Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Obama love

A friend of mine writes in regarding Obama's viability as a candidate, and expresses some regret that Hillary wasn't the nominee. I think the questions s/he asks and points s/he raises are representative of many Democrats (well, at least as a of a few days ago, before Obama's polling numbers improved). Here's what s/he wrote, with my reply below:
So, I looked at your blog entries again today and read "Does Hope Float or is Obama an Anchor?" and I must comment on this idea that Obama is somehow hurting the ticket.

I for one, especially in the past few months, have been trying really hard to like or love Obama and convince myself that he is really a great candidate.... BUT, the truth is, I don't... When I watched the convention, for instance, some of his words resonated with me, but I don't find him to be terribly genuine. He is not so convincing. He does not sound like he has real emotion behind the things he is talking about... ah, to sum it up, he sounds too rehearsed... AND, I also agree that he lacks experience. I am of course more in favor of Obama than McCain but it is really because I don't want a republican in office, not because I really want Obama there. And maybe he will be an amazing president.. do amazing things for our country... but if I was judging him based on what he's proven to me thus far, all above stands. So, I understand that he certainly wouldn't appeal to real republicans who do not necessarily love mccain. They probably feel the same way as me (rather have mccain over obama)... actually i read an article where some republican said he was going to right in Huckabee rather than vote McCain.. hmmm.. more should do that.. (fewer votes for McCain).

Today I led a very brief discussion at coffee time about the election. And what i've concluded is that I (me personally) feel that this wasn't Obama's election. It should have been Hillary's. Obama is young, he hasn't been in the Senate for very long. What is 4 more years? ... Now, I understand that this should be a positive attribute.. why, he wanted to be president so badly he ran sooner than he should have... ya ya fine. But sometimes you need to think about what is best for the party. Somehow I think that Clinton would be more electable than Obama... perhaps it's because this scenerio is no longer possible..

And, I think that Clinton on the ticket with Obama would have been better than Biden.. do not further alienate Hillary's supporters! .. but would she have accepted?

I don't know.. you have been hardcore Obama since January or so... and I have maybe leaned more Hillary... but it is honestly because Obama is somehow not sincere enough... Even Kerry, at the convention, sounded more real and passionate than Obama did to me. :(

Well, lemme explain, briefly, why I happen to like Obama. Certainly, he gave a helluva speech at the convention in Boston in '04 -- I remember I was at a poker game that night, and we had it on the background, and everyone was like who the hell is this guy, and why isn't he the nominee? So Obama's been on my radar screen for a while. But, I didn't have an early favorite for the Dem nomination, and it was only after I saw him campaign in Iowa & NH that I decided he was my horse. Also, a big step for me was reading his book, the Audacity of Hope. He wrote the thing himself, and you can just tell from reading it that he is a really smart guy. Anyone can sound smart reading a speech that someone else wrote (e.g. Palin) when you're saying things that sound good at the time and there are people clapping behind you, but it is much harder to fool someone with the written word. Anyway, the point is that his book convinced me that he was bright enough -- and pragmatic enough -- to be prez.

I know one hang-up my emailing friend has is his experience. This is never something that has bothered me, because experience doesn't mean diddly in terms of ability to be president. James Buchanan (that's right... who?) had served at every level of government before becoming president, and he was a total failure. Lincoln had a few years in Congress under his belt, that was it. I could go on and on, but considering that there have only been 43 presidents, no given correlation is going to mean much of anything. The presidency is a unique job, so I don't think there's much of anything, other than soundness of mind and character, that are necessary qualifications -- no previous experience is any guarantee of success. For example, there are people who have been in government for years -- say, Dick Cheney -- who's vast experience hasn't made him any less of an ideological moron.

As for it being Hillary's turn, nah, I don't buy that -- we're a democracy, not a monarchy, and I don't think we need to show deference to any given family. Obama put it up to the voters, and they decided. What is not debatable is that Obama has done an amazing job of modernizing the Democratic party, in terms of setting up field organizations in a wide-variety of states and expanding the electoral map. That Indiana is a swing state is a helluva tribute to the Obama campaign. And, let's not forget that Hillary voted to authorize the Iraq war, and the "Bush fooled me" line I don't buy -- she viewed it as the politically sensible thing to do.

As for why Obama chose Biden, well, I don't think that he and Hillary would have been a good match. Having Bill Clinton running around the White House would probably not have been a good idea from a governance (i.e. avoiding distraction) perspective. Pretty much, I think the country is done with the Clintons (at least for now... I have a vague feeling that Chelsea will end up in the national spotlight sooner or later).

I'd love to hear back from you, emailer, or anyone else who shares you're feelings, for further discussion. I'm sure you're not alone :)