Obama: Are We Entering Lesser of Two Evils Land?

I’m an Obama supporter.  I’m no PUMA:

I just can’t figure out why if it is soooo important for the Democrats to win that the fingerpointers don’t pick the Democrat most likely to actually win.  I mean, they still have a choice.  If they are so concerned , they can petition the party to have a fair and transparent convention and let’s see who persuades the largest number of superdelegates.    So what if the signs for the fall have already been made?  It’s just stationary.  Surely it is more important to pick the right Democrat, right?

I still think a Democrat who starts out with 50% of the general electorate against her, who refused to listen to reason on the Iraq war until it was far too late and who has exhibited essential weakness on Iran warmongering, would have been a poor choice.

So what’s my deal?

Obama recently decided to avoid public financingFine by me, although I admit, the idea of him going back on a campaign promise clearly tells me he made the promise for points, not for real.

He also seems to have increasingly bad taste in who he’s surrounding himself with:

Here are some statements by Ms. Rice in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq:

“I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)

“We need to be ready for the possibility that the attack against the U.S. could come in some form against the homeland, not necessarily on the battlefield against our forces. And I think there, too, is an area where the American people need to be better prepared by our leadership. … It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.” (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)

“I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics…We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions. (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002)

Of course, this sounds like Condoleezza Rice. But in fact all those quotes are from Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration and now part of Obama’s newly formed “Senior Working Group on National Security.” The quotes are from an examination of the Working Group done by the Institute for Public Accuracy, here.

Obama also

Which leads me to the natural question.  If what he says can’t be trusted, he’s a mushy centrist at heart, and he’s hiring people with very questionable judgment, then who will we have in office in 2010?

The stakes are depressingly high this time around.  Ours is a country that arrests people wrongfully and tortures (there always seems to be a new angle on how we torture).  A country that goes to war without cause.  Our electoral system is a badly broken mockery of the principles of representation and liberty that ought to form the backbone of our daily experience as Americans.

Think about that last one for a moment.  As an American we ought to feel empowered.  Instead, be honest, we feel helpless and watched.

The leaders of the Democratic party and the candidates, all of them (even the ones who lost long ago), are smart people.  They ought to be working together even if informally to figure out how to draw a sharp line away from the failed and costly policies of the current administration.  Instead our party has been consumed by the supporters of two problematic candidates.

If we fail in November we are fucked.

If anyone over in Obama land is listening, he needs to make with the backbone.  He needs to make a cleaner break with the old politics we are so desperate to be rid of.

The decision to skip public financing is one I support: I want to win in November.  But poor decisions never occur in isolation of each other, and enough similar mistakes will create a credibility gap and fill it with the worst sorts of insinuations about motivation.

And please, go through the ranks, and dump the staff that don’t rise up to the expectations of rationality and compassion we expect from you.  There is no shortage of intelligent and caring people to draw from in the Democratic party.  You can do better.  And as a leader, if you do, we all will.


4 Responses

  1. Obama has also signed on Madeline “It’s Worth It” Albright to his foreign policy team. Hardly an inspiring decision by the “peace” candidate….

    I recently got back from a few months in Morocco. While there I occasionally talked to people about US foreign policy. After assuring them that I too hated what my nation was doing, I would often be questioned why- why do Americans put up with it? I would explain that most Americans were more or less against the war, that any American who wanted to could know the truth about things, all that. This only added to the mystery. One man told me, “I like Americans- they are nice people. So I do not understand- why the war? Why Bush?”

    I never knew what really to answer. I still don’t. When the news comes out that Americans tortured and murdered prisoners in custody- does anyone really care? Is the best we can do a candidate who seems bent on running from his previous antiwar record, and a Congress so cowardly they cannot confront a discredited war criminal?

  2. What a clear set of glasses!
    To see the money trail it is found at a RAVENSCAWL.wp.com “people” have tried to squelch this site’s researches and FINDS.
    fore warned IS fore armed.

  3. 1. From what I can tell, Obama said he’d promise to work on reaching an agreement with McCain (or the GOP nominee) on public financing, not that he would necessarily take it. Saying you’ll try to try is not saying you’re gonna do something. It was a cagey stance that left him the room to opt out.

    2. The Senior Group does what exactly? Aren’t they ceremonial? Where is the effect that this group is causing?

    3. Of course he’s a mushy centrist – that’s been clear, or at least the centrist part, since he started running. No Democrat sniffing the nomination since the victory of the DLC will likely be otherwise, at least for the foreseeable (next two elections or so) race. I’m shocked that this is so surprising to people.

    ” He needs to make a cleaner break with the old politics we are so desperate to be rid of.”

    What are exactly the old politics? One way to think of it is the unbending, noncompromising partisanship of the GOP. You know, the opposite of Unity and all that. Of course that can’t be it because inviting Susan Rice to sit on some panel that may have exactly zero impact on anything apparently crosses that line. Perhaps it’s using smears and dirty poltiics? well, nothing there yet. Perhaps it is saying one thing and then doing another. But if you’re hoping for that, you’re hoping for Sir Thomas More to transport you away – those types of conflicts are endemic and structural in democracies, especially large ones.

  4. Jonathan,
    Sadly, it seems that is the best we can do. Those of us awake enough to be angry in public do not seem to have enough power to affect change. This is fucked, and we need to change. The incredible silver lining of this campaign is Obama’s ability to energize new people. I see that having a great and lasting impact.

    You don’t say.

    Josh R,
    1. *Very* Good point.
    2. Hmmm, not sure.
    3. He showed genuine moments of sincerity and liberalism. While he uses the language of centrism, some of his positions are liberal enough to warrant his choice of advisors dissapointing, especially given his pledge to engage in new politics. But yeah, I mean, I originally supported Edwards.

    What are exactly the old politics? One way to think of it is the unbending, noncompromising partisanship of the GOP. You know, the opposite of Unity and all that.

    Ah, but why can’t *we* be partisan? The old politics could be taken as the Republican’s show no mercy partisanship paired with the Democrats show no spine bipartisanship. But I think Obama’s largly talking about lobbyist influence, which was on disgusting display regarding the telecom immunity bill.

    But the more he relies on old beltway hands to guide his decision making, or people with clearly problematic positions, the more he weakens his claim to stand apart from the usual. I think that is his strongest quality, and its a shame to undermine it.

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