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Barack Obama and the Religious Left
January 16, 2007 3:57 PM   Subscribe

In preparation for today's announcement of the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, Sen. Barack Obama has been giving well publicized speeches on the role of religion in American political life. Though faith remains a deeply divisive force in the American political scene, Obama seems to be positioning himself at the forefront of a major political realignment, one which has his opponents more than a little uneasy.
posted by felix betachat (180 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh I'm so tired of this guy.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on January 16, 2007


Good grief...seen this?
posted by fixedgear at 4:05 PM on January 16, 2007


You know, people have been crowing about this supposed Major Political Realignment for about two years. I have covered this supposed Major Political Realignment: e.g. Rabbi Michael Lerner, Jim Wallis, Melissa Rogers, Stephen Schenk, Mary Hunt, Barack Obama, Sojourners, Network of Spiritual Progressives.

I can tell you: Democrats have had their religious faith forever, but, God, there is no Major Political Realignment of faith toward the Democratic Party.

There is a major political realignment among creedal evangelicals, who are leaving creedal evangelical churches for less-morality driven worship. What I mean to say is: Don't be surprised when Obama shows up at Lakewood.
posted by parmanparman at 4:06 PM on January 16, 2007


before everybody else shits in the thread:

MeTa
posted by empath at 4:06 PM on January 16, 2007


whatever.
posted by bob sarabia at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2007


Voted for the PATRIOT act renewal. So, no votey for you!
posted by eriko at 4:10 PM on January 16, 2007


articles about how he currently smokes and did coke and pot before without apology

Just what we needed: another ex-cokehead president.
posted by IronLizard at 4:12 PM on January 16, 2007


This really is an obamanation.
posted by Asherah at 4:12 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


The earlier post was deleted because it was a one link post without any depth, according to the Meta earlier today. This one isn't.

And, fixedgear, have YOU seen the thread you just linked to? Because I'm pretty sure that the OP commented in it, which would lead one to believe that he'd seen it.
posted by crackingdes at 4:12 PM on January 16, 2007


Michael Tomasky in the New York Review of Books. In the [2004] convention speech, as in all his major speeches, Obama aimed far higher than the usual uninspiring Democratic laundry list of health care, good jobs, devotion to Roe v. Wade, and the rest. His subject is our shared civic culture, which he sees as under threat—mostly from the right but also from the left. He believes our red-versus-blue politics of today is positively toxic, and he thinks that our only hope is to rise above it.
posted by russilwvong at 4:13 PM on January 16, 2007


Can we please.... pretty, pretty, pretty please... give up on the idea that one person -- any person -- working within the system will make a damn bit of difference?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:17 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


give up on the idea that one person -- any person -- working within the system will make a damn bit of difference?

Why? Bush made a huge difference.
posted by IronLizard at 4:19 PM on January 16, 2007 [10 favorites]


Can we please.... pretty, pretty, pretty please... give up on the idea that one person -- any person -- working within the system will make a damn bit of difference?

Yes! What deep political thought! Viva la revolucion! Che t-shirts for everyone!
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:20 PM on January 16, 2007


Hmm, I wrote a longer commented in that deleted thread about why I don't like him so much.

Basically, what I don't like about Obama is that he's just soo... It's hard to say but he just feels like a product being sold, a brand being built. People are never specific about what makes him great beyond his charisma, his rhetoric, his tone. Never about his politics.

The choice about who to vote for is more important then the choice of a smartphone.
posted by delmoi at 4:21 PM on January 16, 2007


You know who else made a huge difference? That's right: Babbage.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:21 PM on January 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


Can we please.... pretty, pretty, pretty please... give up on the idea that one person -- any person -- working within the system will make a damn bit of difference?

You don't think George Bush has made any difference?
posted by delmoi at 4:22 PM on January 16, 2007


You know who else made a difference?

That's right, Hitler.

i win this thread
posted by keswick at 4:24 PM on January 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


I think we need to just give up on America and start again.
posted by oxford blue at 4:25 PM on January 16, 2007


Obama Obama Bo Bobama Banana Fana Fobama Fe Fi Mo Mobama! Obama!
posted by jonmc at 4:25 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


So your complaint is that he doesn't seem to have much more to him than good branding? He actually has a record of bills he has introduced and supported. A little bit of Googling will turn that up for you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:26 PM on January 16, 2007


I am wary of Obama, but I'm also excited about his potential. Regardless of his specific policies, I think he has the potential of at least lessening the partisan, religious and racial divides in the country. I notice that everybody who looks at him seems to see the best parts of themselves in him.

I really can't put my finger on why, but I feel the same way myself every time I watch him speak.

All the same, I'm not comfortable backing him 100%, because he's never been in a tight spot where he had to make hard decisions. That's when character gets revealed, and as far as I can see, he's never really been tested.

Who knows whose side he'll end up on when the shit hits the fan?
posted by empath at 4:28 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't think of any other candidate for 2008 that I'd rather hear making a speech to the country in the event of some major catastrophe, though.

I think that should count for something.
posted by empath at 4:30 PM on January 16, 2007


People haven't been this excited about a charismatic Democrat with scant political experience since RFK, and look how well that turned out!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:31 PM on January 16, 2007


Anyone who panders to the religious might get my vote. Just not my respect.
posted by yesno at 4:31 PM on January 16, 2007


I think madamjujujive should run. Who wouldn't vote for madamjujujive?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2007


... Obama, of course, is trying to portray himself as having the courage to stand up against these supposed Democrats that constitute the “we” in his rhetoric - the “we” that supposedly make this mistake of “fail[ing] to acknowledge the power of faith.” Yet, again, he doesn’t offer any names to tell us who constitutes the “we.” Why? Because there are none. What Democrat of any prominence at all in America “fails to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people?” I can’t think of one. It is a straw man - one that might make Obama look like a man of “courage” or “principle” - but one that dishonestly reinforces right-wing stereotypes about supposedly “godless” liberals/Democrats.

Let’s be clear: I like Obama. I’ve written in the past that I think he is one of the most talented politicians I’ve seen in my lifetime, and that I think his heart is in the right place. I also think his desire to reach out to different religious constituencies is a good idea. But individual high-profile Democrats need to stop regurgitating false right-wing storylines just to promote their own individual ambitions. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2007


and from there, and the biggest reason why Obama is wrong to do this: If Democrats want to do a better job of reaching out to religious voters, they should not tell fables about strawmen or reinforce right-wing lies about supposedly godless liberals, they should, for instance, show how spiritually immoral it is for our government to continue waging a class war on the poorest citizens in this country.

He never does it. He never actually practices what he preaches--he only tells others what they're not doing, and what they should be doing.
posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on January 16, 2007


Basically, what I don't like about Obama is that he's just soo... It's hard to say but he just feels like a product being sold, a brand being built. People are never specific about what makes him great beyond his charisma, his rhetoric, his tone. Never about his politics.

I think that a big part of what makes Obama so attractive to so many people is that he seems intelligent, articulate, and (perhaps most importantly) reasonably moral and well-intentioned. I'll leave figuring out why those might be intriguing qualities in a presidential candidate right now as an exercise for the reader.

Seriously, though, many Democrats have spent some portion of the last seven years viewing Bush as a great danger to democracy, America, and global stability. (It's an opinion I share.) When the Democrats' last two candidates have been Al Gore and John Kerry, it's exciting for a lot of people to anticipate a candidate running who might actually be electable. It's not so much that they see Obama as a messiah figure, it's just that he seems like the man who can wrest control of the executive branch away from the forces of evil. They can figure out what to do with it once that's been accomplished.
posted by EarBucket at 4:36 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anyone who panders to the religious might get my vote. Just not my respect.
You're a McCain voter then. ; >
posted by amberglow at 4:36 PM on January 16, 2007


So it's Omaba, then? OK, I accept your choice of weapon! Back to back, 10 paces.
posted by The Deej at 4:37 PM on January 16, 2007


it's just that he seems like the man who can wrest control of the executive branch away from the forces of evil.

What is that based on tho? A hunch? A gut feeling? You "looked into his soul" like Bush did with Putin? What?
posted by amberglow at 4:38 PM on January 16, 2007


That Debbie Sclhussel seems like a dreadful person. Is she some sort of Ann Coulter back-up, wingman or what.

I'm glad to have been unaware of her for this long.
posted by erskelyne at 4:39 PM on January 16, 2007


Astro Zombie: Do you think I'm retarded. Why don't you tell me what's so great about them if you think they're so fantastic.

I was aware of the pork database bill, which passed with a unanimous vote in the republican senate. The bill also spent $10 million dollars to do something that private non-profits had done for about a twentieth of that.

Looking at his wikipedia article, it looks like he introduced a bill to help reduce the availability of shoulder fired missiles and landlines internationally, and a bill to provide aid to the Republic of Congo. Am I supposed to be impressed by this?

here is what he's introduced so far this year. Including the classic: A bill to authorize resources to provide students with opportunities for summer learning through summer learning grants.

Ooooooooooh.

But seriously, his milquetoast legislative record is not very impressive or inspiring at all.

And anyway, that's not really the point. He's said that he hasn't had a chance to introduce many bills due to his seniority, which is legitimate (I guess) But he hasn't been outlining any plans or ambitions other then tonal or rhetorical. Other then Universal Healthcare, which is boilerplate for Dem nominees. If healthcare were my biggest issue I'd probably vote for Hillary anyway.
posted by delmoi at 4:40 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Christ, the man can actually string together 4 words without shuddering to a halt like the unoiled tinman, synaptic misfires throwing tics across his face like daddy's thousand points of stupid. Just that much would be big step up.

I very much like what I've seen and read (both his own words and those of others) of this man so far, though it's very early days, of course. Given the vacuity of the rubbery played-out whores that make up the rest of the field, and the depressing prospect of the horripilating Hilary as Candidate (ignoring that she's unelectable, and that Dynastic Democracy sucks), I'm more interested and hopeful than I have been in literally decades if he's in the race.

That said, I'll repeat what I said in the MeTa thread: I'm going to be so bummed out when he turns out to be just another fucking political scumbag (or, if by some divine intervention, he isn't and actually runs for president, when he gets assassinated).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:40 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


What Amberglow said, I can't think of a major figure from the Democrats who has not made the church visits and professions of faith a part of their political identity.

And why do I get the feeling that healing the "red-vs-blue" politics of the United States is more likely to involve throwing lesbigays and feminists under the bus than grass-roots organizing of voters and activists in small city and rural districts?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2007


I don't think you're retarded. I think you're go-tarded.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2007


Is he the first high-profile black american politician who is not a 'black leader'?
posted by empath at 4:44 PM on January 16, 2007


You wanna know how to look really cool in front of your liberal friends?

Tell them you don't support Obama.




you fuckers are the reason we lose elections.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:45 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Given the vacuity of the rubbery played-out whores that make up the rest of the field,
Obama is just as rubbery and just as much a whore--he's just younger. As i posted in the other thread, he's not against military action against Iran, and he has refused to commit to Kennedy's--or anyone's--bills to stop Iraq. Where's the leadership? Where's the morals and values he speaks about so much? Why isn't it demonstrated by his actions?
posted by amberglow at 4:45 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Basically, what I don't like about Obama is that he's just soo... It's hard to say..."

Yes, it is, isn't it?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:46 PM on January 16, 2007


Yeah... I dunno. This guy's awfully new for me to pin my hopes on him. Alternately, you give a politician a long enough career to consider him experienced, and he's almost certainly done something unforgivably stupid along the way.

But I can't think of any candidate more divisive than Hillary, so what the hell.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:46 PM on January 16, 2007


I guess Condi Rice and Colin Powell, but neither one of them has ever run for office, so they don't really count as politicians.
posted by empath at 4:46 PM on January 16, 2007


Chuck, Chuck, bo-Buck, Bananafana..
posted by Balisong at 4:48 PM on January 16, 2007


Throwing us and feminists under the bus is the official strategy for 08, kirk

Compare and contrast: Tester and Obama--... We want and need proud fighting Dems like Jon Tester, not accomodating ones like Barack Obama.
posted by amberglow at 4:49 PM on January 16, 2007


You know, amberglow, I don't have to agree with him on every single position he holds (or that I suspect he might hold) in order to think he might be a better leader of the country (which is not my country, so my opinion is less valuable, perhaps) than many or any of the other 'choices' on offer.

It is black-and-white all-or-nothing thinking that has in part gotten America into the deep deep hole in which it finds itself these days.

Perhaps Obama is another politrollop. It's not a matter of controversy that one needs to be, sadly, to achieve any degree of success in politics. One hopes -- I hope -- that it might be possible that while making the compromises thus far in his career that politics require, he hasn't sold his soul. We shall see. From what he has said and written thus far, it does not seem impossible.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:52 PM on January 16, 2007


EarBucket writes "I think that a big part of what makes Obama so attractive to so many people is that he seems intelligent, articulate, and (perhaps most importantly) reasonably moral and well-intentioned. "

You know, I've heard the idea (I don't remember where) that presidents are elected on the basis of the perceived flaws of their predecessor. Carter's honesty in contrast to Nixon's corruption; Reagan's strength and resolve in reaction to Carter's perceived weakness; Clinton's empathy in response to G.H.W. Bush's perceived detachment and elitism; G.W. Bush's churchy moral clarity in response to Clinton's sexual immorality.

In this context, Obama looks like one hell of a candidate. Intelligent and articulate?! Just what the doctor ordered!
posted by mr_roboto at 4:55 PM on January 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


...As one commenter said, if you apply Obama topically, he cures cancer. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:56 PM on January 16, 2007


amberglow: I was as virulently anti-war as anyone prior to the invasion, and I think we should start withdrawing ASAP, but I can understand why people don't want to do it. I think too many liberals and democratic politicians are being too flippant about what the impact of us leaving precipitously will be.

You're talking about abandoning Iraq to unimaginable misery and suffering. As bad as it is now, it can and will get much worse.

I only still want a withdrawal because I think there's nothing we can do to stop it, but I can see how some might see some dim hope of stopping the catastrophe that's coming and don't want to just abandon them.
posted by empath at 4:56 PM on January 16, 2007


amberglow won't be happy unless the ticket is Kucinich/Lenin.

I kid because I care.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:57 PM on January 16, 2007


stav, it's not all-or-nothing to want someone who actually accomplishes things that help people, to want someone with a track record that demonstrates leadership and courage. I don't see it, and i've been looking hard, and often at all of them (only Edwards even comes close). What i see is a guy running away from being called a "progressive" and a "liberal" and "godless" and "weak on defense", etc, and a guy who feels the need to insult those of us who don't want one religion catered to (and he is explicitly catering to rightwing Christians who will not vote Democrat because of abortion and gay rights and stem cells and equality).
posted by amberglow at 5:00 PM on January 16, 2007


And why do I get the feeling that healing the "red-vs-blue" politics of the United States is more likely to involve throwing lesbigays and feminists under the bus than grass-roots organizing of voters and activists in small city and rural districts?

Just remember: It Can't Happen Here.

Obama on the job: A brief overview of highly questionable voting decisions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:01 PM on January 16, 2007


One thing to keep in mind about Tester: yes, he was a good candidate for the Dems, and he came across very well, but Burns should get a lot of credit for his opponent's win. His cockiness and connections with Abramoff were his undoing. I usually vote Repub, but I just couldn't make myself vote for Burns after the last 6 years. Tester was a candidate the Dems could be proud of, with a lot of "Montana values," and a candidate that disappointed Repubs could vote for with a clean concience. Independents could get behind him as well. If Burns hadn't been such and ass, he may have won. It was pretty darn close. (Montanan here.)
posted by The Deej at 5:01 PM on January 16, 2007


And why do I get the feeling that healing the "red-vs-blue" politics of the United States is more likely to involve throwing lesbigays and feminists under the bus than grass-roots organizing of voters and activists in small city and rural districts?

Bingo. And don't forget people who lack "faith" (surely I don't have to specify which faith is meant, here) -- the populist Democrat platform is ready and willing to roll over for religious interests!
posted by vorfeed at 5:02 PM on January 16, 2007


You may be right, amberglow. I try to stay away from the apoplexy-inducing political scrum when I can, and though I've been following Obama thus far with interest, I can't say my knowledge of his voting record or the steadfastness of his beliefs in the face of adversity is anything like exhaustive.

But I look forward to learning more. And I hope he proves to be the man that so many want him to be.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on January 16, 2007


You're talking about abandoning Iraq to unimaginable misery and suffering. As bad as it is now, it can and will get much worse.

Rather then sharing unimaginable misery and suffering? Sign me up.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on January 16, 2007


empath, the impact of us staying is hell. the impact of us leaving will be hell. we should never have been there--it's immoral to keep us there, making things worse. It can only get better if we leave asap, and throw money and the UN in.

I'll say it again--it's immoral not to commit to a decision--it's actually enabling Bush to continue this. It's immoral to continually speak out against the war yet not to have a stance yourself. Obama is sitting on the fence, yet he loves to speak of his faith and values. He's not demonstrating them at all, and this is a moral issue. There are many moral issues in this country--why hasn't he been at the forefront on Katrina? On the 50 million without healthcare? On the millions of homeless and hungry? Why does he have no clearly stated positions on any of it?

He's hiding in the middle of the pack, and that's not a moral stance.
posted by amberglow at 5:05 PM on January 16, 2007


Baby_Balrog: For fuck's sake. The primary season hasn't even started yet. If we can't talk about the relative merits or shortcomings of various potential candidates now, when can we talk about them?

amberglow: Which is why I've pretty much given up on electoral politics at the National level. And with Harold Ford Jr. in the Clinton corner, it might be an anybody but Clinton election for me.

starvosthewonderchicken: It's not about "all-or-nothing," it's about being expected to vote for candidates who will push policies that will cause real-world harm to people we care about. I'll take "nothing" because "nothing" would be an improvement from the Democratic party.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:06 PM on January 16, 2007


I think madamjujujive should run. Who wouldn't vote for madamjujujive?

she's busy being installed as queen of scotland - get your own godamn inspirational leader!
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:06 PM on January 16, 2007


Oh, and felix betachat, thanks for writing a great FPP. Any potential thread-shitters need not apply.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:07 PM on January 16, 2007


Obama became the next president before assassination by a Muslim fundamentalist (apostate father didn't help)
posted by pots at 5:10 PM on January 16, 2007


... Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” is not a must read for LGBT voters, because he fails to fully comprehend or sincerely commit to the issue of social justice for all Americans. He does not tackle head-on how the religious rhetoric of this political era has played an audacious role in discrimination against LGBT people, leaving us with little to no hope, his rhetoric included.

“In years hence, I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don’t believe such doubts make me a bad Christian,” Obama writes.

As LGBT voters, our job is neither to judge nor vote for Obama on whether he is a good Christian. It is, however, for us to judge and vote on whether he is a good statesman.

posted by amberglow at 5:11 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


And in case no one linked the Time article yet, here. (Ya, too lazy/busy to check.)
posted by The Deej at 5:11 PM on January 16, 2007


The earlier you announce your run the less chances you have of actually winning.

This is Obama's dry run. Hes going to run, have america get used to him, gain some influence, make some new friends, rise in the senate, and step down when his numbers fail to initialize. If the democrats hold the office for 8 years the outgoing president may endorse obama and give us either the first black president or more likely the first black VP. Its pedantic arguments until 2016 or so, if not later.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:15 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll take "nothing" because "nothing" would be an improvement from the Democratic party.

Indeed. An apt diagnosis of the problem.

Seriously, though, what I'm hearing is that for some people to consider voting for a politician, that politician must match up with their personal beliefs and moral stances -- regardless of the real compromises, slippery and repugnant but essential to political survival as they may be -- on a point-by-point basis. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but that seems to me to be an unworkably utopian, all-or-nothing stance.

Better, to me, if a Candidate actually does hold some positions that differ from my own, but is willing and able to listen, dispute, publicly discuss and perhaps even change those positions.

I think recent years have made people forget that it is possible for politicians to be intelligent people willing to engage in discussion, and alter their views accordingly, and that is a good, human, and strong thing to do. Stasis and unconditional refusal to waver or re-examine beliefs is a weakness, and one reason GWB speaks so often (and so haltingly) of being strong -- because he isn't.

But again, perhaps I misunderstand what's been said.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:18 PM on January 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Can we please.... pretty, pretty, pretty please... give up on the idea that one person -- any person -- working within the system will make a damn bit of difference?

I gave up on that notion a long time ago.


And yes, Debbie Schlussel is a Coulter-clone-- ie: doing right wing schtick to make money off of stupid people.
posted by wfc123 at 5:18 PM on January 16, 2007


You know whenever somebody claims Obama is all flash and needs to prove himself first, I instinctively assume the person saying that is a closet racist or a partisan trying to spin down a perceived threat to "their team" (not that those two things are mutually exclusive of course).

Maybe that's not true. Maybe the people saying that are earnest and sincere, but it sure seems like they latched onto the same easy spin that gave them the first bit of cover.
posted by willnot at 5:21 PM on January 16, 2007


Does anyone actually know his voting record?
posted by CameraObscura at 5:22 PM on January 16, 2007


willnot, should we give him a pass on experience and accomplishments just because he's African-American? Isn't that racist in itself? Shouldn't we be judging him by the content of his character? Isn't that character demonstrated thru his actions to date? (I also note no one ever ever questions the motivation behind the overwhelming preponderance of "articulate" and "well-spoken" and "great speaker" comments about him too)

Passion or Positioning
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2007


Seriously, though, what I'm hearing is that for some people to consider voting for a politician, that politician must match up with their personal beliefs and moral stances -- stavros

Well, I imagine it would be hard for those people when a candidate has no stances.

Seriously, Obama doesn't have any stances I mean even in this thread no one has brought up a single stance that the guy supposedly has, other then some pointless meta politics about the national tone and how awesome he is. I mentioned Universal Healthcare, which all democratic nominees support.

So what is it? What stances does he have that you think turn off liberals and progressives?

Anyway, the election isn't for a long time, so I suppose we'll see how he develops in the future.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on January 16, 2007


I think recent years have made people forget that it is possible for politicians to be intelligent people willing to engage in discussion, and alter their views accordingly, and that is a good, human, and strong thing to do.
We actually are seeing that from both Clinton and Edwards--not yet from Obama.
posted by amberglow at 5:31 PM on January 16, 2007


What is that based on tho? A hunch? A gut feeling? You "looked into his soul" like Bush did with Putin? What?

Well, if by "that" you mean my belief that he's more electable than Kerry or Gore, yeah, it's mostly a hunch, plus the fact that he's a far more convincing and charismatic speaker than both of them put together. If you mean my belief that he's less evil than Bush, yeah, it's based on my read of the man. It could be way off base, but honestly, do you think he could be worse?

Barack Obama strikes me as a basically decent guy. Maybe he's the next JFK; I think probably not, but that would be nice. Maybe he's the next Jimmy Carter, a good human being who's not all that effective as a president. Maybe he's even just another run-of-the-mill politician out to satisfy his own ambition and thinly disguised insecurity. Thing is, I'd see that as a significant improvement at this point.

I know a lot of people on the left are hoping for a massive political revolution that throws all the bums out and institutes universal health care and world peace and equal rights for everybody everywhere on January 21, 2009. But that's not going to happen. The best we can do is vote for better people than what we have now and try to work within the system to reform it.

Obama has positions I don't care for. He's too authoritarian for my tastes, he's not as gay-friendly as I'd like, and I agree that he needs to take stronger stands on the war, on torture, on poverty, on the environment. I also recognize that he's building his candidacy very carefully, and I hope to hear more on those issues as he moves onto the campaign trail properly. But right now, he's attractive to me for the same reason that a Democratic takeover of Congress was reason to celebrate. Not because it's instantly going to turn the country around, but because at the very worst, it represents a return to politics as usual. Instead of torturing people and shredding the Constitution and getting us stuck in horrific, unwinnable wars, the worst I think he'll do is run things relatively competently without screwing anything up too badly. Maybe he'll do better than that. Most importantly, I think he's more electable than anyone the Republicans can run, and getting them out of the White House is absolutely vital. I may have low expectations, but the last few years have been really good for that.
posted by EarBucket at 5:31 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


and what delmoi said--he's so vague and general on the whole (except when he's criticizing other Democrats)--even his supporters here (and everywhere, really) are not being concrete with their reasons for support.
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on January 16, 2007


You know whenever somebody claims Obama is all flash and needs to prove himself first, I instinctively assume the person saying that is a closet racist

Wow, wtf? Are people who criticize condi racist too?

If you're wondering, I'm half black, and the son of African Immigrant, just like Obama.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on January 16, 2007


Not because it's instantly going to turn the country around, but because at the very worst, it represents a return to politics as usual. Instead of torturing people and shredding the Constitution and getting us stuck in horrific, unwinnable wars, the worst I think he'll do is run things relatively competently without screwing anything up too badly. Maybe he'll do better than that.

Anyone and everyone can do that, ourselves included (elementary school children included). You make the case that anyone can do better than Bush. Is that enough? (we did that in 04) Is that really a pro-Obama stance specifically because of him and what he brings as opposed to any other possible candidate?
posted by amberglow at 5:36 PM on January 16, 2007


(i really am hoping someone can sell me on him, because the more i learn, the less substance i see)
posted by amberglow at 5:36 PM on January 16, 2007


I hate to ask this, since every thread about American politics turns as much into an amberglow thread as music threads tend to turn into jonmc-fests, but: are there any Democrats with or without their hats in the ring thus far that you would support, amberglow? Why or why not? And why are you convinced that candidate X, if elected, would actually be a better president than Obama, in terms of morality (about which you seem rightfully exercised, although I think ethics might be better deserving of focus) or specific issues?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:41 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Edwards, at the moment, out of the current crop. I want to see what Richardson has to say, if he gets in. (my dream person would be a Feingold, but that's not realistic.)
posted by amberglow at 5:43 PM on January 16, 2007


Instead of torturing people and shredding the Constitution and getting us stuck in horrific, unwinnable wars, the worst I think he'll do is run things relatively competently without screwing anything up too badly.

I don't disagree with that. I wouldn't be too upset if he won the democratic nomination, Certainly a lot happier then I would be Hillary won. Still I do want a bit more of a change. Still I feel like the country is heading in the wrong direction, and that a lot of damage has been done. Politics as usual means stasis at a lower level then the 1990s.

I want to see someone come up with some ideas, policy ideas rather then tone ideas that might have a chance to fix this country.
posted by delmoi at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2007


Does anyone actually know any senator's voting record?
posted by Rubbstone at 5:51 PM on January 16, 2007


I hate to ask this, since every thread about American politics turns as much into an amberglow thread as music threads tend to turn into jonmc-fests, but: are there any Democrats with or without their hats in the ring thus far that you would support, amberglow?

He said earlier in the thread he liked Edwards.
posted by delmoi at 5:51 PM on January 16, 2007


Does anyone actually know any senator's voting record?

And anyway, voting records can be distorted and manipulated quite a bit. Just look at Joe Lieberman.
posted by delmoi at 5:52 PM on January 16, 2007


You know whenever somebody claims Obama is all flash and needs to prove himself first, I instinctively assume the person saying that is a closet racist

Congratulations on coming out of the moron closet.
posted by Optamystic at 5:52 PM on January 16, 2007


Not Al Gore?
posted by empath at 5:53 PM on January 16, 2007


starvosthewonderchicken: Seriously, though, what I'm hearing is that for some people to consider voting for a politician, that politician must match up with their personal beliefs and moral stances -- regardless of the real compromises, slippery and repugnant but essential to political survival as they may be -- on a point-by-point basis. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but that seems to me to be an unworkably utopian, all-or-nothing stance.

Well, the way I see it, the next electoral battle over gay rights is going to be between those who would do nothing for the time being, and those who would roll back the clock 5-20 years. (Or more if the Constitution is amended.)

And another factor that goes into my calculus is that I don't think that congress, the president, or the federal courts can do much to fundamentally push gay rights forward. However they can do a lot to push it backwards. And you must understand that I don't see gay rights as a matter of principle, I see it as a matter of human lives and welfare. My willingness to compromise at the voting booth ends when I feel a candidate will fight to reverse the gains that have been won.

So I read that Harold Ford Jr., who pulled an 11th hour gaybaiting speech in TN, is now head of the DLC. Then I read that the DLC is openly backing a Clinton candidacy. And then I read about healing "red-vs-blue" politics. So my gut fear is that I'm seeing an early race to the bottom in order to sneak away a marginal number of votes from religious conservatives.

Which is depressing to me because I think this last election revealed that when Democrats fight politics on the ground of purple America that they can win elections. Rather than appropriating the rhetoric of the religious right, these people could be supporting and energizing local social change politics.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:53 PM on January 16, 2007


THe DLC, thankfully, was kind of marginalized by Howard Dean's folks.
posted by empath at 5:55 PM on January 16, 2007


Barack has a myspace page, btw.
posted by empath at 5:59 PM on January 16, 2007


Senator Obama's voting record.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2007


Since Obama is just a couple of years out of the Illinois Legislature, I just wish he would be humble and brave enough to say, "Thanks, but I don't have enough experience to be President yet," instead of being just like all the other vile, power-hungry pieces of shit who have to grab their chance the first time it presents itself.
posted by jayder at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2007


So, this Schlussel person's point is that Muslims think Obama is a Muslim?

And that's it?

The whole point?

I'm not missing any of it?

I just want to make sure.
posted by Flunkie at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2007


flunkie: Well, you have to follow that train of thought to the end -- If he was born as a Muslim, if he is not a Muslim now, he is apostate and the punishment for apostasy is death.
posted by empath at 6:04 PM on January 16, 2007


Okaaaay... so her point is that Muslims want to kill Obama?
posted by Flunkie at 6:06 PM on January 16, 2007


Senator Obama's voting record.

Thank you for the link, kirkaracha. It's interesting to compare and contrast that record with things he's said and written, and ponder.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:07 PM on January 16, 2007


While we're on voting records, I'll mention that his ratings from the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union are 83% and 8%, respectively.
posted by Flunkie at 6:09 PM on January 16, 2007


empath writes "Barack has a myspace page, btw."

Doubtful that it's actually him. Doubtful that it's even authorized.

Momus wrote an interesting article on fake myspace profiles. He's got someone on there pretending to be him and even risking getting him into legal trouble.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:09 PM on January 16, 2007


[Obama] does not tackle head-on how the religious rhetoric of this political era has played an audacious role in discrimination against LGBT people.

That's right --- in that piece of shit book, he doesn't tackle anything head on. You really think he would come out in support of gay rights when it would cost him precious votes? Come on, now, you obviously don't know Barack Obama.

What I love about Al Gore is that, when he was a Senator like Obama, he wrote a book that was certain to be controversial --- about the environment. He had the courage to take a damned position. If Obama had written that book, he would have staked out a middle ground, extolling the merits of preserving our natural resources, but also acknowledging that we need to be alert to the needs of big business.
posted by jayder at 6:11 PM on January 16, 2007


Sam-fucking-Brownback?!

SAM-FUCKING-BROWNBACK?!!!

That's it, no more voting for me. You people can have this shit hole. I'm moving to New Zealand.
posted by photoslob at 6:13 PM on January 16, 2007


Any of the current crop of dem candidates will be better than Hillary. She will drive republicans to the polls in record numbers to vote against her. It's pretty scary that she's considered a front-runner right now.
posted by mullingitover at 6:21 PM on January 16, 2007


Universal Healthcare, which all democratic nominees support.

Of course you know that none of the front-running democratic candidates last time around actually supported this. Certainly not Kerry. Dean didn't either. It's bizarre to trivialize Obama's stance on this position, or to assume that it would be easy to achieve.

Has anyone read Obama's Ocotber 2002 Federal Plaza speech at an anti-war six months before the war? What other politician will you vote for in '08 who had this much common-sense (and the balls to speak up for it in the face of the prevailing patrio-sanity) before the invasion?

I hope those of you who are critical of Obama's pandering to the religious right might consider this interview in which he replies to the criticisms of those who'd like to see a more "fuck you" approach from him towards religious voters.

Obama's positions on almost all issues mark him as more progressive than any of his party's past nominees, and he appears to be charismatic and electable. I hope those who are critical of him will direct our attention to the candidates who they feel are more likely to to bring progressive principle and action to the White House in 2008.
posted by washburn at 6:25 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


EarBucket: Seriously, though, many Democrats have spent some portion of the last seven years viewing Bush as a great danger to democracy, America, and global stability. (It's an opinion I share.) When the Democrats' last two candidates have been Al Gore and John Kerry, it's exciting for a lot of people to anticipate a candidate running who might actually be electable.

Al Gore was super electable. That's why he got the most votes.
posted by spaltavian at 6:30 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


washburn, that's a good interview.

Obama at some point is going to have to get a bit better at dog whistle politics, though, so we don't have these misunderstandings.
posted by empath at 6:32 PM on January 16, 2007


"It's pretty scary that she's considered a front-runner right now."

Agreed, mullingitover. I don't think Hillary should even be considered. There are too many Clinton-haters out there.

Meanwhile, I read the Rabbi Lerner article (link under "realignment" above) and I think he's got a valid point - people of less-than-rabid-fundamentalist faith still have faith, and there are a lot of them (probably a slight majority of Americans, maybe more), and they do need to have their faith considered by the political leadership in some kind of inclusive way.

I like this part from Lerner:
Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George Bush by insisting that a serious religious person would never turn his back on the suffering of the poor, that the Bible's injunction to love one's neighbor required us to provide health care for all, and that the New Testament's command to "turn the other cheek" should give us a predisposition against responding to violence with violence.

Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk about the strength that comes from love and generosity and applied that to foreign policy and homeland security.
Note that love and generosity applied to our various policies should appeal to both religious and non-religious people. I'm not a religious guy, and I can easily get behind all of the above, even knowing that the source for these ideas was Jesus in the New Testament (irreligious as I am, I nonetheless hold Jesus' words in very high regard!).

Addressing "reg'lar folks's" need for some spiritual (not necessarily religious) meaning in life should be taken under consideration.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:35 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


right on the myspace page:

(**This profile is a tribute to the great Barack Obama. It has not been created and is not managed or endorsed by Senator Barack Obama**)

i'd vote for the man, if for no other reason than he's a damn good-lookin' fucker. (except those ears. they kinda stick out.)
posted by lapolla at 6:38 PM on January 16, 2007


Well, of course, you rarely hear the most obnoxious christians actually quoting christ, beyond the 'have faith in me and you'll be saved' stuff... Definitely not the sermon on the mount and the bits about praying in public.
posted by empath at 6:40 PM on January 16, 2007


you rarely hear the most obnoxious christians actually quoting christ, beyond the 'have faith in me and you'll be saved' stuff... Definitely not the sermon on the mount and the bits about praying in public.

but of course you hear little else from the most obnoxious non-Christians than grousing about what Christians say and do. one would think they'd get a life or something.
posted by quonsar at 6:58 PM on January 16, 2007


but of course you hear little else from the most obnoxious non-Christians than grousing about what Christians say and do.

What else would you expect the set of people you define as "the most obnoxious non-Christians" to do? That's kind of like saying "I hate those farting people; have you noticed they fart all the time?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:08 PM on January 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


106 comments and counting. Just sayin'. Guess the guy has our attention.

As a former and future Chicagoan who's read both his books, in my opinion he's getting there with regard to articulating his beliefs into policies. Personally, I wish he'd run for Governor of IL rather than Senate, but I don't think the timing worked out. I'm more interested in seeing how he can lead as an Executive and execute policy, as opposed to cajole and craft it, and that might have happened had he been a Gov, the historical model of GWB notwithstanding.

Hell, he's got two very young kids and just paid off his law school debts with the residuals from his first book. it's not like he's been a career politician with plenty of spare time to stretch his legs with regard to policy depth and nuance. I like him because he's intelligent, articulate, action-oriented (cf. more to his community organizing than Senate record, and then there's that first black editor of the Harvard Law Review thing) and not yet, I speculate, in the pocket of as many interests of long time Senators and Congresspeople.

The less time he's spent there the more I'm interested, given his other talents. I'm avidly awaiting the sharpening of his policy stances.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 7:18 PM on January 16, 2007


i'd vote for the man, if for no other reason than he's a damn good-lookin' fucker

Democracy at its finest
posted by saraswati at 7:40 PM on January 16, 2007


Thank you, washburn - that "on the issues" link is good. And stavrosthewonderchicken makes a valid point - no politician is going to match your personal views point-for-point. But Obama is eloquent, intelligent, and electable. He got my $$ contribution today.
posted by tizzie at 7:42 PM on January 16, 2007


I dunno about President, but I'd certainly vote for Obama for America's Next Top Political Dreamboat. He could go around on floats and wave and look pretty, bringing joy to the hearts of millions.

Or, y'know, run for President and do sort of the same thing, but sell his soul and lose a lot of money in the process.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:21 PM on January 16, 2007


Articulate?

I just finished slogging through his books. All he left with this reader is a conviction that he's not articulate, and that he comes to what pass for his convictions by strange and unpredictable routes. These are not good qualities in a candidate for Leader of The Free World. Turgid, awful prose, encapsulating obvious, run of the mill sentiments:
"What's troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem."
If that's either insightful or articulate, I'm Howdy Doody.

Oh, and does anybody get that the Road to The White House hasn't run through the Senate since Jack Kennedy? Effective Senators make lousy Presidential candidates. They bring all the positional baggage and history of their Senate experience, and very little of the national appeal or fund raising ability of Govenors. If you want to be President, screw running for the Senate, and get yourself elected Governor of a decently sized state.
posted by paulsc at 8:42 PM on January 16, 2007


I believe you have (or someone else has) left out a comma after the word 'politics' there. If you did that on purpose, shame on you. It's a perfectly articulate sentence, and if not insightful, at least true, which is more important.

All he left with this reader is a conviction that he's not articulate, and that he comes to what pass for his convictions by strange and unpredictable routes. These are not good qualities in a candidate for Leader of The Free World.

I trust people who have come to their understandings of the world by 'strange and unpredictable routes' much more than I do those who haven't. Show me a man or woman whose thinking has followed straight A-->B lines since they began thinking, and I'll show you someone who hasn't actually done any thinking.

These are not good qualities in a candidate for Leader of The Free World.

You reckon? George Bush is laughably inarticulate, and he's a shitsmear of a president, but one wonders if the two are linked or not. I'm inclined to think so, but who knows? Regardless, I can't believe that you're seriously accusing Obama of being inarticulate -- that's crazy talk, that. Have you ever listened to the man extemporize? He's got mad skillz, yo.

I find myself being the Defender of Things Obama, something I'm not comfortable being. I don't know enough about him. But I'm more suprised than I ought to be (given that we're talking about Americans [NOT RACIST], here) at the arguments people are offering for why he might not be a good President.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:04 PM on January 16, 2007


Effective Senators make lousy Presidential candidates.

I guess this is good news for Obama.
posted by aaronetc at 9:10 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


If that's either insightful or articulate, I'm Howdy Doody.

Well yeah, Obama's prose is especially inarticulate if you misquote it---readers will need to to drop an "s" and add a dash to fix what you've quoted here.

Beyond that, you really ought to point out what Obama misses if you'd like to make a convincing case against the passage you quote. To my mind, Obama pulls of an interesting rhetorical move here, eschewing the usual rhetoric in which each side faces off against a powerful (and even diabolical) foe, to favor one in which many of these supposed differences are trivial and manufactured (surely true, when you think of the "culture war" with it's symbols that accounts for a lot of red vs. blue), and in which the thing to be focused on are practical problems of people lives. Since this rhetoric lends itself to providing solutions to social problems, it's basically progressive, and yet without appealing to arguments that imply bad faith or false consciousness on the part of those who've voted Republican in the past to whom Obama wishes to appeal.

The best political rhetoric is that which doesn't seem clever at all, but which seems like common sense, while putting those who would disagree with you at an argumentative disadvantage.

Please to meet you, Mr. Doody.

[on preview: what stavros said, mostly]
posted by washburn at 9:10 PM on January 16, 2007


"Pleased," I mean.
posted by washburn at 9:11 PM on January 16, 2007


so, basically anyone who's good looking and can string 2 sentences together without sounding as slack-jawed dumb as george w bush is in ... you guys are so demanding!

it's too early, but his lack of experience doesn't look good ... besides ... what gives everyone the idea that we're not going to have a serious and unexpected crisis to deal with in 2008?

my guess? ... this election isn't going to play out the way ANYONE thinks it is now

And why do I get the feeling that healing the "red-vs-blue" politics of the United States is more likely to involve throwing lesbigays and feminists under the bus than grass-roots organizing of voters and activists in small city and rural districts?

news flash - your party effectively quit running the bus out to our districts a long time ago ... now you only pay attention to us when it's time to "organize" us, as if we were a collection of tinkertoys that were scattered all over the ground wantonly
posted by pyramid termite at 9:59 PM on January 16, 2007


I trust people who have come to their understandings of the world by 'strange and unpredictable routes' much more than I do those who haven't. Show me a man or woman whose thinking has followed straight A-->B lines since they began thinking, and I'll show you someone who hasn't actually done any thinking.

That doesn't make any sense at all. Anyway.

If that's either insightful or articulate, I'm Howdy Doody.

I can see how you think that might be a little overwrought. It sounded a little better when he said it.
posted by delmoi at 10:09 PM on January 16, 2007


"...Please to meet you, Mr. Doody."
posted by washburn at 12:10 AM EST on January 17

I'm not gonna talk either you or stavros out of your boosterism, but let me let Obama talk himself out of the support of those looking for a thinking man as a Presidential candidate:
"Q: How do you make people passionate about moderate and complex ideas?
A: I think the country recognizes that the challenges we face aren't amenable to sound-bite solutions. People are looking for serious solutions to complex problems. I don't think we need more moderation per se--I think we should be bolder in promoting universal health care, or dealing with global warming. We just need to understand that actually solving these problems won't be easy, and that whatever solutions we come up with will require consensus among groups with divergent interests. That means everybody has to listen, and everybody has to give a little. That's not easy to do.

Q: What has surprised you most about the way Washington works?
A: How little serious debate and deliberation takes place on the floor of the House or the Senate."
Somehow, I can't imagine FDR or JFK being so lily livered, or politically disingenous as those statements from Obama, but it's a page right out of Karl Rove's play book that a politician should say nothing in public, as often as he can. I'm incredulous that a much ballyhooed gradute of Hawvawd would get out of school thinking the U.S. Congress does the business of the people in the chambers below the observation galleries, or should. Sheesh! As a political thinker, or a leader, Obama is a waste of time.
posted by paulsc at 10:12 PM on January 16, 2007


That doesn't make any sense at all.

To you, perhaps. Which is funny as hell, when you think about it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:13 PM on January 16, 2007


I'm not gonna talk either you or stavros out of your boosterism

As I said less than an hour ago: I find myself being the Defender of Things Obama, something I'm not comfortable being. I don't know enough about him.

But clearly you do know enough about him, and so are able to dismiss him out of hand as a waste of time. I don't know anything about your politics, but I envy you your certainty, even as I am reminded that Yeats poem we all so love to quote on the internets.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:19 PM on January 16, 2007


Q: What has surprised you most about the way Washington works?
A: How little serious debate and deliberation takes place on the floor of the House or the Senate.


oh, please ... i've never been anywhere near washington and i could have told you that ... what takes place on the floor is grandstanding and drama

and i guess obama's role is "mr obama goes to washington" ... he plays it well enough as a senator

he wants to be president, he's going to have to find a bigger role to play

(and if he's not playing, then he's pretty damned naive)
posted by pyramid termite at 10:23 PM on January 16, 2007


Ugh. Just run Gore again. He'll win again.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:27 PM on January 16, 2007


Meanwhile, Frank Keating decides not to run, which is surprising only in that he was even considering a run.
posted by dw at 10:56 PM on January 16, 2007


I will say something nice about Obama. He's not Hillary. If the price of not having Hillary means an Obama presidency, I'm OK with that. He seems like a nice guy, and like I said earlier, there is a long time before we have to chose.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 PM on January 16, 2007


To you, perhaps. Which is funny as hell, when you think about it.

Well, you seem to be doing a good job of convincing yourself of something. What, I'm not sure.
posted by delmoi at 11:25 PM on January 16, 2007


Heh. Good one!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:37 PM on January 16, 2007


hilary won't win.
oh, maybe she'll get the democratic nomination, but if that happens, we'll wind up with another republican in office.

in discussion of this with a group of friends, one guy barked at me,"so you claim the united states isn't ready for a female president?" - all indignant like. i just replied that the US ain't ready for hilary as president. and i like the woman, as much as one can like any politician.

and eh, sarawati - gotcha. humorless, a bit? i guess my subtle sense of irony was just... a little too subtle.

what is it anyway, all this meta whinging about "it's too early to start running"? it's been like this for... almost as long as i can remember: 2 years before the elections, it starts. obama is just stirring things up.

maybe he is - as others have said in this thread - running for 2016. or, VP. you get someone like edwards nominated, obama could be a great asset as a running mate.

meh, whatever. what stavros said!
posted by lapolla at 11:43 PM on January 16, 2007


I'm not so sure that he is -- but if Obama was to take a "page right out of Karl Rove's play book", is that such a bad thing? I don't endorse Rove's ends, but his game is good, and if one of our candidates were to learn from it, I'd consider that a good thing.

I think it's more likely that Obama is taking notes from the likes of George Lakoff, who in turn has been putting a lot of thought into what has made Rove's politics so effective. Lakoff certainly said some nice things about Obama.
posted by shunpiker at 11:57 PM on January 16, 2007


Well this certainly takes the veneer off personality-based politics, doesn't it?
posted by dreamsign at 12:16 AM on January 17, 2007


flunkie: Well, you have to follow that train of thought to the end -- If he was born as a Muslim, if he is not a Muslim now, he is apostate and the punishment for apostasy is death.

erm... Muslims believe everyone is born Muslim. Being raised Christian is different than willfully adhering to Islam and then converting to something else (though many Islamic scholars are now reinterpreting the death sentence for apostasy... recall the Afghan guy who was arrested last year then released).

Anyhooooo, I'm Muslim and I'd vote for the guy from what I've learned of him so far.
posted by zarex at 3:00 AM on January 17, 2007


Will Republicans will ride racism or sexism to victory in the next election? Nail-biting excitement!
posted by mobunited at 3:51 AM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think Hillary should even be considered. There are too many Clinton-haters out there.

News Flash: It doesn't matter who the nominee is. That person will become the most hated person in the world to the right-wingers.

Stop making your decisions based on what the GOP will do. If that's your policy, Barack Hussien Obama is your worst choice.

There are thousands of reasons Hilary Clinton should not be the Democratic Nominee for President. This isn't one of them.

My objection to Obama is simple. He talks well, but his "compromise with the religious right" is wrong -- they don't want more faith, they want more power, and compromise is how they get it.

He talks well, but there are a number of votes that show that he doesn't mean well. His positions on immigration are wrong. His vote to extend PATRIOT is unforgivable, and is letting Bush pack the Federal Prosecutor benches with cronies. He voted Alito, but voted for cloture -- translation, he voted for Alito, knowing that he'd squeak by if they didn't filibuster.

He voted for Robert Gates, despite the fact that there was no real investigation done into the suitability of Mr. Gates for the position, and that the vote was forced by a lame-duck GOP majority.

He wasn't willing to go to the wall to fight the GOP. He's all about comity and compromise. Dude, the Dems have been all about that for decades. End result? The complete and utter destruction of liberal influence on US policy.

The Democrats won in 2006 because they took a new position -- they opposed something the GOP was doing.
posted by eriko at 5:20 AM on January 17, 2007


OK, looks like this BO thread's persisting, so....

Had a drink a couple weeks back with a self-identifying '60s liberal who averred that Obama's like another Jack Kennedy -- only without a Joseph P. Kennedy for a father. IOW, rotsa ruck.

I'm sick of red/blue bloodsports, too, but I don't think he's much of an answer. More viable political parties might be, but the entrenched Repub/Dem dichotomy isn't going to give up its tandem hammerlock on the US political process anytime soon.

I'm pretty much over the crush I had on HRC back in '92 (TMI?) but I'm not sure I'd vote for her -- to me, this is hiring/firing decision and not a beauty contest or a horse race.
posted by pax digita at 6:05 AM on January 17, 2007


Let the fight begin.
posted by jimfl at 6:30 AM on January 17, 2007


Read about the real "rising star in the party" (an Evangelical consultant)--Mara Vanderslice--...In Michigan, they helped the state’s Democratic Party follow up on these meetings by incorporating recognizably biblical language into its platform. ...They persuaded candidates not to avoid controversial subjects like abortion, advising those who supported abortion rights to speak about reducing demand for the procedure. And they cautioned against the approach of many liberal Christians, which is to argue that Jesus was interested only in social justice and not in sexual morality.
...

posted by amberglow at 7:13 AM on January 17, 2007


more about her here--... they hope to peel off some swing voters whom they have been persuaded would be more than willing to vote Democratic if the bitches and the fags would just STFU and get with the program. This nice young woman will show everybody how it's done.

Fine. Let's have that "debate" all these busybodies say they want to have. Let's see some real figures that show that a whole bunch of swing voters are clamoring for more religion in politics and that the nation is hungering for two socially conservative political parties....

posted by amberglow at 7:18 AM on January 17, 2007


... But if I could only ask Sen. Obama one question it would be this one, offered with respect and courtesy:
What do you consider your highest purpose in this life, the purpose for which you would sacrifice everything?
I suspect he has an answer. Before coming to any conclusions about his candidacy, I'd like to hear it.

posted by amberglow at 8:25 AM on January 17, 2007


Shunpiker: I'd never heard of Lakoff before. That's quite an interesting interview. Thanks for that.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:46 AM on January 17, 2007


I think we need to just give up on America and start again.

My mother said something along these lines the other day and it made me laugh. Then I realized she's probably right.
posted by itchylick at 9:37 AM on January 17, 2007


... because he's never been in a tight spot where he had to make hard decisions. That's when character gets revealed, and as far as I can see, he's never really been tested.

I keep hearing people say things like this about experienced 45-ish trial lawyers with two popular books to their credit.
posted by lodurr at 1:07 PM on January 17, 2007


I don't think Obama will win the nomination, much less survive past Nevada.

He's not fundamentalist enough for the lockstep Dobsonites, but at the same time he is religious, which makes the Bizzaro Dobsonites -- the ones on the left who are demagogues all after political purity -- foam at the mouth.

That means he'll do well with your mainline churchgoers who are generally center to center-left, the Jim Wallis evangelical left, people who get all dreamy about his African American preacher cadences... and that's it. People like amberglow won't hold their noses to vote for him because he doesn't represent their version of America, just as some of my fundie friends will likewise just write him off as a smooth-talking devil.

Which is sad, you know? Because what it says is that a moderate can't win anymore. You either have to be a Christmas-and-Easter Catholic who would vote for abortion-on-demand kiosks installed in every indie coffeehouse in America, or an Opus Dei sort who would vote to hang abortion doctors and send their families to Gitmo. Never mind that the opinion polls find that most Americans, while being pro-life, wouldn't mind seeing some common sense restrictions on it. But OMG, restrictions are a stalking horse for an OUTRIGHT BAN! But then, loosing restrictions on the Pill is a stalking horse for STARBUCKS ABORTION KIOSKS WITH FREE FRAPPUCINO COUPON AFTERWARDS!

Obama talks of finding common ground with the religious center/right, and all true believer liberals do in response is sharpen their machetes and dream of Rwanda, while the religious right power structure fights to keep their flock watching Fox News and voting for their new version of fascism.

I'm with itchylick's mom. We need to start again with this America idea.
posted by dw at 1:35 PM on January 17, 2007


People like amberglow won't hold their noses to vote for him because he doesn't represent their version of America, just as some of my fundie friends will likewise just write him off as a smooth-talking devil.

If he's the eventual nominee, i'll certainly vote for him (i really don't have a choice of parties--ever). I'll be hoping, tho, by that point, he (or whoever it ends up being) has grown some balls and taken some clear and courageous stances.
posted by amberglow at 2:49 PM on January 17, 2007


mobunited ftw.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on January 17, 2007


this kind of me-too stuff doesn't help at all: Obama's Turn: Says He'll Introduce Iraq Legislation Calling For Phased Withdrawal
posted by amberglow at 3:40 PM on January 17, 2007


related to him, and the whole theme of faith and politics: Family Values
posted by amberglow at 3:59 PM on January 17, 2007


Thanks for the nomination, It's Raining Florence Henderson - this will make my Mom very happy. But I think I have to decline in favor of sgt. serenity's scenario - men in kilts! Plus, think of the mefi parties we could have in the Edinburgh Castle.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:00 PM on January 17, 2007


Slate remixed the video
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on January 17, 2007


amberglow won't be happy unless the ticket is Kucinich/Lenin.

What ever happened to dobbs for Prezzy?
posted by sparkletone at 11:35 PM on January 17, 2007


This is completely crazy but think about this - Obama is positioning himself as one of the few politicians on either side who can bridge the gap between red/blue states. That's one of his big strengths. One of his biggest weaknesses is his lack of any foreign policy experience, especially with where the United State is right now (and likely will be in November 2008 in one form or another.)

So what's one move that could reinforce the first point about him being a true "uniter" and cover the second by connecting with someone who's extremely familiar with the Iraq situation specifically and foreign policy in general?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you....

Barak Obama/Colin Powell 2008.

(You heard it here first.)
posted by Jaybo at 3:22 AM on January 18, 2007


(You heard it here first.)

And never since.
posted by radiosig at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2007


Come on. It's likely as a snowball in hell, but it's so attractive, you have to know people are going to be talking about it all over the nets at least three times before the General.
posted by lodurr at 11:15 AM on January 18, 2007


Barak Obama/Colin Powell 2008

never gonna happen--and Powell hung himself at the UN when he knowingly spouted those lies about Iraq--he's toast forever. As a matter of fact, if Obama reached across to a Republican, i'd sit home rather than vote that ticket. You don't reward a party (or the people in it) for scorching the earth and demonizing every single person who disagreed with their actions for years.
posted by amberglow at 3:12 PM on January 18, 2007


As I said, it's completely crazy and I agree that it would never happen (in a "never say never" way.)

But I wouldn't rule out a Colin Powell return in some form either - redemption is a powerful theme in the American mythos. That's the beauty of this idea - Obama reaching out to Powell isn't reaching out to a Republican who's responsible for scorching the earth. Powell is seen by many as a helpless pawn and it is also well known that his disagreement with the hawks in the administration are a big part of the the reason he resigned (or was it "was asked to resign"?)

Amberglow, any predictions for the Democratic ticket? Or is it way too early?
posted by Jaybo at 8:14 AM on January 19, 2007


Powell is seen as a pawn--that's not a plus on any ticket, GOP or Dem. Why would people vote for anyone who willing was one? It's the opposite of leadership.

I think it's too early to predict--i think Clinton is the DC establishment pick, like Kerry was, which sucks (and Mondale was, and Dukakis was, etc). I want someone else--either Edwards or some Governor. Obama can only be veep at this point, since he's not the DC pick. Sitting Senators rarely win--Kennedy's the only one in the past 50 years, i think. I think that with Nevada and SC (or is it NC?) moved up to be early primaries that'll help counter the establishment picks.

For GOP, i think they'll go hard right on top, with a moderate as Veep (maybe Hagel?). It won't be McCain or Giuliani anywhere on the ticket.

We need to hope that there's a 3rd-party candidate too (maybe a religious one)--if it wasn't for Perot, there wouldn't have been any Clinton.
posted by amberglow at 8:53 AM on January 19, 2007


"For GOP, i think they'll go hard right on top, with a moderate as Veep (maybe Hagel?). It won't be McCain or Giuliani anywhere on the ticket."

I think you're wrong on that one. McCain has been quite obviously positioning himself further and further to the right for the last year, reversing his old maverick persona by shoving his nose so far up Bush's ass that he even pisses with a Texas accent now. He clearly made a deal with the devil a couple of years ago in which he agreed to shut up and start spouting the party line in exchange for the full backing of the men behind the men. Favors are owed, now. McCain will be their man.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:12 AM on January 19, 2007


But the GOP primary voters and the religious right aren't buying it at all. The only way i can see him getting it is if he takes Cheney's place pre-08. (Cheney does have to step down--for a million reasons)
posted by amberglow at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2007


Romney and McCain have the same problem--too many years of moderate (or just semi-moderate) statements and positions--no amount of backtracking/flipflopping can redeem them.
posted by amberglow at 12:23 PM on January 19, 2007


McCain (and Hillary and Obama) are far more popular in the media than among the rank-and-file of each party. Don't mistake that for real support.
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2007


Those may be good arguments for why he won't win the hard-right vote in Bushian numbers, but given the voter's obvious swing left in the last election, the powers that be know damn well that they need the moderate vote too, this time around. That's why McCain's schtick isn't that convincing - it isn't supposed to be. The trick is to not completely alienate the moderates who used to love him, while giving the conservatives an excuse to grudgingly vote for him anyway when he turns out to be their only viable candidate. I doubt this will work, but I strongly believe this is being scripted from on high. Twenty bucks says McCain's their man (offer good to amberglow, only).
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:31 PM on January 19, 2007


you're on, Flo : >
posted by amberglow at 2:45 PM on January 19, 2007


watch Brownback -- he's announcing tomorrow (and Hunter too)
posted by amberglow at 3:03 PM on January 19, 2007


they're trashing Obama with manufactured bullshit already--Obama Smeared As Former ‘Madrassa’ Student, Possible Covert Muslim Extremist --this is gonna be an election season marked by inane and damaging shit spread widely by big media.
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on January 19, 2007


Flo: Collapse Of The Frontrunners
posted by amberglow at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2007


and in general: MEDIA ALREADY SIGNALING THAT COVERAGE OF 2008 RACE WILL BE VACUOUS AND CHILDISH.
posted by amberglow at 5:05 PM on January 19, 2007


But the GOP primary voters and the religious right aren't buying it at all. The only way i can see him getting it is if he takes Cheney's place pre-08. (Cheney does have to step down--for a million reasons)

Romney and McCain have the same problem--too many years of moderate (or just semi-moderate) statements and positions--no amount of backtracking/flipflopping can redeem them.

McCain (and Hillary and Obama) are far more popular in the media than among the rank-and-file of each party. Don't mistake that for real support.


Let me squeeze both these together to say this:

McCain is running on the fumes of 2000 and the last whiffs of criticism he had for Dubya. As he is now, he's basically a nominally religious, divorced Joe Liebermann. He's basically stopped criticizing the way this war's been run, something that a vast majority of Americans -- even Republicans -- think has a fiasco (on a good day).

And as conservative he's been trying to tack socially, religious conservatives have looooong memories. Even if he were to announce that he was going to make America a true theocracy and execute abortionists, Jim Dobson would think this was a stalking horse for gay marriage.

As for Mitt Romney, he has one really big problem: He's a Mormon. And Mormon theology is very different from evangelical and fundamentalist Protestantism. The conservative Protestant political movements have only come to accept conservative Catholics in them as full members in the last 10-20 years. Mormons... all they know is rose-colored glasses, weird underwear, and Donny & Marie. Even if Romney pushes his nascent social cred out front, you're going to have a lot of his potential supporters wondering about the underwear.

Brownback is probably the closest to a true religious conservative in this race. But remember that we've seen true believers never gain traction. Gary Bauer in 2000 ran a Christian campaign and got slaughtered. Alan Keyes... he's just crazy. I have a hard time seeing Brownback getting the nomination, unless he starts making the Iraq war a moral cause -- and talks about how immoral the cause became under Dubya and how he'd make it a moral cause again. Even then, the Dem nominee would roll into the White House.
posted by dw at 10:13 AM on January 20, 2007


I think that the religious right wasn't as firmly entrenched in the GOP back in 2000--they really are the whole base now--especially primarywise. Brownback actually has been showing independence (and sanity) on Iraq, so he knows the game--i'd watch him and Huckabee very closely.

Hillary's in now, officially.
posted by amberglow at 11:09 AM on January 20, 2007


Brownback really could win the Republican nomination. The religious conservatives, never a genuine majority in the party, are terrified of losing control. The surprising Guliani surge scares the shit out of them. They can barely stand McCain, and they won't go for the flip-flopping Mormon Romney. Brownback is the new John Ashcroft. If the evangelicals mobilize behind him quickly enough he could take the nomination.

This would of course be a great gift to the Democrats--Brownback is the only Republican Hillary could beat.
posted by LarryC at 8:43 PM on January 20, 2007


yup--i'd be thrilled if it was Brownback for the GOP--we could win with any of the current crop. : >
posted by amberglow at 10:14 PM on January 20, 2007


oh well, forget Richardson--he's a sexist creep
posted by amberglow at 10:07 AM on January 21, 2007


(did Brownback have his eyes done? they looked weird today on tv)

/shallowfilter
posted by amberglow at 1:05 PM on January 21, 2007


oh well, forget Richardson--he's a sexist creep

Or, as my wife says, "He has Clinton issues."

Huckabee is an interesting candidate -- clearly cut from the same Conservative Christian cloth as Brownback and others, but on a number of issues (e.g. healthcare), he looks like a moderate, even a liberal. And he has A Story To Tell (with the 110 lbs he lost because his doctor told him it was that or dead in 10 years).

I can see him as a GOP dark horse. He really plays well to the sorts of people who read Parade and Reader's Digest. Zero foreign policy experience whatsoever, so he'd be toast against Hillary, but against Obama... it would be a very interesting race.
posted by dw at 2:56 PM on January 21, 2007


i guess we'll see whether it ends up Brownback or Huckabee (what weird names for both of them).
posted by amberglow at 6:16 PM on January 21, 2007


I don't know much about Obama, but I don't think that being charismatic is really a laudable trait by itself. I'd like to think that we've moved beyond being wowed by personality.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:21 PM on January 21, 2007


I'd like to think so too, but we do need someone who is charming--it's a fact that people don't vote for assholes unless they're local assholes (see D'Amato, and Delay, and Trafficante, etc)--and many who are great at policy and governing are not appealing on tv, which sadly is the most important thing nowadays. Many great past presidents wouldn't even make thru the first primaries nowadays.
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on January 22, 2007


If not charm, there has to be some point of connection, which is always a personality thing.
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on January 22, 2007


Obama's votes
posted by amberglow at 5:33 PM on January 22, 2007


Related: on They Work for Us
posted by amberglow at 4:23 PM on January 23, 2007


Obama is on MSNBC now, and being incredibly wishy-washy about Iraq.
posted by amberglow at 8:01 PM on January 23, 2007


You know, 11 of the last 15 comments in this thread are from you, amberglow, despite the fact that nobody actually seems to be talking directly to you (and much of the rest of the thread isn't all that different).

I can't see how that could be a good thing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 PM on January 23, 2007


...but, you know, carry on, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:43 PM on January 23, 2007


Kerry bows out
posted by russilwvong at 2:46 PM on January 24, 2007


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