Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's the Deal?

A number of people I like and respect passionately support Senator Obama for the Democratic nomination for President. I don't see why.

He is, by all accounts, a terrific speaker/ campaigner, and he is telling us something we want very much to believe; we can work our way out of this disaster together (the last seven years or the last thirty: your choice). Last Autumn, just before the selection process began in earnest, I hoped so, too. I do believe this nation is deeply, seriously off course, for reasons that have become legion: torture, wiretapping, the erosion of production, an economy based on one real estate bubble after another and vast debt, unnecessary invasion and occupation of whatever country the idiot damned well feels like, the stalking terror of illness, and so, on and on.

We need change, and need it desperately: absolutely. What change?

Brzezinski as Sec. of State or again as National Security Advisor, as under Carter? Going back far enough is change of a sort, I suppose. An incremental approach to health care to put more of the burden on the sick? Not much change there. National Security policy seems to be mostly open options, or a blank slate.

Given the alternative of a traumatized ex-fighter jock with a legendary temper who's spent the last quarter-century in lobbyists' pockets, Mr. Hundred Years' War, whose a F***in Republican besides, I suppose I must hope that Obama is better than than I've been able to sense thus far, especially in the last six months.

How 'bout a little help, friends? Please, no links to long news items or cheerful statements about how so many young people are back in the process and especially no BS about making nice with the Republicans across the aisles; my memory is not that short, or that bad. Why, in general policy terms, do you believe Obama will be a good President? Hell, for now, even half-way decent: no more incompetent, well-meaning outsiders, please.

I'm serious; I need this.


spincitysd said...

Sorry you have already seen the arguments his supporters give at TGW. That is what they have, that is as good as it gets.

So unless it is close in Connecticut, vote for McKinney if Barack gets the nod.

johnieb said...

Yeah, James, but I have hopes from some of my other crew hereabouts, some of whom I know in person.

Maybe the next lunch in the city?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Johnieb, I don't have great hopes for great change, no matter who is the next president. Our country is so fecked up, that the fix will take a long time. And the Democrats are often too timid to do the hard things that need doing.

So, as of now, our choices are McCain, Clinton, and Obama. I do not want McCain. Clinton's campaign style is looking more despicable every day. She appears to be willing to use any tactics to get votes. Obama seems the least bad. Unfortunately, that is all to often what the choice comes down to, the least bad. I think Obama will be better than Bush, if he is elected.

I had thought that we could not possibly have a worse president than Bush, but if McCain gets to the White House, I believe that he could be worse.

Lindy said...

regarding Barak, you forgot to say that he's pretty. He talks good AND he's pretty.

I like him well enough, I like what he says. I just don't think he can pull it off.

I don't know what people think the President does, or what kinds of experience they imagine one should have but one year in the Senate and some church work isn't it. People who have never worked in government really don't have a clue about what goes on there and I think that is apparent in their belief that the next pretty boy with a good sounding plan will do. I imagine Barak would try real hard... it just wouldn't be enough.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, Obama was in the state legislature in Illinois from 1997 to 2004. The US Senate seems to ruin people for doing anything else besides being a senator - except for becoming a lobbyist, of course. Having said all that, Obama may not be able to pull it off.

Jane R said...

Lindy, you hit the nail on the head. I have been wanting to write a post titled "Would you love Senator Obama as much if he were ugly?" (Never mind that he reminds me of a rather good-looking ex-boyfriend of mine.) I'm not saying all he is is pretty -- there are a lot of things about him that I like (and some about which I wonder -- I wish it were four or eight years from now and he had some more experience on him). But one has to wonder about the aesthetic factor. (For the record, I think Senator Clinton is looking pretty good, too, and she has to deal with the sexism dumped on middle-aged women about their appearance, so we all see her through that lens, even those of us who are middle-aged women.)

This isn't a statement about whom I'm voting for, it's just a comment on the pretty factor.

As for your quandary, JohnieB, I've no wisdom, but I need wisdom as much as you do so I'll come back and check messages and look forward to hearing from those who are more competent and insightful than I on these matters.

P.S. The word verification thingie says "txpee."

klady said...

I spent most of my life in Illinois. I have friends, family, and almost all my work colleagues there. They have been watching Obama for some time, most have even voted for him, but they are not crazy about him. I know of one person who called his office once about one of his non-votes in the legislature (this long before he was a national candidate) and pretty much got a non-answer on something that should have been fairly routine for a supposed liberal.

Some of my Illinois friends are also Jewish, long-time liberal Democrats and have voted for Obama in the past but are concerned about his ties with his supposedly anti-semitic pastor. They understand that they are friends and that he doesn't necessarily agree with everything the pastor says, but there is something uncomfortable about the way he looks up to the man.

There was a recent article on that aspect of Obama is in this past week's New Republic in a Leon Wieseltier column entitled "Oybama." Besides the Jewish angle, what popped out at me was this:

"And there is an awful air of impeccability about Obama, with his peculiar mixture of populism and hauteur: criticism of him is not only wrong, it is also impudent. He regularly waves criticisms away as "silly." He will talk to dictators but not to reporters."

This has been my sense of him for quite some time. I kept hoping I was wrong, but his petulant responses to Hillary's nonsense have been quite disappointing. I think in many ways he is a good man, and probably a lot better than most politicians out there. But aside from his inexperience (and let me note that I do not find anyone's "experience" in the Illinois legislature impressive -- it's kind of hell hole of all political bodies), I think he's been pushed too high too quickly. Yes, he's old enough in years and all that (well maybe not from our perspective, but... well...), but I just don't feel he has a strong grasp of the real world and the nuts and bolts of how one manages and governs in that sense. I hope and pray he will do fine, hit the ground running, so to speak, but it seems as if too many people want him to be some sort of Moses leading us out of the wilderness. That's an awful tall order.

Oops.... I was supposed to talk about why one should support Obama. Well... who else is there? I don't mind Hillary bitching and scrapping in itself but there's no purpose to it anymore and she cannot get elected nationally.

Anyway, everyone I know from Illinois is unenthused about his candidacy, those who voted for him the primary and those who didn't. FWIW.

But Clumber seems to really like him, so maybe there's something I'm missing. I'd actually like very much to be wrong about Obama.

johnieb said...

Very much like my take, Kathy; I keep hoping I'm wrong, and I respect some people who are very strong Obama supporters, but I just don't get it.

clumber said...

But Clumber seems to really like him

Klady may have overestimated my support. I come to support Obama mostly from the back-door, having grown weary of the duplicitous Clinton message. I also have a very solid track record of supporting people (McCarthy, McGovern, Carter, Spitzer, etc etc...) who later turn out to have feet of clay. Maybe it takes a person who is completely deceptive and fraudulent to run the ship of state, and maybe I am a sucker for incompetent people, but in the end I will show up at the polling place and pull the Obama lever again (or perhaps I'll write in Klady for president...)... In truth I'd rather have Kucinich, and yes, I have voted for Nader once too... but the gulf between the reality of politics and the dream of politics may in fact be be unable to be crossed (See also David Harris discussion of polis from many many years ago).

johnieb said...

Again, with the exception of our relative weariness with Clinton, I agree with you, which doesn't do much for my dilemma: sigh.

Nonetheless, A big Woof and a wag for your visit, and the same to the pups!

clumber said...

Thanks... I'm grandpup siting right now. Just did coloured Easter eggs with them. I'm the only one who ended up with dye on me! Go figure!

Anyway, I wish Paul Wellstone was still alive, or Russ Feingold had run, or Barbara Jordan hadn't died from cancer. All good solid politicians who had experience and dreams for America.

Barbara Jordan: What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise.

pj said...

Obama's better than McCain, anyway. Should he get the nomination, I'm voting for him. Same applies to Clinton. I just don't know what the big deal is about either one of them. I think they were both selected for us by the corporate media. White woman vs. African-American man = great narrative for the "journalists." Much easier for the "journalists" than having to delve into those pesky issues.

As for Obama's pastor, I'm not bothered by him at all.

johnieb said...

Yeah; it does remind me of Superbowl or Final Four coverage. To delve into issues, those "journalists" would have to learn something about them, and that's so HARD.

Nothing for something; it's the Murikan way.

Better than McCain!!? Think of what you're saying, woman; McCain is a Repiglikkin. A dead rat in a dumpster is better than McCain.

Diane said...

I know this is an old post, and that nobody will probably read it, but my 2 cents is this: Obama did not do "some church work." Community organizing is not "church work." There is such a thing as "church based organizing" but please do not confuse it with "church work." Community organizing is grass roots radical democracy. I don't know if it will work on a national level, but community organizing teaches people how to change their own communities through banding together on issues that they care about. It teaches that the reason people don't have power or aren't able to change things is that we are naive and don't realize that we need to organize for power on the basis of self-interest.

Again, I don't know if this will work on a national level. But this is the most interesting thing about Obama, to me.

By the way, Paul Wellstone was an organizer, too. And I'm from Minnesota and I miss him A LOT. Personally, I think that Obama has something (I know that's vague) but that he could have benefitted from mentoring from Paul.

johnieb said...

I find that portion of his C.V. to be hopeful, too, Diane, but I don't see how it applies to the Presidency, nor do I find those ideals represented in his campaign.

As a semi-official Old Grump, I remember the community organizing days; I had friends in SNCC & some of the urban successors to it. I've run a social services NPO, so, as I say, it was an initial attraction which didn't survive his campaign.