Thursday, May 31, 2007

Barack Obama: why the hell not?

OK, another political post. This is just about a couple of the Democrats in the primary election so if you are a staunch conservative and would never vote for them anyway, then there is no reason to get your panties in a twist; this post does not concern you.

So, to the question at hand: Barack Obama: why the hell not?

As Jena Malone's character on 30 Rock says, "He's black? And he wants to be president? Good luck."

Seriously, my reticence about Barack Obama had nothing to do with whether Americans were ready to elect a black president. I have total faith in the intelligence and open-mindedness of the American people ... Hahahahahaha! I had you going there! But really, even though I don't have much faith in the American people, I still think they would vote for a black candidate as long as he didn't have to rhyme everything he said.

No, my reluctance had to do with the fact that I just thought Obama was so young. Sure, he's charismatic and intelligent but would Americans find him presidential? I wasn't sure. But after reading a New Yorker profile I'm beginning to be won over. (New Yorker, May 7, 2007, "The conciliator: Barack Obama's vision," by Larissa MacFarquhar.)

First, my feelings about Hillary Clinton: no, she's not perfect. In fact, maybe she isn't even very good. But I like her anyway. I can forgive her for her initial support for the war because the Senate was going by the falsified evidence provided by the White House (the Senate did not have "all the same information," as the White House has claimed). Unlike John Kerry and others, however, she was pretty quick to admit that her support was mistake.

Liberals have many other problems with her and her husband and I'm not going to try to defend her at this point because, as I've said, I know she isn't perfect. My point is that I think she's electable. Though she doesn't have a long history in elected office, she has a pretty strong association with the White House: she lived there for eight years! She has more White House experience than your typical vice president. She has experience with presidential campaigns, she has major backing, and everything bad about her has already been brought out into the open.

A pole revealed that 40% of likely voters would absolutely not vote for her. This was seen as proof that she can't win. To me that means 60% of likely voters might vote for her. As I've pointed out in the past, I'm not very good at math but I'm pretty sure she could win with only 60% of the vote. I realize that the point of the pole was that it's unusual for so many people to have made up their minds so early in a campaign but I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. It means people already know a lot about her. She would have to really work that 60% but I think it's possible.

So that was the reasoning behind my initial support for Clinton but I'm starting to get very interested in Obama. He manages to get people's attention without talking in sound bites and he's liberal without seeming too partisan. One interesting point is that he won something like 60% of the Republican vote in his Senate race. I don't know how unusual that is but it seems pretty encouraging to me. Apparently he has bipartisan appeal. Anyway, I'm not endorsing anyone (yet) but I really liked what I read about Obama in that New Yorker article. I know there are several other good Democratic candidates but these are just some initial thoughts.

In a related topic to my previous post on the electoral process, California has had a very late primary. By the time we vote here, the presidential candidates have usually already been chosen, which is pretty depressing. In the last primary I actually voted for Al Sharpton. Yeah, I'm the one. I know he can be an idiot sometimes but I actually listened to the primary debates and he was the only candidate who wasn't completely full of shit. So I rewarded him with a vote, knowing it wouldn't make any difference anyway (Kerry had already won the nomination by the time I voted). The reason I bring this up is that California's primary has been moved up. There are problems with moving primaries up because eventually we'll end up with primaries that begin before the last presidential campaign has ended. My point is that I've never been that invested in the primaries because I've never really had the chance to make a difference. Usually I just end up voting for the Democrat that has been provided for me. I was always interested in the candidates, but actually having to choose one is kind of a new thing for me.

I welcome your opinion, as long as it's polite. If you believe the election of either one of these candidates will signal the Apocalypse, please don't bother commenting. And you don't need to explain that the rotation of the earth means elections occur later in California. Thank you.

15 comments:

trixie said...

Speaking of the after-the-fact California vote: in the last election I voted for Kuscinich. Laugh if you will but I'm proud of that vote.

He's the only person who talks about our food industry -- not just the treatment of animals but organic food and toxins and corporate subsidies, etc. People make fun of him but if you are a progressive his politics are spot on. And he can sing Tennessee Ernie Ford to boot.

Our country may be too racist to elect Obama. (Apparently more people say they will vote for African American candidates then actually do. When asked in polls they don't want to appear racist but when they get into a voting booth they can't bring themselves to vote for an African American.) We still have a ways to go as a country.

That is all the more reason to vote for him. That and the fact that he's cute.

Hillary would be a good president although the Clintons' principles are too, um, flexible for my taste. But I suppose that is what makes them good politicians.

The bar is pretty low on what would make a good president. We've had one with dementia. We now have one that is retarded.

So someone who has the cognitive and intellectual level of a college graduate (or doesn't stoop to reasoning below that level) would be a step in the right direction.

With that criteria we can cut out over half of the candidates very easily: three of the republican candidates don't believe in evolution. The rest think that creationism (or whatever name you call it, see: http://www.venganza.org/) should be taught in science classes.

(Note: my most fun vote was for the Hemp Party candidate for sheriff in Madison Wisconsin. Now that is a great town to vote in.)

Ms. Place said...

It has to be hard to live in such a populous state as California and still feel that your vote doesn't matter. I live in a gerrymandered district. Oh, the local powers that be claim that this isn't so, but my Italy shaped district is SOOOO Republican, SOOOO convoluted and stretched out that it is within one millimeter of being not legal. So, no matter who I vote for (usually independent or Democrat) you may be sure that my candidate won't win.

I vote in every election. And I am ever optimistic that as a group, we the American people will vote the right person in power at the right time.

I said vote. I'm still not sure that Bush won either election. As for Obama and Hillary - I'll take a wait and see attitude. Do I want four more years of a Clinton? That would mean 12 years of Bushes and at least 12 years of the Clintons in the White House during my single solitary lifetime. Ick.

Obama looks pretty and he's being fronted by a lot of worthwhile groups. But what do we really know about him? So, I'll take a back seat and bide my time until it gets closer to the election.

After all, my vote will probably not count.

trixie said...

I'm originally from Chicago so Obama isn't such an unknown. If he were elected I would weep tears of joy. I guess that is why I can't believe it would ever happen.

Bush was certainly not elected in 2000. There is a great deal of evidence that he did not win Ohio in 2004.

I have family in Florida (who are, as it happens, lawyers and African American) and I can attest that there are still parts of this country where the illegitimacy of Bush's presidency is still bitterly remembered. Not to mention the matter of having one's vote counted. Not forgotten. Or forgiven.

Even here in Cal, we switched to absentee voting because I don't trust Diebold. Our voting system is messed up big time.

eric3000 said...

Yeah, I really don't want my vote counted by a subsidiary of Halliburton!

One good thing about Obama is that his autobiography was a bestseller so he's not completely unknown in the rest of the country. And I think he's been very open about all the things that might be used against him in a smear campaign (obviously, that won't stop people from making things up. Such as: he's not really black!)

Oh, and Trixie wins for funniest voting record!

BigAssBelle said...

eric! honey! i'm so happy to read your political posts. wonderful!!

i am waffling too. i would be happy with (a) obama, (b) clinton, or (c) edwards. i'm actually a real fan of edwards for his strong populist message. i don't care who cuts his fucking hair or how much he pays them. i like presidents who have experienced living some other way besides filthy rich. it was one reason i loved bill clinton. it's a big reason for my fondness of edwards.

i fear edwards hasn't enough experience. one senate term and a veep race.

of the whole crop of dems, i think hillary's got the most washington experience. richards has experience as a governor, but i don't think he's a viable candidate.

i fear it's going to be clinton & obama. i love hillary. i love obama. i love change, that's the main thing. when everything's totally completely 100% absolutely fucked up, i just want a different face at the helm.

i like kucinich, or however it's spelled. i love that rabble rouser from alaska, gravel.

i look at the rethuglican candidates, so very white, so prosperous, such fat fucking cats, and i want to smack them, all 147 of them, but i especially want to smack mccain and guiliani.

bitter? party of one, right here. ;-)

Ms. Place said...

Trixie, when I said I was not sure Bush was elected I was being circumspect on purpose. I didn't want all sorts of folks pouncing on poor Eric's blog telling me-he-you that there was no blatant robbery of the presidency. We all know better.

I once actually voted Republican. It took decades for me to get over the betrayal.

I will take a wait and see attitude with Obama because I need to sort out what is myth, what is hope, and what is reality. Wouldn't it be lovely if myth and reality met in this person and I could actually vote for someone I liked, instead of choosing between the lesser of two evils?

As for the exit polls. Yeah, people say one thing because it sounds good, when in reality they've voted just the opposite. The attitude is the same towards a female for president, as towards an African American. Change is a slow moving river.

trixie said...

ms place -- I knew that was what you were getting at. Sorry if I sounded like I was lecturing. Or ranting. I was just sharing more thoughts on the topic of having one's vote count -- or not.

I hope I didn't attract the wingnuts. If any are lurking please just move along, nothing to see here. Just a bitter intellectual. Nothing of any significance ...

eric3000 said...

Thanks Belle! I was partly inspired by your wonderful blog to write down some of my thoughts on politics.

And thanks Ms. Place and Trixie for trying not to attract too much negative attention from trolls. Ha ha.

We all know what happened in Florida and Ohio. Some people think it's OK not to count everyone's vote and to turn registered voters away from the polls and others don't. Whatever. Eveyone's entitled to their opinion.

But let me just say this: if a Democrat assumed the presidency after losing the popular vote and some very questionable voting irregularities in Republican districts of key states, I would have been very uncomfortable with it. No matter who wins the election, I want it to feel legitimate. Otherwise, as Trixie points out, there is so much resentment that doesn't go away. I understand that Republicans were happy that George Bush took power, I just can't understand how they can be happy about how it happened.

Anyway, Thanks again for your comments! Knowing I have friendly, intelligent readers makes up for the occasional rude asshole.

Delphine said...

I'm excited about this election because for the first time in awhile it doesn't seem like the winners are already selected and this whole voting thing is for show. Hmm, run-on sentence, oh well.

I have no idea who I am going to vote for. I don't know if it is the same everywhere but it Maryland you can't vote in the primary unless you are registered with a political party which frustrates me because I don't feel especially good about either of the main ones.

I like Obama, which oddly makes me nervous. I want to like him but I am afraid that he is surrounded by all this rhetoric and hype that, if he is elected, will be meaningless.

eric3000 said...

Thanks for your comment, Delphine.

I completely understand that closed primaries are frustrating for independant voters. But I still have to oppose open primaries. The primaries are supposed to be about the members of a political party choosing who they want to represent them in the general election. If they were open to everyone, they would be more like an opening round for the general election and then the general election would be like a run-off.

I have no problem with a truly independent voter wanting to choose the best candidate but I don't want Republican voters having the opportunity to pick who will represent me in the general election, if that makes sense.

Anyway, if you are leaning to one side or the other, I would suggest registering for a party. You can always change your affiliation.

Red7Eric said...

I'm a Richardson fan, even tho' he has virtually zero chance of scoring the nomination. Four years ago, I gave way too much money to Howard Dean, all for naught. So this time, I'm not supporting anyone -- in words or currency -- until the nomination is secured, then I'll work like hell to get the Democrat (whomsoever s/he may be) into the White House.

If I give money to anyone right now, it'll be Giuliani ... not because I want him in the White House, but because James Dobson promises not to vote if he's the GOP nominee -- and he'd likely preach that message to all his disciples! Oh, happy happy day!!

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

I am enjoying all your comments.

Anonymous said...

desertwind says --

It's almost an embarassment of riches this go-round, isn't it? And the Republican slate? Bwahahahah.

Oh sweet Jesus, let us survive this next year and a half without blowing up the world.

I don't know yet. I really don't know. But I'm feeling pretty good (oh god! we're jinxing ourselves here...).

I too like Kuscinich's positions the best. (how do you spell it, anyway? He needs a cool rhymin' slogan to help with that.) Unfortunately, he could too easily be made to look wackadoo and we don't need to hand it to the oppo on a platter. Plus, the poor fellow is too short to win.

Of the top Three I prefer Edwards but worry about Elizabeth's health. Obama is so smart. And cute! Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. I really think Repubs pushed her in. She didn't need much of a push, of course. She's not really "radical liberal" enough for me when it comes to foreign policy. And, lord, does she need a voice coach with that Midwestern meets Arkansas twang? I think she could win in spite of the baggage (see Republican slate)

Does all this talk of voice and size challenges make me seem shallow? WE HAVE GOT TO WIN THIS THING.

Don't even get me started on my congressional district. Word is that Jerry Lewis is retiring. Yay! I see an indictment in his future, don't you? Large field of Repubs lining up; virtually non-existant field of Dems. Boo.

Primary season should be restricted to 2 months only, say April & May. A hell of a lot can happen between February & November. Oh, if I ruled the world!

It's a pleasure and a privilege to be in your company, y'all.

eric3000 said...

red7eric,

I agree: better to save your money and energy for the winner of the primary instead of helping the Democracts fight among themselves.

desertwind,

Yes, the selection seems much better this time around. I wasn't terribly excited about any of them last time (probably because I just wanted Al Gore). But, to be honest, even McCain would be a vast improvement at this point.

Speaking of Al Gore; he still has time to enter the race! I think it would be funny to have another Gore/Clinton ticket.

Anonymous said...

desertwind - Elizabeth Edwards is expected to live a long time. The type of cancer she has is responding well to treatment. Don't let worries about her health sway you off of Edwards. He's the dem's best chance of winning if Gore doesn't get in.