Saturday, March 15, 2008

Barack Obama

Like most people of sound mind, i'd vote for a fence post if the Democrats decided to run one against John McCain in the fall. So for me the only choice is between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (and, possibly, a fence post). Prior to the beginning of the primaries I had a slight preference for Mrs. Clinton, but at present I have a slight preference for Mr. Obama.

I like many things about Mrs. Clinton. I think she would come to the White House better prepared to handle the responsibilities, and I see some of her ostensible liabilities as assets (to paraphrase Tina Fey, she might be a bitch, but bitches get things done). She makes a good point that Obama's message of hope has a whiff of magical thinking, and i think there's little doubt that in the Washington meat grinder she would be the more resilient politician. Mrs. Clinton has definitely been hurt by people around her, especially her husband and Geraldine Ferraro. But what's hurt her in my mind is that she has yet to take an unequivocal stance on any issue, even the war in Iraq, which is the key issue for my money.

Obama is hardly perfect either. He has some troubling religious affiliations, and his proposals for how he would change things are too vague for my pragmatic mind. I have conservative tendencies with respect to small government and fiscal responsibility, and those aren't things that I expect Obama to emphasize. But i'm very pleased with the way that he speaks consistently and directly about his positions, even in potentially hostile environments. There is far less sense that he is tailoring his message for his audience, or exploiting the prejudices or ignorance of his supporters. Finally, as with Bill Clinton in the early 90s, i get the impression that he is pretty smart, or at least is thinking for himself. I think even most republicans are getting tired of the pretense that Bush has any idea what he's talking about.

The best sign that Obama is on to something is the effort that the right-wing press is making to persuade people that he's bad. There was Rush Limbaugh's cynical effort to get people to vote for Clinton in order to divide the democrats, and Fox news has been discussing his "decline" after the Ohio and Texas primaries. The mentally challenged Glenn Beck never fails to mention Obama when he's shilling for Jonah Goldberg's idiotic Liberal Fascism book. I'm sure there will be all manner of swift-boating to come, but it's sorta cool that Obama has already put the machine in motion.

The general election could be pretty interesting. Obama will probably have trouble attracting the centrist voters, while McCain might have problems rallying some of the party base. If Ron Paul had Ross Perot's money, I wouldn't even be surprised to see him as an independent candidate. I also worry a lot about Senator Obama's safety to be honest. There is still a segment of our population that will have a problem with an unabashedly liberal black candidate.

No comments: