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My endorsement. - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
My endorsement.
A couple of months ago, I wrote (but did not post) a blog entry in which I metaphorically wrung my hands and quoted Jim Hightower to the wilderness, "If the Gods had meant for us to vote, they would have given us candidates!" I went through the list of candidates and decided ah, to Hell with 'em all.

Omaha and I have often joked that we should have a weekly weblog, "The Bad Republican and the Bad Democrat," because that's pretty much what we are. I can't toe the party line anymore, not when it's so bloody fucking insane, and she's damnably unhappy with the Democratic kowtowing to unions and the Democratic Party of Washington's latest internal convulsions about opposing the blantantly false House Resolution 888 (which contains a metric arseload of Christian Nationalist deceits) because doing so would give the Christian Nationalists yet another data point in the idea that the Democrats are not a "pro-Christian" party.

But I really can't vote for a Republican this year for the President. The brand is so badly damaged, too tragically so, for me to take any of them seriously. Romney's a power-hungry empty suit, Huckabee's just scary, Paul's got more issues than The Stranger, Guiliani's a thug and goin' down for it, and judging McCain on his principles rather than his service leads me to conclude that he, like the rest of his field, lacks the moral stature and intellectual maturity needed to lead this country.

Of all the candidates on the other side, Hillary Clinton has all the chops needed to be president. She's truly a wonk; she does have all the facts at her disposal. She knows what she would do with each and every department as it came to her. She knows what she would do with the military, but she also knows what she'd do with the Department of Labor (seriously, when was the last time you even heard the Department of Labor mentioned in a news article?), the Department of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation. (Have you looked at the President's Cabinet recently? Michael Chertoff looks like he got into Jeff Goldblum's teleportation device and threw the switch just as a hawk flew into the room.)

On the other hand, Barack Obama isn't a wonk. He's more in the mold of Ronald Reagan: an ideas man, a guy who has things to do and understands that as president he needs to point people at them and have them done. And he's right: under Reagan, the Republicans had all the ideas and the Democrats were exhausted. They may not have been all good ideas, but they at least had the force of presence and the top of mind to propel the country forward.

Now, I like wonkery. I admire it. Which is why I'm going to go ahead and vote for Obama, if my country will let me.

Not because I think he'll make a better executive. Clinton is by far and away more competent to be the executive. Obama will do okay in that regard, just as Reagan did okay.

But Reagan was something more than the executive. Because the presidency is more than "The Executive." He's more than just "the decider guy for the country." The President of the United States is also the Head of State of the Nation.

Andrew Sullivan voiced my conviction for me a couple of weeks ago. I want a child in Africa, or India, or Pakistan, to be able to look at the President of the United States and understand, for the first time, that America is not under the thumb of the same ol' regime. That anyone in America really can grow up to be President, and that we really believe in the premise that "all men are created equal"

Would a woman have the same impact? I don't think so. There have been women leaders of countries far less forgiving of women than the United States: Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines. People understand that a woman of the dominant regime can rise to power. A Black man is definitenly not of the "dominant regime" in the United States.

So, my endorsement is for Barack Obama. It's not an unreserved endorsement. As an executive, he's "good enough"; as a head of state, he's without peer. As an executive, Hillary's unreservedly competent, but as a head of state, she'd be unremarkable. We've learned that a "good enough" executive will support and maintain the agencies tasked with maintaining the national infrastructure and restoring order in times of crisis (by this measure, George Bush was not "good enough") but he can do no more than that.

It is as Head of State that a president truly stands out on his own, and Barack Obama would do that with greater stature than anyone else currently running, on either side of the aisle.

Tags:
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Boom Boom Satellites, Bike Ride to the Moon

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Comments
From: angharads_house Date: January 29th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thought-provoking; thank you.

It strikes me, from reading your notes and those of a few others, that the American candidate-selection process is in many ways more visible than the Canadian model, where the party leaders are selected in national conventions, with all the back-room opacity that pertains thereto. Here, at least, with your primary system, the possible candidates are exposed to considerable scrutiny, and I am beginning to think that such a model would serve well for us up north, too (although I, and I am sure most of my neighbours agree, would be loathe to part with the nicety of casting paper ballots for parliamentary elections).

Thank you, again. I find your writing consistent worth the space on my friendslist, even though I do not vote in America.
(Deleted comment)
elfs From: elfs Date: January 29th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Please, feel free to do so.
moiety_tx From: moiety_tx Date: January 29th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Obama is my emergency backup baby-daddy. That is all.
blackcoat From: blackcoat Date: January 29th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Could I go live there?
featheredfrog From: featheredfrog Date: January 29th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
maybe Obama as president, with H (or B) Clinton as chief-of-staff? I can see either of them in the Leo McGarry role...
elfs From: elfs Date: January 29th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I could stand four more years of Vice President Gore. I'm just sayin'.
sirfox From: sirfox Date: January 30th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Personally, i'd like to see Bill as the US ambassador to the UN.

I'm with you on Obama. That was one heck of a good victory speech he gave just a few days ago, too.
From: codeamazon Date: January 30th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooh...interesting idea! I've been struggling with the issue of who I'd be happy to see as VP ... I could easily see Clinton as Pres with Obama as VP, but the reverse doesn't seem likely to work. I can't see Edwards as a useful VP. So I keep wondering "Who would Obama pick?"

Probably not Gore, but it's a suggestion that made me smile!

(Liked your summary, btw, I think it's one of the more useful I've seen.)
rand0m1 From: rand0m1 Date: January 30th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I could handle Gore. I've always liked the guy some reason.
Pity he'll probably never run again.
_candide_ From: _candide_ Date: January 30th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I saw a great sign on the way into work today:

" Obama

...because the White House is not a timeshare!"
tagryn From: tagryn Date: January 30th, 2008 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
My thing with Obama is, talking about him as a "good enough executive" seems like projection based on...well, what? Reagan was at least governor of CA for eight years. Obama was a state senator for 8 years, then has been a Senator for four years, neither of which involves much along the kind of work the POTUS does.

Along with that is that a President doesn't come to the White House alone; there's a whole crowd of appointees/supporters/etc. that come with them. Where's Obama's going to be coming from - Illinois cronies and hangers-on? Since he hasn't been in DC that long, that's my expectation. One of the things I don't like about Clinton is that hers would come from the same group that ran the country during Bill's time (and has been hanging around Washington for the past 8 years, waiting for 'their turn' again). That doesn't give much confidence that they'll bring any kind of fresh take when they come in, but what are we going to be getting with Obama?

The good news for Obama is that neither of his likely rivals - Clinton or McCain - have much executive experience, either. Their appeal will be on experience working with the other party: Obama talks about bringing the parties together, while Hillary and McCain have actually done the hard work of reaching the compromises across the aisle that that requires.

The presenting-a-fresh-face-to-the-world angle for Obama is probably his strongest selling point. He's also the most eloquent speaker among those left in the field.
ideaphile From: ideaphile Date: January 30th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm

I agree completely that Obama appears to have the right attitude to be a leader. Among the four candidates who have the best chance of getting elected (Clinton, McCain, Obama, Romney) he's the most appealing.

But what _are_ his ideas? I checked the Wikipedia article on him and his "Blueprint for Change" document to see what shows up there. Even the high points aren't much to write about. Universal healthcare isn't a good idea, and Obama's plan would put the entire medical industry, including the medical insurance industry, under the control of bureaucrats. That wouldn't be good. In any event, universal healthcare certainly isn't _his_ idea. Withdrawing from Iraq? He has no more relevant skills or experience for managing our Iraq policy than Paul Bremer did.

He says the right things about diminishing the influence of lobbyists, as so many politicians do, but that's tantamount to interfering in the democratic process itself. Anyway, the Democratic Party seems more responsive to lobbyists than Republicans, so I wonder how much support Obama will get from his fellow Democrats. The same goes for Obama's intention to protect Social Security and cut wasteful government spending. Sure, and no doubt he intends to reduce uncollected tax receipts, too.

The Wikipedia article says, "Supporters and critics have likened Obama's popular image to a cultural Rorschach test, a neutral persona on whom people can project their personal histories and aspirations." That seems about right. He seems like a good, decent, conscientious man.

But that isn't enough of a basis for electing him. You say Obama is an idea man like Reagan, but Reagan wasn't really an idea man either. He had some general goals, but he took a lot of grief during his Presidential campaigns because he didn't have many specific plans for achieving his goals such as reducing the size of the Federal government, cutting taxes, and rebuilding the military. And in fact he failed terribly on two of those goals, since Tip O'Neill turned out to be a way more effective politician. We took a big risk in electing Reagan, and while it worked out well enough, I'm still wary about the influence of personal charisma on national politics.

The other recent President who was a good, decent, conscientious man was Carter, but his well-meaning hard work didn't work out so well for the nation. In fact, he caused or aggravated some of the problems Reagan was elected to fix.

I do believe Obama would do better for us than Carter-- or the other electable candidates this time around-- but I just can't point to any factual basis for that opinion. Obama is the kind of guy I'd like to see as President, but he might not, in fact, be a good President.

I continue to support Ron Paul because in spite of his "issues" and his, uh, lack of charisma, I can be sure that he will actually BE a good President. He's almost nothing BUT specific proposals to make dramatic improvements in the Federal government. That seems more important in the long run.

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elfs From: elfs Date: January 30th, 2008 06:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm

I think I've definitely fallen into the "There are few things I want to vote for, but many things I want to vote against" camp. (I'm also in the "Every new law creates a new criminal class overnight" camp.) At least Paul's not a "Great Nation Conservative" (grief, what a sick new meme), but he's got the chances of a snowman in the Sahara. What's Hillary? A "Great People Liberal?"

I don't think I'd mind an executive who just got the Hell out of the way.
ideaphile From: ideaphile Date: January 30th, 2008 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm

Voting against is a good thing to do.

Maybe that's the essence of Obama's strategy-- be the one guy nobody would vote against. Even I feel no need to vote against him. He's a nice guy. I'd love to go hang around with him and chat about stuff. :-)

But I want to vote for Paul because he wants to do the right things, and he's very specific about it. Making this a Constitutional democracy again is more important than any other issue we're facing and arguably more important than any other issue could ever be.

Voting for a candidate who can't win the election is an effective way to vote because other politicians notice. They see a gap in their coverage of the issues and move to cover it. Even a small policy shift can make a big difference.

. png
acelightning From: acelightning Date: January 30th, 2008 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I really wanted to like Hillary, but I just can't. She seems far too willing to do or say whatever it takes to increase her personal power. And she hangs out with some pretty scary Dominionists. And the things she's actually done as a Senator add up to a whole lot of the same old same-old.

Obama hasn't been in politics long enough for me to draw any conclusions. His stated policies are pretty much the same as Hillary's. He's an eloquent orator, and he has a great image - he's young and handsome, with a multi-ethnic heritage and a photogenic family - and he speaks ringingly of "change" and "the future". But what's behind the oration?

I favored Dennis Kucinich, although I didn't think he had a chance; I was hoping that perhaps Clinton and Obama would cancel each other out, and we might see an Edwards/Kucinich ticket, or even (oh, I can hope!) Kucinich/Edwards... but Kucinich dropped out, and is now concentrating on keeping his Congressional seat (where he can continue to do some good).

I suspect that, when the convention is done, it'll be Clinton/Edwards. It might be Clinton/Obama, but it'll never be Obama/Clinton; I can't see her ever accepting second place. I'll vote for whomever the Democrats nominate, though, because there is no way I will vote for a Republican. But I'll be doing so because I believe that anyone who doesn't vote thereby forfeits their right to complain about whoever wins; I'll just be voting, as I so often do, "through gritted teeth", for the candidate I dislike the least.


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