Wednesday, October 1, 2008

This Is Why.

I am going to vote for Barack Obama, even though he is not perfect.

This is why.

I agree with a lot of his policy. I disagree with a fair amount of it too. I'm a social liberal and an economic conservative, which can be paired effectively - this is a whole other essay - but the process requires some testicular fortitude that I am not sure the current political climate has. Obama's a touch liberal for me, but where he is more liberal than I would like, I feel that either he will be tempered (or blocked altogether) by Congress and the Supreme Court, or that the process of enacting the legislation will simply take too long to be realized.

I like that Obama thinks. This is also his greatest liability. In a recent class, we discussed the debate and Obama's remarkable EIGHT instances of saying something to the effect of "I agree with you, John." On the one hand, this is a horrid move for a Presidential candidate. On the other, wouldn't it be fantastic if politicians could fess up to that more often in the course of Congressional life? Productivity would shoot through the roof. I worry, though, that Obama's reasoned consideration of issues will make him seem weak, much as we saw with Jimmy Carter, who was often too busy overthinking issues to act in a timely manner.

On a similar note...I realize that no one has been talking about this, but the next President could potentially nominate four Supreme Court Justices. Obama taught Constitutional Law for 12 years. I know that people who aren't academics often have a hard time understanding how academics actually work, but you can't teach ConLaw without considering all angles and formulating your own reasoned opinions about what you think best suits the intent of the Constitution. It just doesn't work. I would like to think that Obama will bring a more considered, apolitical approach to Supreme Court nominations. While I'm not fool enough to think that politics won't factor in, but I do feel confident that Obama will come to the table with a better informed sensibility.

I appreciate Obama's willingness to go across the aisle and across borders to from policy. I hope that by example, he can remove some of the more vicious partisanship from US politics. There will always be partisanship, and that's not inherently bad. A lot of innovative policy and forward thinking has stemmed from partisan bickering, but the current version of partisanship is so extreme that the positive benefits have long since waned. I believe John McCain when he says he wants to collaborate with people regardless of political stripe, but his behavior over the past 8 years or so has painted a picture of a man lacking the patience and willingness to actually work through difficult issues and engage with opposing viewpoints. He's become noted for his quick temper and somewhat surly demeanor, and that's not what we need right now. We're in the shit, people. Clear communication and compromise are essential to getting out of it.

I have numerous concerns with McCain, and that's really kind of upsetting for me, because there was a time when I would have been delighted to have voted for him. Let's have it said...the man is a remarkable human being. He has done some straight-up AMAZING things in his life, and has been an agent of change in his career. That all being said, I believe that he has lost some of his confidence in his relationship with the electorate, and has reacted in a worrisome way. Over this period of decreasing confidence, he's begun to hew closer and closer to the Bush Administration's policies, even as the rest of the country has started to come around to see the failures of those same policies. Much of this newfound agreement is based in policy on the Iraq War, and I think that it's here that you find the biggest problem with the idea of a McCain Presidency.

To go to war and fight, you need to be assured of two things at an absolute minimum...that the battle is winnable, and that the fight is justified. It doesn't really matter HOW you come to these two conclusions, simply that you do. Our military academies and training facilities are built to help foster these attitudes, and the reason is simple...when your job is to kill people, directly or indirectly, you need to be able to sleep at night. You also need to be able to go all in, without feeling like maybe it's all an exercise in futility. McCain not only served this country admirably - holding out for the release of your comrades-in-arms when you're staring freedom in the face? - but has allowed his military accomplishments to play a pivotal role in his political life as well. The problem arises in the disparity between political and military approaches to war. Politicians and military liasons to the government need to go beyond the approach of the executive side of the military and consider things like exit strategy and development of war plans. Politics approaches war from a completely different standpoint than the military, and it rightfully should. Now, does this mean that politics should be engaged in warfare to the point of the shenanigans that have gone on throughout this particularly war? Hell to the no. But a President must be able to go beyond the mentality of the on-the-ground military and officers concerned with carrying out and directing the realization of military policy developed by the civilian military leadership. The President has be BE the civilian military leadership, and inject other non-military concerns into the discussion.

I find that as McCain loses his confidence in his ability to relate to the electorate, he's fallen back on what he knows is true and what he knows resonates with voters, and that truth for him is his service. He goes back to the mentalities so essential to active military personnel, and this is why he's made statements about staying in the war for a hundred years if that's what it takes. You'll notice that when he made that statement, he was speaking off the cuff, and edited his statements as soon as his campaign (or someone...I am reluctant to give the campaign credit since it's been SO poorly run) got ahold of him and had him scale it back. I don't have any inside track on this, but this is the impression I get of McCain, from his public statements and general behavior. Obama has no such interfering military mindset, but as an active member of the Senate, he has been involved and up to date on the conflict in Iraq from the word go, so he's not going in blind, either. If you don't understand how dangerous a mismanaged Iraq can be, you...need to stay home on November 4th. There is scary, scary shit out there, and an out-of-control Iraq will be like a black hole for the Arab World as a whole and more specifically for the ascendant jihadist terrorists. We cannot afford for this to go wrong.

Finally, somewhere, deep in the recesses of my heart, I am yearning for a President who can successfully use and pronounce words with more than three syllables. McCain is nowhere near the level of Bush's inarticulate babbling (though Palin certainly is), but there is a lyricism to Obama's speeches and statements that better befits the dignity the Office of the President is meant to hold. International relations cannot happen if there is no respect between the parties involved, and like it or not, love America or not, the world has been laughing at us for years at this point. With increasing globalization upon us, there is no room for isolationist policy anymore, and we can't afford a bad reputation. Our reputation is essential, arguably more so than any economic clout we have or any force of arms. I believe that Obama - reasoned, eloquent Obama - can restore that reputation to its former status, and I think it's absolutely essential that we start on that road now.

Tip -> 24 Free Dinners


  1. I will not be voting for either of them, though I would consider McCain if I were living in a swing state. Obviously I'm a touch more conservative than you as far as social issues go, but I just cannot get over my disagreements with both candidates at this point. BOTH worry me, and for different reasons. (As this is your blog, I will not fully go into those issues here. :) ) Anyhow, I will be voting along the Libertarian party line this time around.

    I will, however, say this: I am not in full agreement with you about the nomination of Supreme Court Justices. True, [Obama] has to have considered multiple views of the Constitution. However, ultimately I believe he will still nominate Justices that more closely align with his views. And those views are much too liberal for me, as far as the Constitution goes.

  2. LP got my vote today, but even that wasn't easy. Barr has kind of a shady past even though he's come around a lot.

    As to Obama's alleged even view of the Constitution, you may want to read these:

  3. Ok, first of all I love the picture.

    I'm actually very socially liberal, so his policies in that respect don't bother me. I'm disappointed he doesn't support gay marriage (since it's basically a state of mind anyway). That being said, I do understand that a lot of people can't handle stuff like that and he will be balanced out by the others in government, no doubt.

    The two most important things about him are that he's an intellectual and he realizes that our standing needs to be elevated in the world. We need a president who will serve as our ambassador and who will be a new, fresh face in the world. We don't need someone who's bitter, unstable and has a bad temper.

    I think he'll do a good job and I think that he will be a strong protector of the constitution. I can see him nominating some younger justices who are more in touch with today's world and concerns.

    I don't think he's perfect either but the alternatives seem a little too bi-polar for me.

  4. You may also be interested to know that he lied blatantly about McCain's stance on banking deregulation in the debate last night. In 2003 Bush actually voiced concern over the runaway subprime lending issue and in 2005 McCain actually proposed legislation to provide stricter oversight over Fannie Mae.

    What was Obama doing during this time? He was receiving thousands of dollars from the very company he and his party were (successfully) making every effort to shield from that bill.

  5. I fully agree that we need an intellectual in the White House. However, as I cannot agree with Obama on more than about two issues, I personally do not believe he's the intellectual we need.

    That being said, I hardly think the Republican ticket is the way to go this year either. Sarah Palin and her utter lack of knowledge about ANYTHING unrelated to Alaska? Give me a break. Wake me up when this one is over.

  6. Josie the Massachusetts PussycatOctober 8, 2008 at 11:48 PM

    Well, like I said, Im not saying Obama's not going to come with political bias, I'm saying he'll come with more than JUST political bias which is pretty much all I believe McCains bringing, particularly in the current incarnation.

    Re: the 2nd Am article (2nd link broken) shows me what a board did while Obama was sitting on it. I'll certainly agree that the Joyce Foundation attack on the 2nd Am from a Constitutional standpoint is a bit much but a.) I can't see how Obama voted individually, and I do know that my own board has voted through stuff that I did not agree with, so until I see the votes I hesitate to pass judgement, b.) I have been fine with his Senate voting record and frankly his public statements on gun control, and c.) you know we disagree in a major way on this anyway so this is probably not a path we're going to meet up on.

    Look the basic fact is that they're politicians and they're all full of shit. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whatever, they're all full of it, because they have to be to get where they are. The difference is that I like Obama's actual record and behavior and do not like McCain's actual record and behavior, and more importantly, I think Obama will bring the RIGHT kind of change to the White House.

    ALL of this is exactly why I started this post with "I am going to vote for Barack Obama, even though he is not perfect."

  7. I know you have your reasons, just like I had my reasons for not voting for EITHER of them. :) It was a nice post, by the way, even if I don't agree with you.