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Obama Beats Chelsea's Mama
2008-02-19 21:05
by Scott Long

I have been reticent to put my support behind Barack Obama, as I've had little idea what he stood for. I called him the ultimate waiter, because he persistently promised he would bring change. Well after his resounding defeat of Hilary Clinton in Wisconsin, he finally gave a speech to his supporters in Houston which was clear what his vision of an Obama Presidency would be all about. It included a lot of things that I believe would be good for the country, but it was an amazing litany of liberal projects that I just don't see how they would be paid for. Maybe the money was there in 2000, when our economy was booming from 8 years of a Bill Clinton White House and Republican Congress, but not in the Republican-driven recession we live in today.

Obama is a young, vibrant presence at a campaign rally, especially compared to John McCain when he's at a similar type event. I'm just really concerned that Obama's momentum will peak by mid-summer. The speech he gave tonight will rally conservatives around McCain, as Obama promised a program for almost every liberal cause, without outlining how he would pay for it. McCain doesn't have a good understanding of the economy, but his hawkish behavior on getting rid of the type of programs Obama is promising would play well with a large part of the electorate. My guess is tonight's speech will raise a lot of money for McCain's campaign.

Even though the surge in Iraq that McCain trumpets has been a major improvement over the Rumsfeld/Cheney run fiasco that preceded it, I think the War is a losing issue for him. During the Republican primaries McCain has been insulated from facing any type of opposition views against the war, except for the occasional Ron Paul blast. This will begin to change in the general election. His comment that if we need to be in Iraq for 100 years we will was a massive gaffe that he will need to get past for him to win the general. If he can somehow figure out a way of doing this, I think it will be a competitive campaign. Here's why.

Obama was helped greatly by starting off in Iowa. He was a Senator from the neighboring state, so he was already a known figure to citizens on the Mississippi River towns on the Eastern border of Iowa. The caucus system that Iowa uses gives a bigger voice to the strong believers in their candidate, as you can't just walk into a voting booth and then walk-out. While I'm a fan of the caucus system, as it rewards the well-informed voter, its flaw is that it that it also rewards the most rabid extremists of each party. By getting off to such a good start in the Iowa caucus, he demonstrated to Black voters in places like South Carolina that he could get a majority of votes even in a state that resembles the crowd at an Eagles concert.

Before Democrats make him a lock for the White House, here are a couple of things that could cause Obama a few stumbling blocks.

* The Democratic primaries are made up of voters who are more liberal than the general population.
* Obama has been beating a woman, Hillary Clinton, who has always had high negatives.
* When John Edwards left the race, White men had the choice of voting for a woman or a Black man. In a general election, it will be interesting to see if McCain doesn't get a fair portion of these Reagan Democrats.
* While Obama seems to have the potential of getting a large voting block of new, young voters, McCain's experience and skin tone might bring a large segment of seniors to go his way. Remember that all past voting patterns show age trumps youth when it comes to showing up.
* Obama has never faced a challenger who would really go after him. Alan Keyes was a joke and had no chance in a state like Illinois that is strongly Democratic. Democratic Presidential candidates weren't going to go after him very strongly, as they were afraid it might create charges of racism. Republicans know they aren't going to get Black votes going up against Obama, so they will trot out as many Willie Horton images as they can.

Barack Obama is an amazing story. I think on many levels he could be not only a great leader in bringing important changes to the United States, but to the world. A President named Barack Hussein Obama would have an impact on Muslim nations and their attitudes toward America. After 8 years of a President who thumbed his nose at building relationships with foreign governments, Bush's successor being a man of color would be impactful for much of the world that isn't White.

I have never voted for a Republican for President and I am excited about some of the possibilities that a Obama Presidency would bring. I'm just concerned from the speech he gave tonight that he doesn't have the fiscal restraint that is needed most right now. I believe in many of the programs that Barack Obama wants to institute, but when you have a government bleeding red ink, it is fiscally irresponsible to be promising these kind of changes when loose change is all you have in your coin purse.


It is time for Hillary Clinton to get out of the race. Even if she was to win Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the best that could provide would be a split convention where superdelegates would be the final decider. This would not only be bad for the Democratic party, but for the country as a whole. Hillary Clinton ran about as perfect of a campaign as she could, but she couldn't compete with the charisma that connects Obama to more liberal voters. Despite how she has been demonized by many Republicans, on most issues she's  been a political moderate, which doesn't play well in primaries and especially in caucuses.

It has become popular in the media to say that Bill Clinton was hurting her chances. I couldn't disagree more. He played the part of attack dog, so she wouldn't have to come off as the negative campaigner. Despite what she says, Hillary doesn't have a much stronger resume than Obama, unless you count Bill's record as hers. Look, Hillary Clinton is a really smart, capable person who I think would make an excellent President. Having said this, the only reason she ever became a Senator or a front-runner for the White House was being married to Bill. Most people that were voting for her were doing it believing that they were getting her husband to be a major architect for her decision-making in the Oval Office. While he might have had a couple bad moments on the campaign road, it was Bill Clinton that made Hillary's chances of becoming President a possibility.


2008-02-19 23:35:47
1.   Another Tom
I've never voted for a GOP president either. But Obama and his 28% short term cap gains tax will certainly drive me over to the Dark Side.

Bloomberg, please run. Please....

Let me bring this subject up at the risk of not being PC, because, well, I don't really care about being PC: Blacks are voting for Obama at an exceptionally high clip. Yet poll after poll shows that the majority of blacks voting for him are doing so based more on the color of his skin than his platform. Is that not the epitome of hypocracy or am I ready too much into it?

Which brings me to Oprah. Never before has she used her immense tv popularity as a bully pulpit to support a candidate for national office. Never. Now, not only is she doing so, she's giving speeches and money and drumming up support for Obama. So am I to believe it's purely coincidence that the first time in 25 years just happens to be the first black to run for president? Could be coincidence, maybe I'm being cynical.

I think Obama is incredibly charasmatic and the best public speaker we've seen since Clinton. I also think he's in way over his head (never stopped W) and doesn't have the political experience or capital to survive in what is going to be a very rough 4 years. But I do find that black support simply because he's black incredibly ironic. Where's Alanis when you need her - I think I have 10,000 spoons and all I need is a knife...

2008-02-20 06:34:12
2.   Nick from Washington Heights
"But I do find that black support simply because he's black incredibly ironic."

Why are you harping on this point? Of course race is a factor in this election. It's America. It's been a factor in all of our presidential elections, for both white and non-white people. There's a reason why we've never had a non-white male president in our history. So in addition to voting according to policy issues, the American public, whether consciously or unconsciously, has also voted according to certain symbolic notions of power. I find it incredibly ironic that working-class people in certain "red" states have consistently voted for Republican candidates who promise policies that operate against their material self-interest, but I understand why it happens. Image plays a powerful role in the voting process. Why pick on a certain segment of our voting population when so many people act according to similar premises?

2008-02-20 06:46:30
3.   williamnyy23
2 I agree with it or not, image (of which race is a part) goes a long way toward determining for whom one votes. Voters have often based decisions on identification of candidates race, religion, etc. The irony in 1 (at least I think), however, is that the election of a black man was supposed to be evidence of our country casting aside racial prejudice, when in reality, it may be predicated on black voters having the rare opportunity to express the same subtle bias that other racial/ethnic/religious groups have done in the past.

I guess the bigger question is, are we ok with the fact that many black voters will vote for Obama and many white voters will vote for McCain, mostly on the basis of skin color? Also, it is ok for a "minority" to follow this course of action, but not a "majority"?

2008-02-20 09:53:18
4.   standuptriple
It's really disappointing that the majority of voters rely on little more than name recognition, catch phrases and the drive by media to make their decision about the most powerful/influential person on the planet. Too bad our educational system is so jacked up that most people don't understand basic economics (sub-prime fiasco) or global politics enough to comprehend the complexities that are involved and the potential consquences. I'm so tired of this election already. None of the candidates will do anything because the House and the Senate will be consumed with fighting for their next election and not want to be held accountable for something that has the potential to bite them in the ass (even though it's the right decision) later on. I find it hilarious that both Obama and Hill decided not to vote on the wire tapping issue (while McCain pandered to his constituency knowing what the White House will do) so they could tap-dance as long as possible. You'd think if you were trying to get a promotion, you'd I dunno, do some awesome work in your lower position to get said promotion. Sadly, it's a process of doing just enough not to get fired (a la Office Space) and a top notch spin doctor to get you elected these days.
2008-02-20 10:51:00
5.   ibrosey
I agree with most of what you say, except your take on Hillary's election to the Senate. Downstate - from the northern reaches of Westchester through the western edges of Suffolk, Democrats were crazy for Hillary the person and politician. Her doggedness through the health care fiasco, her defiance in discussing her career and life choices, even her disgusted but staunch support of Bill during the ridiculous "it depends how you define..." embarrassment, all these things combined with her very liberal bent had New Yorkers clamoring for her to run.

My addition to your take on Obama's unfunded programs is this: Unless both houses of Congress are overwhelmingly Democratic, his presidency would be a virtual mirror of Jimmy Carter's, except for his oratory - which would at least be a welcome change for what we've been listening to for 8 years. One term with nothing actually accomplished, followed by 12 years of Republican hegemony. He is a substantive outsider in the Senate, where Hillary has received kudos from both sides of the aisle for her ability to create consensus. He has virtually no political capital to build upon. He has tapped into America's susceptibility to evangelical oratory, and he's used the right keywords. Not necessarily his words, by the way. Which candidate has the time to actually write speeches?

I have never voted for any Republican. Ever. I won't vote for one now. But unless something drastic changes between now and November, I most certainly won't vote for Obama. No way.

2008-02-20 11:08:32
6.   Scott Long
ibrosey- I agree with everything you say about agreeing with me, but disagree with the part where you disagree with me.

Hillary was a carpetbagger who came to New York to run for senate, as she had the Clinton name and the ability of Bill to raise money for her. She doesn't win any state on her won. She's just not that likable. Not saying she isn't talented and intelligent, but as we all know, those fall by the wayside when it comes to charisma.

McCain has no chance of winning if Ron Paul runs, as I could see him siphoning off 10 percent of the vote. Libertarianism works best when the Republican party is supporting a war that is highly unpopular.

From what I've heard and read, Bloomberg won't get in, as he doesn't want to be take away from the historic nature of Obama's ascendancy. Also, he's very connected to Chuck Hagel, who despite his opposite view on the war, wouldn't want to damage his good friend McCain's chances. Bloomberg wouldn't be able to win, as I don't see what state he could win against Obama or McCain that wasn't in the Northeast. If Hillary and Huckabee would have won their nominations, I think he would run. I would vote for Bloomberg or Hagel over Obama and McCain.

As negative as it might seem from my piece above, I think Obama or McCain are far superior candidates to Bush or Kerry.

2008-02-20 15:45:02
7.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
6 I think Obama or McCain are far superior candidates to Bush or Kerry.

Amen, brother. We too often forget to pause and be thankful that we have a much better set of alternatives to choose from this go around.

3 It is a fascinating issue to track, but it is all to similar to the age old question about how one eliminates discrimination: do you suddenly switch from discriminating against to not discriminating at all,or do you switch to discriminating in the opposite direction to try to balance things out? Considering that no President has ever been someone other than a white, Christian (of some variety) male, it is hard to ignore that fact if you have a serious candidate who would break the barrier.

Was Jackie Robinson made a member of the Dodgers in 1947 solely because he was the best talent to make the club that year? No, not talent alone. It was, in part, to take the deliberate step of breaking the color barrier. If black voters are taking a deliberate step to break the color barrier in the White House, is that a bad thing? Even if the shot in the arm is somewhat superficial, I see at as defensible.

(What? A baseball reference on baseballtoaster?)

2008-02-20 16:41:27
8.   Hugh Jorgan
The overseas opinion:
After 8 years of waning confidence amongst the rest of us on the planet, for the American public to even consider Obama or Hillary is a step in restoring what was lost.
Hillary however represents(from an overseas perspective, mind you) the same stiff-haired, 60+ year old, white Washington politician who was part of the problem...except in female form.

McCain is exactly the sort of war mongering, geriatric, stiff haired candidate we all hope the American public does NOT elect.
Mind you none of this is taking into account specifics regarding domestic policies. Specifically taxation, the 50 mil without proper medical coverage, or business related policies.

We would just like to see a different direction, thank you very much.

2008-02-21 06:28:25
9.   Penarol1916
I have one major point of disagreement with you, and that is that Hillary has run a good campaign. She has run an awful campaign, she had so many advantages to start with and squandered them all. You forgot one major point about winning caucuses, it is not just the extremists who carry them, usually it is the best organized campaign on the ground that carries the day, and Hillary's organization has just been a mess, along with her strategy. Obama has built up his lead by absolutely destroying Hillary in states that her campaign basically ignored and could not run in because her campaign spent money very unwisely. Obama has put together an outstanding organization in every state and actually thought ahead of time of putting it together. Hillary had barely an organization in over half of the Super Tuesday states and those contests that occured this month until a week before Super Tuesday. Obama had organizations there before the Iowa caucuses.
When the campaign started, I figured I would be okay with a Hillary presidency because at least she and whoever she appointed would be competent, which has been my biggest problem with the current administration. This campaign has shown me that I was dead wrong in that assumption, the campaign has been atrocious because she has solely listened to those who have been most loyal to her, in going for micro-targeting and firing up her base rather than trying to reach to other parts of the party and independents.
A lot of people atribute Obama winning the primary to just his stirring oratory, I'm telling you, then real story is that his campaign had a better strategy and better organization.
2008-02-21 07:42:42
10.   williamnyy23
From a Conservative point of view, I have been torn by the Democratic nomination process. On the one hand, I want Hilary to win because I think she is almost unelectable, but on the other had, I'd rather have a possible Obama presidency just to avoid any chance of getting stuck with Hillary. That feeling isn't based on any issues or substance, but entirely on personality. Quite frankly, I don't think this country needs another 4 years of a large portion of the population hating (not disliking, but hating) the president. Bill Clinton and George W have both been very polarizing figures, so at the very least, a McCain/Obama campaign would ensure that we don't elect a man that a good percentage of the country can't stand.

While I can live with an Obama presidency (even a conservative who disagrees with his liberal positions can enjoy his positive tone), I don't think he has the necessary experience, which isn't really the bad thing many make it out to be. Ultimately, I think McCain will win the election over Obama on this issue...when it comes to time to vote, I think more moderates will favor McCain's statesmen-like persona. Also, I don't think the country is ready to move to the left, although it may be in the mood to shift a little back toward the center.

In summary, I am glad the Democrats did not nominate a moderate governor with a popular personality because it would have made the Republicans task nearly impossible.

2008-02-21 07:46:15
11.   williamnyy23
8 The best way to sink an American candidate's campaign is to have it be known that Europeans favor him/her. Hopefully, all of the European newspapers will come out with very vocal endorsements of the Democratic nominee :)
2008-02-21 08:38:09
12.   Penarol1916
10. Personally, I can't think of any democrat who would fit that description with sufficient experience. The closest may be Warner, the former governor of Viriginia who has decided to run for Senate there this year. My personal favorite candidate from either party was Evan Bayh, he had everything, except that he made Hillary look charismatic and dropped out obscenely early.
2008-02-21 09:59:09
13.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
10 Has anyone else noticed that many people are not consistent in how they refer to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

Regis Philbin was on Letterman last week and he referred to the two as Barack and Mrs. Clinton. williamnyy23 just referred to the two has Hillary and Obama.

While on the one hand, there is the potential for ambiguity to refer to Hillary Clinton as "Clinton" (to parallel referring to Barack Obama as "Obama"), it strikes me that there is potentially some meaning (or demeaning) going on when not referring to people with common language. Either Clinton and Obama, Hillary and Barack, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, or Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Them's the choices, unless you mean to demean.

2008-02-21 10:40:01
14.   ibrosey
13 Saying Hillary or Mrs. Clinton is a way of differentiating her from her husband - who most Americans think of when they hear Clinton. Saying Obama is what we customarily do - like Koufax, Mantle, Killebrew, Unitas. Saying Ichiro doesn't demean everyone else. I think you're looking for a bone to pick here, when the 'issue' is really vegetarian.
2008-02-21 10:54:38
15.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
14 I do acknowledge the need to differentiate Hillary from Bill. But there is the possibility that choosing to say "Hillary" when also using "Obama" or "McCain" is deliberate.
2008-02-21 12:39:38
16.   Penarol1916
13. That post is exactly why I hate Noam Chomsky. How you say things does not always necessarily show how you feel. Take RFK, when he was running in the primaries in '68, he was referred to as Bobby, while Eugene McCarthy was refferred to as McCarthy. You tend to default to last names as shorthand and go to something else when the need to differentiate arises. You are not going to completely switch the way you speak or write just because you occassionally have to make an exception. That post is exactly why so many people dislike liberals.
2008-02-21 12:55:21
17.   Scott Long
This is exactly the kind of confusion that has got me referring to Hillary Clinton as Rodham and Barack Obama as Hussein. What a race it was between between Rodham and Hussein.

OK, maybe Chomsky might have had a point in regards to that type of language.

2008-02-21 13:37:45
18.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
16 Without delving into Chomsky, I'd just point out that newspapers have a style guide, and generally, they follow this convention: the first time you refer to a person, you use the full name, and subsequent times, you use the last name (or in the case of more traditional newspapers, the title, such as Mr., and the last name).

Scott faced a challenge in his post since he sought to include both Mr. and Mrs. in the discussion, and he solved it generally by referring to both by their full names (sans middle names).

Let's not discuss "why so many people dislike liberals", though, lest we get into the topic about why so many people dislike conservatives, too, which will devolve into name calling and invective that I don't think we want to see here.

Can you tell it has been a long winter? Where's baseball when you need it?

2008-02-21 14:46:29
19.   Penarol1916
18. Ah, so now we are holding williamnny23, Regian Philbin, and David Letterman to the standards of the Washington Post Style Guide? That is just stupid. Also, why would this discussion devolve into discussion of why people dislike conservatives and name-calling?
I'm not conservative according to the two or three conservative posters on this board I'm a raving Trotskyite because I suggested that there are market failures and negative externalities that the government should regulate and extract costs for those externalities.
2008-02-21 15:07:01
20.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
19 Forget I said anything...
2008-02-21 18:11:28
21.   Todd S
Just as a reminder, I can't stand John McCain. (I'm a Libertarian.)

McCain has all but guaranteed he'll send troops into Iran. That will cost a lot of money. I'm obviously no fan of Federal Government social programs, but in this case I think Obama might actually do less long-term damage to the country.

Then again, I can't really be objective when evaluating one of the candidates. While I'm at it, I'd like to point out that McCain is a mean person; that will come back to bite him at some point. I don't know if it will do enough damage to him, but I think it will happen.

2008-02-21 18:19:17
22.   ibrosey
Actually, this conversation is great. Politics aside, we've all got baseball fanaticism in common and we're debating social etiquette... And as (hopefully) the final note on this topic, in their campaign materials, bumper stickers, buttons, banners, what they use themselves is probably what counts: Obama '08 and Hillary for President.
2008-02-21 20:31:54
23.   mehmattski
Correct me if I'm horribly misguided, but won't leaving Iraq save the US Government billions of dollars? That, combined with a nixing of Bush's wealthy tax cuts, should pay for most of the programs proposed by BHO (or HRC).

The fact that McCain is quibbling over "pork barrel" projects that cost on the order of millions of dollars, while criticizing Obama's spending plans, and yet has no problem continuing the $10 billion/month war in Iraq for 100 years... is pretty laughable.

2008-02-21 20:40:11
24.   Hugh Jorgan
Actually I'm Australian and am quite fiscally conservative. From my standpoint, American fiscal and trade debt is a massive problem for you guys and McCain would seem to be worse than any programs the Demo's are rolling out as he wants to continue with the very costly Iraq fiasco.
The perception from overseas is that Obama represents something fresh and inventive whereas both Hillary and McCain are part of the same existing problem regardless of their individual positions.
We had an older, long time serving pm (prime minister) and we just booted his arse out in the last election. The guy elected doesn't necessarily reflect my views, but he does represent a different direction and that alone has people excited about things.
2008-02-21 20:53:32
25.   jgpyke
So it looks like "Cocaine Hussein" vs. "Insane McCain."

I am simply rejoicing that such a match-up guarantees we will NOT have another baby boomer president for at least four years. Yea!

2008-02-21 21:15:33
26.   Scott Long
Hugh, your views are similar to most Obama supporters. A fresh face who speaks about hope and change seem to captivate, but when asked what his plans are, most have little idea besides he will get us out of Iraq and will stop partisan politics. Considering all the social plans he is proposing, I don't see any chance of Obama getting rid of partisan politics. Empty words, as I think Hillary actually has better relationship with Republican senators than Obama.

I agree that Iraq is our number 1 fiscal problem, as it hasn't seemed to even keep oil prices down, which seemed to be the only sensible reason to go over there. The biggest reason I didn't want to go into Iraq was because of fiscal reasons. This is where McCain's argument for making being fiscally responsible just doesn't add up. Outside of the war, though, he would have a much better chance of bringing less partisanship, as he has a good relationship with many Democratic senators being close to him.

2008-02-21 22:10:55
27.   jgpyke
It might be a chicken-or-the-egg thing, but I think the price of oil has a lot to do with the strength of the dollar. The price of oil, when measure against other world currencies, has not gone up nearly as much as against the dollar. IOW, the dollar's plummet has coincided with oil's rise.

If Cocaine Hussein can win, I think he may actually move to the right. He'll have to, or he'll be Carter all over again (as others have rightly pointed out). Every successful Democrat of the last 50 years has moved to the right. JFK himself ran to the right of Nixon on natl. defense spending--plus, he cut taxes (for the "wealthy"). Smart guy. Clinton moved to the right, too (e.g., welfare reform).

People fall for big-time liberal talk but don't want to foot the bill, as you have shrewdly noted, Scott. So I think Obama may be smart enough to possibly do the right things. Abandon the most liberal stuff, tackle the doable stuff. He could even be really smart and appoint someone like Mitt Romney to head up a bi-partisan commission to create a natl. health care plan (e.g., perhaps like the MA one...I am not endorsing this plan or any other...I'm just sayin'...).

And maybe he'll get religion about the Laffer Curve. Tax cuts increase revenues. (Go ahead: just google it.)

2008-02-22 09:50:37
28.   chris in illinois
Catching up...

I agree with 27 oil prices would be a lot lower if the dollar were stronger. Of course I think we can blame Iraq for that problem...

People fall for big-time liberal talk but don't want to foot the bill..., well people fell for Reagan's talk of fiscal conservatism and ended up footing the bill and then fell for GHWBush's talk of fiscal conservatism and ended up footing the bill and then fell for junior (cocaine) Bush's false fiscal conservatism and we'll all foot the bill. Those crazy liberals, acknowledging that the things they plan to do in office will cost money and that we should pay for them, scandalous.

You can disagree with policies of the dems and hope against hope they don't get elected, but please don't pretend that the GOP politicians don't act like drunker, hornier seamen heading into port when it comes to our money.

BTW, Scott Illinois might be heavily Democratic now, but Blago is the first Democratic gov since the 70's, Obama was replacing a GOP senator and pretty much every constitutional office until 2004 had been a GOP fiefdom since 1978 or so. Dems won these offices primarily because of GOP scandal and a lack of fiscal responsibility by the republicans.

You don't have to scratch to deeply to find a red state here in the Land 'o Lincoln, in fact if it were McCain vs. Hillary (couldn't resist mucking up the names) it wouldn't shock me to see a GOP victory in the fall in Illinois.

2008-02-22 10:55:51
29.   jgpyke
28. Sorry, Chris--you're absolutely right. I should have just said, "People fall for big-time talk but don't want to foot the bill."
2008-02-22 10:59:47
30.   chris in illinois
29 Agreed. 100%
2008-02-22 23:02:40
31.   be2ween
No one has mentioned the brown man's vote, so I will. It seems the Latino(a) vote will go McCain, no?

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