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.