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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Obama, Nutshelled

In response to Dingo's request, here's why Stave It Off is endorsing Barak Obama for the 2008 Presidential Primary.

Many seek to douse Barak Obama’s fiery aura of change as hypocrisy: But I am a cynic. I believe that ALL the candidates are hypocrites. The only two who are likely to speak the truth (Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) are ridiculously unelectable toads. I do not care that Obama changes his tune when he speaks to different groups of voters. Or that he’s sounded hawkish on foreign policy issues during the debates (all Democrats trip over themselves in pathetic attempts to look tough… we know it’s a show.) Or that his rhetoric of revolutionary change is undercut by his record of incremental reform. None of that matters. No president gets elected with a realistic expectation of massive change. People just want something different than the steady stream of sewer water that’s been poured down their throats by the previous administration.

The radical leftwing believes the difference between the two parties is illusion: That it’s an artificial and meaningless choice between a Whopper and a Big Mac, when the real choice should be between a locally-made goat cheese sandwich and an organic vegan veggie burger. While I’m sympathetic to this view, I fundamentally disagree. The hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis disagree. It may be a “lesser of two evils” approach, but I can’t stomach another ruthless GOP administration. We need a president capable of reflection and diplomacy. The Bush administration was a textbook example of treating every problem as a nail because their only tool was a hammer. We need an administration that has an entire toolbox at its disposal, not just an ugly hammer that has worn out its welcome on the world stage. Electability matters because we cannot afford another GOP administration and the subsequent continuation of our current foreign or domestic policy. And while I don’t agree with Obama on every issue, I agree with him enough… and I think he’s more electable than Clinton… and that’s crucial.

“Why is he more electable?” you ask.

Obama is a powerful speaker and a natural leader. As a community organizer, he instills hope and confidence when he speaks. He’s capable of being both personable and iconic... of cracking a joke and of striking a dramatic chord. I don’t believe Obama is another Kennedy (Jack or Bobby) or the second coming of MLK. I don’t think he’s in danger of being assassinated (mostly because he doesn’t represent a serious threat to corporate agendas.) But I do think he’s an intelligent, decent human being who would make a great figurehead as our Commander in Chief. He will bring out the vote because he (unlike Clinton) is a person we want to rally behind. And he will be served by that same leadership as he begins the work of his administration.

Being a figurehead means instilling confidence, restoring national pride, building alliances, and leading the country in our efforts to repair the damage left over from 9/11, Katrina, Afghanistan, Iraq, port security, habeas corpus, etc.. This damage will not be repaired alone; it will require a mobilized and motivated America… and I think Obama is the only candidate with the charisma and passion to achieve that. If Obama makes a photo op at a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans, there will be thousands of volunteers signing up the very next day. If Clinton makes the same appearance, there will be thousands of conservative pundits criticizing her for political opportunism.

For the record, I like Hillary Clinton. I think she would make a fine president. She’s smart, she’s experienced, she’s right on the issues. And I think that many Clinton-bashers are spewing sexist crap. But I think there’s a chance Obama will go down in history as a great president and I want to see that happen.



At 2/05/2008 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I guess I am beginning to agree with your central premise that Obama may be the most palatable combination of electability and 'less of an evil-ness' that we are likely to get (and I proudly let myself be included in the radical leftwing you speak of). I don't see any reason to trust Obama over any of the others but if the population is buying him, then maybe all we can hope for is that we are able to hold his feet to the fire if or when he doesn't follow through on the rhetoric. I hope for example that we are not back here in a year's time wondering why we are being sold the idea that we cannot actually get out of Iraq just yet but if we all just wait a little longer ... Or that, reforming the healthcare system is a tad more complicated than anyone realized ... Or that faith is the answer to everything.

At 2/05/2008 05:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you heard of the committed 15% winning any US election? I can't find a reference for it now, yet the basics are that a candidate that can inspire/fire up/rile a committed 15% of the electorate can win most elections.

I'm not sure if it will hold in this election year, yet in the past when voter turn out has been fairly pathetic, being able to count on 15% to vote for you (or maybe against the other person) plus whatever undecided or less committed voters- made the election yours.

The Republicans have learned this lesson well, understanding that even though a majority of Americans are moderate on issues of abortion, gay rights and so forth- they make sure to indulge the committed 15% (may be a larger number in this group) that have strong opinions and will get out to vote for candidates that support their take on those issues.

Meanwhile the Democrats tell the left(er) wing (15% the other way) to be quiet while they try to woo the undecided.

None of this has much to do with Obama, just a rant on my part. I do think that if Hilary is the nomination- she can bring out the 15% plus against her without even trying.


At 2/06/2008 06:05:00 AM, Blogger molly said...

I'm right there with you. It would be great to feel pride in being American again, and it would be great to see a great president in our lifetime. I don't know if either candidate is going to do it, but I think we're in a much better position for a breath of fresh air than we have been in a long time. I love the fact that we are choosing between a woman and a black man. I really never thought I'd see the day. As equal opportunity as America is, I just didn't think we had it in us to address this yet. And here we are, spoiled for choice.
I agree with you, too, that I wouldn't be upset if Hillary took the seat. However, I feel in my heart that I prefer Obama... and this is the first time that my heart (or gut instinct, whatever you want to call it) has engaged on this issue at all, ever.
I'm curious about a running mate... I hope beyond hope that whoever the candidate is, they get Edwards to come with them... secretly between you and me...

At 2/06/2008 11:08:00 AM, Blogger John said...

Check out this site for info on where to caucus this Saturday. Olaiya is offering a ride to any willing participants that want a lift to their caucus site.

At 2/06/2008 11:38:00 AM, Blogger John said...

After looking at Super Tuesday results... a few reflections:

1) It's REALLY close. I hope y'all are planning on going to a caucus on Saturday, because this is the first time I can remember where Washington's opinion will matter.

2) What's wrong with you California?! I expected Clinton to win big in NY and Arkansas, but I thought CA would be neck and neck... instead Clinton won by 10%. >:(

3) In states that featured private voting (election primaries) Obama is 8-10 with a tie. In states with public voting (caucus primaries) Obama is 7-1 with several blowouts (more than 65% of the vote) in very white states like Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota, Alaska. Does this confirm Soapy's theory that racism creeps into the hearts of white voters, but only when no one can see who they're voting for?

At 2/06/2008 06:50:00 PM, Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Stave-It-Off for answering my question. I've been on the fence re Hillary vs Obama (their positions on most issues are similar)and just wanted to hear opinions, stories of what sent one over the fence one way or the other. I still stand hard on the 'more electable' issue: to imagine that a Democratic win in Nov 08 is assured is naive thinking in my book. This is after all a political race and we must think politically or risk enduring another Republican administration. Don't think a Republican win can't happen.

So I read your blog, and many other sources of course, including the Stranger article (vol 17 No 21; 1/31-2/6) endorsing Obama (which is recommeded reading), and I've been talking to folks. And so I will go the caucus on Saturday liking both Hillary and Obama (I could live with either as president), but remembering a comment from the Stranger article which appeals to the logical, practical, numbers side of me: "Where Clinton rallies support from staunch, partisan liberals...Obama appeals to an all-important category, given the closness of the last presidential election: the nearly 30 percent of America's electorate who identify themselves as independents".

Let the best man/woman win, as long as it is not a Republican.


At 2/06/2008 07:24:00 PM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/06/2008 07:25:00 PM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

I applaud your noble summary of Barack Obama. It's almost as well-written as this. ;)

My secret wish is that Obama and McCain end up at the final debate and announce to the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, the loser of tonight's debate. . . will be Vice President." Both parties would gag, but it would be bipartisan paradise.

At 2/07/2008 01:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to see Soapy's vision become a reality, that would be sweet.

D- didn't we try for electibility with Kerry? While a Dem win is definitely not assured- I think focusing too much on who we consider more electable has not won the White House in how long?

With McCain the most likely Repubklican candidate, and with so many candidates hating him- wouldn't some of them be more likely to vote Obama than Clinton? As long as we have to consider these kinds of things.

Actually, if we nominate Hillary against John, I think the true conservatives will be so ticked off they'd succeed from the nation......hhmmmmm



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