisome. McCain yesterday voted against the waterboarding ban (for the CIA–he supports it for the Army). Not good in my book.
Obama strikes me as more cool and rational. He does represent the end of the Boomer era of politics, and that I think is a legitimate reason (when coupled with others) to support him. I’m tired of elections that are about the 1960s and Vietnam. Those events were so searing that people essentially ended up on one side or the other of the divide largely unable to discourse with their opponents in an irenic manner.
Obama by luck of birth is not burdened with that baggage.
I’m also tired of institutional establishment figures in politics–i.e. McCain and Hillary. These latter two represent the past and are not up to the complexities of the 21st century. I sense the country is ready for a less partisan, less ideological, more pragmatic turn in politics. Obama will no doubt make mistakes, but generally I think he has a much better vision for the future and a sense of where the US needs to go.
He does not hate Republicans/conservatives as Hillary does; he simply disagrees with them. As someone who is normally a moderate Republican who is furious with the current Republican leadership, this appeals to me–again I realize he is more liberal than I am–in a way that Hillary, whom I otherwise think is a very smart politician, does not. The Clintons have also really turned me off to them with their shenanigans during the Democratic primary race. I simply don’t want the drama back in the limelight.
The empty shell/hope issue aside, it is impressive to me that Obama has brought so many people into the electoral process who otherwise would not be participating. That I think is good for a democracy no matter which side one supports in the election.
But no he is not the Messiah nor is he the Anti-Christ. He’s a politician. The Presidency is insane, and I have no understanding why anyone on earth would dare run for the position. But since he is, he seems the best of the candidates in my mind. The problems in the US and around the world are not going to disappear if and when he is elected President. It’s not magic.
The current president has left him a Jimmy Carter style denouement. I think he would bring a Reagan-esque style of optimism, which doesn’t again in and of itself solve problems, but I do think the medium and the manner in which the communication takes place and the mood matters. Not absolutely so, but it does matter.
He could certainly use more townhall style meetings and less rallies. Though again debates and townhall meetings are not predictive of or in any way parallel to the running of the Executive Branch.
He is starting to do that apparently, at least in Wisconsin he has. I have to say I’m not particularly concerned about his stance towards the MSM (whom I have no great love for) for which he has received some criticism. McCain plays them like the tools they are by inviting them in and appearing so forthright. I don’t begrudge McCain that fact, he’s being smart. Obama is more distanced from them. The only way that would ever change is if the MSM got some integrity and actually were I don’t know journalists and fulfilled their role in society, as opposed to infotainment peddlers.
But sure no doubt there are people who are on the hope train and will have their hopes dashed. Voters are not by and large rational beings. Though relative to right-wing talking points, plenty of voters in 2002/2004 were basically played into fear-based voting on the terrorism issue, expertly used by the Republican Party. So comparatively hope or fear, I’d rather choose hope in terms of political platitudes. At least as illusions go, it speaks to the better side of human beings.
So hopefully that’s specifics enough.
Feel free in the comments to agree, disagree, rip my logic to shreds, whatever.