Sunday, January 27, 2008

For A Change of Pace: Barack Obama

.... I haven't posted for quite a while because when it comes to writing about events with respect to politics in Ecuador, I recall my mom's admonishment: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Ok, that's probably being a little too harsh on Ecuador; in fact, some of things Correa and the Asemblea Constituente have done are not all that bad, but.... well, readers of this blog already have a sense of how I feel regarding political developments to date. The large anti-government demonstration a couple of weeks ago in Guyaquil and the smaller one here in Quito are causes for hope, but I'll address them in a separate post.

NOW, for a change of pace, just a few short thoughts on Barack Obama: I'm an Obama man, to be clear from the get-go. Assuming readers here follow political developments in the States, you know that today, Tuesday, February 5, 2008, is what's known as Super-Tuesday. Today is the day in which 22 States, from MA to CA, from AK to OK and lots of places in between, hold their party primaries.

Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee from the GOP aside (and they literally are on the margins as we go into today), we appear to be down to the final four, Clinton and Obama on the Democratic side, and McCain and Romney over in the GOP.

The Republicans, in the person of George Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress (for most of the last seven years) have done such an absolutely awful job in virtually any subject area you can name (e.g., foreign affairs, health, education, fiscal discipline, distribution of incomes, environment, and on and on) that I fully expect to see a Democratic President in the White House and stronger Dem control in both Houses of Congress, come next January 20.

On that premise - that the Dem Presi candidates are the only ones worth mentioning right now - I just want to say that I really hope that Obama wins that Party's nod.

Some word differences come to mind when I think of Obama and Clinton: He inspires, she manages; he leads, she directs; he has the vision, she has the plan; he emphasizes the future, she touts the past (her experience); he talks about what "we" (the people) can do for the country, she talks about what "she" can do for the country; he's made mistakes (youthful drug issues) and apologized for them, she's made a much bigger mistake (Iraq) and has failed to acknowledge it, let alone for apologize for it; he talks about the way things should and can be done, she talks about the way things are (i.e., have always been) done; he's got the excitement and she's got.... well, she's got those plans again, and all the excitement they bring with them.

Thinking of Clinton, I believe Richard Cohen says it well in today's Washington Post: She'd make a great Chief of Staff for Obama when he's in the White House. (My own pick position for her in the Obama administration would be Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, because she's done so much study and planning (planning!) work in that area.)

I can't think of a person who has prepared him/herself more for the White House job in terms of plans and platforms and in doing the "right" (read politically safe, politically exigent) things in getting elected to the Senate (would she have been able to get elected in her own State of Arkansas? I doubt it.), getting on the right Committees, doing lots of homework, making earnest speeches, publishing the right book, making the right speeches on the right circuits, and again, on and on. In short, she's been doing all the things that an aspiring Presidential candidate "needs" to do, and she's been doing all those things for years, because she's aspired to the job for years (denying it all the time).

Over those same years, the American people have been following her activities (not believing for a second that she didn't want to be President), pretty much knowing where her career was going and why.

And those same American people knew as well, that she'd never vote against the crowd on controversial issues, that she'd always vote in the politically expedient way, the way that wouldn't make waves, the way that was least dangerous (as she perceived the danger at any given time) to her career. That's why she stopped using the name Hillary Rodham Clinton a long time ago; no sense in pissing off those ant-feminist sorts. That's why she ran for Senate in New York, not her real home State of Arkansas (just like RFK, btw) because her chances of getting elected - or get elected at all - were better. That's why she voted for Iraq (as opposed to Robert Byrd of her own Party, who spoke out clearly, even eloquently, against Iraq) even though she knew we were going to war; it was not "safe" to go up against Bush at that point. That's why she's said in earlier debates, that she (as opposed to Obama and others) would continue to deal with lobbyists because "that's the way things are done"; she doesn't want to get cross with those guys now during the election campaign.

And listening to Clinton, I guess that all of the above, all of those decisions, have been taken on the basis of experience. Experience.....

Well, let's see, Democrat experience over the last seven years has gotten us the highest level of national debt in our history, a Republican-controlled Congress for most of that time (and a Congress now nominally controlled by Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who act like Republican lap dogs most of the time), a shrinking middle class which finds affordable housing and higher education more out of reach than ever, historically high oil prices, an impending recession, endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a disparaged and disrespected America across the globe, a degraded environment, basic civil rights compromised at home, and ignored abroad, under our aegis, and on and on....

Frankly, I think a great deal of the current Democratic Party leadership (including Clinton, who's on the DLC) should be thrown overboard and replaced with people capable of getting strong control of both houses of Congress and who aren't ashamed of calling themselves liberal.

At this point, in my opinion, Barack Obama's the only Democratic leader capable of leading an overhaul of the party, and I believe it also explains why he's doing so well in the primaries.  People are simply tired of the same old, experienced people who aren't capable of achieving any real change in so many of our institutions, and they're looking for young blood and fresh ideas.

Me too.  Go, Obama!