Obama vs. McCain

We now know (finally!) who the two players are in this year’s general election. We have Barack Obama and John McCain. Both have been cast as “different” politicians at various times, and both come with some questions.

Given these choices, I will tentatively support Obama. I’m not locked in; the possibility remains that I’ll go for a stronger statement and vote the independent Nader, the Green Cynthia McKinney, or write in Dennis Kucinich. I’ve been skeptical about the messianic fervor over Obama. I don’t believe that his undeniably brilliant oratorical skills should be a clinching factor in my vote. And a few serious warts have come up regarding his candidacy. Given the mess I believe our method of financing elections is in, I’m saddened that Obama went back on his word and opted out of the public financing system. Furthermore, while Obama said virtually all the right things on foreign policy during the Democratic Primary, I was bitterly disappointed by Obama’s recent pandering to AIPAC, promoting a more traditional sounding foreign policy agenda. Frank of Simple Utah Mormon Politics recently wrote a very insightful post on the conventional U.S. foreign policy agenda regarding the Middle East (a self-described conservative, Frank might well be considered by some almost as “negative” and “anti-American” in his foreign policy views as am I). For Obama to seemingly embrace this sort of foreign policy approach is hardly “Change.”

But while he might not be perfect, I still feel Obama has more integrity than any mainstream candidate in quite some time. Barring further disappointments, I’m comfortable with the idea of Obama as president. And I think the presidency is his to lose. I don’t see McCain being able to rally the support necessary to beat Obamamania.

The fever is even catching here in the typically right-wing Book of Mormon Belt. This may be the first Democratic candidate in decades with an outside chance of winning Utah. Not a great chance, mind you. But where his predecessors had absolutely no chance, I really think Obama has a slim chance.

If what appears to be a largely honorable, slightly left-of-center candidate can win the general election and maybe make some headway in The Reddest of the Red States, that is at least a step in the right direction which I can support.

Update

It appears that I’ve been lax in following the federal news. The recent activity on the FISA bill somehow slipped under my personal radar. I’ve been catching up, and in particular investigating Obama’s involvement. I am now very disappointed. This bill is an egregious breach of the civil liberties for which our nation is supposed to stand, and rather than taking a courageous stand against politics as usual, Obama has thrown in his support.

Given the portent of the AIPAC speech and the FISA bill, I’m now very strongly considering a third-party/write in vote. It is a tough decision. Would the now apparently modest but immediate change Obama is likely to represent worth sacrificing the more fundamental but less probable change represented by third-parties? Something to ponder.

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9 Responses to “Obama vs. McCain”

  1. rmwarnick Says:

    The AIPAC speech was bad enough, but Senator Obama also gave an interview to Fortune in which he performed a 180-degree flip-flop on NAFTA.
    http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/330911

    The campaign financing flap is not a biggie IMHO, because Obama’s financiers ARE the public. But I’ve reconsidered my own decision to donate because of his cowardly retreat on FISA. When you swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and then say you will vote for unconstitutional legislation that violates core Fourth Amendment rights, you cannot be trusted on any issue.

  2. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    Yeah, I have to admitted, pretty disappointed as well on AIPAC and FISA in particular. I am however very pleased with his fundraising, it is a democratization of campaign finance that is badly needed in the absence of a clear set of more even-handed rules. He is at least setting a good example. Let’s hope he can change the party and the country and not just turn it into his little fundraising and organization fiefdom. I am hopeful his more international experience and outlook in life will have him be more sensible, but I am very wary not just based on his AIPAC stuff but also some of his policy pronouncements which sounded far too patronizing of foreign nations than I would have hoped (even if not as patronizing as McCain).

  3. Aaron Orgill Says:

    First, for a mainstream politician, Obama is not “slightly left of center”. Compared to you, he’s Rush Limbaugh, but he’s pretty liberal for a U.S. Senator. Second, I don’t believe he has any more integrity than John McCain, who has earned a lot of my respect by calling people out and trying to get our stupid government to spend more responsibly for a long time. Obama shows daily that his actions to not match his words. And last, if it was me you had in mind, I haven’t called you anti-American. You ARE negative, though.

  4. Aaron Orgill Says:

    All that said, I will support Obama completely if he is elected, and certainly am eager for January, when we will have a president less prone to saying things in poor taste and with less of a penchant for blind stubbornness.

  5. Jennifer Says:

    If Obama wins the election, it will be nice to have a president who can speak English and have thoughtful discussions about issues before the nation & the world. Good riddance GWB, whose public addresses were torture for the unwitting listener. I agree with Non Arab on the fundraising topic. Aaron, while your comments are well taken about Obama’s political spectrum, I think it is a commentary on the typical senators being out of touch with the ordinary citizens more than where Obama falls on the spectrum.

  6. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Jennifer, I’ve had those same thoughts myself. However, I think whatever the outcome we will still have a president better equipped to speak thoughtfully and be more diplomatic. McCain is light-years ahead of Bush on almost all counts, in my opinion, and although he has been a real hawk on the war, he has also been prophetic on all counts pertaining to it, and I have no doubt he would have managed it better.

    I will support and wish the best for whomever wins, but Obama’s verbal talents alone are not enough to qualify him. If we hadn’t been coming from Bush’s daily gaffes, I don’t think we would be so easily impressed. I share Derek’s concern about the “messianic fervor,” as he put it. I cannot believe some of the so-called stories I’ve seen put out in recent months. Time Magazine had a cover story about “Raising Barack” and his mother (who really didn’t raise him for most of his childhood). And last week there was another magazine with Barack and Michelle on the cover talking about their fairytale love. The press is doing everything they can to anoint this guy, and it really bothers me.

    On your last point, I agree that senators are completely out of touch. I don’t necessarily agree that ordinary citizens are aligned with Obama’s politics, if that’s what you are getting at, but I would love to see term limits that would keep people like Hatch, Byrd, the granddaddy of them all, the late Strom Thurmond, and even relative babies like Kerry and our own Bob Bennett more in touch. If eight years is enough for the Presidency, I don’t know why twelve is unreasonable for Senators.

  7. bonnevillemariner Says:

    “I’ve been skeptical about the messianic fervor over Obama.”

    Thank you. THANK YOU for seeing that and admitting skepticism.

  8. Non-Arab Arab Says:

    Reuters running a piece today saying Obama getting slippery on his Iraq stance too:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/middleeastCrisis/idUSN01296737

    I imagine they’ll be some “I told you so” on that one from certain folks. Very well, good call 🙂

  9. salt h2o Says:

    Interesting article on Obama in the Economist this week.

    Favorite quote from the article ” Barack Obama is a cynical opportunist, a flip-flopper and a shape-changer, a man who brushes aside his principles with the same nonchalance that lesser mortals reserve for their dandruff.”

    Pretty strong words considering it comes from The Economist.

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