The Prez and Me

Posted on March 10th, 2009 in Politics | No Comments »

Last year in some of my more political posts, I was certain that by this time, we would be living in a world where the United States was governed by a woman. How wrong I was. I also compared Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter. The jury is still out on that one.

My misgivings towards Obama were based on the impression he left me with that he believes his own press releases. I really feel he thinks he’s the chosen one, who will lead the world out of darkness and ignorance, and into a new age. Would that it were so. I freely admit that I would love to be proven wrong about the man; that in four or eight years, I write about how good he has been to the nation, and how much better off we are.

Sigh. There are already signs of a backlash in Congress, where Obama tried to reform the earmark system, and nearly had his economic rescue plan handed back to him on a silver platter (in place of his head). The American people seem prepared to give him unusually wide latitude, no doubt because they know the mess we’re in now is not really his fault. We can blame Bush and Cheney (the ‘one-man axis of evil’) for that. But at some point the tide may turn, then all his oratorial skills may do him little good.

I do agree with a lot of what he’s done – reversing Bush policy on things like stem cell research, refusing to turn a blind eye to torture, releasing previous administration reports that suggest suspending the Constitution in all but name is a good idea, etc. The allies of the US need to know they’re still backing the good guys. Putin and Pyongyang are talking tough, but how far will they go, really? Many feel they’re testing the new government, like Krushchev tested Kennedy.

But on the other hand, why is the Obama administration not interested in pursuing the legality of the warantless wire-tapping scandal? Why have three nominees had to withdraw from various appointments because of non-payment of tax? Doesn’t anybody learn? Doesn’t anybody vet these things? Obama seemed to suggest that it’s okay the head of the treasury can’t pay his taxes without media scrutiny. Would he have given McCain’s nominee the same free pass?

And before you ask, I don’t care what color the president is. He’s half-white as far as I’m concerned. Why doesn’t anybody talk about that?

But, I’m rooting for him. Not so much for Carter… er, Obama the man, but for the President of the United States. I hope he can put us (and the world) on the right path. I’m pessimistic, but they say a pessimist is just an optimist who’s had his heart broken too many times.

Here we go again!

Posted on May 20th, 2008 in Politics | No Comments »

The scene: The American people, disillusioned by two terms of corrupt and unethical Republican government, turn to a Democratic outsider, someone with fresh ideas for change. Someone with obvious intelligence and charm, who only a few short months ago was unknown to nearly everybody outside of his home state. His name: Jimmy Carter.

It would seem that once again, the electorate is prepared to shoot itself in the foot. Barack Obama has managed to work a triumph of style over substance by denying the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. As I write this, it remains to be seen if Obama can do the same with John McCain, who, despite being a Republican, has obvious appeal of his own, and may yet emerge victorious, ushering in another four years of misery for the United States, both at home and abroad.

Obama has captivated the young vote, the black vote, and many people who are just tired of the quagmire the Bush Administration has gotten us into, both with a war nobody but Bush & Cheney wanted, and a host of domestic issues. But if Obama were to take the White House, the question would be how long could he work his slight of hand before the people that voted him in become his worst critics? In terms of his overall agenda, he’s not too far from Clinton on many issues. One notable one that has been bypassed by the feud between the DNC and Florida is that Obama is not a fan of the Space Program. If he wins, look for postponement if not outright cancellation of the Constellation plan to return Americans to the moon. Obama wants to move that money into reading programs for children. A laudable goal, but certainly if he is the agent of ‘change’, why not use the money saved by fighting corruption in the Military? Why jeopardize jobs and US prestige by shutting down manned spaceflight? Or is it a good change to rely on Russian Soyuz modules (and their increasing bumpy landings)?

Obama (if he were to win in November) would face many of the same obstacles that Carter faced in the mid 70’s – OPEC pressures, increasing saber-rattling from Iran, open hostility from Republicans and more and more of his own party as his term progresses. It’s probably no surprise that Carter himself has heartily endorsed Obama. Jimmy Carter is a good man, a decent and honest man, but he has trouble dealing with duplicity and tended to overthink when he was President. I don’t think Obama is as honest, but he has shown a similar tendency to think himself smarter than everyone in the room. Which means eventually he’ll underestimate someone and find himself painted into a corner, much like Carter was with the Iranian hostage situation.

The upshot is that Obama would find his real options for change very limited, since he would be relying on the beltway insiders to carry out much of his idealistic program. He has an appalling ability to piss off the very people he needs, such as anyone living in a small town, or people who wear American flags on their lapels. These people do vote, after all. When the Democrats in Congress get tired of being blamed for contributing to the chaos he’s come to town to ‘change’, watch out.

But at this point, it’s even money between Obama and McCain. McCain has his own problems, alienating the right wing of the Republican party, and appearing as a “Democratic Republican”. Obama has to deal with all the Hillary fans who are mistrustful of someone with such little experience, and too much confidence. I admit to being in the latter group. I think it would be interesting if everyone in both parties who don’t like either candidate to write in Hilary’s name. It might be “Dewey defeats Truman” all over again.