Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Obama Backlash

There are some posts highly critical of Barack Obama at Stubborn Facts (here and here). One at Centerfield here and a whole host at PoliGazette (a concise one here).

The general theme? Obama is a fraud, nothing more than a generic liberal with rhetorical chops. He won’t actually unify anybody. He has no way to pay for his “solutions.” He’s just an inexperienced joe who is flying high thanks to the endless adoration of the media.

All this is coming from writers who are reasonable people and not prone to spout off party-line arguments or twist logic just so “their side” can look good. Their critiques do make me worry that I’m a sucker for preferring Obama to Clinton and believing, even with reservations, that he has the capacity to bridge some of the divides in this nation.

Part of this backlash is probably just contrarianism for the sake of balancing out the recent rush of Obama love. But a lot of it is pretty earnest and some of the writers seem quite concerned that Obama proponents are falling into a potentially dangerous trap. Maybe so. But their aversion is based on no more evidence than my attraction. It’s all a matter of perception.

Really, I’m an Obama admirer more than a supporter (McCain would get my vote if the election occurred today), but I’m going to let Obama and not his critics drive my judgments. I’d rather be audacious enough to believe there are still great men who can achieve great deeds than be so calculatingly cynical as to reject even the hope of greatness.



Anonymous kranky kritter said...

I don't think I'm an especially virulent critic of Obama, but maybe if I posted at Kos I'd feel differently.

Anyway, I've noticed several skeptics climb on board the Obama train as it were, notably you and Michael Reynolds. Myself? I've been trying to talk myself into him ever since he entered. I like him.

But my doubts remain. If I vote for him and he doesn't come through with genuine conciliatory and pragmatic offerings to move the country forward, well, let's just say I'll have a seat by the door.

His rhetoric of conciliation absolutely doesn't line up with his espoused policy positions. There is no evidence to suggest that he is actually either willing or more importantly capable of bringing about pragmatic and useful compromise. So we're left to accept his wonderful rhetoric on faith alone.

Yet any realistic assessment of politics, as the art of the possible, dictates that compromise comes about when one side adopts a position that incorporates some of the views and needs of the other side. Virtually none of Obama's votes or currently stated policy positions does this. This latter could be a function of who he currently needs to vote for him. If he wins the nom, I'll ultimately need to see him temper his policy positions substantially to acknowledge more moderately conservative views, or I won't be able to vote for him.

My greatest fear of an Obama presidency is that he uses pretty rhetoric and a powerful honeymoon to demagogue through some of his most expensive liberal social programs, spending tons of money on giveaways to college students, public schools nationwide, expanded healthcare without regard to cost control, and ignore social security and medicare while establishing punitive taxes on the very rich and evil wall street/corporations. All this would have sounded like a dream come true to me when I was 20, but I've rounded 40.

The biggest conundrum for me is that in order to believe the dream of his conciliatory rhetoric, I have to believe his position statements are largely temporary and/or misleading, But to believe he'd undertake such artifice is to circle back round to questioning whether he's honest and genuine enough to deserve the faith in the first place.

His lovely rhetoric says that he is not a class warrior, but his positions say either that he is or that he's eagerly courting class warriors. If Obama wins office and undertakes a series of expensive and basically socialist reforms, I'll fight hard against him, and my goal will be to make him

1)the last pretty talker I'll ever fall for
2)the last democrat I ever vote for

12:04 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Well said. You should post that over on Centerfield.

1:17 PM  

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