Why Obama


I am going to officially endorse Barack Obama.  I’ve been thinking about it for some time, and have decided to make it official.  I voted for him in the MoveOn.org poll, and will now blogroll the campaign blog.  I already know I’ll be doing so in really good company (In fact I’m stealing his copy of the badge).


This post by Amanda Marcotte (who was at one point attached to the Edwards campaign), has been hugely influential:

Via Ezra, this essay by Christopher Hayes on why to vote for Obama over Clinton now that the field is narrowed down to two people really gets at why I’m moving over to the Obama camp.

But while domestic policy will ultimately be determined through a complicated and fraught interplay with legislators, foreign policy is where the President’s agenda is implemented more or less unfettered. It’s here where distinctions in worldview matter most–and where Obama compares most favorably to Clinton. The war is the most obvious and powerful distinction between the two: Hillary Clinton voted for and supported the most disastrous American foreign policy decision since Vietnam, and Barack Obama (at a time when it was deeply courageous to do so) spoke out against it. In this campaign, their proposals are relatively similar, but in rhetoric and posture Clinton has played hawk to Obama’s dove, attacking from the right on everything from the use of first-strike nuclear weapons to negotiating with Iran’s president. Her hawkishness relative to Obama’s is mirrored in her circle of advisers. As my colleague Ari Berman has reported in these pages, it’s a circle dominated by people who believed and believe that waging pre-emptive war on Iraq was the right thing to do. Obama’s circle is made up overwhelmingly of people who thought the Iraq War was a mistake.

I still had doubts (which Amanda shares):

I don’t think Obama is the ideal candidate. Hayes outlines the major frustration that a lot of us have with him, that he directs his awesome political skills towards centrist ends.

I don’t like the idea of a mushy centrist.

The tipping point, however, was this post by Sarah at Brood:

As Super Tuesday approaches and we try to separate empty promises and strategic moves from real, actual thoughts and goals, I couldn’t have read a better book than Dreams From My Father.

Here’s why: even though I didn’t realize it when I picked it up, Obama wrote this book over ten years ago, when he was fresh out of law school and long before he was worrying about what people wanted to hear. It is, I think, a great way to “get to know” the candidate outside of the media, the hype, and the confusion that comes along with a presidential bid.

What do we learn?

But Barack thinks his way through these simple binary good/bad categories and goes far beyond them. He is constantly striving to 1) understand situations from all points of view and 2) think his way through to a solution. He has an uncanny ability to step away from the emotions of a problem and then systematically chip away at it. He understands very well that you have to know why things are as they are before you develop a plan about how to fix it.

Sarah goes on to note that her concerns about lack of experience evaporated, and justly so.  For me, it was her post that made the issue of Obama’s bipartisan approach one I could see past.  One must stand passionately and ferociously for one’s causes.  But to solve the many problems facing this nation, we must see beyond the Democrat/Republican divide, and have the courage to embrace the solutions, even if it means Democrats accepting Republican answers, and Republicans accepting Democrat answers.  This has historically been a one sided compromise to the benefit of the far right, but done correctly, (with backbone, skill and tenacity), it allows us to tackle the growing separation in this country.  Not between left and right.  Between us and our government.

It is a rhetorical style that invites rationality and rejects blind adherence to idealogical loyalties.  If left to rot, there is no question it will break when tested with real firepower from the conservative movement.  The challenge is for Obama to use this new language to fight, and to win.


New York Times Columnist Has A Problem with White Women

Via MAJeff: Crooks and Liars:

The neocon warmonger speaks. With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton locked in a very good battle leading up to Super Tuesday, Kristol makes this misogynistic quote:

BILL KRISTOL: Look the only people for Hillary Clinton are the Democratic establishment and white women… it would be crazy for the Democratic party to follow the establishment that’s led them to defeat year after year… White Women are a problem – but, you know… we all live with that…

Yeah, white women, with their voting against good waspy American values.  Damn their eyes!

Maybe the left is being to hard on Kristol:

Are you still happy NY Times?

Dave Manatt  from Politics TV says:

Where to begin? I’m no paleo-feminist — and the attacks on Obama and Kennedy by NOW et. al. have only re-enforced every stereotype about them – but this FOX moment is just solid sexism at its worst. (I doubt Bill Kristol would laugh at jokes about necon/Likkud supporters being a “problem” the same way)…

Then the panelists – Williams… One of the panel “liberals”, who of course infamously has faced sexual harassment charges in the 90s while working at the Washington Post. The other “liberal” on the panel and only woman, Mara Laison said… nothing. Hey NOW — how about going after her???

Finally, there is the matter of accuracy. Kristol wants to perpetuate the myth of the “loser Democrats”. Hmmm, Bill. Where were you in the 06 midterms? Looks like his neocon bunker mentality won’t thaw until election day.

Maybe he’s just saying he can’t understand why brown sugar tastes so good?

In the end it doesn’t really matter.  Dava Manatt is wrong.  Kristol’s bunker mentality won’t thaw, ever.  The Iraq war debacle didn’t send him scrambling for humble pie.  It left him with a posh assignment at one of the top news organizations in the world.  This little sexist quip should guarantee him some kinda ambassadorship in the McCain/Rudy Whitehouse.

Blogroll Amnesty Day

Via Bluegal, today is blogroll amnesty day. This means finding smaller blogs that link to you (that you do not yet link to), and offering them a little attention. I used Technorati as a very rough measure of blog size.

Fitness for the Occasion is a small blog itself, so even as I’m writing this I wonder if I’ll make it to 5 blogs.

Turns out, I’ve ended up with 3.

Podblack Blog:

Its always exciting to find someone who links to you. The thrill is exponential when you realize that it is a person of stunning intelligence, with interesting and important things to say. Podblack cat offers takes on education, religion, atheism and politics, mixing in charming “cat breaks” and the occasional post on the sublimely odd. An intellectual and ethical ally: highly recommended.


Start reading. Now. Not quite so frequently updated, but chock full of well written and entertaining soliloquys on art, propaganda, and the difficult questions we pass over in daily life (and what they mean).

Complex System of Pipes:

He quotes Chomsky with a careful precision, and without much effort I came across this post, which I’ve now bookmarked to come back to and digest. The word activist is heavy with meanings earned and endured. Dave is helping refine it into something sharp, and has invited us along for the ride.

I’ll be adding all three to my blogroll proudly.

McCain: What is the TimesOnline Smoking?

Tony Allen-Mills has gotten into the Skull and Bones pantry, and found George W Bush’s private stash.  His article on the far rights reaction to John McCain’s surging lead is racked with bullshit:

Yet much has changed for the maverick senator from Arizona since his pivotal victory in last Tuesday’s Florida primary.

He starts off by referring to the Senator as a maverick.  Aside from echoing a quote from the uber trustworthy Rush  Limbaugh, there is no reason at all to make this claim.  In fact perpetuating the maverick myth just drives home how biased the media can be:

Gone was the air of moderation. In its place, outlandish statements and strange decisions spilled from the candidate. “I’ve always supported overturning Roe v. Wade”? Full-bore support of the Iraq war and the troop surge? Getting progressively chummier with the Bush administration? Giving the commencement address at evangelist reactionary Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University? Wasn’t this the guy that in 2000 condemned people like Falwell as “agents of hate”? What was going on?

Tony’s article reinforces this with the disingenous questions of the right:

The question for many of Bush’s former allies was: what kind of Republican is John McCain? Indeed, is he a Republican at all?

No Republican is honestly asking that question.  But what are the differences that make McCain such a non-starter for conservatives? (Emphasis mine)

Yet it is also clear that over the decades McCain’s trenchant independent streak has alienated many in his party. He has championed restraints on campaign fundraising, denying Republicans a long-held advantage. He has opposed tax cuts that conservatives regard as sacred.

Then there is his sympathy for illegal immigrants who work hard and pay their taxes in the hope of achieving citizenship: McCain regards them as potential assets, while his critics dismiss them as criminals. He has also upset senatorial colleagues by taking aim at their cherished home state projects – so-called “pork barrel” spending.

Actually the Democrats have been out-raising the Republicans by an embarrassing margin.  His sympathy for illegal immigrants and position on taxes might not be as independent as Tony and other media outlets would have us believe.  Even if he did not buy into the rabidly anti-immigrant policies on the right, that just aligns him with the pro-corporation wing of the party rather than the nativist sect.  Still Republican.

But for me, the real kicker came later in Tony’s article (emphasis mine):

All this encouraged Ann Coulter, a glamorous conservative media icon, to declare last week that she would vote for Clinton rather than McCain.

What is this guy on?