Saturday, February 9, 2008

Responses to anti-Obama blog posts

A couple recent posts caught my attention, and here's my response:

In a response to my comments on Senator Obama and abortion, Ciccina replies at The Lurking Canary, “Furthermore, Hillary can and will pull independent and Republican women because she is fully pro-choice. That is one issue that has demonstrably pulled these women to vote Dem.”

This suggests that there are Republican women who are pro-choice, who will vote for Senator Clinton purely because of the Senator’s track record on abortion rights.

There are broadly three categories of Republicans: national security hawks, the religious right, and fiscal conservatives. I think it is a fair assumption that women Republicans also fall into these categories.

The religious right think abortion is a sin, no matter what. They are not pro-choice. They will not be attracted to a strongly pro-choice candidate when McCain, strongly pro-life, is available.

National security hawks will definitely not vote for Senator Clinton over Senator McCain, the vocal proponent of the surge and “victory in Iraq.” McCain is a war-hero; Clinton, who does not have any military experience, wants to withdraw from Iraq (“surrender!”)

Fiscal conservatives – Clinton is back-tracking on NAFTA, wants to garnish people’s wages over health care and quite possibly roll back the Bush tax-cuts (effectively raising taxes). McCain has newly discovered the value of the Bush tax-cuts, but he also says “have tax-cuts, but also cut spending.”

Any woman who is strongly pro-choice already votes Democratic, or would not vote for the pro-life Senator McCain. Having Senator Clinton as the candidate is unlikely to make these women any more likely to vote Democratic come November 2008.

Ciccina also comments on Kate Michelman’s Obama endorsement, again at The Lurking Canary (Kate Michelman, former President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, has been called the public face of a woman's right to privacy):

“Last, the most interesting part of her whole statement is this: Barack will lead "Not out in front with us behind him, but rather with us beside him." This, my dears, is the Big Clue. Kate sees herself as part of Barack's circle, in a favored position "beside him"; she wouldn't have such a place next to Hillary… She is a bigger fish in that pond.”

Or in other words, “Ms Michelman’s selfish; she wants power that she will have as a woman besides Obama, that she will never have next to another powerful woman like Senator Clinton.”

First, it’s a disturbing thought that a powerful woman would not let other powerful women near her. What are they, crabs-in-a-basket?

Second, what Ms Michelman's statement tells me is that Senator Obama and his supporters are equals. There are no entitled leaders, above everybody else. In other words, a democracy.

Professor Marc Lamont Hill, at TheRoot says (quotes from his article in italics):

Despite his claims of being a peace candidate, Obama has repeatedly expressed a commitment to ramping up military and continuing the presidential legacy of using war as an instrument of foreign policy. Although he opposes the war in Iraq, Obama refuses to vote against its funding.”

I don’t think there was a big uproar when the US invaded Afghanistan; Senator Obama came out against the war in Iraq. As Senator Obama has said, he is not against all wars, just dumb ones. He may appear as a peace candidate as far as Iraq is concerned, but that’s it. And that’s good – Iraq was a bad war, and the US should have concentrated on taking out Bin Laden and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan/Pakistan. Force is needed at times, and for that, the US, as the remaining superpower, has to be strong.

Trying to end the war by cutting off funding is a Quixotic quest that will have no positive result – the current White House will not end the war, no matter what. Might as well reduce US casualties by providing armor and supplies – i.e. funding – to the troops over there.

In the face of a black electorate that still craves messianic leadership, Obama has skillfully positioned himself as the Martin Luther King of his generation. Unlike King, however, Obama does not aim to disrupt the fundamental structure of society. Rather than dismantling the triple threat of global racism, poverty, and militarism that King warned against, Obama has promoted a doctrine of compromise that is self-serving rather than strategic, milquetoast rather than pragmatic.”

Since when has “pragmatism” come to mean anarchism by disrupting the fundamental structure of society? Rigid ideologists might think of it that way, but that is not reality. I assume the “doctrine of compromise” means negotiating with all stakeholders in each issue – for example, health insurance companies, doctors, patients' rights advocates. I don’t see that as compromise, particularly when such negotiations in Congress will be broadcast on C-SPAN for the common person to watch and participate in. If that is not making a fundamental change in the way things are done, then what is?

In a democracy, transformational change – unfortunately, ending poverty is one such goal – can be made only by bringing people together. Racism can be ended only through education, not by government laws.

A strong military is strategic; that can protect folks like the Kosovo Albanians in Serbia; that could be used to end strife in Darfur. What is needed is the will to do it, and more importantly, wisdom to use the military carefully. In 2002, Obama showed he has the wisdom to not send the military unnecessarily to war, when he spoke out forcefully against the Iraq invasion. That does not constitute militarism, as far as I can tell.

To believe that Obama is a Kucinich leftist rather than a Clinton centrist is to ignore his own expressed positions. To believe that the world will be markedly improved after an Obama presidency is to ignore the structure of corporate-controlled politics. To believe that Obama is prepared to address the fundamental structure of our political system is to ignore his own investment in it.”

I think there are very few Kucinich leftists; the distinguished gentleman from Ohio proved this when he repeatedly failed to garner any significant support in the Democratic primaries. I don’t think any educated person mistakes Senator Obama for a Kucinich leftist.

The grass-roots organization of the Obama campaign is reflected in the enthusiastic support and more importantly, his fund-raising. Senator Obama does not take money from corporations, political action committees, Federal lobbyists or other interest groups. Almost all of his funding, if not all, comes from individual donations. Essentially, he is owned by the voting public. That does not strike me as corporate-controlled politics.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Barack Obama is asking us to do: vote for him as a change maker against all evidence to the contrary. That sounds more like the hope of audacity than the audacity of hope.”

Poetic as the conclusion sounds, I have not seen any such contrary evidence.

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