Wow! All my friends from the Dean campaign went up to NH today to work in the Obama camp. I on the other hand have stayed behind (I'll be leaving for the lab soon to inject some cells). And I'm vacillating between Obama and Edwards (but leaning towards Obama).
So forget about the Sunday morning political talk shows, read these two items instead and you'll see the source of my inner dispute.
First up, Lambert on problems with Obama (HT: Coturnix). This essay reflects my problems with Obama's strategy. Over the last 27 years, the fiscal conservatives who head the GOP have been tearing down all the institutions that made the US great (i.e. the New Deal) - can we negotiate with these guys? No. From Lambert's post:
Progressive policies -- this election, health insurance, above all -- will be vehemently opposed by the Conservative Movement and the winger billionaires because progressive policies are not in their economic interests. In fact, they've been working for 30 years against progressive policies, and have been well paid to do so. They won't change. Why would they? So, there's going to be a food fight. Don't we need the kind of politics that's going to win the fight, rather than deplore it?
So, what would the countervailing force to the Conservative Movement be? What kind of politics? Well, one answer would be party building. Use the 2008 mandate--assuming Obama doesn't destroy any mandate for policy by tacking, Sister Souljah style, to the (vanishing) center--to build stronger, more progressive party institutions. Use control over the legislature for -- this time -- real oversight, and destroy the Republican brand and cripple the Conservative Movement. All we need to do is show the truth! Enforce subpoenas, and destroy the Republican brand and cripple the Conservative Movement. Re-professionalize the Justice Department, and it follows as the night the day that plenty of Republican criminals are prosecuted, which destroys the Republican brand and cripples the Conservative Movement.
Tearing down the Conservative Movement is exactly the kind of politics that's needed to lift the country up!
Obama wants to "reach out," but that strategy has already been tried. Obama says he wants to "reach out" to Republicans. But Reid and Pelosi "reached out" to Republicans, and that strategy was a miserable failure.
And the rich have been doing well. This graph on the right says it all.
However, I am still leaning towards Obama over Edwards. Why?
1- Obama fought for Chicago's inner city urban poor before he came to office. Listen to this episode on Harold Washington featured on This American Life , and all will be explained. Obama has been fighting for economic equality for a long time. But he is trying to be fairer then fair - and that's how he believes you can enact change. Edwards on the other hand never did any real public interest before he entered politics - he never did any pro-bono work. It's not a big deal, but it makes me slightly less enthusiastic about him.
2- The war. On this I'll let Frank Rich speak. From today's OpEd in the NY Times:
It's safe to assume that these same voters did not forget that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards enabled the Iraq fiasco. Or that Mr. Obama publicly opposed it. When Mrs. Clinton attacked Mr. Obama for his supposedly "irresponsible and frankly naive" foreign policy ideas -- seeking talks with enemies like Iran -- she didn't diminish him so much as remind voters of her own irresponsibility and naivete about Mr. Bush's Iraq scam in 2002.
The media generally have downplayed the importance of the war - and I think that it's because they were suckered into cheer leading the war and are now downplaying it's importance. But as Frank Rich says:
What was mostly forgotten in these errant narratives [by the media in the weeks before the Iowa caucus] were the two largest elephants in the room: Iraq and George W. Bush. The conventional wisdom had it that both a tamped-down war and a lame-duck president were exiting so quickly from center stage that they were receding from the minds of voters. In truth, they were only receding from the minds of those covering those voters.
That's why all my friends from the Dean campaign are up in NH working for Obama (despite what Bora thinks). Here are my feelings towards this issue:
I have MAJOR reservations voting for anyone who voted for the war - it is important that the voters punish their leaders, not so that Clinton or Edwards "learn their lesson" but that future politicians think twice before they vote for any other crazy wars. We need to set a precedent.
And so I'm still in the Obama camp. OK time to leave for work ...
That graph is very interesting. In essence once the conservatives got control in the early 80's, the upper 1% started getting richer and richer, while all the layers below were pushed downward.
What it shows is a general looting of the classes by the top 1% of earners.
And it proves to me that there are some woefully ignorant people out there. I live in Rhode Island and regularly see beat up old junks with Bush/Cheney bumper stickers on them. Don't they realize that the neo-cons are the worst thing for them? Oh sure, Bush did his little lower income tax cut. Remember the $300 refund everybody got? But that's all people see. They might moan about rising prices of food, fuel, and housing but then they say inflation isn't going up.
What they miss is that we've been lied to for over twenty years. I think the Democrats would do much better if they attacked and pointed out the disparities since Republican neo-cons got control.
That said, I rank my candidate choices as follows:
While I appreciate John Edwards' populism, there's just something disingenuous about him that I can't shake. I do think he might be centrist enough to win in a general election. However, his ignorant ideas for changing the pharmaceutical industry have really turned me off of him:
I understand that changes need to be made, but this is totally unrealistic.
His healthcare plan is excellent if you don't read the rants of those who would lose easy, hefty profits from the deal.
I'll try to find time to write another post that is more positive of Obama, as there are some really good things about his strategy that I like.
I have a real problem with the Lambert discussion. It sounds to me a lot like what Newt Gingrich started. Democrats as a rule are not always right. To use words like "destroy" and "cripple" are not what this country needs. We need a conversation about what being American means and what our goals as a country will be.
This election needs to be about repairing the red/blue divide and having politicians who car about all of us. When Obama talks about hope he is talking about the fact that the place to start in building an America we can be proud of is reaching out to what makes Americans great. This is a wonderful country and the vast majority of people in it have values very close to mine (and I'm pretty liberal). We may have differences in how to find solutions but that is why we try to elect responsible leaders.
The most important thing Americans need is corporate responsibility and I think that Obama and Edwards both have that as a priority. The problem with Edwards is that he has marked the whole issue as us against them and that will never work. We need to work together. I'm not sure what that means but it seems to me that someone who can bring in Republicans and Independents into the conversation this early is someone we need. That is what Obama is doing and that is why I respect him.
On another note, didn't Hillary enter into this thing claiming that this wasn't about her being a woman? Is it just me or does she bring that up all the time?
I think some people (including Richardson at the debate) have it all confused. Edwards' us-vs.-them argument is not Dems vs. Repubs, but the uber-rich corporate bosses and their lobbyist slaves vs. all the rest of us of both parties. Edwards tried to clarify that at the debate (immediatelly following the Richardson diatribe), but I am not sure he was clear enough.