Why Obama

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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).

Why?

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.

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