Article

Obama Deserves the Prize

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Given the ever-increasing milquetoast flavor of each successive presidential campaign, I had pretty much decided that in my lifetime I would never see a contender who preferred to be genuine rather than safe.

By "safe," I mean the nauseating backpedaling politicians have been practicing since many of us were toddling around in training pants.

I didn’t want to admit it at first, but Barack Obama has done it. And he has done it beautifully.

This year, I have been an obstinate Hillary supporter, having made my choice based on my admiration of both Clintons for their record of service. At first, I thought Obama’s speeches sounded clichéd. I didn’t feel that I was witnessing a grand orator in the tradition of John F. Kennedy, as many around me proclaimed.

That all changed in March, when Obama stepped to the podium to address certain incendiary statements by his then-pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

I sat at my computer mesmerized, not wanting to admit that his speech was one of the coolest things I had ever heard (that was not in a movie.)

He was not willing to lie to distance himself from Wright. How many times have I wanted a politician to clearly and truthfully explain the reasoning behind some flip flop, or some scandal, which would have earned him so many more points than he got by deliberately using cloudy, noncommittal language?

In his speech, Obama said: "I can no more disown him (Rev. Wright) than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

Thank you, Obama, for finding a way to explain the road we must take, and for knowing that there is a way to reach us.

Ever since that speech, Obama has continued to take the high road. When was the last time we saw a leader refrain from negative campaign ads?

I had to go back to all of the reasons I thought Obama was wrong, and think about why I thought them. I used to say Obama didn’t have enough of a record to be president. Now, I say Obama’s ability to raise more money than any other Democratic candidate—without taking money from lobbyists—is more than enough evidence of his coalition-building skills.

If Obama can assemble such an effective fundraising team, he can certainly assemble the best and the brightest foreign policy team to get us out of the downward spiral we’ve been in for eight years.

People are still criticizing Obama for having a pastor who could say such "anti-American" things.

I guess Bill Clinton should be criticized for inviting Jeremiah Wright and other clergy to come pray with him at the White House during the Lewinsky scandal.

Another complaint I used to have was that Obama’s call for change sounded repetitive. But I have to ask myself: when was the last time we actually had change? And I can’t think of another point in my lifetime when we so sorely needed it.


Comments (17 comments)

bulldada / May 17th, 2008, 6:55 am / #1

DAY TOOK ER JERBS!

Rusty Anchor / May 17th, 2008, 10:27 am / #2

Iconoklast, I share your frustration with the recent “safe,” calculated and focus-grouped Democratic candidates (Gore, Kerry, Hillary).

Obama makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…sometimes even squishy or tingly. Great civilizations face great tests, and I think this is a big one for the U.S.

I’ve followed some of the voter-suppression tactics used by the GOP in recent elections…and they might be on to something.

Maybe there’s a way to confuse all the really stupid and racist people on election day…(like Hillary supporters who would vote for McCain over Obama).

bulldada / May 17th, 2008, 3:20 pm / #3

Vote for Obama if you want change, and thats what you’ll get.

Pocket change.

If you vote for Barak, first, burn a copy of the Bill Of Rights. Then pull the lever and cast your vote. That way you can say you knew the kind of future you were creating. (and before I get a bunch of angry replies saying “George W. Bush took away the 5th, 8th and 12th ammendments, so screw you you racist, flag waving, gun-toting, white trash, hillbilly, asshole!”, I know. I know he did.

All the canidates, republican and democrat, suck. Hard.

Except Ron Paul.

DAY TOOK ER JERBS!!

Bill / May 17th, 2008, 5:09 pm / #4

I live in Australia, yes I am hoping Obama can become president of the U.S.A. I think this bloke has really got something to offer the American people . The last few years I have been watching CNN and Fox news so I have a few opinions on what is going on over there. I was astounded when in the last election the Republicans were mud slinging John Carey who was a true hero. I get the vibes that America is a divided country, I am also surprised that America hasn’t got universal health care. I think Obama is right about VA being bitter and owning guns. I watched Sicko recently , that was an eye opener. Anyway I suppose my opinions will not change a thing.

Ben Stone / May 18th, 2008, 6:43 am / #5

You make some good points Sean. What Obama has not done may make him more qualified than others. PS. Can’t believe Hillary went on Fox news

Alex / May 19th, 2008, 3:27 am / #6

I have to agree with you on that particular speech- frankly, after all the BS we’ve been through as a country, I’d be almost willing to accept a candidate based on a single issue:

Not embarrassing us as a country.

Obama at least appears to have the ability to foil gripes without resorting to incompetence (Reagan on Iran-Contra), lack of self control (Clinton on Lewinsky), or sheer stupidity (W on pretty much everything).

I’d like to see Ron Paul in office, simply because he is a major curveball compared to the rest of the pack, but I think Obama will work out.

Hillary is just an evil robot.

valhar2000 / May 19th, 2008, 8:23 am / #7

If you vote for Barak, first, burn a copy of the Bill Of Rights.[…]so screw you you racist, flag waving, gun-toting, white trash, hillbilly, asshole!

Oh, no, my dear boy! I am not going to call you anything like that. I am just going to ask you how you know that voting for Obama is equivalent to burning a copy of the Bill of Rights. In other words, explain yourself. That’s all.

j / May 25th, 2008, 3:56 pm / #8

Obama’s speaking skills, or ability to form a fund raising team are no indication of the performance he’ll have in the White House.

Vote for the issue not the candidate.

iconoklast / May 25th, 2008, 4:28 pm / #9

Dear J –

You’re totally right. And on the most crucial issues facing our country, Obama has the best ideas. He understands that oil prices must go up for the free market to transfer to renewable fuel , he gets that free trade is good but that innovation must follow, and he is committed to ending the military-industrial free-for-all in Iraq.

Obama’s unprecedented fund-raising skills, while not his only asset, serve to show that he has the ability to carry out his platform (main issues mentioned in above paragraph). Since we’ve watched nearly ever president in recent memory welch on their promises, leaving office in some sort of disgrace — to a man — I think we should give the power to a candidate who’s already broken the mold.

Iconoklast

j / May 25th, 2008, 6:08 pm / #10

Government intervention does not create free market transitions. The party will almost always dictate how or what a politician will do–that is a maxim in political science proven time and again.

Obama has the least innovative ideas. Have has anyone even read his economic plan?
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080220/EDITORIAL/513413596/1013
It is wholly un-economical. I liken it to taking a gallon of water from the deep end of the pool and dumping it in the shallow end then expecting water levels to rise. Government cannot stimulate economic growth, no matter how warm and fuzzy you feel when Obama tells you otherwise.

Rusty Anchor / May 25th, 2008, 10:03 pm / #11

J wrote: “The party will almost always dictate how or what a politician will do–that is a maxim in political science proven time and again.”

J–Not when the party’s candidate can draw a crowd of 75,000 for a relatively routine campaign speech in the Pacific Northwest. That changes EVERYTHING…

If Obama can sell his ideas very effectively and directly to the American people..then special interests can’t touch him and Congress will be forced to follow.

At least that was the dream I had a couple nights ago…

J / May 25th, 2008, 10:56 pm / #12

Rusty,

Reagan drew crowds, Clinton still draws crowds but both of these men never strayed far from the parties platforms. Star power does change the power structure but doesn’t make Obama immune to special interests. Our political system functions through special interests (i.e. Madison, Federalist Papers).

iconoklast / May 29th, 2008, 10:33 am / #13

Hello, J –

So I read the Washington Times editorial you recommended as evidence that Obama’s economic policies are akin to taking water from the deep end and putting it in the shallow end. An excerpt or two:

On the spending side of the ledger, Mr. Obama proposed a 10-year, $60 billion “National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank,” which is a highfalutin name for a scheme to fund dubious pork-barrel projects that can’t pass muster in our pork-addicted Congress. The $60 billion is just a down payment; it will be used to leverage “almost half a trillion of additional infrastructure spending.” Guess who’s going to pay for all that. Not to worry because the whole scheme will “generate nearly 2 million new jobs.” Mr. Obama has also proposed a 10-year, $150 billion program “to establish a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million new jobs.” His nearly universal health care plan, which he implausibly asserts will reduce the average family’s insurance premium by $2,500 per year, is projected to cost between $50 billion and $65 billion per year.

Here’s my response:

Stimulation of the economy through government spending is a tactic used by both parties since at least the Great Depression. If you study macroeconomics, you will see that the Federal Reserve follows the principles of Keynesian economics. Under these principles, there are two ways to stimulate demand: fiscal (government) spending and manipulation of the federal funds rate.

Here are some examples of government spending, planned or unplanned, which stimulated the economy: FDR’s New Deal, World War II, the interstate highway system, Ronald Reagan’s defense spending, and in a spectacular debacle, the Iraq War.

The Washington Times identifies Obama’s $60 billion proposal as “pork” projects, but with no evidence. I find it interesting that this proposal is designed for infrastructure. The definition of “pork” is that it’s not necessary. So the key here is to put the money toward real needs. And there are plenty of those. Here in California, the water and sewer infrastructure is nearly at its breaking point, with outdated delivery systems that go back a century or more. And I’m pretty certain there are infrastructural issues all over the country.

Provided there is oversight and checks and balances, a project that restores our nation’s infrastructure and creates jobs to replace those lost in the manufacturing sector actually makes a lot of sense.

The $150 billion to establish a green energy sector is seriously making me salivate. In case you haven’t heard or perhaps don’t care, oil is getting harder and harder to find. If we want to continue our current lifestyle in the West, we simply must figure out the energy problem. Even if you refuse to believe in human-caused climate change, you must still acknowledge that we need a source of fuel to power our economy. Obama’s proposal for a green initiative only makes me get more excited about him. As John Kerry pointed out in the 2004 campaign, we need the kind of drive we put into the space program in order to figure our way out of our energy problem.

As far as universal health care goes, I’m so tired of the quasi-libertarian opposition to figuring out the health care issue. Health care is infrastructure as far as I’m concerned, and it should not be just for the rich — as it is increasingly becoming. If “conservatives” are so concerned about choice, then we should find a bipartisan solution that affords the ability to get a second and third opinion from medical professionals.

Finally, the editorial you mention is in the Washington Times, a newspaper formed in the 1980s as a conservative pulpit, owned by Sun Myung Moon. I find it amusing that they would criticize proposals that are very similar to those put in place or promoted by Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. Instead of trickle-down economics to only the very rich (which does seem to work), Obama wants to offer working people the chance to invest, as well.

I can barely contain myself with the idea that an economic stimulus package would actually be for something that’s desperately needed — instead of lining the pockets of corrupt military contractors and politicians’ friends — which is happening RIGHT NOW! Why don’t you complain about THAT?

j / May 29th, 2008, 10:43 pm / #14

Iconoklast (great name),

Assume I support neither party when you write your responses. :)

Your entire argument (and Obama’s) is based on the Broken Windows Fallacy. No new anything is created when money is “taxed” then redistributed (key word: redistribution). Demand does not get stimulated by government intervention. The Federal Funds rate? You mean interest rate? That is a joke. A minuscule dial that even Keynesian economists will tell you is a trickle in a bucket.

“Here are some examples of government spending, planned or unplanned, which stimulated the economy: FDR’s New Deal, World War II, the interstate highway system, Ronald Reagan’s defense spending, and in a spectacular debacle, the Iraq War.”

Recall Hazlitt famous book (I assume you read this at some point if you consider yourself informed about economics):

“Many of the most frequent fallacies in economic reasoning come from the propensity, especially marked today, to think in terms of an abstraction—the collectivity, the “nation”—and to forget or ignore the individuals who make it up and give it meaning. No one could think that the destruction of war was an economic advantage who began by thinking first of all of the people whose property was destroyed.

Those who think that the destruction of war increases total “demand” forget that demand and supply are merely two sides of the same coin. They are the same thing looked at from different directions. Supply creates demand because at bottom it is demand. The supply of the thing they make is all that people have, in fact, to offer in exchange for the things they want. In this sense the farmers’ supply of wheat constitutes their demand for automobiles and other goods. All this is inherent in the modern division of labor and in an exchange economy.”1

So how can demand be stimulated with destruction?

The ad hominem against the Washington Times is irrelevant. I have no affiliation with them nor am I a subscriber.

The term “pork” is also something you misunderstand. A naval base in Dallas is “pork” spending. There is no dock in Dallas, or much less an ocean. Yet it exists simply to keep people employed–it useful but not in the intended ways. The massive job creating infrastructure plan was compared to a pork project, can you see why now?

My friend, your a looking for a social solution with a government institution. Your hope is misguided…Can I recommend you some reading material?

Nobama / July 5th, 2008, 11:00 pm / #15

So what do you think now, since the messiah has moved to the center, embracing “faith-based” programs, saying that some late-term abortions should not occur, etc.

He’s just another politician and you are silly for fawning over him.

BlackSun / July 6th, 2008, 10:15 am / #16

Nobama,

A disturbing and nauseating turn of events, to be sure. I’m not sure I can vote for him. But then, maybe I just have to accept that democracy is a messy business and a certain amount of pandering is unavoidable. I’ll have to see how close the race is. If it looks close, I’ll cast my vote against McCain, rather than strictly for Obama.

Jeff / July 6th, 2008, 11:08 pm / #17

Nobama and Blacksun,

If he killed Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative……on Fox News:

“Anti-Faith” Obama Steals From Churches/Obama Loses Faith, Churches Lose Billions

Rush Limbaugh: Something something stealing from god! Something something arrogant, elitist, atheist, Muslim communist baby-killing wannabe-terrorist!

Then Dobson, Hagey, etc. would take it up a notch by calling him the Antichrist, citing quotes from Revelations.

Faith, like “war hero,” is untouchable. They should be smackable, punchable and, without the grace of god, destroyable. But right now, it’s not even touchable.

Obama can’t kill the “initiative” or inherit as is. Try blaming the people sometimes and not the politician…it’s hard to sell smart ideas to a population teeming with stupidity and/or washed brains.

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