Democrats & Liberals Archives

Obama's Luck Is America's Opportunity

We often take our good fortune for granted. Especially the luck we are born into, can easily be forgotten even as we take advantage of our heritage, our citizenship, and our freedoms. I have always felt extraordinarily fortunate to be an American. Today America is lucky!

Barack Obama freely acknowledges the role that fortune has played in his rise to political prominence. Of his campaign for the U.S. Senate in The Audacity of Hope Obama wrote:

My campaign had gone so well that it looked like a fluke. ... Not one of [my Democratic opponents] ran a negative TV ad. ... My Republican opponent was felled by a divorce scandal. ... Later, some reporters would declare me the luckiest politician in the entire fifty states. Privately, some of my staff bristled at this assessment, feeling that it discounted our hard work and the appeal of our message. Still, there was no point in denying my almost spooky good fortune.
Geraldine Ferraro during the just concluded primary campaign famously declared that Obama was lucky to be in his position, and would not be so if he were white. In fact Obama's mixed race heritage is part of who he is, and thus part of the context from which he can powerfully declare that we should "eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white." Would Clinton have been the presumptive front runner in this campaign if she were not the wife of a previous President? Did that make her lucky? One could suggest that McCain is "lucky" to have been a POW because it is part of his story which gives him credibility today.

Luck comes and goes, but only fools fail to take advantage of that which falls into our laps. America, after 8 years of a disastrous presidency, a huge stroke of fortune has fallen into our lap. Obama's luck is our luck. And here is why:

We have evolved a political system which has many advantages, but in which honesty in politicians is routinely punished. Absolute candor is political suicide, and every successful politician, including Barack Obama understands this. Most of us shade the truth to our own advantage in our every day lives, and share that which puts us in a good light more than that which does not. Unfortunately years and years as a politician, causes the most successful to become so adept at this game that they become less and less aware of how dishonest they have become. Obama is quite skilled at choosing his words in such a way that his message appeals to a broad spectrum of Americans. He's good at the political game, and his candor is not absolute. But the brevity of his political life and the luck he has had in rising to this level without more and nastier political opposition mean that he has retained more candor than we have come to expect from our Presidential candidates. For many Americans - even many who do not share Obama's political philosophy - that makes his message refreshing, and a breath of fresh air compared to what we've come to expect.

Obama is politically savvy enough to weave in pieces of the sound bites which help sell the message, but when taken in whole paragraphs, he also makes sense and his message is coherent and at its heart truthful. "Change" sells, so the word is employed over and over again - and we can roll our eyes - but that's politics. What I care about is that his aspirational approach is inspiring hope, his intellect backs up those aspirations, and his realism tempers his methods.

McCain complained about Obama referring to McCain's bid as Bush's third term, but when you take the whole of what Obama said, for instance in his speech last night in Minneapolis, you find that he is honest about the distinctions between Bush and McCain. Americans by a large majority ARE disillusioned with the policies of George W. Bush, and it would be politically foolish for any Democratic candidate NOT to point to the many policy similarities between Bush and the promises of McCain. But more than the simple sound bite, here is what Obama actually said:

Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college -- policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.

And it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians -- a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.

McCain is a very different person than Bush, and should he become President, I still have some hope that he will bring much needed reform to that branch of government. Either of these candidates seems likely to bring some more transparency back to the executive branch. But McCain is still tied to the policies of his party, and Obama is offering a clean break from that without insisting on a lock-step partisan agenda that will cement the divisions in this nation. From the prologue of The Audacity of Hope:
I am a Democrat; my views on most topics correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal. I am angry about policies that consistently favor the wealthy and powerful over average Americans, and insist that government has an important role in opening up opportunity to all. I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody's religious beliefs--including my own--on nonbelievers. Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can't help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class continue to shape our lives.

But that is not all that I am. I also think my party can be smug, detached, and dogmatic at times. I believe in the free market, competition, and entrepreneurship, and think no small number of government programs don't work as advertised. I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers. I think America has more often been a force for good than for ill in the world; I carry few illusions about our enemies, and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.

Undoubtedly, some of these views will get me in trouble. I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book--namely, how I, or anybody in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments.

I for one, feel very fortunate to have a major party nominee for the Presidency who can write with such candor, and I am equally committed, should he be elected to hold him to his implied commitment to avoid the pitfalls of success. America, today we are lucky and have a great opportunity to turn the page. Tomorrow and in the coming years we will need to continue to work to cash in on this opportunity. Citizenship does not end at the ballot box.

Posted by Walker Willingham at June 4, 2008 10:30 AM
Comments
Comment #254416

Walker,
Well said! I am still in a state of… well… pleasant shock. The speech by Obama last night was amazing. To see a presidential candidate with so much potential committed to leading the country in a positive direction-

“So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time.”

Wow. There hasn’t been a speech like that since JKF & MLK. Truly, we are lucky. Now, we need to make it happen.

Posted by: phx8 at June 4, 2008 2:27 PM
Comment #254418

Walker, your article begs the question: “Are the American people ready for an honest representative in the White House?”

The jury on that question will remain out for another 3 years at least.

One other question of import which cannot now be answered but, will be in the minds of voters going forward: “Even if Obama is all his supporters purport him to be, can such a president make any headway against a Congress entrenched in its old and failed ways and hip pockets of the wealthy and corporate elite?”

Seems to me, if America is to meet the challenges before it, it must deliver a newer Congress to the new President to work with in new ways to solve those challenges facing our nation.

Putting a new roof on an old and crumbling building does not solve the problem.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 4, 2008 2:41 PM
Comment #254421

He may be a “novice,” tc, but he is a liberal, wanting to move America further left and that is the most important thing.
This is not America’s opportunity for anything, it is the lefts opportunity.

Posted by: kctim at June 4, 2008 3:08 PM
Comment #254427

David,

There are lot of decent members of Congress, who are stuck in the old ways and feel impotent to change them. Certainly real reform is needed there. Whether the will to make a real start on that can come with a change in the White House is one of many open questions, but some reform can happen short of a total replacement of the personnel. The job of righting our ship of state is a huge one, and many must participate. You are oh so right that the jury is out, but I for one am choosing hope - not because the outcome is foregone, but because it’s the only reasonable choice.

To those who question Obama’s competency to lead the military - there’s no question that a majority of Americans would rather entrust the delegation of that responsibility to Obama, than to say - Cheney - for the next four years. McCain may do better, but the point is that “experience” does not guarantee performance, and McCain’s support of the war effort is clearly a liability for him.

kctim - the future success of liberal bashing has been severely curtailed by Bush’s colossal “conservative” failures, but Obama magnanimously will not kindle an anti-conservative backlash, because he understands that the right-left divide is a false dichotomy and there is more that unites us, than there is that divides us. It may sound cliche, but it’s true. As I have always proclaimed, it’s not how far right Bush has been, it is how far wrong he’s been. It’s time to try a new mixture of ideas, aimed at a larger percentage of the public not just the ruling elite.

jason, if I pretend your silly questions are serious, then 1) No; 2) those promoted through the ranks; and 3) there will be no such thing.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at June 4, 2008 4:21 PM
Comment #254433

Jason,
Not only was 9-11-01 thought of it was included in one of TOM CLANCY’s books. This idea was not so far out. Their are other Action fiction writers out their that had some of the same ideas penned to paper and these are quite popular authers, you know the one’s where their name is above the title of the book. So before you go spouting off about possibilites not being thought of make sure you have your facts fimly in hand.

Posted by: timesend at June 4, 2008 4:49 PM
Comment #254437

Walker
Obama’s voting record and website, show he is a liberal, it is not “liberal bashing” when pointing that out.

And Bush’s failures are Bush failures, not conservative failures. If you believe conservatives are going to start believing liberals are now Constitution loving people who will leave them alone because of Bush, you are sadly mistaken.

Obama may understand that there is more that unites us than divides us, but he does not understand that what divides us needs to be understood and respected. If he did, he would not vote the way he does and he would never have said we “cling” to those things he deems unimportant.

I would love to try a new mixture of ideas, unfortunately, none have been offered.

Posted by: kctim at June 4, 2008 5:00 PM
Comment #254442

kctim,

You were not liberal bashing, true, but you do seem to be counting on a presumption that the liberal tag is sufficient in its own right to disqualify someone from consideration to be President in the minds of everyone who themselves are not liberal.

I am predominately liberal, and I’m willing to stipulate that most Americans are not. Twenty years ago the presumption was true that the liberal tag was tarnished, but more and more people are waking up to the fact that everything doesn’t hinge on where one stands on some imaginary one-dimensional axis between left and right. Liberals can respect the competence of certain conservatives to lead - even in a political realm - and vice versa. The people for whom such an identification is a show-stopper are by and large already committed against voting against any Democrat. That’s why cries of “far-left” are becoming more common, because all across the nation reasonable liberals can be elected if they are otherwise acceptable. Republicans will try to tag Obama as “far-left” but it won’t stick because it is not true. Folks will talk about his voting record, but once you break down the individual votes there will be nothing shocking to indict him with. Truly “far-left” bills don’t ever come to a vote in the Senate.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at June 4, 2008 5:30 PM
Comment #254444

kctim

And Bush’s failures are Bush failures, not conservative failures.

So let me get this right. By your analogy Bush who ran under the guise of a republican and was supported 100% by the GOP is not to be considered a conservative. I am scratching my head trying to figure this one out. He has been in office for almost eight years now elected supposedly mostly by conservatives to represent conservative values. The republican legislature elected by people of conservative values, who held a majority vote for most of his term, backed him without fail almost all the time. And likewise he supported I believe all conservative legislation and policy that was presented to him by the republican led, supposedly conservative legislature. Yet all his failures are his own and should not be associated with your conservative legislature which marched in lockstep at his every whim. Could such abandonment of support by those who voted him into office be a result of convenience, or is it really the result of poor conservative policy emanating from less than adequate republican representation.

Posted by: RickIL at June 4, 2008 5:50 PM
Comment #254446

Walker
I’m not counting on that presumption at all, really. In fact, I have already accepted that he will win and have been taking the necessary precautions for his rule.

I agree that everything doesn’t hinge on where one stands on the issues, but what’s important to individuals has. You don’t vote for a far-right candidate if gay marriage is important to you and you don’t vote for a far-left liberal if the 2nd Amendment is important to you.

People know that when Obama speaks of “change,” he is not talking about his position on the issues, so why vote for somebody who goes against your beliefs simply because he says his ideas are fresh?

Obama is far-left and it will now be a closer race than if you all had put up a Democrat who would represent the people instead of the party.

Posted by: kctim at June 4, 2008 6:05 PM
Comment #254447

Walker

but more and more people are waking up to the fact that everything doesn’t hinge on where one stands on some imaginary one-dimensional axis between left and right.

Well said. It seems to me that the labels serve more as a tool to create divisiveness now days than they do to define ones stand on issues.

More and more we all are falling prey to the ills of this world. As the classes grow apart the issues are becoming larger and of a more serious nature than in times past. All working class people are struggling to get a fair shake and insure a pleasant future for them and their offspring. The energy crisis is creating division and uncertainty like we have never seen before. World powers are laying the track work to insure that they will be the ones who come out on top. There is a new world order in the future and how we approach world issues will determine just where we end up in that order. My point here is that we would all do well to abandon the simplistic descriptives of liberalism and conservatism and come to the reality that we are all just people in the same boat with the same problems which need urgent and sound attention. The hatreds induced by the improper use of such labels serves only to cloud ones vision and hinders true progress in dealing with the very serious issues at hand.

Posted by: RickIL at June 4, 2008 6:16 PM
Comment #254450

Walker, I have come to the conclusion that there was a little more than luck involved in BHO’s senate victory over Keyes after Ryan had to withdraw, especially since his best-funded primary opponent suffered an oddly similar fate, after a well known consultant decided to drop him in favor of BHO.

On the other side, JMcC looked terribly old and wrinkly last night, and needs a new tailor, besides a way to convince people that he’s lying to get elected, without losing his base of support.

On 9/11, don’t forget about the Lone Gunmen, broadcasting an episode about a plane flying into the WTC, 3 months prior to the attacks, for those who love conspiracy theories: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N-LQec2FHA

Posted by: ohrealy at June 4, 2008 6:41 PM
Comment #254454

Walker Willingham says, “all across the nation reasonable liberals can be elected if they are otherwise acceptable.”

Walker, what exactly is a “reasonable liberal” and, could there possibly be “reasonable conservatives”? Is one reasonable if they are moderate, as one who sits on the fence, or as one who is willing to compromise their most basic political beliefs?

Will Barry, the first Arab-American to be nominated for president by a major party, be reasonable and willing to compromise his liberal promises regarding bigger government, capitulation to terrorists, and so many other egregious liberal positions? For how long will the far left support him if he does compromise?

What would you have Barry consider reasonable to compromise and what should be his non-debatable bedrock political positions?

Posted by: Jim M at June 4, 2008 6:53 PM
Comment #254460

Jim,

“Will Barry, the first Arab-American to be nominated for president by a major party,”

No offence pal, but I hope that is just ignorance.

Barack Obama’s father is from Kenya, not Arabia, and his mother is from Kansas, quite a ways from the Middle East.
Obama’s father’s middle name is also Hussein, as was his grandfather’s taken name after he became a Muslim in Zanzibar around the time of WW1.

I am not a great Obama supporter, but I have to call bulls*%t when I read something so blatantly lame, and just plain wrong.

It is statements like yours that are spread as the truth in an attempt to impugn others that may just come back to haunt the right.

Posted by: Rocky at June 4, 2008 7:33 PM
Comment #254470

Jim M -

I don’t believe you were simply mistaken in your description of Obama in your post. I believe that you KNEW what was true, yet posted what was not true…and if I am right we all know what that would make you.

Perhaps I’m wrong about your level of knowledge and intentions, and I sincerely apologize if I am wrong.

BUT attitudes like the one I see in your post is possibly the single greatest reason I turned my back on the Republican party in 1992. So many times I have seen conservatives spout off either in ignorance of the facts, and many other times I’ve seen them put their personal religious beliefs over and above the clear evidence that lay before them.

In other words, I’ve watched the Conservatives become a party of “the facts don’t determine policy, but the policy (and our religious beliefs) must determine the facts”.

Reagan once said in a state-of-the-union address, “Facts are stubborn things.” He was referring to one of our Cold-War disputes with the Soviet Union…but the Republican party would do well to learn the truth and deeper meanings that lay behind his statement.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at June 4, 2008 8:17 PM
Comment #254473

I said a while back that it’s not as much of a racial issue with BHO as it is an exotic issue. I believe the last son of an immigrant to be elected POTUS was Jackson, and he got screwed out of it the first time by the electoral college. BHO is trying to run using WJC’s 1992 technique, but it probably won’t work with a candidate from Honolulu instead of Hot Springs, with no record of actually having done anything that wasn’t in the service of getting elected to the next higher office. He’s not much of a populist.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 4, 2008 8:29 PM
Comment #254479

ohrealy,

Racial or not, the myopic xenophobia of the right is well documented.

Posted by: Rocky at June 4, 2008 8:54 PM
Comment #254483

Rocky, misunderstanding xenophobia may lose this election for the Democrats. You don’t have to be on the right to want to be cautious about someone new and different. There are xenophobes on all sides, and I think BHO will ultimately be examined much more closely than his supporters will like.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 4, 2008 9:22 PM
Comment #254485

Being cautious and being outright insulting are two entirely different things.

Frankly I don’t care if Obama gets elected or not, the message I am hearing from him is one that should resonate with everybody.
It shouldn’t matter if yesterday he was flipping burgers, he made it through the primary process, and is now poised to be the Democratic contender for President of the United States.

That accomplishment alone is amazing.

Regardless of whether he wins or loses, I hope that people will take a bit of his message to heart.

Posted by: Rocky at June 4, 2008 9:33 PM
Comment #254491


Kctm has it exactly right. This is the liberals opportunity to return to the good old days of liberal control. You know, back to the time when the Democratic party was bleeding voters faster that old Juan, down in Columbia, could pick his coffee beans and cocca leaves.

Ideas? Let’s transform Obama from a liberal to a moderate between now and the election.

Posted by: jlw at June 5, 2008 12:57 AM
Comment #254493

kctim or anyone,

Would you care to back up the “far-left” assertion with any real evidence? A bill number and vote, or better yet one of the bills that Obama himself introduced. Maybe that one he drafted with loony-left Republican Lugar on nuclear non-proliferation. Or the one he wrote with that liberal bastion Dr Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to increase transparency in government, which ironically played into his National Journal “most liberal” rating, because usually it seems to be liberals that push for more transparency. (It turns out that Coburn really is a maverick.) Oh wait, neither of those - Ok, I’m waiting - and something more substantial than an out of context quote.

Posted by: Walker at June 5, 2008 1:19 AM
Comment #254494

p.s. I’m not generally a big fan of sarcasm, but I just couldn’t resist that time. I really do want to know what some of you take to be “far-left” though, because I’ve seen far-left, and Obama’s clearly not it.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at June 5, 2008 1:23 AM
Comment #254527

Rick
I could not be abandoning Bush, I did not vote for him. Hell, I’m not even sure I could be described as a conservative, to be honest.

And yes, Bush was elected by conservatives, but I do not believe he upheld his side of the bargain, especially when 9-11 occurred.

“My point here is that we would all do well to abandon the simplistic descriptives of liberalism and conservatism and come to the reality that we are all just people in the same boat with the same problems which need urgent and sound attention.”

Some of our problems may be the same, Rick, but they’re priority is not. We have also allowed personal agendas into the law making process, which has greatly contributed to our divide.

“The hatreds induced by the improper use of such labels serves only to cloud ones vision and hinders true progress in dealing with the very serious issues at hand”

I totally agree, but its not that easy anymore Rick. The labels now separate which issues people believe are important and true progress on those issues are two different things.
The only way to lessen our divide is to respect the beliefs of others and our country is no where near going back to doing that.

Posted by: kctim at June 5, 2008 9:55 AM
Comment #254530

Walker said: “but some reform can happen short of a total replacement of the personnel.”

Even if the Vote Out Incumbents movement soared between now and November throughout the country, the end result would only be a reduction in the incumbent election rate from 92% to perhaps 75%.

First, only 1/3 of Senators are up for reelection. Second, the Vote Out Incumbents movement would always be moving uphill against the “It’s the other voter’s representatives who are the problem” cognitive dissonance in the psychology of voters. Therefore, any fears of anykind that supporting a vote out incumbents movement could result in a complete Freshman Congress across the board, are entirely unfounded.

Which makes the urgency and importance of joining the vote out incumbents movement all that much more a necessity. I am president of the Vote Out Incumbents Democracy movement, and I would never want to see an entirely new Freshman Congress seated in one election. That would be disastrous in so many ways.

But, that is not even remotely possible, and promoting Freshman Congresspersons who seek office to improve governance is absolutely essential if we are to implement solid solutions to our challenges. America must overstep the wealthy and vested corporate interests, who have their hooks embedded deep in far too many representatives of the old guard. The future of the nation depends upon this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 5, 2008 10:11 AM
Comment #254538

Would you care to back up the “far-left” assertion with any real evidence?

Does this help?

http://www.politico.com/static/PPM43_080328_obama_iviquestionaire_091096.html

During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion — positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he has projected during his presidential campaign.

The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.

Late last year, in response to a Politico story about Obama’s answers to the original questionnaire, his aides said he “never saw or approved” the questionnaire.

They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who “unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position.”

But a Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago nonprofit group that issued it. And it found that Obama — the day after sitting for the interview — filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes added to one answer.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 5, 2008 11:22 AM
Comment #254539

Walker
Obama’s bill, S2433, a bill which locks us into United Nations Millennium Summit, is one example.

- Voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
- Rejects free market vision of government. (Oct 2007)
- Obama endorsed Illinois handgun ban. (Apr 2008)
- Govt mandated healthcare
- Health plan: not enough resources for illegal immigrants. (Jan 200
- Extend welfare and Medicaid to immigrants. (Jul 1998)
- Provide funding for social services for noncitizens. (May 2006)
- Voted YES on continuing federal funds for declared “sanctuary cities”. (Mar 2008)
- Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. (May 2006)
- Stop any efforts to privatize Social Security. (Feb 2008)
- He supports govt recognized gay “unions.”
- He supports hiring based on sex and race, instead of qualifications (affirmitive action)
- Believes it is govts job to regulate our 2nd Amendment right.
- Ranked most liberal in Senate, based on 99 votes. (Feb 2008)

http://www.issues2000.org/Senate/Barack_Obama.htm

Just some of the things that are “far-left” in my view, Walker.

Posted by: kctim at June 5, 2008 11:26 AM
Comment #254543

I knew that when this election cycle started that this would be an historic election. We would either have the first female nominee or the first black nominee for the office of POTUS.

That I foresaw.

In an earlier thread, I made the bold prediction that Hillary would be the next POTUS.

I was wrong. There, I said it.

Posted by: Jim T at June 5, 2008 11:49 AM
Comment #254580

Jim T, welcome to the fallibility of the human condition. Good for you. I have always felt a certain pride in admitting I was wrong when discovered. It is somehow elevating and liberating and always educational. I cannot learn from my mistakes if I don’t first admit them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 5, 2008 1:39 PM
Comment #254581

Rhinehold, if I stopped growing 8 years ago and altering my views, I would not be fit to lead anyone anywhere. Neither would Obama.

I was a whole lot more liberal when I became involved in the Democratic Party many years ago. I have grown since then. Obviously, so has Obama. Or do you prefer candidates with stunted or stagnant growth as a result of time and experience over 8 to 10 years?

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 5, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #254609

Congratulations to both Rocky and Glenn for being eagle-eyed readers. I’ve said that Barry is Arab-American and they caught it.

Now, to my point. If all this Barack adoration is based on ability, experience, spell-binding speaking ability, message of change, and all the other fluff being attributed to him, what difference would his nationality, race, ethic group, sex, religion, or any other parameter make? I say None!

However, Rocky and Glenn seem to believe it makes a difference that Obama be correctly portrayed as BLACK, not Arab or White. If it were true that Obama was Arab, would that cost him votes? If yes, why and from whom?

Sometimes we reveal much about ourselves when we attempt to set the record straight. It should make no difference at all if a candidate is ?-American, just that he/she is qualified under the constitution to run for the office being sought.

I found this a very interesting exercise and I was pleasantly surprised that more folks didn’t comment on my deception.

I guess most folks reading this blog are like me and don’t care about mundane things such as race, etc. And, that’s a good thing.

Posted by: Jim M at June 5, 2008 4:37 PM
Comment #254637

Thanks kctim for identifying those things you consider to be “far-left”. I hope to do a little digging and respond in a few days to these particular examples - or maybe it could be the subject of a new post.

I’m quite confident that I’ll find that I’ll be in 90% + agreement with Obama, and I KNOW that I’m not “far-left”. Likewise Rhinehold, you know that those things you’re talking about are typical liberal issues. Actual “far-left” would seek to nationalize most if not all industry, not just health care (which Obama doesn’t even propose, but I would); regulate wages AND salaries - both minima and maxima; regulate prices; eliminate private education; ban all commercial advertising; etc. etc. It’s OK to argue that such and such American politician is “too liberal” for your taste, but this silly hyperbole of attempting to paint popular liberal positions as “far-left” is just dishonest in my opinion. And I might add I see many Democrats do the same thing with “far-right”. But you won’t catch me doing it, because I appreciate the difference between nuances even on the right.

Furthermore, having a few fairly hard left or hard right positions among the many opinions one has, does not make such a person hard left or hard right on average, just as a European nation which has a nationalized single-payer health system isn’t therefore socialist, when capitalism is alive and well in most of its industries.

The huge success of the right in this country over the last 40 years has been in attaching such a radical label to any and all efforts to keep many or turn ANY institutions into public entities. But the privatization of practically everything is wreaking havoc in many areas of our society [witness the total lack of accountability of Blackwater for any misdeeds its employees might be guilty of in Iraq], and a lot of people are waking up to the realization that sensible limits to privatization have merit.

Competition and capitalism are fine and good and often the healthiest way to promote innovation and progress, but this new “free market fundamentalism” which insists that the invisible hand of the market is ALWAYS superior, and must not be regulated or abridged in any way, is what I see as the new pernicious radical position, which when followed to its logical conclusion CAN be rightly labeled as far-right. The notion that any and all limits to such a course are “far-left” I dismiss as silly.

Posted by: Walker at June 6, 2008 12:03 AM
Comment #254681

Walker
The more power and control govt has, the further away from freedom we get. It is not dishonest to call positions which give the govt more power and control over us, far left positions and all liberal positions require more govt and control over individuals.

I agree that having a few far left positions does not make one “far left.” Shoot, I actually have a few of those positions myself. But Obama does not only have a few, they make up the majority of his positions. That is not representative of the majority of the people and he is not the one who will heal our divide.

Walker, the huge success of the right over the last 40 years is due to our govt having moved to far left and a large group of voters trying to put the brakes on that. It is the policies, not the labels, that has people riled up.

IMO, its not that “any and all limits” are far left, but rather how intrusive and controlling those limits are, that make them far left.

Posted by: kctim at June 6, 2008 10:03 AM
Comment #254693

Congrats to Glenn and Rocky for spotting my deception regarding Obama’s being an Arab-American. My purpose in this exercise was to elicit responses that would show bias based upon race or ethnicity. It didn’t work as only these two bothered to comment. While surprising, I am pleased that it didn’t matter to most readers.

My point was that racism or any of the other “ism’s” shouldn’t matter at all in a candidate. Would an Arab-American Obama be more or less acceptable, and if so, why?

Posted by: Jim M at June 6, 2008 11:49 AM
Comment #254694

kctim,

the huge success of the right over the last 40 years is due to our govt having moved to far left
Let’s see, 8 years of Reagan, 12 of one Bush or another, 8 of a Clinton who ceded the power of government to big corpororations time and again - is that what you call ‘far left’ movement of government? Really now, that’s utterly preposterous.

kctim, I understand that YOU would have done things differently than these administrations, and I am among the first to point out that Bush is not true to a true conservative philosophy, as he hugely increased the size of government, and all of the corporate welfare we see is NOT conservative. But it’s not far left, in any sense of that term that would be used in the political sphere.

What you are doing is narrowly defining conservatism, and then labeling EVERYTHING which is not that as far left, and doing so renders such a phrase as meaningless. I see it as an attempt to conflate reasonable positions which don’t happen to be conservative with dangerous positions which most agree are extreme or frightening. And THAT is what I declare to be dishonest, and I think you know it. It’s perfectly reasonable for you or anyone to put forth arguments for any political philosophy, and concretely explain why other positions limit freedom, but it’s tiresome and lazy to try to paint every position you disagree with as extreme just because it does not conform to some orthodoxy with which you identify.

The more power and control govt has, the further away from freedom we get.
My question is always whose freedom. The liberal positions I espouse seek to enhance the freedom of those who lack the resources and power to assert their own freedoms. When it is obvious for all to see that the game is rigged and the playing field is not level, then I believe it is correct and compassionate to have government play a role in making sure that the rules it creates (our body of laws) do more to protect the powerless, and certainly not focus on protecting the powerful, who already have every advantage. Far left positions (which are extremely appealing to oppressed peoples any many parts of the world) would take a heavy handed approach in stripping wealth and power from those that have it in a capitalist system and handing it over completely to the poor. But you and I understand that in the implementation of such a system, fairly consistently the implementers by virtue of the absolute power they need to acquire to effect such a massive change end up becoming the new power class, and the masses end up seeing little benefit, the economy often fails, and the new rulers often become more oppressive than that which they replace.

This is the reason that there is good reason to be suspicious of true far left ideology.

Liberalism in contrast seeks much more subtle tweaks to protect the weak and the poor from the excesses of capitalism. Healthy arguments about any policy are good for our society. Not all liberal ideas work, while others work very well. The same can be said of conservative ideas. The devil is in the details.

Shall I link to a bunch of truly far left sites to convince you that they are quite different than what American liberals stand for? I don’t think you really need that, because unless you’re totally sheltered you must have seen true far left before in your life. Now please stop mislabeling liberal positions you disagree with as “far left”. Or don’t stop, but I assure you that it weakens your position because people aren’t buying it.

Posted by: Walker at June 6, 2008 11:59 AM
Comment #254708

Walker
“What you are doing is narrowly defining conservatism, and then labeling EVERYTHING which is not that as far left, and doing so renders such a phrase as meaningless.”

No, what I am telling you is that “far left” policies call for more govt power and control than what is needed, wanted and Constitutional.

“I see it as an attempt to conflate reasonable positions which don’t happen to be conservative with dangerous positions which most agree are extreme or frightening.”

If most agree they are extreme or frightening positions, then why the “huge success of the right in this country over the last 40 years?”

“but it’s tiresome and lazy to try to paint every position you disagree with as extreme just because it does not conform to some orthodoxy with which you identify.”

So, I am of a small minority who believes too much govt power and control is a bad thing? And everybody else who votes against more govt power and control, is doing so because of the liberal label, not because they disagree with it? Ok.

I don’t paint positions I disagree with as being “extreme,” I believe positions which ignore right and use govt to push personal agendas, are extreme.

“My question is always whose freedom.”

Whose? Every Americans.

“The liberal positions I espouse seek to enhance the freedom of those who lack the resources and power to assert their own freedoms.”

They also forcefully take resources and freedoms from others, to do so.

“Now please stop mislabeling liberal positions you disagree with as “far left”.”

Liberal positions call for more govt power and control than what our founding called for. The more govt called for, the further left the position is.
I will stop calling liberal positions far left, when they stop calling for more govt.

“Or don’t stop, but I assure you that it weakens your position because people aren’t buying it.”

How are people not “buying it,” when millions and millions of Americans vote against it every election?


Posted by: kctim at June 6, 2008 2:06 PM
Comment #254710

Walker,

I hate to say it, but the playing field never has been and never will be level.
We are all responsible for our own fates, and until we all grow up, and realize that fact the country will continue to slide into oblivion.

Yes, I was born a white, Catholic, upper-middle class male, and with that I suppose comes the perks that some would say put me at the upper end of the field.
That said, I eschewed my upbringing, and my education (private high school dropout), and struck out on my own.
I am where I am today because I worked my ass off, not because everything I got was handed to me. I took what some would call menial jobs, not because they were going to be my life’s ambition, but because they meant money was coming in, and they might lead to the next step.
I am proud of what I have accomplished, though had I stayed on the track my parents wished for me I might have gone further, but I don’t regret for a minute taking my own course.

I do support helping people that truly need the help, but handing someone a fish, that already has the ability to fish for themselves does nothing to advance society.

I agree with kctim more often than I disagree with him (though we have had our moments). We as a society have come to depend far too much on the government for what we should be doing for ourselves.
The powerful will always have the advantage of wealth to back them up in good times and in bad times. There is nothing the government can do through laws that will change that.
Now if by “subtle tweaks” you mean regulation that keeps us from corporate governance, I can agree with that, but even that can be taken too far.
The pendulum swings both ways, and if pushed too far in either direction, things go to shit.

The bottom line is that if we each don’t take responsibility for our own lives, that opens all of us up to the perils you describe. Government cannot assert control or responsibility for the masses.
If we refuse to take control of our own lives we will each reap what we each have sown.

Posted by: Rocky at June 6, 2008 2:17 PM
Comment #254751

kctim,

You miss my point entirely. In fact you miss many of my points and twist my words to mean things that I have not said.

This is a site where we discuss politics; and politics has a vocabulary. Socialism, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, fascism, libertarianism, communism, authoritarianism, anarchism, etc. each mean different and distinct things, though all of them cover some range of thought and may each have many different flavors. If we randomly substitute one for another in discussion then that is not very useful for communication. Far-left and far-right are decidedly more vague, because both hinge on some linear axis along a continuum, and political thought is multi-dimensional. It can help understanding at times to use left and right labels, but they are necessarily a simplification.

You have some ideas, kctim, which have merit. I disagree with you about many things, and I’m sure we would agree about many things as well. Your use of “far left” to describe policies that “call for more govt power and control than what is needed, wanted and Constitutional” is OBJECTIVELY INCORRECT. In fact that sounds more like a definition of authoritarianism - and when taken to extremes, then fascism. Authoritarianism and fascism in my view aren’t even on the left-right scale, because they can be employed to enforce whatever the government wants. Stalin and Hitler both led fascist governments in my opinion, and it was their fascism which made them so odious. Stalin’s government could also CORRECTLY be called far-left, while Hitler’s government had a mixture of right and left elements, even though most people incorrectly think it was far-right. That is another symptom of the error of applying a one dimensional axis to a multi-dimensional problem.

Like you I am against policies that “call for more govt power and control than what is needed, wanted and Constitutional”, but of course you and I might disagree about which policies are needed, wanted, and Constitutional. Like I said the devil is in the details.

I will stop calling liberal positions far left, when they stop calling for more govt.
You use “more” and “too much” almost interchangeably, but it all depends on context, doesn’t it? Suppose you lived in an anarchy - a land which literally had no government and people relied entirely on societal mores and the potential reactions of others to enforce decent and civil behavior. In some homogenous societies that can actually work better than an imposed government, but when societies mix, most folks acknowledge that some government and laws are useful. By your definition, anyone calling for laws (more government) in an anarchy would be far left. “But wait”, you say, “I don’t live in an anarchy, I live in the United States, and that’s what we are talking about.” Exactly! We’re talking about the United States, which has lots and lots of laws. In fact you and I probably agree that the United States has TOO MANY laws. But having too many laws doesn’t necessarily mean that the addition of a particular new law is therefore extreme. In fact apparently you agree since you cited in your list above Obama’s vote against a new law requiring the notification of parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. So in this case you apparently think that the “far left” position is to oppose a new law which mandates behavior and therefore reduces the freedom. I understand that YOU are concerned about the freedom of the unborn, and I have no objection to your making that point, but my point stands.

“Too much” is in the eye of the beholder, and in the whole world of politics there are plenty of positions which have been defined clearly as being far left and far right, and your attempt to paint moderate opinions as extreme by mis-labeling them is FACTUALLY and OBJECTIVELY INACCURATE.

Rocky,
Where did I say the playing field should be leveled? I totally agree with you that attempting to do that is a pipedream which is likely to cause more harm than help. In fact I already acknowledged so in the very same paragraph where I mentioned the reality of the unlevel playing field. There I argued against the truly far-left solution to doing that which usually leads to even worse oppression. No I only stated:

I believe it is correct and compassionate to have government play a role in making sure that the rules it creates (our body of laws) do more to protect the powerless, and certainly not focus on protecting the powerful, who already have every advantage.
That’s not leveling the playing field, that’s being responsible government. People should of course continue to be responsible for themselves.

In an earlier comment I explicitly acknowledged that some liberal programs work and others don’t. I would agree with you and many conservatives in this country that many programs which foster dependency among some sub-groups on government largesse are destructive of the very groups they are designed to help. The fact that SOME such programs still exist, DOES NOT PROVE that many truly worthy government programs which have creatively helped people to get out of their desperate situations, and get to a place where they can fend for themselves have not been stripped of funding. In fact many have, and others have been proposed which would probably result in a net savings for government precisely because they invest in helping people acquire the skills needed so that they add to overall productivity rather than detract from it.

The myth out there is that we still need to fight the welfare state of Lyndon Johnson, when most of that has been stripped away and replaced with welfare for the corporate elite. Liberals and conservatives need to band together and worry more about limiting corruption and less about the talking points. You show me a wasteful program created by corruption that ought to be eliminated, and I am completely with you. I show you a creative program that costs us two million today and saves us two hundred million over the next forty years, and you should be completely with me.

Posted by: Walker at June 6, 2008 6:37 PM
Comment #254764

So now the right wing is yammering about Obama coming from Chicago where the politics are rough & tumble and in the gutter and hard core, etc., etc. If they’re so serious about it then why not initiate a lawsuit for copyright infringement. You know; ripping their act.

Posted by: Stehen Hines at June 6, 2008 8:58 PM
Comment #254814

Jim M -

Would it make a difference if Obama was indeed Arab American? Many who answer that question publicly with a politically-correct answer might be lying.

I’m not one of those people.

I’m white, retired military, and from the deepest of the Deep South, and I was racist for many years until I had the opportunity to live among foreign cultures and observe firsthand the differences in culture. In many ways I found our culture morally superior…but in just as many other ways I found the other cultures morally superior.

I also found that qualities such as honor, integrity, and courage (and their attendant opposites) have nothing at all to do with the color of one’s skin or the culture in which one was raised.

This is not to say I am incautious in my trust of others who may hail from a culture not my own. However, I also know that I have walked in the streets of Bangkok, Nairobi, Manila, and Dubai with less fear and apprehension than some times that I have walked the inner cities here in America.

Moreover, I am not entirely concerned about the violent tendencies of some within the Muslim world, for in my studies in history I have found that Islam is NOT the most violent of the major religions. Actually, historically speaking, among deity-worshiping religions, the religion that has killed more people than any other in the name of God is…mainstream Christianity. And FYI, I am Christian and have been a deacon in the Church for the past decade.

So in other words, though you may feel incredulous that I would not feel uncomfortable with an Arab-American presidential candidate, I can assure you that if I felt that I could trust him or her, I would be enthusiastic in voting that person into the most powerful position on the planet.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at June 7, 2008 1:37 PM
Comment #255008

Ok Walker, no problem. I will make my last statement brief and will bore you no more.

Our Constitution limits govt and highlights individual freedoms. The more govt you call for, the further from our founding you get. Liberals call for more govt than Dems do, so they are further left than Dems. I had nothing to do with such labeling.

You are free to believe liberal positions are moderate positions and that I am attempting to discredit them or something by calling them far-left if you want. But there are tens of millions of Americans who also see them as far-left and that alone takes those positions out of the moderate category.

Posted by: kctim at June 9, 2008 12:46 PM
Comment #255229

McCain-Romney is the Republican ticket. Romney fills the gaps and compliments McCain. Romney is well liked with young voters. Mitt’s economic prowess will prove useful to recover from our recession. McCain can focus on resolve abroad and make homeland safe. More importantly the republican ticket needs to inspire. After McCain and Romney set solid goals for our country they will inspire leadership and excite our country. Romney would also bring more campaign money to sell the republican ticket and compete with Obama.

Posted by: KennethWE at June 11, 2008 5:25 PM
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