Obama Speechifying

Per my earlier discussion of avoiding the conventions, I didn’t watch Obama give the speech last night, but I did read it (it didn’t take the 40 minutes speaking it required), and I thought it was very good. On the GOP character attacks, it seems like he did a bit of a rope-a-dope strategy, taking hits through most of August so he could unload with effect in this speech, deflecting the various stupidities of the August campaign and correctly noting that when your opponents have nothing else to hit you with, they call you a “celebrity” and try to make the columns on your stage a genuine political issue. It was a nice bit of reframing and I’m glad he did it. The layout of various goals and policies was useful, considering how often Obama’s hammered on regarding these topics (although personally I’m not seeing McCain’s policies laid out in any more detail), although I bet in the live show that’s where things might have sagged a bit. This is why I read.

I think probably the most important thing Obama did was remind people of this: “We are better than these last eight years.” Jesus Christ amen to that. What a horrible political era it has been, nor are we out of it, since in November there may still be voters under the impression that the best way to deal with a political party that boosted a malignant cancer of the Constitution into the White House is to reward it with another four years of executive power. John McCain should lose the White House on his own merits, or lack thereof; he’s the lesser of the two candidates this year. But more than that, the Republican Party deserves punishment because of Bush, and exile until it gets its head straight again. The GOP needs to atone, people.

I understand there are people who mouth the words “but the Democrats would just be worse,” to this and may actually believe it, and the only sane reaction to this is to ask just exactly where they are buying the genuinely primo weed that they are apparently smoking. It’s good for Obama to forcefully remind people that indeed that as a nation we are not better off than we were eight years ago, economically, socially, constitutionally or morally, and more than that, there’s another and hopefully better way of doing things.

I don’t expect miracles from Obama and never have, and in fact have been awfully irritated at the wide-eyed drooliness of some of the Obamites: Dudes, he’s human and a politician. What I’ve wanted from him was a lot of what was in the speech: An idea of what he wants to do and how he wants to do it, the willingness to call the petty bullshittery that passes for GOP election tactics for what it is (and to keep doing so through November), and the reminder that the Bush administration should properly be seen as a low point to be climbed out of and away from rather than a model to be emulated moving forward. It was a good speech and worth the read.

94 Comments on “Obama Speechifying”

  1. What, precisely, have the Democrats done since 2006 to convince me that they, and their man Obama, are going to do a better job than the Republicans?

    That’s the question I keep asking myself.

    I can’t come up with much, truthfully.

    Again, the legislature’s poll numbers are even worse than the executive branch’s, at this stage.

    I wish we, as a nation, were in a truly, “Throw the bums out!” mood, as opposed to a, “Let’s switch one pack of bums for another pack of bums.”

    Ah well, the country seems to survive, regardless. We’ve seen worse, we’ll see better, I guess.

  2. “since in November there may still be voters under the impression that the best way to deal with a political party that boosted a malignant cancer of the Constitution into the White House is to reward it with another four years of executive power”

    I’m not getting a clear picture here. What do you really think of the GOP and Dubbya?? :)

    A wonderful turn of phrase!

    – Mark

    p.s. I found the speech very stirring to listen to. What the GOP and its libertarian allies tend to forget is that, indeed, we are better than that.

  3. There has been a tendency for Republicans and others to slam the Clinton years and I’m always befuddled by their contempt.

    Objectively speaking, what exactly do you have against peace and prosperity?

    Because the last 8 years…


    Why vote for McCain again?

  4. Hey, he used “inextricably” correctly in a sentence and neither paused before or after, nor stumbled over the five syllables. That right there makes him my candidate. My god, the man is literate, in politics, and isn’t hiding that fact. Yeah, the past eight years have moved the bar that low.

  5. Sub-Oden:

    “We’ve seen worse”

    Not since the 15th president, I’d say.

    As for your first question, you’re doing it wrong. What you should be asking is: What, precisely, have the Republicans done to convince you that they don’t intend to keep up the general plan of total constitutional and economic fuck-uppery they’ve been following for the last eight years. Right now, it’s more important to stop that, and McCain’s not the one that’s going to do it. Likewise, if you don’t believe Obama and the Democrats aren’t planning to make some fairly substantive policy changes, you’re really not paying attention and need to do better.

    Phrasing the question as you have up there to me represents a fairly large abdication of moral responsibility, and as noted in the original entry prompts me to ask you where you’re buying your truly excellent weed.

  6. I particularly liked how Obama managed the Clinton trick of stealing all the opposition’s traditional talking points – personal responsibility, hard work, prosperity.

    The SF’s newspaper’s pet GOP shill couldn’t think of anything sharper to say than making cracks about Obama speaking in a ‘temple’.

  7. That was just damned exciting to read. I don’t know, the man moves me.

    And it is so good to see some concrete ideas, even if they aren’t fully fleshed out yet. It makes me feel good about the future, which is no mean trick nowadays.

    It’s also a good bet with the “future” talk. Because come on–McCain is OLD, and that makes a difference now. The old way of politics, the old economy and the old warfare–they’re done. And I think Obama can bring some new.

    I am a bit nervous about the tough talk on Russia. That’s not a kettle of fish we need to be opening, to mix my metaphors.

    Hmmm…Just my gut reactions.

  8. What, precisely, have the Democrats done since 2006 to convince me that they, and their man Obama, are going to do a better job than the Republicans?

    Had a pulse?

  9. Many of my friends will soon be receiving that penultimate paragraph via email, along with a link to Whatever. As they used to say in the Malt-O-Meal commercials, it’s Good Stuff, Maynard.

  10. One thing I noticed about the live show–this is the only speech from the convention that I made time to watch live and practically the only one that I bothered watching at all–is the rhythm.

    storytelling storytelling ZINGY ONE-LINER wonk wonk wonk RHETORIC bullet point bullet point bullet point RED MEAT…

    I don’t think the lower-case parts were as much “sagging” as they were “demonstrating that the speaker is not just an empty suit”.

  11. It’s really odd when you find that intelligent, articulate people believe the exact opposite of you. It’s hard to understand… how can you believe something so WRONG?!

  12. You know, Obama could win and still not be able to manage much. If the Dem’s fumble the ball on the Congressional and Senate races he won’t be able to do squat with his presidency other than try to put out all the fires left to him by the Republicans. They need to pick up even just a few seats in the Senate so their majority isn’t razor thin any more.

    For that matter, the economy’s in a shambles. It could be a GOOD thing for the Republicans to lose; from their perspective. If the economy goes into death spiral during Obama’s presidency the Republicans will get a lock on the government for the next four to eight years afterwards.

  13. Sub-Odeon@1:

    Looking at the legislature’s numbers as a whole and comparing it to the president’s numbers is misleading. Try looking at what people respond when asked about their own personal representative or Senator. That tells you who is going to be re-elected. Generally people think that their Rep/Senator is doing things right and the others, who they have no say in electing, are wrong.

  14. Just Another John:

    It is puzzling, isn’t it? But the answer is that they usually don’t believe the opposite of you; they believe much the same things, they just differ on how to accomplish those things.


    Sure, he might not be able to do much; but then again, he might. Either way, it’s better than the alternative.

  15. One issue with a McCain loss is his perception as a Maverick (unwarranted, he generally only breaks from the party line when it doesn’t really make a difference in terms of passing legislation or blocking legislation) and the belief among some that he is a moderate (only compared to the right wing of the party).

    If he loses in November, the Republican powers that be and the social Conservative base will point to his loss as a sign that the Republicans must run further to the right in order to win. Given how each campaign the Republicans run further to the right, causing the Democrats to respond by running to the right, it means that the center is now far to the right of where it was forty years ago on many issues and other countries that actually have a liberal party look at us as having two conservative parties (which might also explain some of the xenophobia expressed by so many Americonservatives).

  16. I’m no McCain fan, but Obama’s speech really didn’t do it for me. The unbelievable hubris in supposing that it’s really the job of the President to get involved in all the smallest details of the life of every American is exactly what fosters the incredible expansion of power we have seen in the executive office over the last 50 years. The speech was long on descriptions of heart wrenching stories custom-made to justify redistribution of wealth, and short on issues where the Dems are supposed to be good, like restoring civil liberties, scaling back the scope of executive power, etc. These things – the issues on which the Bush white house have been worst and we most desperately need a change – didn’t even get mentioned.

  17. My husband and I watched the convetion and I thought Al Gore did a very good job with his speech, corny puns and all.

    As always the delivery was excellent and I definetly think he was invoking Martin Luther King a little bit towards the end in his delivery.

  18. I suppose for those who think of U.S. politics as being a team sport, anyone who isn’t “for” their team is necessarily “against” their team.

    My first Presidential election cycle was 1992. I voted for Perot. And while the 16 years since then have made me re-think, from time to time, whether Perot would have actually been better than Bush or Clinton, I still believe deep down that our false dichotomy politics (Dems vs. Reps, “There Can Be Only One!”) is damaging and dangerous.

    Because, really, few people are ALL one thing or ALL the other. But our national polarization pretends that this is the norm. Whatever the Republicans are “for”, the Democrats must necessarily be “against”. Whatever the Democrats are “for” the Republicans must necessarily be “against”.

    Do most people opposed to “gun control” really understand what they oppose? How about people opposed to abortion? Single-payer healthcare? Military intervention in Iraq? Tax cuts? Tax hikes? “Judicial Activism?” And so on and so forth.

    If Gore had been in office from 2000 to 2004, would as large a number of people have been opposed military intervention in Iraq? If your answer is “yes” you don’t understand the political Team Sport mentality that pervades a sizeable portion of our population.

    When you’re loyal to a particular “team” for any length of time, there is a tendency to excuse and forgive things you’d otherwise lambast the “opposing team” for doing, or saying.

    There has also been a tendency of late to fault the executive branch entirely, for everything, when in fact the legislature has been entirely cooperative and culpable through much of it; regardless of what the legislative members are saying to the cameras.

    If your opinion truly is that Bush is the WPE (“Worst President Ever!”) then I suppose, yes, Obama seems like a cloudburst on the African plain after an unbearable dry season. But it’s been my experience that any time you think it can’t get any worse, this is an invitation to fate to prove to you that, yes, it really can get worse.

    I look at the Republicans and I see a messed-up political machine that doesn’t really understand economics anymore, doesn’t understand how to tackle pragmatic needs at the domestic level, and which greatly overplayed its hand in terms of the so-called “permanent majority” and following 9/11/2001.

    I look at the Democrats and I see a messed-up political machine that also does not understand economics anymore, understands the GWOT even less, believes too much of its own press, and seems content to think that simply to Not Be Republicans in front of the cameras is the equivalent of leadership.

    Don’t get me wrong. Obama is seductive. If I were still the teen I was in 1992 or the early-twenty-something I was in 1996, I’d vote Obama in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t matter to me that he can’t deliver on half the things he promises and will get waxed by older, meaner politicians overseas, in the foreign arena. I’d simply love his charm and his talk and that he’s Not Just Another Fucking Rich White Guy.

    Alas, I’ve grown too jaded to buy into the Obama program. If I can quote a favorite, old movie of mine, “When you’ve been in the system as long as I have, you hear many promises… many reassurances…many brave plans…” I don’t get starry-eyed anymore and I don’t believe either the Dems or the Republicans can quickly or magically fix everything.

    If Obama is elected I will hope, as I always hope, that the choices he makes are good choices for America; whether I happen to agree with them at the time or not. I don’t play the Presidential Hater game and I don’t drink Haterade for its own sake. If Obama is elected, as it seems he will be, I will hope for the best and I will honor him as the CiC and my (ultimate) superior in the Army CoC.

    Really, If I could concoct a perfect candidate I’d take Obama’s charm and ability to motivate, combine it with McCain’s military and war experience, blend in the international experience of the last half dozen secretaries of state, throw in Mitt Romney’s knack for running huge private and state programs out of the red and into the black, and make him or her into an Independent.

    My Frankenstein candidate does not exist, sadly. So I am left looking at the false dichotomy and going, “Why must I choose Coke or Pepsi? Can I please get a fucking root beer??”

  19. Scalzi

    “since in November there may still be voters under the impression that the best way to deal with a political party that boosted a malignant cancer of the Constitution into the White House is to reward it with another four years of executive power”

    Obama: Bush’s third term

    heh, heh, heh

  20. Sub-Oedon:

    I have no opposition to you voting for someone other than Obama, you know. I think voting for McCain and the GOP, however, is a mistake at this point.

  21. I find Bush II all the more disturbing because I voted for the man. I guess I was enough of a sucker that I believed everything the GOP was telling me during the Clinton years. I am so disgusted. ENOUGH!

    Looking back, Clinton wasn’t bad. I guess I believed the GOP was willing to do a lot they couldn’t get done. Am I making the same mistake with Obama? I don’t think so. Mainly, I like seeing the Democrats strong. Now maybe the GOP will get their act together, find come class, and figure out how to govern effectively.

    The folks clinging to the GOP with the excuse that ‘the Democrats are worse’ have me fired up to give the Donks a shot. They keep screaming about keeping taxes low, as if the GWOT should be financed by the Chinese, Russians, and Saudis, then finally paid for by their children. For all the neo-morons out there who want to start the next ‘Big One’ I say: look at the history of the US income tax and tell me what the top rate was during WWII! Does paying 94% look like fun? Is empire REALLY worth so much that it’s now worth financing the cost?

    Why shouldn’t the military have to balance their books? Aren’t they part of ‘big government?’ Or am I missing something?

    Of course, most of the folks I know who haven’t walked away from the GOP in disgust aren’t able (or even trying, really) to defend the indefensible. They send me pathetic, tribal chain emails that are easily debunked, all while asserting ‘the left is a bunch of morons!’ Each time this happens, I send Obama more money, then email back pointed questions (along with a link to snopes or fact check). What a joke!

    I am not in love with everything Obama stands for, but I CAN’T WAIT to vote for him in November, even if the speech last night reminded me I need to renew my NRA membership.

  22. Sub-Odeon, if you want a root beer, maybe you need to go out and show that there is a market for root beer. Or get like-minded root-beer-cravers to push beverage companies to sell the stuff.

    That is, I admit, a lot more work than just shrugging and pretending it all tastes the same, so who cares what you drink.

  23. full disclosure: I was at a Move On sponsored Obama watching party last night

    You should have watched the speech, John. I’m sure you still can by way of the miracle of the Internets. The parts that got the loudest cheers in the art studio (cliche? sure) that we were all in were when he said that the military doesn’t just fight for the Red states, but for all of America, and when he said he wanted to invest in education for all Americans.

    Sure, the red meat lines got great play, but it was the details that really got people fired up, cheering and yelling at a projected version of the man on the wall.

  24. Mr. Scalzi @ #20: Thanks.

    I’ve got to head to work soon, and am already lashing myself for getting sucked into a political blog discussion, but I must say again how much UNENTHUSIASM I have for this electoral cycle. I don’t feel excited about Obama. I don’t feel excited about McCain. I liked Mitt Romney when it came to budget issues because I think almost nobody in D.C. understand deficits, the debt, or how to run a fiscally responsible government. But Mitt is Mormon and just as many Evangelicals hate and will never vote for a Mormon as much as there are liberal progressives who hate and will never vote for a Mormon.

    So who do I pick? Barr? Nader? My wife has a history of reading the voter pamphlets and choosing obscure third-party “protest” platforms. Maybe I will follow her lead this year. And hope that when either Coke or Pepsi win, as surely they must, that Coke or Pepsi actually managed to make a few good decisions.

  25. I enjoyed those few moments of the speech where his tone also cut through the BS and he talked like a regular guy who knows just what’s going on in the world. I’m not sure if you get the complete impact reading, but his vocal changes were very effective. It’s like he’s in on the joke that politics has become, but he has to go through the BS process in order to change it.

  26. Reading his speech I find it a gratifying bit of word wrangling, with some smart policy-making mixed in. Seeing Obama *deliver* this speech makes me want to go to the mat for the guy — in spite of my innate aversion to authority figures of all stripes.

    “Scratch any cynic,” said the recently-departed comedian George Carlin, “and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.” In my case, anyway, Mr. Carling was spot on. It’s too much to say that Obama has melted away my hard-candy cynical shell… but only just. I’m right on the naked edge of hoping again.

  27. Holy crap, that actually got me a little choked up. I guess I’m not quite as jaded as I thought.

    All the people who say “Well, Obama has good ideas, but he’ll never be able to execute them,” ask yourself two questions:
    1. Who will likely fillibuster, cockblock, and do everything possible to stop the execution of these good ideas? Right.
    2. Say you feel like a nice chicken dish. Two friends invite you over for dinner at their houses. One friend is a vegetarian, one loves to grill big hunks of dead critters. Now, you’re not guaranteed a plate o’ poultry at your meat loving friend’s house, but you are guaranteed NOT to get any chicken at your vegetarian friend’s house. Oddly, in this analogy, the Republican party is a bunch of vegans. That seems wrong, doesn’t it?

    Point is, if you want X (let X represent affordable health care for all), it makes more sense to vote for a candidate that supports X than a party that says NO X FOR YOU, EVER!

  28. John, in what sense if McCain the “lesser of the two candidates”? I know your (and my) political views color our observations, but that seems like a stretch to me.

  29. You know, Odeon, something bothered me about your comments, and it took me a while to figure it out. I think it’s this:
    You don’t really seem to care about the situation America is in–you really only care about your ideals, I think.
    When you vote for some anonymous third party candidate, your protest vote is an excellent balm for your conscience. You voted your heart. Excellent. And you contributed absolutely nothing toward any change in America. That says to me that you don’t really want anything to change. You don’t actually care. And right now, when most of the world views the US as a danger to world peace, when the US has become a nation of torturers, when the US has abandoned the principles that once made it great, that really bothers me.
    If you don’t think that Barack Obama will have an effect on that, well, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion–I think it’s wrong, but whatever. But if you effectively remove yourself from the only process that can go about changing the situation…well, I guess you’re just making things worse.

    You know, it’s kind of like this: there’s a baby being menaced by a tiger. You can go ask your asshole neighbor with a gun for help, but he’s an asshole and you don’t really want his help anyway.
    So you send a radio message to the stars, because the aliens might be nice and they’ll probably be better help than your neighbor, what with their rayguns and all.

    Good work.

  30. The GOP needs to pay the price for 8 years of corruption, destruction of civil liberties, and no-bid contracts.

    GOP! Do the dance of shame!

  31. There’s been a vast amount of damage done to institutions that the Executive branch has had control over, from top level powerful positions like DHS, all the way down to low level bureaucrats in the DOJ.

    Mostly, incompetent suck up yes-men (and women) to the Bush party line have taken power and run the Legislative branch into a wall repeatedly.

    I’ve not seen any credible evidence that McCain even notices the damage that’s been done. I have at least some hope that Obama will fix things.

    And anyone who thinks a return to the cold war is a good plan should certainly vote McCain. Because he will start it again if he can.

  32. Josh Jasper

    And anyone who thinks a return to the cold war is a good plan should certainly vote McCain. Because he will start it again if he can.

    Um, I’m thinking Russia started it a long time ago. There’s a lot of evidence not the least of which is that they have been by supplying arms and supporting many of our enemies: Syria, Iran most notably.

    The question for the next President will be, how do we deal with it?

    If you think Obama can handle Putin better than McCain, then by all means vote for Obama.

    But it is not a choice between one of the other starting another Cold War or not.

    That horse is already gone from the barn.

  33. I heard criticism about the size of the audience this morning – apparently, there are those who think that giving a speech in a stadium is the mark of someone who is not a serious politician.

    My thought was, “Oh – yes. We all know the mark of a serious politician is to speak in public only to small, very carefully vetted audiences.”

  34. JimR,

    I reject the notion that if I care about America, I must therefore vote for whoever-is-the-Democrat. And that if I don’t vote for whoever-is-the-Democrat, I am somehow being “part of the problem” as it were.

    The problem, to my mind, is two-party gridlock. It’s a problem that is way bigger than virtually any problem the Democrats currently profess they can solve. It’s the problem that pits one half of the country against the other half in a near-eternal, snarling dogfight. Its a problem that only increases, not mitigates, extremism, and forces Americans from the center and towards the edges.

    Suppose a voter is anti-abortion, but also pro-single-payer healthcare? For religious reasons? Why must this voter choose to abandon one of those items in order to support someone who will implement the other?

    We have been slowly duped, over the last fifty years, into thinking that Liberal and Conservative are mutually exclusive, and that to be one means you cannot subscribe to even a single idea from the other. Which is just bullshit, because virtually everyone holds some ideas that are conservative and some ideas that are liberal, depending on the isolated issue. Yet two-partyism seldom lets us acknowledge that we’re all an amalgam.

    Nope. It’s one, or the other. And every election, anyone who points out the bullshit of two-partyism is accused of not being serious, not taking American problems seriously, etc.

    Jim, I appreciate that you feel the Bush mistakes are too large for us to not usher in Obama as a solution. I am glad, actually, that you can have that kind of faith in Obama and the Democrats. If I had that kind of faith it would make this electoral cycle way easier for me.

    But I don’t have much faith in Obama or the Dems. And I certainly don’t feel like I “owe it to America” or my conscience to continue to play two-partyism if neither party represents my views nor seems to offer me anything much beyond more two-party beltway dodgeball politicking.

  35. Yay, way to NOT speak about politics as you said yesterday…

    It’s amazing that no one questions the bi-party thing. Why doesn’t anyone even try to look for another party? Aren’t you guys sick of this? Wasn’t the last democrat impeached? Isn’t the last republican an idiot?

    This is crazy. It’s like they are the mob bosses, and no one dares to speak.

  36. Chris @ 16

    What part of “the president can’t do it all, we all will need to step up” did you miss?


    Like any well crafted speach, listening to the delivery (cadence, emphasis, etc.) provides a much clearer view of the internal logic. FWIW, Pat Robertson (ick) called it the “best convention speach he had ever heard” and Pat is not exactly a fervent democrat.

    The ordinary people stories (in their own words) that happened just prior to Obama’s speach were also very effective in pointing out just how pervasive the failure of the Republican ideology has proved. I particularly liked the testimony of the layed-off after decades, with a ninety day severance, factory worker named Barney Smith. “I want a government that works for Barney Smith, not Smith Barney.”

  37. But more than that, the Republican Party deserves punishment because of Bush, and exile until it gets its head straight again. The GOP needs to atone, people.

    I think you’ve got this exactly right. My uncle, who’s a pretty conservative Republican, thinks that the GOP needs not just to lose but to lose big. In other words, to get them back to center where they belong they need to lose not just the presidency but the House and the Senate and as many state legislatures and statehouses as possible.

  38. Frank –

    I believe China just told Russia they’re on their own with the Georgia thing. So that link you posted seems to be a bit behind the curve.

    I do trust Obama to better manage our relationship with Russia, as I think it may be a mistake to keep expanding NATO to include nations like Georgia.

    Also, I believe Russia, China, and Saudi are basically financing our wars by buying our debts. Russia and China also both have their own problems with Islam. That makes the situation a little more complex than it was during the cold war. I trust Obama to think, then talk things through when negotiations are difficult, and I think it’s preferable to ratcheting up the rhetoric.

    Ultimately, my Libertarian bias has me leaning toward Obama. I see him as willing and able to ‘expand the pie,’ while I see the GOP as shrinking the pie through short-sighted and simplistic rhetoric. Basic business principles, see?

  39. John, the first time I even heard of you was a link to your great Michelle Obama rant. Just so you know. :)

    Last night, watching Senator Obama speak, I had Old Man’s War in my hands. I actually zoned out a bit during the middle of his speech to continue reading the book.

    So, thanks for everything, man!

  40. That was a pretty long to-do list that Obama had in his speech, and I’d be nuts to expect him to come through on more than a fraction of it. What I do expect him to do, and what I think he can pull off, is grab hold of that great Steering Wheel of State and move us ever so gently back on track, instead of pointing us into oncoming traffic like some putz I could mention. If he does that, believe me, I’m good.

  41. Watchmen –

    Since you asked why McCain is the lesser of the two candidates, I’ll answer:

    1) He has little knowledge of the situation in the Middle East, or terrorism, despite acting like he is an expert on those subjects. He has shown he doesn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, who the terrorists are, who the 9/11 terrorists were or where they came from, doesn’t understand why either group wants us out of their lands. He recently said that Iraq is a peaceful country now. If you don’t understand a problem, you are very unlikely to be able to fix it, especially one as complex as this.

    2) He has no idea about the domestic economy. Owning 10+ homes and walking around in $500+ shoes certainly doesn’t make him understand the plight of the average American, and sure as hell, giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people isn’t going to fix anything with our economy. He recently said that he thinks wealthy Americans are people who are worth $5 million or more. Yikes.

    3) He does not support our troops (though he’ll mention his POW experience at the drop of a hat. Any hat. (Did I mention he was a POW?)). He has a very long record now of voting against anything that comes up to benefit the troops. The recent attempt by W to give McCain credit for the G.I. benefit thing was pretty despicable considering McCain opposed it, as it was so good, it might make soldiers less likely to reenlist. (his words!)

    4) He’s a hypocrite. The latest evidence is his choice of VP candidate, someone with VASTLY less time in political office than Obama, and NO foreign policy experience whatsoever. Yet he thinks *Obama* doesn’t have enough experience, especially on foreign policy? Get real. It’s a shameless attempt to court the female vote, and try to take some of her genuine ethics onto himself. From what little I’ve read about her so far, she really IS a straight shooter, and walks the walk. Too bad McCain hasn’t done that for 8 years or so. Let’s not forget that he cheated on his first wife (with the woman who is his current wife). This doesn’t exactly match the GOP ‘family values’ platform. (But let’s not talk about that – it’s inconvenient.)

    This is a good start on answering your question, but I gotta go.

  42. This is crazy. It’s like they are the mob bosses, and no one dares to speak

    Uh, since everybody complains about it, I’m not sure what political scene you’re following.

  43. @JimR

    JimR how can you say that to contribute to the political process of this county, to care for this country, you have to vote either Republican or Democrat? That’s the kind of thinking that propagate the 2-party system into eternity. Yes, if Sub-Odeon votes independent in November, his vote will not have contributed to the winner in that election, but the more people do vote for these 3rd party candidates, the more legitimacy it gives the idea of a 3+ party system.

    As for your metaphor, what about if you let the other people around ask the neighbor for the gun (which your not even sure has any bullets), and you get started building a fence that may take a couple of years to build, but once it’s there, you don’t have to worry about getting a gun because that tiger has no chance at getting the baby because of the work you started.

  44. Speaking to the two-party conundrum, I would argue that now is not the time to be delving into third parties.

    When, you might ask, would be a good time? When the country is on a relatively even keel.

    We all know that, unless you have one party in control of both the white house and congress, you’re only going to see marginal moves in the direction of whichever party is most successful at getting their initiatives passed. It’s why I hope not only for an Obama white house, but for 62+ dem seats in the Senate and a whacking great lot more in the House. It’ll take that to help rectify the awful things that have been done in our name over the last eight years in particular, and in general over the last thirty.

    Once we’re back to a nice middle ground – once “centrist” really means what everyone else in the world thinks it means – once we’re back on that even keel, then would be the time to start talking about other options, and other possibilities.

    Until then, it’s incremental step by incremental step, and it’s too important to our lives and the lives of our progeny to not start that incremental clime out of the excrement right the hell now.

  45. 37. Joe said: Yay, way to NOT speak about politics as you said yesterday…

    ssshhhh!!! This is the first time in a good long while there’s been a discussion here that I actually want to read all of. :p

    It’s amazing that no one questions the bi-party thing.

    Until we actually change the way voting works to some sort of ranking system, we can’t have anything other than two parties at a time. In theory, yes, lots of parties is great – but in practice when it’s “vote for only one”, not so much. I’d love to see our leadership do something serious in that direction, but it’s not as high a priority as a lot of other things, unfortunately.

  46. Jas

    Speaking to the two-party conundrum, I would argue that now is not the time to be delving into third parties.

    As far as I’m concerned, you could bring back the use-ta-be Democratic Party anytime and I wouldn’t mind.

    I really hate knowing that if JFK ran today he’d be called a “neo-con”

  47. I really hate knowing that if JFK ran today he’d be called a “neo-con”

    No, he wouldn’t. There was this little thing called the “Cold War” which pitted two enormous superpowers against each other. This “Cold War” had entirely different rules than does the current world and JFK would have–unlike neocons–adjusted to that new reality.

  48. Graeme @40

    I believe China just told Russia they’re on their own with the Georgia thing. So that link you posted seems to be a bit behind the curve.

    Yeah, so? The Shanghai Cooperation Organization still exists and Russia and China are still part of it. Nothing has changed.

    Oh, and Iran has applied to become a member.

  49. Quoth Scalzi: I understand there are people who mouth the words “but the Democrats would just be worse,” to this and may actually believe it, and the only sane reaction to this is to ask just exactly where they are buying the genuinely primo weed that they are apparently smoking.

    For all their manifold failings in the realm of civil rights, the Republicans have never been quite as blatant about their attempts to suppress free speech as the Democrats are. I refer you to the Fairness Doctrine which D leaders have promised to restore and to the Obamanoids’ recent attempts to shut down political commentators and ads they don’t like.

    If you think truth is a psychoactive drug, well…

    It’s good for Obama to forcefully remind people that indeed that as a nation we are not better off than we were eight years ago, economically, socially, constitutionally or morally, and more than that, there’s another and hopefully better way of doing things.

    Yes, there is. But socialism ain’t it. Gilderoy Obama is a socialist from teeth to toenails. How many times do we have to try socialism and see it fail before we learn that it doesn’t work?

  50. Wolfwalker:

    As an FYI, your persistence in using “Gilderoy Obama” keeps me from taking your arguments as seriously as you probably would like.

  51. John, my question to you is: Just what kind of primo weed are you smoking?

    Obama just promised a very big miracle: Getting us off of ME oil in 10 years.

    Obama didn’t really lay down a detailed pan of how he was going to get us off of Middle Eastern oil. He just used the same old platitudes, as in, all the other energy sources. This is a very unrealistic promise.

    I guess you haven’t been reading the McCain speeches, because he has been a lot more detailed on subject of energy.

    To do all of the various things Obama has promised in this speech he will have to raise taxes on a lot more people than he is letting on. The next Congress will never give the Middle Class tax break he is promising. We have heard the “I’m going to go through budget line by line” line before. It’s not going to happen. The Democrats will not let go of their programs.

    The speech was a bunch of empty promises. It’s a nice fantasy though.

    I am impressed with what they accomplished with the yellow backdrop, while Obama was talking about people of all colors. You should really take a look at the video of the speech.

  52. Anthony VanWager:

    “Obama didn’t really lay down a detailed pan of how he was going to get us off of Middle Eastern oil.”

    If you think a nomination speech is the place where something like that is going to get laid down in detail, the “primo weed” question is back in your court. There’s a limit to the policy wonkiness these speeches will bear. Expecting great detail there is pretty dumb.

    Personally, I don’t expect it’s a promise Obama will be capable of fulfilling, but I would be happy with significant forward movement in these areas, and making a promise like this is an affirmative thing.

    Also, re: “Democrats will never let go of their programs,” honestly, I’m so fucking tired of people ignoring (or hoping to make other people ignore) the fact that the last time the government reduced its expenditures was when Democrats were in the White House. People who reflexively blather “Democrat = bigger government” need to turn down their anti-reality shields.

  53. I fail to see how the country has been “trashed” under Bush. The economy is still growing and not in a recession ( +3.3% last quarter) despite high fuel prices. Unemployment is still at an historic low range that is the envy of other countries. The ranks of the uninsured have been reduced.

    During the Clinton years we absorbed a series of escalating terrorist attacks at home and abroad that we did not respond to. Under Bush we have been attacked once ( 9/11) and have been taking it to the bad guys ever since.

    Internationally Germany elected a conservative, France elected a conservative, Italy elected a conservative, Britain is leaning conservative etc… in fact most of the major leaders who opposed Bush on Iraq are gone.

    Iraq is a success. We defeated Al Queda in Iraq and have helped to establish a stable democratic government.

    I can’t think of a single personal liberty that I have lost with the exception of airport security.

    Taxes are lower. Incomes are higher. Productivity is up. Exports are up.

    Has Bush done some stupid things? sure. Has he failed to communicate on even a basic level? yes.

    Has he “ruined” the country? Not that I can see.

    Look out your front door… name one thing about your immediate community that has been “trashed” by Bush. Name one way in which you personally have been harmed by the Bush administration. You can’t.

    Name one change he has made to the constitution. It is still exactly the same as it has always been as far as I can see.

    I just don’t understand this hatred of Bush

    Have the democrats in the congress and Senate done any better?

    Will their proposals to raise taxes, reignite class warfare, and retreat from our international obligations make us a better country?

    Obama is running on a platform of pure socialism and class warfare. It’s been tried before. It’s not new.

    Obama has surrounded himself with friends and advisors that should make even hard core democrats think twice. William Ayers tried to blow up the capital building. His wife was a Manson fan. They have never recanted or changed their opinions. Tony Rezko makes Abramhoff look like a rookie. Rev. Wright preaches the most extreme form of hatred. The abortion lobby convinced obama to vote in favor of killing live babies. The list goes on. Are those the people who you think should be entrusted to “fix” the beuracracy in Washington? In the lexicon of Chicago politics, these people own him. He has never done anything in his whole political career to challenge the system or oppose “the machine”.

    Just what is your vision of what America should be?

    Dislike Bush? sure
    Punish him? for what?


  54. If you look back at the last 8 years, and ignored every bad thing Bush did but one, the Dems still would have been better.

    They would never have tortured people and then say it’s okay because we’re not calling it torture.

  55. Drew, whatever alternate universe you’ve been living in, it isn’t real. Iraq is a success? By what measure? Stable government? Hah! And Al Queda wasn’t even IN Iraq before Bush attacked it! Your statements on the economy, unemployment and the uninsured are false.

    As for the Constitution, have you forgotten that it’s “just a piece of paper” according to your hero? Bush doesn’t have to change it. He simply ignores it. And THAT, sir, is an impeachable offense.

    You have bought into the lies about the Obamas regarding Ayers, Manson, Rezko, and your statements about Obama and socialism/class warfare are ridiculous.

  56. John,

    John McCain has a very good record in curtailing government spending. I suppose you can ignore that if you want.

    I don’t smoke weed, but I do expect a little bit of detail when such a huge promise is made, even in an acceptance speech.

    As far as government expenditures under Democrats, I suspect it is you who will need to return the reality-based community. Or can you tell me why this congress is using delaying tactics until the election to get their real spending measures across?

    I would be willing to make a real 3 figure bet with you that with Obama in the White House, and a Democrat congress, government spending will increase.

  57. I fail to see how the country has been “trashed” under Bush.

    John’s right. That is some good weed.

    As far as government expenditures under Democrats, I suspect it is you who will need to return the reality-based community.

    Balanced budget: Clinton
    Did not balance budget: Reagan, Bush I, Bush II

  58. The GOP needs to atone, people.

    Actually, they need to repent (to turn away from wrongdoing), as well as atone (to make amends or reparation). Not that I’m holding my breath, mind you… but that’s generally the way it works best.

    (Particular? Perhaps. But I’m a priest; it’s what we do.)

  59. “Balanced budget: Clinton”
    Republican Congress
    It was essential in this. Don’t kid yourself.

    Yeah, I noticed how balanced the budget was when the Republicans controlled Congress _and_ the Presidency from 2003-2007

    Don’t kid yourself.

  60. Drew @57: Ooooo, oooo, let me answer!

    One thing that Bush has done that has affected me personally: Made it harder for me to get birth control! And tried through Mike Leavitt to get birth control classified as an abortion, and make it up to pharmacists about whether or not they want to dispense it to me.

    (And while he was at, he reinstated the Global Gag Rule, making US aid money for family planning abroad contingent on countries not providing abortion services, or even lobbying for abortion, even if it is legal in their country. To quote Access Denied, this forces a cruel choice on foreign NGOs: accept U.S. assistance to provide essential health services – but with restrictions that may jeopardize the health of many patients – or reject the policy and lose vital U.S. funds, contraceptive supplies and technical assistance.)

    Another thing Bush has done that effected friends of mine: Let their entire city get pretty much thrashed and ruined through incompetence. Failed to rebuild that city. Let thousands of people die through poor choice of FEMA advisors. No follow through on his speeches post-Katrina. The people I know are back in their rebuilt house but lots of other people aren’t.

    A third thing: My college RA’s husband (I was at their wedding) died in the Pentagon on 9/11. You know, that attack that Bush was warned about in August of that year, if Condi Rice’s memos are to be believed. My college friend was a widow at age 25.

    Personal liberties: I was stopped by guards telling me I couldn’t take pictures of a public building from public grounds. (This has happened on at least three or four occasions with a threat to call the police once.)

    Oh, S-Chip. Did I mention the Bush veto on that? My sister, new mother of twins, probably would have qualified for aid that she won’t be receiving now.

    Oh, and that national debt, that little bill run up on our “successful” war in Iraq? That’s not going to be affecting me, my kids, or my grandkids. Not at all. I mean, we can pay for that with credit right?

    I’m not sure Bush has changed the Constitution so much as outright ignored it. So maybe your claim there is accurate. For a given value of accurate.

  61. Oh, and Bush’s would-be heir to the throne–that McCain fella, you mighta heard of him? Well, he voted against and actively campaigned against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That one that would make it so I get paid the same as my male counterparts.

    Kinda hard for me to overlook the double attack on my ovaries AND my pocketbook.

  62. Anthony @55&60: “I do expect a little bit of detail when such a huge promise is made…”

    I don’t understand why you would, at least in this context. When John Kennedy called for a manned moon landing within 10 years in 1961 he didn’t unroll specs for Saturn rockets and draw lunar orbit operations on a blackboard. He basically just said “Hey, let’s!”, got Congress to put up and set the engineers loose. (It happened, too. Under schedule. I saw it with my own eyes.)

  63. PeterL (sorry, I can’t seem to reply to Sub Oedon, mostly because I can’t get my head around why someone would be pro-single-payer health care for religious reasons…What?), you don’t seem to get it.
    The baby’s dead.
    But you’re right, in a few years, that fence will be mighty pretty.

    Why don’t you just vote third party for local, state or even congressional elections? You might actually have a chance of winning, and then you can establish the basis for the future multi-party system. For the president, with the current power of the executive branch, you are wasting your time and hurting America.
    Voting 3rd party will do nothing to solve our current situation. Nothing. It can, as has been shown in the past, actually do harm.

    Now, if you honestly don’t believe that the United States is currently in a crisis state, and that something needs to be done NOW, then you and I are living in different realities, and we probably don’t even both speak the same language.

    Let’s just leave it at this:
    Two party system–constrictive and kinda bad.
    Thousands of people wrongfully dying–Evil.
    The entire world losing its faith in and respect for America, and increasingly violent Anti-American sentiment because of our vile leadership–Pretty freaking awful.

    Seems pretty clear to me.
    (And yes, I do honestly Believe that Obama can help solve those problems. Call me stupid, but hey–he voted against the war.)

  64. Actually, compared to the Clinton Era, economically, professionally, and personally, I am better off.

    As for the Obama speech, it smacked of the standard “chicken in every pot, a car in every garage” nonsense.

    I don’t believe a word of it.

  65. Has he “ruined” the country? Not that I can see.

    aka, the “I’ve got mine, Jack,” argument.

    I had a similar discussion with a co-worker the other day. When I mentioned a number of deal-breaker issues with McCain, he dismissed them as “that’s not really a big deal to me.” He was rather surprised when I pointed out they were a big deal to me. Imagine that, other people care about whether or not the federal judiciary is staffed with right-wing activists.

  66. JimR @ 68: Exactly! The weird thing about the people pining for third parties in the US is that they only seem to pop up during the presidential elections, when voting for a minor-party candidate is the most futile.

    I guess it’s because establishing a party machinery, building political capital and connections, and getting the voters out to support your candidate and positions is a lot of work, you have to compromise and you aren’t guaranteed a success.

    Now, when you vote for the Greenetarian Constitutional Labor Party in the Presidential election, you’re not guaranteed a success, either – in fact, you’re guaranteed to lose. But you don’t have to work for it, and you can maintain the precious purity of your ideas without having to make any compromises or concessions to reality.

  67. I was a Bush supporter in 2000 and 2004, but I’ve come to the conclusion that he and his entire Administration have made some huge errors in office. If he were capable of running again Constitutionally, I would not vote for him. Nor would I vote for anyone (with the possible exception of Condi Rice) in his administration. However, I don’t think the title WPE is fair – Bush 43 has had major challenges to deal with that many presidents have not: economic woes dating back to the last year of the Clinton administration, 9/11, GWOT, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Admittedly, some of those problems were brought on by decisions he made, but some of them were simply cyclical (economy) or externally driven (terrorism). Much like Clinton, who was hated and reviled by his opponents while in office, I believe history will be kind to Bush in the long run, just as it has been to Nixon & Carter.

    More on point to the thread, Obama is an interesting candidate on many levels. When I heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic Convention and again later on NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” I thought immediately that he’d be a fantastic chief executive. He’s articulate, funny, avoids condescension, and is inspirational. It doesn’t hurt that he’s black. The problem I have with him is that he’s just so inexperienced on the national stage. It was the same problem I had with Hillary. They are both effectively one-term Senators…not exactly reassuring from an experiential perspective. My hope is that even if he loses he will run again in 2012 after another 4 years in the Senate. Regardless if you agree with him politically or not, he’s an energizing voice for change, and we need that right now. Moreover, we need some time for the country to come back to the middle instead of being so polarized. Perhaps Obama – in or out of the Oval Office – could be a part of that.

  68. Don’t complain TOO much about your bipartisan country, Americans. Yes, I do think a third major party would help y’all a lot, but look at us in Canada. One of our federal parties is entirely devoted to shattering confederation.

    I’d like Quebec so much better if they’d just ship the Quebecois off to Louisiana, like they did the Acadians.

  69. Actually, compared to the Clinton Era, economically, professionally, and personally, I am better off.

    That’s nice. You can play in your own little corner. The rest of us are going to try and work together as Americans, thank you.

  70. Dave @ 57. Lessee, how are things trashed?

    Bush has stripped many of our watchdog agencies, such as the EPA, of its skilled workers, its libraries, its budgets and its ability to enforce. It has reached deep into the FDA, USDA, EPA, Forest Service, BLM, and even National Park Service to push its political agenda. Across the board, agency staffers have been browbeaten not to do their legislated jobs, but to perform for Bush’s Republican cronies’ economic and political gain.

    Why does this matter? Because when we prevent the USDA from inspecting food, people get sick. When we prevent the EPA from regulating air and water pollution, people get sick. When we force the BLM to fire sale public mineral rights to private corporations, we not only damage the lands that all of us hold in common, but we also get less revenue from these mineral rights than we could have. So we’re not just trashing our landscapes, we’re also trashing our pocketbooks in order to fatten a few. Again and again and again this is the case. Pick a federal agency, and you see not just manipulation, but short-sighted, greedy, cynical, corrupt manipulation. You might not see some of the damage because it happens in remote places, or impacts someone else, or happens in the tangled layers of obscure bureaucracy, but if you dig very far, it’s there, and it’s horrifying.

    I agree with Obama that there is a productive role for government, and that it is a necessary moderator in the life of the country, whether it’s for building roads or enforcing laws or intervening in national emergencies. The cynical attitude that government should be shrunk to the point where it can be drowned in a bathtub is precisely why the Republicans don’t get my vote. They have trashed the safeguards of the nation. Now it’s time to trash them.

  71. John,

    “John McCain should lose the White House on his own merits, or lack thereof; he’s the lesser of the two candidates this year. But more than that, the Republican Party deserves punishment because of Bush, and exile until it gets its head straight again. The GOP needs to atone, people.”

    I am assuming here I know, but I am a Democrat like you. And, I could not disagree with you more about the relative merits of John McCain vs. Barack Obama.

    Bush needs to atone, yes, absolutely. The GOP needs to atone, definitely definitely. But McCain needs to be the fall-guy for the very sins of the GOP that he has fought so hard against? Well, you lose me there.

    Obama, for all his soaring, glorious rhetoric, is sadly only a talented hack politician from the tremendously corrupt Daley dynastic machine in Chicago. Of course, we all remember how he boldly took on that machine, and took down its more corrupt members during his rise to power, right?

    Oh, wait… Obama didn’t do that, he actually plugged himself in for twenty years with the racist Rev. Wright (so much for being post-racial), the unrepentant radical bomber William Ayres (so much for being moderate), and most corruptly with the Daley machine’s now-convicted-felon money man, Tony Rezko (so much for being a reformer).

    I contrast this with McCain’s repeatedly trying to flush out the corrupt unmentionables in his party, from Tom DeLay to Jack Abramoff to the insane Cheney/Rumsfeld clique. These people, all of them now thankfully departed from the corridors of power (with the exception of Cheney) HATE McCain with a passion. And Abramoff hates McCain from his jail cell, which is of course where he belongs.

    Palin pulled the same thing in Alaska — she blew the whistle on two corrupt Republican colleagues on the oil board there, despite the fact they were associates of Republican Senator Frank Murkowski, who appointed her to the board in hopes she’d be a go along-get along type. Not only did she resign when she saw the corruption there, but her resignation letter naming names forced those two hacks to be resign in disgrace.

    She then challenged the equally corrupt Mr. Murkowski, who appointed his own daughter Lisa to replace him as Senator, and defeated him as incumbent Governor during the Republican primary. Then she went on to beat former Democratic Alaska Governor during the general election.

    Since then, Palin has opened up the corrupt bidding process in Alaska, doing away with the usual sweetheart deals, AND sold the Governor’s jet in favor of flying coach or driving herself for short official trips.

    The contrast between the above record of actually DOING reform, instead of just talking about it as Obama has, could not be more stark. When it came time for him to keep even his ONE campaign finance reform promise about taking only government funding for the general election, Obama couldn’t even do that!

    The same is true of Obama’s claim to be a post-partisan. If he’s a post-partisan, let’s examine his record of reaching across the aisle to reformers on the Republican side, and there are still a few of those left.

    Obama has precisely ONE piece of bipartisan legislation with Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, devoted to controlling Soviet-era nukes in Russia. A good piece to be sure, but basically an updating of an old Nunn-Lugar piece of legislation, so it wasn’t even particularly original. And I suspect Sen. Lugar did most of the heavy lifting here.

    By contrast, and here’s another reason McCain is hated by all the right people (Limbaugh, Malkin, assorted deranged rightists) — McCain worked over and over again with prominent Democrats — on McCain/Kennedy immigration reform, on McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform, and on the McCain/Lieberman (when Lieberman was not yet an independent) effort to tackle global warming.

    Or the Gang of 14 bipartisan effort McCain led to prevent the idiot hard-rightists from banning filibusters over judicial appointments. In short, he worked hard with 6 other Republicans, and 7 Democrats, to preserve the principle of checks and balances in this instance.

    So damn the Republicans if you wish, as I am right there with you. But don’t tar McCain or, for that matter, Palin, with that broad brush because the record just doesn’t bear it out.

    What the record does bear out, though, is that Obama is a hack, a supremely intelligent and charismatic hack, to be sure, but one who has done little to nothing to earn the position to which he has just been nominated.

    I’ve scoured his history, really, because I want to believe, and I just can’t anything remotely sufficient to convince me this guy is the real deal.

    His obvious intelligence makes his ridiculous excuses on behalf of Rev. Wright, Bill Ayres et. al a joke. Would he have us believe that Barack Obama, Harvard Law School grad, did not have the smarts or the research skills for that matter to find out beforehand what kind of people these guys truly were? Please, tell me another one.

    His willingness to work hand-in-glove with these cranks (and that’s the kindest word I can find for them) implies to me one thing and one thing only — Obama was willing to hook up with them out of the cynical calculation that they provided him with necessary entry points into Chicago liberal politics.

    There’s a lot of things that says about Obama, but it doesn’t speak to either courage or principle on his part.

    Or we can look to his willingness to take difficult positions that actually piss off, or even make uncomfortable, his party’s base. Here, again, his record is non-existent. Give me an example where he’s done so — I can’t find it, and believe me I’ve tried.

    To name but one telling example, Obama can’t even support lowering Medicare drug subsidies for seniors making $165,000 in retirement. $165k! In retirement!

    Or his willingness, as Bill Clinton showed, to make organized labor squirm with his support for free trade. Nope, Obama rolls over here too — he’s against NAFTA, CAFTA, Peru free trade, Panama free trade, Colombia free trade, South Korea free trade.

    It’s not his positions per se that disturb me about Obama, but his singular lack of political courage. He’s a go along-get along guy — even his anti-Iraq War stance was no profile in courage. Wow, being against a war hated by the Democratic activists? Such a bold stance!

    So I truly am not trying to be a troll here, but I’m a liberal Democrat like most Obama supporters are, and I see nothing but a principle-free empty suit in him. I have yet to see a single act of political courage from him where he threatens to upset a hair on the chinny chinny chin of any of the most beloved liberal shibboleths, not one!

    Going up against Hillary doesn’t count, in my book. That was just ambition on his part, and good for him that he spared us another dynastic restoration. The first restoration, the Bush one, was bad enough.

    I’ll stop my blather here after this, I promise, but my conclusion is this — I’d rather a President McCain stop stupid Democratic ideas, and a Democratic Congress stop stupid McCain ideas, than have Obama and an ultra-liberal Democratic Congress ratify all of each other’s ideas, good, bad and ugly.

    Bill Clinton was at war with the rabid Congressional Republicans from 1994 to 2000, but those were his best years as President in terms of accomplishment, including welfare reform (another Obama courage failure: Barack opposed it, and then claimed after the fact to be for it!) and the production of an honest-to-God budget surplus for the first time in decades.

    (even here, McCain’s willingness to support Clinton on Kosovo, when that enraged his fellow Republicans, contrasts favorably to Obama never missing a cheap shot to take at President Bush)

    Or consider this — how excellent was all-Republican control of the House, Senate and the Presidency from 2000-2006? Well, all Democrat-control works out equally well — just look at Jimmy Carter and his all-Democratic-controlled Congress from 1976-1980.

    I wish I could agree with the “punish the evil Republicans and elect Barack” theme, but Obama is no kind of reformer — he’s just a check-the-boxes liberal hack, no better or worse than hundreds like him in the Senate and House. His rhetoric is special, his record is not, and he is manifestly unsuited to be President.

  72. A small clarification: I should have written we can look to Obama’s “willingness to take difficult positions that actually piss off, or even make uncomfortable, his party’s base. Here, again, his record is non-existent. Give me an example where he’s done so” with deeds, not words — I can’t find it.

    Campaigning precedes and informs governing. Bill Clinton campaigned in 1992 on a promise of reforming government with specific deeds — he committed to getting NAFTA ratified before-hand, and did so; he committed to getting people back to work, and did so, even with the (unpopular with liberals) welfare reform; he committed to fighting the Serbs in Bosnia (again, not popular with liberal anti-war types), and did so, however belatedly.

    It was especially important that Clinton made some of these promises about things Democratic activists did not love, to put it mildly. They put down markers of difficult things he said he would do — and he did them.

    Again, I’d love to see such markers laid down by Obama about difficult things he’d do that are not beloved by his party’s liberal activists — I just cannot find a single one.

    So I feel that, if he can’t be courageous during his campaign, why should we expect any courage from him once he turns to actual governing?

  73. Eric, your argument boils down to “This time, things will be different”. McCain, in campaigning, has run completely away from all of his anti-party-line positions.

    And posting a long, impassioned speech with “I’ll stop after this” is Internet for “I want to have the last word, and so the rest of you need to STFU when I’m done.” Thanks anyway.

  74. Reading this thread is an awful lot like listening to the TV talkshows:

    D: Rhetoric rhetoric rhetoric soundbite personal attack oversimplification

    R: OH YEAH?!?! Rhetoric rhetoric rhetoric soundbite personal attack oversimplification

    Repeat ad nauseum

    Where’s the dialogue? Dialogue is not arguing over whose plan is better, it’s discussing the issues, looking for common ground, and consensus-based solutions. I remember when politicians still did that in America. That all changed beginning in the mid-90’s, arguably because of the Republican majority on the Hill. But just because we’ve screwed it up once doesn’t mean we should keep screwing it up, does it? Bright shiny new mistakes people! Seriously…

    The result is a political landscape where folks like me are increasingly marginalized: solidly middle-class (by both RNC/DNC candidates’ standards), fiscally conservative, strong on defense, passionate about social services like S-CHIP, Medicare, Social Security, and the need to research the causes and treatments of many of the ills that face our youth. Can’t be a Republican because I can’t buy the rhetoric and the “of course we didn’t screw up” mentality. Can’t be a Democrat because I can’t stand the rhetoric and I am pro-gun, pro-life. Oddly, like I most people I know, I’m both a Christian and believe Evolution and Creation can coexist, and value education and the arts as well. I’m a Reagan Democrat if you’d like to look at it that way; a Dixiecrat if you remember the term. So where does a person like me find a candidate to support?

    I’m not sure I’d vote for Obama…probably less likely since he picked Joe Biden, as for me it undermines his message. But I’m not sure I’ll vote McCain either. He is a great patriot, a good man, and has a great deal of experience…but I’m not sure I believe he’s the right guy for the job either. Wish Joe Lieberman was running as a 3rd party candidate.

  75. StevieB, you heard the “dialogue” in David’s response to my post about my own status over the last eight years.

    Go play in your own corner, we Americans (didn’t know I lost my citizenship and I think my two DD-214s give me a bit more of a claim to it than David’s permanent civilian status) are going to fix things.

    So much for that line about reaching out, uniting, going across party lines, etc, etc, etc.

    From my point of view, the Democrats slashed VA and Military funding throughout the Clinton Era, did nothing about Bin Laden (had three chances, blew all three), wrecked the education system and have done absolutely nothing about the skyrocketing cost of education.

    Paolo’s own post is pretty indicative of why more than a few Americans wonder where the Dem’s priorities are. I do not see anything in his post about security issues. Frankly, the environment isn’t going to be an issue if we can’t protect ourselves from some nuts who like to chuck aircraft into skyscrapers, justified by their own religion no less.

    I can’t do it. As much as I’d like to jump on the bandwagon for Obama I simply do not see him as the right candidate for the job.

    And last but not least, and Obama said this himself, “No matter what happens in November, George W. Bush will not be on the ballot.”

    So to talk as if McCain were essentially Dick Cheney is rather insulting. At least if McCain decided to shoot one of his hunting partners, that partner would not survive the encounter.

    Conversely, I doubt Obama knows which end of a firearm is the business end.

  76. You’re right, S. F. Murphy: Clinton did positively nothing to get bin Laden. Googling “clinton bin laden missile strike” will confirm that. Or not.

    It sounds like your and Drew’s “anti-reality shields” are running directly off the warp grid, with multiply-redundant backups and auxiliary generators. With the slew of RNC-derived talking points from both of you, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion about your defensive capabilities.

    Drew? A word, please….

    Unemployment is still at an historic low range that is the envy of other countries.

    If the U.S. Department of Labor used the same metrics that those “other countries” use to measure unemployment, and continued to count those who ran out of benefits but still hadn’t found work “unemployed”, you’d be the one doing the envying. Then again, more people collecting benefits means more (gasp) socialism, right?

    The ranks of the uninsured have been reduced.

    Yeah–they’re dying faster, sport.

  77. Salutations, gentlefolk,

    Some responses to various folk:

    1, 36 – Sub-Odeonon:

    Well, given that, since January of 2007, the Republicans have
    broken the Senate’s all-time record for most filibusters in a
    legislative session, ’tis probably no wonder the legislature polls
    so badly. Bipartisanship, anyone ?

    Problem, of course, is that lotsa people feel “These other
    representatives are $%&#, but the guy representing my dstrict is
    pretty good…”.

    There are term limit plans, of course, but if you’re going to send
    the elected representatives home as soon as they’ve found out whom
    to trust, while the bureaucrats and lobbyists stay around

    As I said on another thread – When sorting out party positions, “a
    page of history is worth a volume of logic” (to quote Oliver
    Wendell Holmes, Jr.). 50 years ago, ’twas the Democrats of
    Connecticut who were fighting to keep anti-contraception
    legislation, and the Griswolds were Republicans, and personal
    friends of Senator Prescott Bush.

    Walter A. McDougall’s new book _Throes of Democracy: The American
    Civil War Era, 1829-1877_ (Very good book, IMHO) concludes his
    chapter on Andrew Jackson’s era by surveying the positions of
    Democrats and Whigs, and concludes “purge our contemporary notion
    of the political spectrum and try instead to imagine…”. (p.106)

    It’s certainly possible to get a party to shift position on an
    issue – look at how the Democratic views on ‘free trade’ have
    changed in the past ten years – but probably easier to do it as
    one actively engaged with furthering the party, than just someone
    commenting from the sidelines.

    OTOH, the folks in the Log Cabin Clubs probably have a long row to

    53 – wolfwalkeron:

    I fail to see where the Fairness Doctrine – guaranteeing that
    _all_ sides in a debate can be heard on the public’s airwaves –
    has anything to do with suppressing free speech.

    76 – Eric:

    Well, when Clinton was nominated in 1992, many of us
    Democrats considered him the farthest-to-the-right Democratic
    candidate since John W Davis in 1924, but thought that his
    administration might bring about an end to partisan bickering and
    a new Era of Good Feeling in US politics.

    Unfortunately the Republicans didn’t get the word ;-(

    So we’ve decided that being the ‘Republican-lite’ party ain’t a
    good idea.

  78. Mythago,

    No, I wasn’t trying to get the last word, nor did I expect to get it — I was simply trying to show factually that McCain has a proven track record as a reformer who not only takes aim at the corrupt elements in his own party, but also works across party lines to the fury of his own party’s extremists. And Obama has shown nothing in the way of a similar track record, whether in Illinois or in the U.S. Senate.

    Not the last word, Mythago, don’t worry.


    So you think John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman, to name but two candidates I can think of, were to the left of Bill Clinton? Really?

    I think Kennedy with his proposed capital gains tax cuts (passed a year after his death in 1964, but introduced by his Administration), his dalliance with anti-Communist Joe McCarthy in the 1950s when he was a Senator, and his vehement “bear any burden, pay any price” anti-Communist rhetoric would be well to Clinton’s right.

    The same holds true for Harry Truman, who instituted the modern CIA, the NSA, and the Defense Department and who waged a brutal war against the Communists in Korea, while also assisting quite thuggish rightists in Greece and Turkey in their efforts to supress Communists assisted by the Soviets.

    I’d love to see more Democratic Presidents in the mold of FDR, Truman, Kennedy and even Bill Clinton, who actually perceived America had enemies, and sometimes there was no recourse to fighting back against them, even in assisting allies who were not remotely perfect. There’s no way, though, that Clinton was “Republican-lite” or that his party in the 1990s was doing worse then than it is now.

    But all this is moot, JAFD, as the far-left MoveOn.org faction you no doubt approve of is dominant in my Democratic Party these days, which is one reason among many I’ll be voting for McCain.

  79. I fail to see where the Fairness Doctrine – guaranteeing that
    _all_ sides in a debate can be heard on the public’s airwaves –
    has anything to do with suppressing free speech.

    I fail to see how a program that oversees the content of speech and mandates that private entities present other viewpoints isn’t a violation of the 1st Amendment.

    I also fail to see how this type of system would work well. Who would decide what speech needs opposing? Who would be the oppostion?

  80. Eric–

    I think most Democrats would like to see another president in the mold of FDR. He, at least, understood Keynesian economics and that national debt is not always a bad thing. Well, unless you’re running up the national debt in an unprovoked war that does nothing to benefit the economy as a whole, or the average citizen in particular.

    Unsurprisingly, then, FDR also heralded in the largest increase in social spending in US history; which was also one of the most innovative changes in the way that a nation deals with its poor.

    And, for the record, Clinton was a centrist Democrat. There’s no denying that: he supported free trade, he reformed welfare, he didn’t push to repeal the Reagan tax cuts, etc. etc. Your stance on the military is only one small part of the determination of your place on the left–right continuum.

    Lastly, to the two the posters writing about their own experiences rather than the general trend: it’s great that you’re doing well, but the country as a whole is not. The wages of the average American worker are failing to keep up with inflation. Levels of both income and wealth inequality are as high as they have been since the Great Depression (for the record, they rose under Clinton as well). Many Democrats think these are bad things, and would like to see an administration address them. And not by saying that they’re bringing manufacturing back to the Midwest. Because, no matter how unpopular it is, that is not going to happen.

  81. As I recall, Clinton MISSED with his missile strike. Typical gutless policy decision on his part anyway. Better would have been to send some special forces in. That is their bread and butter.

    He also blew up an aspirin factory in the Sudan. Probably killed some poor janitor who didn’t know bin Laden from a hole in the ground.

    And I recall Clinton mumbling something about “Well, we can’t be sure they bombed the Cole. Mighta been someone else. Hehehe.”

  82. Dan, what is it they say about elections?

    Vote your pocketbook?

    Everytime I vote for a Dem, I notice one thing about my pocketbook.

    There isn’t as much in it.

  83. Salutations, gentlefolk,

    83 – Eric:

    ‘Twould be interesting to see a President today go after the oil company CEOs the way JFK went after the steel company executives after the price hike of 62 (?)

    84 – Steve S

    The Fairness Doctrine seemed to work pretty well in the years when it was in effect – just pull the ‘manual’ out of the files, get it rolling again.

  84. Salutations, again,

    83 – Eric:

    A few short years ago, right-wing groups criticized the PTA as a ‘Communist-front organization’. Now – check Gov Palin’s campaign biography – it seems to have become part of the American mainstream.

    Can MoveOn be far behind ?

  85. SF Murphy @ 86

    Um, if I recall, Bush missed with his war in Afghanistan, and in his war in Iraq. Not sure Clinton looks so bad, in that light.

    And @ 80: Paolo’s own post is pretty indicative of why more than a few Americans wonder where the Dem’s priorities are. I do not see anything in his post about security issues. Frankly, the environment isn’t going to be an issue if we can’t protect ourselves from some nuts who like to chuck aircraft into skyscrapers, justified by their own religion no less.

    Sorry, I’m still looking for the bread-and-butter security benefits that you’re implying that the Republicans have provided me over the last eight years. Are you telling me that you feel significantly safer today than you did last month, or last year, or the year before that, thanks to the astonishing work of the Republican Party? Mostly, I’ve seen our nation continue to live at an “orange” security threat level for the last umpteen years, so it seems even the commander-in-chief isn’t claiming that we’re more secure. So if you’re hanging your hat on security and how McCain and his party are inherently safer than Obama and his, then by all means, pass me that heaping load of security that you’ve got. I’ll gobble that right up. In the meantime, given that we’re not more secure, I’m willing to give someone else a shot.

    Re: gutting gov’t agencies. If you don’t care about the EPA, then by all means, please enjoy benzene in your drinking water. If you don’t care about the USDA, please, enjoy e.coli in your burger. If you don’t care about the BLM, please, enjoy watching oil companies make massive profits off public lands at public expense. These are not zero-sum (either we get security from terrorism OR we get safe water supplies, but NEVER both) issues. They’re basic questions of good management. Something that has been sorely missing for the last eight years. I don’t like to reward political parties that manage my government in corrupt and reckless ways. Sorry, that’s just me.

  86. I’ll say about terrorism what I’ve said for years:

    When the 10-year total of deaths from terrorism, floating scale, approaches the 1-year total of deaths from traffic accidents, I’ll start to worry about it.

    I don’t worry about dying in a car accident, except to take normal precautions when driving and checking both ways before I cross the street – why should I worry about something not even one-tenth as likely?

    Oh yeah, because there are parties interested in perpetuating a culture of fear, where anything is justifiable because of the “threat”, power can be taken and rights removed because of the “threat”, money can be taken from me and my descendants to line the pockets of certain companies (and certain companies’ C*Os) because of the “threat”, so we’d better keep hammering on the “threat”.

    It makes a good terror tactic, this culture of fear. I am amused by who’s been using those tactics most of the last seven years. For very, very dark versions of “amused”.

  87. Well, just a little comment from a European perspective. I think the only groups of people outside the US who are rooting for a McCain presidency are Al Qaeda, Putin/Medvedev, and neo-fascist parties across the globe.

    What do these groups have in common? They benefit from the GOP’s single-minded and ineffective War on Terror:
    – Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist islamist groups thrive on the anti-American feelings that are now prevalent… well, almost everywhere. How do you breed terrorists? Bomb their parents, destroy their schools, invade their country. So that’s a job well done by the Bush administration…
    – Putin and his followers have been strengthening their own position in Russia by using the “old enemy” image that the US has been so willing to take back up (rocket shield, support for Georgian attack on the Russian/Ossetian troops, …).
    If you ask me, it’s not Russia, but the US who are rekindling the cold war.
    – Fascists: who needs constitutional rights anyway? Seems like every day we get reports from US government agencies abusing their powers. Our local European neo-fascist parties are only too happy to point to that “shining example” and ask for similarly draconian measures to crack down on immigration, drug trade, …

    Like you said, John, whenever I read some of the responses by GOP/McCain/Bush supporters, I wonder how they can still believe in their own words. It must be something stronger than weed.
    Oh yes, now I know. It’s fear.

    Fear of the unknown, of the new world that is out there, and in which the US is rapidly losing power.

  88. Paolo, yeah, I do feel safer. We haven’t had another attack. Not even so much as one shoe bomb. Sure, there have been ATTEMPTS but no successful attacks.

    When the VA gets proper funding and support THEN I’ll see about the EPA. Frankly, many of the things the enviros worry about are not my concerns.

    Forex, we can thank the Ecofolks for ensuring we are still stuck in the 1970s per civilian nuclear technology. Yet France (who I hear we should be emulating all the time) gets most of their power from nuclear.

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