Bob Kerry On Obama

In the NY Daily News, former Senator and all-around Good Guy Bob Kerry explains exactly what the model is for an Obama presidency that would make me very happy and comfortable.

By my lights, the primary threat to the success of a President Obama will come from some Democrats who, emboldened by the size of their congressional majority, may try to kill trade agreements, raise taxes in ways that will destroy jobs, repeal the Patriot Act and spend and regulate to high heaven.

This is where Obama’s persona is invaluable. He can withstand the arguments and pressure of the liberal wing in the Democratic caucus if, once elected, he is guided by the best instincts he has displayed on the campaign trail.

I believe this is likely because Obama will surround himself with professionals, not ideologues or acolytes. An unprecedented number of patriotic, politically savvy and centrist men and women have been part of his campaign team – and are therefore likely to make up President Obama’s governing team.

I believe this is likely because of who Obama is. Republicans have tried desperately to paint the man as a secret radical. But the imagery just doesn’t connect; Americans see a man who is calm, respectful, considerate and careful. That is just what the doctor ordered for our politics.

Last, I believe this is likely because Obama understands that to succeed, he must make peace with John McCain just as he has done with Hillary Clinton. When this historic election concludes, I expect the two to sit down, without precondition, and negotiate an agenda of reform.

But that will only be the beginning. To build up the political capital for the kinds of changes needed in these difficult times, Obama will need to communicate the following to Congress, in no uncertain terms: The Democrats have not won a mandate for all their policies. Rather, the American people have resoundingly registered their frustration with a failed status quo, and the next President must chart a new, less partisan course.

That’s what I’ve been talking about. If Obama can do this – can govern as someone whose values come from the left side of the Democratic party, but whose governing style comes from the kind of inclusive, conciliatory positions he took early in his campaign – then I’ll have made a good bet in supporting him.

Because that’s what I’m betting on, in the face of a mixed bag of evidence.

63 thoughts on “Bob Kerry On Obama”

  1. You’ve got a hunch that a far left Senator will eschew all that has stood for to date…not to mention the leanings of those he associated with throughout his formative years…becomes a shining centrist Democrat? Why? Because he stands behind a podium with his 1000 yard stare and exudes goodness and feelings of hope to throngs of thousands?

    I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

  2. By my lights, the primary threat to the success of a President Obama will come from some Democrats who, emboldened by the size of their congressional majority, may try to kill trade agreements, raise taxes in ways that will destroy jobs, repeal the Patriot Act and spend and regulate to high heaven.

    And what makes you think that Obama would disagree with trying to do any or all of that?

  3. I agree with Jeff, in post 2. I think looking at Obama through veiled assumptions that Obama will be as moderate as he has been on the campaign trail, is ridiculous!

    Obama has been a moderate man, during his campaign, because he was trying to attract that huge swath of moderate voters he HAS to have to WIN. It is understood that all leftists go to the middle in order to gain acceptance and, consequently, the vote of liberal republicans/conservative & moderate democrats.

    It is pick eyeglass time to believe the Bob Kerry spin!

  4. bq. Obama will need to communicate the following to Congress, in no uncertain terms: The Democrats have not won a mandate for all their policies.

    Good luck with that. I fully expect that if he wins, no matter now narrow the victory, we will be endlessly told that it’s a “mandate for change”. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it starts in the inauguration speech.

  5. Yeah, hold the bus here. Let me understand this:

    The hope is that the ‘real’ Obama is the guy his campaign has crafted him to be? And the idea is that the guy he has been the rest of his life is the illusion?

    People are going to vote for Obama based on THAT premise?

    Would someone please step up and explain to me how that is rational?

    I mean, im cool with orthodox liberals that believe in the Big State, tax and spend government embodied by the Dems in the 80s that Obama’s record reflects who support him. He’s your guy, lets argue about policy.

    But i don’t know that i can understand someone who stands against that but is willing to vote for Obama on the premise that _all evidence to the contrary_ Obama isn’t a radical liberal. And to admittedly buy into it because of his _advertising?_

    I really need to hear more about this.

  6. bq. This is where Obama’s persona is invaluable. He can withstand the arguments and pressure of the liberal wing in the Democratic caucus

    Pardon my cynicism, but don’t we have “a certain phrase”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_personality for trusting in a leader’s persona to provide competent rule?

    bq. if, once elected, he is guided by the best instincts he has displayed on the campaign trail.

    _Bwah?_ The best instinct I’ve seen him display is for deflecting criticism about his stated positions by refusing to expound on or defend his positions. For example, when his redistributionist policies got him labelled as socialist, he didn’t try to explain why they are not, or why socialism (lite) is preferable in times of economic turmoil. Instead, “he made a joke”:http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5isOFwdbq0tsqatW6vJpkDRTI1gMgD944EUUO0 in a blatant attempt to avoid a label he views as harming his chances of election.

    It’s a neat political/campaigning trick, but it shows a lack of interest in intellectual grounding or open debate. Time and time again, he tries to avoid characterization of his leftist aspects without openly debating or acknowledging them.

    Obama shows all the hallmarks of being an excellent _candidate_ able to weave in and out of a media narrative. But he shows not a shred of the sterner stuff needed to govern like the centrist he’s trying to portray. Clinton pulled it off, but “Clinton famously indicated his ability to do so”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sister_Souljah_moment during the campaign. Does AL and Bob Kerry really think the belated, drawn out, slow-motion tossing of Rev. Wright under the bus counts? Especially after the 19 years previous which necessitated it in the first place?

  7. Mark (#6), I’ve said before and I’ll likely say again, it amazes me how many people are voting for Obama because they hope he is lying, while most of the people voting against Obama are doing so because they fear he’s telling the truth.

  8. #4 reminds me of something that has been puzzling me for months. The non-socialist Obama supporters I’ve talked to have all pointed to his statements on the campaign trail as indicators of how reasonable, moderate, and centrist he is. But this is the farthest right he’s been in his entire life. How can that possibly be an indicator of the “real” Obama?

  9. This short post and thread provides a good snapshot of the closing days of the campaign.

    * Conservatives: Voting against Obama on the strength of his history and campaign.

    * High-information Moderates: Splitting. Some voting against Obama on the basis of his history and the un-moderate implications we see in his campaign behavior. Some voting for Obama, because of “the best instincts he has displayed on the campaign trail,” to which is added (justified) anger about the Bush legacy and the recession.

    * Low-information Moderates: Most voting for Obama, liking the campaign message of hope, change, and reform, and angry about Bush and the economy.

    * Liberals: Voting for Obama on the strength of his history and campaign.

    The Not-Obama, liberal/centrist/conservative (depending on issue) candidate doesn’t really have a clearly-defined, enthusiastic base of support. Kind of inevitable–what organized group would a Maverick candidate build on? Especially one with a record of ticking off supporters and adversaries alike when engaged in his idiosyncratic, highly personal version of politics.

    The election is a referendum on Obama, and on what each voter thinks about the face of Obama that he or she thinks is the ‘true’ one.

  10. I also think people are remembering Bill Clinton in a skewed light. His first 2 years with a heavilly democratic Congress are a much better comparison to what we are likely to see than his last 6 years (not to mention before his election Clinton never was half the idealogue Obama has been in his career).

    In 93 & 94, Clinton:

    -Passed the Brady Bill
    -Passed the largest tax cut in history
    -Attempted to nationalize healthcare
    -Appointed Ginsberg and Breyer

    And mind you Clinton ended up being one of the most politically pragmatic presidents ever.

  11. Amac makes a good point- Dick Morris said undecideds are likely to break McCain’s way on election day for exactly that reason. The decision people are making isnt about McCain, its about whether they can pull the trigger on Obama. If he hasnt sold them by the time they hit the voting booth the ‘safe’ play is to go with McCain.

    We’ll see, it remains to be seen if there are even enough undecided left to matter.

  12. Any faint hope that Obama would govern as a centrist was blown away based on the whole ‘Joe the Plumber’ episode.

    If his associations with Wright and Ayers were years before he ‘matured’ into a centrist, then the answer to Joe the Plumber, just weeks before the election, exposed far more.

    It will take 90 days (until April 20, 2009) for his approval rating to dip below 50%. This is because he will make two major mistakes :

    1) He will use the ‘we inherited Bush’s mess’ excuse too much. Note that Bush never once complained about inheriting Clinton’s mess.

    2) His followers, and even his wife, will play the race card once too often.

    These are the first two mistakes he will make in his first 90 days.

  13. #11 :

    -Passed the Brady Bill
    -Passed the largest tax increase in history
    -Attempted to nationalize healthcare
    -Appointed Ginsberg and Breyer

    All true. However, only the last one has lasting deleterious effects to this day. Remember that such extremism cause the 1994 GOP revolution.

    The best we can hope for on the SCOTUS is :

    1) Since the left-wing justices are the oldest ones, new Obama appointees will merely cause the SCOTUS to stay where it is in mix, rather than tip the other way.

    2) We get a reverse ‘Souter effect’, i.e. Obama appoints an apparent leftist who turns out to be a moderate or conservative. We were robbed with Souter, and deserve a reversal.

  14. #8 jeff of all the commentary on the US elections that is the most profound i’ve read.armed liberal et al are hoping that he isn’t who he’s always been.when you go gambling you should only risk money not your country.

  15. bq. The non-socialist Obama supporters I’ve talked to have all pointed to his statements on the campaign trail as indicators of how reasonable, moderate, and centrist he is. But this is the farthest right he’s been in his entire life.

    Ironically, McCain on the campaign trail this election season is _also_ the farthest to the right he’s ever been in his political career.

    It says something interesting about our political elites, when *both* major candidates have to skew right in the campaign: one to recapture his party’s base, the other to capture the centrists deservedly skeptical of his political bent.

  16. “It says something interesting about our political elites, when both major candidates have to skew right..”

    Because, no matter what, America is a center-right country.

    Even blacks who vote 90% democrat, if you quiz them on general topics like social values, guns, etc. they are further to the right than the Democratic politicians they unconditionally vote for.

  17. but whose governing style comes from the kind of inclusive, conciliatory positions he took early in his campaign

    What governing style? The man has never governed anything and on the evidence he is a go along sort of guy who attracts corrupt power seekers. I expect he will be much the same if elected and the likely result is an extraordinarily corrupt government.

  18. The WSJ had “this interesting article today”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122532312630982163.html on the factions vying for control in the Democratic Party. For Kerrey’s vision to come true, tbe “Blue Dogs” would have to win the battle for control. It’s clear from the quotes in the article that the “liberal” wing would interpret an across-the-board win as a mandate that the USA was ready for radical change. That fits with the main Obama campaign theme of “Change We Can Believe In,” so expecting he’ll suddenly turn into this moderate, restraining force is whistling past the graveyard. More importantly, there’s no history of his going against the Congressional leadership: he “voted with the Democratic leadership 96% of the time”:http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/o000167/ , so I don’t know where the precedent of bucking that trend is supposed to be coming from.

    I think if the Democrats win enough seats to have a filibuster-proof majority in Congress, there’d be no need to bargain or listen to the opposing party or even their own moderates anymore. That’s IMHO the scenario where the Democrats are most likely to fracture, knowing that they don’t need to stick together because the GOP isn’t a threat for the foreseeable future.

  19. If Obama comes in with a 60 seat super majority than Obama will be whomever the hell he chooses to be.

    Get used to it.

    I like Gingrich’s take on it. We didn’t get here by accident. The body politic has passed its judgement on the party and the administration. That judgement is that it has been a catastrophe.

    Had the populace not come to that conclusion, we would not be in this position. They came to this conclusion because our policies led them there.

    Get out the shovels, there is a new foundation to be dug. And stop whining. It doesn’t help.

  20. We know who Barack Obama is. There’s not multiple Obamas, there’s just one. The deeds proclaim the man. (Of course as a pro-lifer I’m keenly aware of one issue where there is no room for reasonable and honest doubt what Barack Obama represents.)

    Nobody who supports what he stands for has any excuse not voting for him.

    Nobody who opposes what he stands for … OK, John McCain is a problem (see: McCain-Feingold etc.), but Sarah Palin shouldn’t be, for most conservatives. What would Sarah Palin do? She would get out there and vote.

    This is a very simple election.

    I think Armed Liberal’s decision to support Barack Obama makes sense, with one reservation.

    The good sense is partly because as well as betting on Barack Obama’s judgment, he has to bet on his own. In the last election Armed Liberal jumped ship because he supports victory in Iraq, and John F. Kerry didn’t, but George W. Bush did. That gamble paid off big time, and the surge brought about results that John F. Kerry could not have achieved.

    Now Armed Liberal wants to return to the liberal fold, and he judges that Barack Obama is the real deal from that point of view. I see no reason why, having been right before, Armed Liberal would not back his own judgment again.

    The one reservation is that Barack Obama is anti-gun, and whenever he says otherwise he is lying. He’ll appoint hard core activist judges who, among worse things, will do everything they can to make Heller a dead letter. I think Armed Liberal knows this too, because there never was an evil twin with Barack Obama’s exact handwriting who wrote on that survey supporting a total gun ban.

    So where does that leave Armed Liberal? Choosing, or rather having chosen, between the adjective and the noun in his handle.

    Elections are about summing up the pros and the cons and making a simple choice expressed in a vote. Armed Liberal has made a sensible choice. Hooray for democracy!

    There’s nothing else I’d add, except: could one of the conservative Americans who posts here do the summing up for the Republican ticket?

  21. A.L. /

    Guys like you and Kerry are whistling past the graveyard on this one. What is really pathetic for an otherwise intelligent guy like you (and a guy cool enough to have once owned a Sunbeam Tiger) is that you’re willing to drink the kool-aide _despite the fact_ that even _you_ can see that the King has no clothes–or are you seriously going to argue that, based on his writings, history of associates and paucity of real accomplishments, he is nonetheless fully decked out in evening clothes suitable for “steppin’ out?”

    A.L., the phrase “Triumph of hope over reality” doesn’t even _begin_ to describe your mindset. Gaak! You’ve crossed over to the Elysian Fields of Utopian never was. You’ve gone all “wobbly” on us here in the reality-based world. Aren’t the almost uniform comments of everybody above–no slouches at logic or informed wisdom they–enough to give you pause?
    As Cromwell once famously said to a certain King: “I beseech ye from the bowels of Christ consider ye be wrong!”

  22. _Because, no matter what, America is a center-right country._ & _Both candidates have drifted to the right_

    You can think that if you like. But many things that were considered “left-spectrum” items just 20 years ago are considered typical, even normal today: Homosexuality, the realization that teen sexuality cannot be avoided purely by religious thoughts (gasp), Sex before marriage, co-habitation, general ambivalence to religious authority, feminism, working women (etc).

    So sure, there are more republicans than democrats. We Libs are probably dragging the country along faster than the country wants to go. I’m fine with Republicans slowing that down and making sure the public is ok with these moves (everything is still swinging towards us in the long run). But you’re fooling yourself if you think that we have stayed the same “center-right country”, even in your own lifetime.

    On Obama: I still find it fascinating that so many are convinced Obama is a closet radical. Sure, he’s a lefty, but the days of painting liberals as simple “stalinists” is probably over. Obama has a chance to redefine what the “liberal” label means. He doesn’t appear to be settling for a simple “drag the country” presidency by 51% a la Bush II, he’s going outside the ‘democrat’ playbook and building fragile coalitions of voters that will turn on him if he swings hard. And despite all the flaws Obama has, he has kept to close to message to lose it on Nov. 5th. Obama has been playing for the long game.

    Meanwhile McCain (as great a senator as he is) has ONLY used the republican playbook, and see where that’s got him? Again, his closing message is “My opponent is a socialist”. If the country is going right, why can’t he find an argument that resonates?

  23. As an center-right independent, I’ll agree with almost all of what Alchemist said in #24 (though I’d have different emphases and stuff to add). It’s a good description of what is.

    David Blue asked, “could one of the conservative Americans who posts here do the summing up for the Republican ticket?” Well, I can’t answer that call, but I can relate what the core of the McCain message looks like from outside the party:

    “Here are certain reasons to not vote for Obama. Oh, and also, I’m not Bush.”

  24. #23 from virgil xenophon:

    bq. _”As Cromwell once famously said to a certain King: “I beseech ye from the bowels of Christ consider ye be wrong!””_

    That cuts both ways though. You might be wrong. I might be wrong. And maybe the horse will learn to sing.

    Barack Obama has a colorable claim to be a political genius. He’s trying to beat a system that’s supposed to screen out marginally qualified candidates like him from a position at the top of the ticket – and he’s beating the system. In the process, he’s demolished the rulebook for how presidential elections are won, and substituted a new set of rules. Now it’s Chicago Rules: the Global Model. That’s gotta be worth something.

    Cynicism and inordinate self-seeking are not disabling conditions for an American President. Bill Clinton seemed to do all right in a lot of ways, including in diplomacy when he wanted to. (His limitation in this department was lack of interest, not lack of skill in achieving his ends when he knew what he wanted.)

    A lot of Republicans who had serious doubts about Mitt Romney’s sudden and politically convenient changes in his fundamental beliefs still came around to the view that he might be an effective President, if elected. (And I did too, mainly because I want relief from the flow of inept cronies that George W. Bush foisted on America and the world, and I trust Mitt Romney to make the appointments a great CEO would make.) Mitt supporters who think he might be a fake but still a successful chief executive for the nation aren’t in a great position to object to Barack Obama if the worst thing about Barack Obama is how phony he is.

  25. David Blue@26:

    Yes, Obama is a cunning and intelligent Charlatan; but have you considered the possibility that he is also simultaneously
    an ignorant ideological Buffoon as well? When offered the choice between Charlatan or Buffoon I tend to believe the Charlatan to be the lesser of two evils in that at least he is in touch with reality and may be cynically bargained with.

    People who are both intelligent Charlatans and “true believer” Buffoons (i.e., ignorant of much of reality) are an exceedingly dangerous combination. I would not be overly sanguine about the “effectiveness” of a President Obama if I were you. “Effective” in a tactical sense, perhaps, but such effectiveness in advancing the causes that Obama cares about may only mean that the nation will more easily and rapidly be led/shoved down the path to disaster.

  26. _People who are both intelligent Charlatans and “true believer” Buffoons (i.e., ignorant of much of reality) are an exceedingly dangerous combination._

    After seeing one in action for 8 years, I can agree with that statement. I don’t see it in Obama, but I will admit that with politicians anything is plausible.

  27. #27 from virgil xenophon:

    bq. _”David Blue@26:”_

    bq. _”Yes, Obama is a cunning and intelligent Charlatan; but have you considered the possibility that he is also simultaneously
    an ignorant ideological Buffoon as well?”_

    You mean an ignorant ideological Buffoon like everybody used to say Ronald Reagan was?

  28. _”On Obama: I still find it fascinating that so many are convinced Obama is a closet radical.”_

    Turn it around. Show me one good reason I shouldnt believe it. Better yet, start the day before he started running for president and show me one thing in his _life_ that suggests he isnt a radical.

  29. Mark in #32 said:

    bq. Turn it around. Show me one good reason I shouldnt believe it. Better yet, start the day before he started running for president and show me one thing in his life that suggests he isnt a radical.

    I guess I’ll be the one to state the obvious, Mark.

    Anyone who poses such a stupid question is highly unlikely to regard any evidence as definitive or in contradiction to their personal “radical” definition of “radical” (often simply meaning “publicly opposed to Republican dogma”).

    LMAO.

  30. No Vista, more likely anyone that can look at Obama’s record as the most liberal member of the senate, and the rest of his record and the people who have worked with him and come back with a retort like that (and of course not a sliver of actual useful argument) is so overtly leftist they dont recognize the political spectrum as anything other than Reasonable< -->BushHitler

    I asked an honest question. Show me where Obama has been a moderate outside of election promises.

  31. Obama recently said that Republicans would classify him as a Socialist if they found out that he had shared his toys or cookies in kindergarten.

    I think this joke illustrates nicely the silly immaturity inherent in the Rights distorted perception of the world, doesn’t it?

    No wonder Americans are banning them from government service in droves. My worry, of course, is that people who think like 2 year olds but have an adult power to create harm and havoc can actually do more harm behind the scenes, out of the public eye.

    Is that your fate in the next 8 years, Mark? To be a home grown terrorist opposing the dangerous Radicals running America? Or will you just sit quietly by the TV with your thumb in your mouth and fume?

    My guess and hope is the latter…for the lot of you.

  32. _”I think this joke illustrates nicely the silly immaturity inherent in the Rights distorted perception of the world, doesn’t it? “_

    I think the joke showcases just how ignorant liberals are of socialism. The analogy only holds if Obama was redistributing cookies that dont belong to him as he saw fit. Ultimately it shows that Obama seems to believe all the cookies in the world are his to distribute. And thats the problem republicans (and a lot of others) have.

    _”Is that your fate in the next 8 years, Mark? “_

    More likely to listen to people like you play the race card every time somebody stands up to Obama and justify whatever measures he is taking to silence critics.

    Hold on to that smug, unwarranted, satisfaction. Clearly one of us doesnt ‘get’ what redistributionism is about and how harmful it is to the creation of wealth. And i’m pretty certain its not me. We’ll just have to see how well all those 1000$ check Obama will send out to people who arent paying 1000$ in taxes fuels our economy over telling the risk takers and innovators in our society that they neednt bother trying to get rich… there’s no future in it.

  33. bq. Turn it around. Show me one good reason I shouldnt believe it. Better yet, start the day before he started running for president and show me one thing in his life that suggests he isnt a radical.

    I actually think Vista’s got a point here w/r/t your likely response to any honest answer on this, Mark, but just off the top of my head:

    A lot of the supposedly “close associations” he’s had with radicals aren’t all that close – at least, Steve Diamond didn’t do a very good job of proving so.

    Anti-Obama people put a lot of weight on him voting against certain bills, or voting present on certain bills, or filling out legislative surveys in ways conservatives don’t like. I’d argue that if you take a look at the stuff he’s actually _sponsored_ as a legislator – the Lugar-Obama bill on loose nuke security, government spending transparency, videotaped interrogations in death penalty cases – these are not particularly radical bills, and I think there’s at least as reasonable a case for arguing that these bills represent the “real” Obama as anything David Blue has argued w/r/t partial birth abortion.

    And it’s interesting to note that his policy proposals, by and large, were generally smaller and more restrained than Edwards or even Hillary, especially w/r/t health care, or even the economy. (Note that Hillary was calling for a 90-day freeze on foreclosures back in April or so, a policy that McCain has recently taken up, IIRC, but that Obama has not.)

    As I said, I’d be shocked if you took any of this as evidence that Obama isn’t a radical, Mark, but that’s my thought process, at least.

  34. Obama may have some radical ideas, but he’s a pragmatist. McCain thinks you solve problems by getting people in a room and telling them to stop the bullshit. It’s too bad he’s slightly to young to have tried this technique in 1860, but whatever, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of progress.

  35. It won’t surprise Chris that I dissent from his characterization of his exchange with Steve Diamond, linked in #37.

    On topic, here’s “GovTrack’s record of Obama’s sponsorships (not cosponsorships) in the 110th Congress.”:http://www.govtrack.us/congress/person.xpd?id=400629&tab=bills

    Excluding resolutions (“S.Con.Res. 96: A concurrent resolution commemorating Irena Sendler, a woman whose bravery saved the lives of thousands during the Holocaust and remembering her legacy of courage, selflessness, and hope”), for Obama sponsorships I count:

    * 1 bill Enacted (S. 906: Mercury Market Minimization Act of 2007; 5 cosponsors)

    * 2 bills Reported out of committee (S. 2433: Global Poverty Act of 2007 (30 cosponsors) and S. 453: Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007 (20 cosponsors))

    * 57 bills Introduced.

    The Reported and Introduced bills expire when this Congress ends, presumably in December.

    Most of the bill titles are reasonable-sounding or bland, a few are eye-rollers for me, but another reader will draw different conclusions.

    It’s hard to get very much out of this picture of sponsorship of Senate bills. Which were meaningful, which were tokens? Which had a decent chance of being enacted? Among the sponsors and cosponsors, who if anyone did the heavy lifting to (try to) get the bill passed?

    Probably GovTrack isn’t the best databases for evaluating legislative effectiveness and position on the Right/Left spectrum.

  36. I’ll thank you guys not to put words in my mouth.

    _”the Lugar-Obama bill on loose nuke security, government spending transparency, videotaped interrogations in death penalty cases – these are not particularly radical bills,”_

    Perhaps not, but neither do they cross party lines in the slightest. Those seem like fairly solidly democrat/liberal issues to me. What would the ‘radical’ position on those issues? Sending nukes to Venezuela?

    _”And it’s interesting to note that his policy proposals, by and large, were generally smaller and more restrained than Edwards or even Hillary, especially w/r/t health care, or even the economy. (Note that Hillary was calling for a 90-day freeze on foreclosures back in April or so, a policy that McCain has recently taken up, IIRC, but that Obama has not.)”_

    Doesnt that get chocked up in the ‘running for president’ category though? I don’t think anyone will argue the man’s experiece is limited… but even with such a thin resume i would expect to be able to point to _some_ substantative issues that are outside the liberal orthodoxy.

    Or not. If the man is a staunch, hardcore liberal, so be it. But lets drop the pretense. He is running as a moderate but its clear he’s _not_ a moderate. We dont know who he is. And we DO know he has extensive ties to radicals. He worked for and supported radical causes right up until it became politically inexpedient. I would just like to see just one drop of evidence of Obama’s _actions_ to suggest he will govern moderately, as opposed to words.

  37. _”Obama may have some radical ideas, but he’s a pragmatist. “_

    PROVE IT. He SPEAKS as a pragmatist. Somewhat. What evidence do we have that he intends to GOVERN as a pragmatist?

  38. Chris: _And it’s interesting to note that his policy proposals, by and large, were generally smaller and more restrained than Edwards or even Hillary, especially w/r/t health care, or even the economy. (Note that Hillary was calling for a 90-day freeze on foreclosures back in April or so, a policy that McCain has recently taken up, IIRC, but that Obama has not.)_

    How much of that reflects Obama’s ideology and how much temporal strategy?

    To recall, Hillary was the favorite in the Democratic primaries, but she had a problem with her base. Hillary had to court the base. Edwards strategy was to embrace the base. Obama’s strategy was to remind the base of his stance on Iraq and reassure the entire Democratic electorate that he could win the general election (given concerns that he was too fresh a face).

    I’d agree that Obama’s policy proposals aren’t radical, but the remaining undecideds are not persuaded by the policies, they are looking at more intangible things.

  39. And I do remain undecided. I’m not sure I care too much about poll-driven policies that Congress will ultimately tinker with. What are their values? How will they govern? If situations change, how will their approach change. The second question is the hardest since neither candidate has governing experience and its the primary source of their weakness. Bob Kerry no doubt believes legislative experience is a good qualification to be President.

    Anyway, “Dave Schuler”:http://theglitteringeye.com/?p=4654 (Both Candidates Suck) has the best write-up on the weaknesses of both candidates IMHO. And its rather unfortunate since I think both candidates are good people.

  40. bq. _”…the Lugar-Obama bill on loose nuke security, government spending transparency, videotaped interrogations in death penalty cases – these are not particularly radical bills,”_

    bq. Perhaps not, but neither do they cross party lines in the slightest. Those seem like fairly solidly democrat/liberal issues to me. What would the ‘radical’ position on those issues? Sending nukes to Venezuela?

    Actually, Mark, I wouldn’t identify any of those things as being particularly liberal or Democratic issues. Loose nukes seemed to be something we were all supposed to be concerned with, post-9/11; increased governmental transparency, especially on spending, seems more like a Porkbusters thing, which I generally think is more of a libertarian/moderate-conservative hobbyhorse (certainly, insofar as it relates to earmarks, it’s an issue McCain’s hammered on this cycle); and videotaped confessions, while a good idea, just doesn’t have any kind of national political profile, that I’m aware.

    As for crossing party lines, it’s ridiculous to say that, given Obama’s co-sponsors for those bills. Tom Coburn? Dick Lugar? We’re not exactly talking Ted Kennedy here.

    Which is kind of my point – there’s virtually nothing Obama can do from the perspective of most people here that isn’t A) labeled as a radical liberal activity, regardless of whether it meets any kind of objective criteria for being so, or B) dismissed as political posturing that doesn’t reflect Obama’s “real” agenda.

    So, Mark, you can choose to dismiss this statement, but that won’t make it any less true: it’s _not_ that there’s no evidence that Obama’s not a radical, it’s that you’re consistently _choosing_ to ignore that evidence. Which is your choice, but from the looks of things, most of the rest of the country disagrees, and will officially say so come Tuesday.

  41. bq. It won’t surprise Chris that I dissent from his characterization of his exchange with Steve Diamond, linked in #37.

    AMac, I’ll just point out that neither you nor he explained why his pet legal theory should take precedence over contrary statements by two people actually involved with Obama’s selection for the CAC, and leave it at that.

  42. Atlas Shrugs, which I think was once considered a major site in the dextroblogosphere, is now suggesting in complete seriousness that Obama is really the bastard son of Malcolm X. There’s also a link to new rumors that Obama was born in Canada, or Kenya, whatever. The rest of the site is nearly as hysterical.

    Perhaps the view of Obama as a dangerous radical is just a spillover from contact with people who have become unhinged. There is, believe me, nothing like this at Daily Kos. Indeed, while Kos banned 9/11 Truthers and Stolen Election Truthers, the GOP is relying on the former (viz., Jerome Corsi and Philip Berg) for its campaign against Obama, and its accusations against Acorn are preparation for disputing the legitimacy of the election, now being fought in Acorn-free states like North Dakota [!], once Obama’s significant victory is in.

  43. _”There is, believe me, nothing like this at Daily Kos.”_

    A. i dont know that i believe that. B. why should i equate this blog i’ve never heard of with Daily Koz? We know Koz is one of the most influential blogs in history. How are they related? Do you really need me to go find what i consider an ‘equivalent blog’ and find some crazy shit about McCain on it? Or can we take it for granted that it would be ridiculously easy to do. Much like the ‘hateful angry’ people at the respective rallies. You make it way too easy.

  44. Note “this story on AP”:http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081031/D9455L9O1.html

    Barack Obama’s campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday as the marathon presidential race entered its final, frenzied stretch with a Democratic tilt.

    The progblog’s heads will directly explode all over their Apple monitors is this turns out to be true – and I’ll be damn happy.

    A.L.

  45. _”Actually, Mark, I wouldn’t identify any of those things as being particularly liberal or Democratic issues. Loose nukes seemed to be something we were all supposed to be concerned with, post-9/11; increased governmental transparency, especially on spending”_

    Well, maybe i wasnt clear but thats my point. Those are easy to agree on issues. Its like being against murder. Obama is against murder, and thats no a liberal issue… well, yeh, of course he’s against murder. Whats he supposed to be? I never said every issue Obama has ever come in contact with he has come up with some insane stance. None of those issues require an ounce of political courage to champion. Thats my point. Heck, i’m sure Mao was against loose nukes. Is that supposed to be an indication of something?

    _”As for crossing party lines, it’s ridiculous to say that, given Obama’s co-sponsors for those bills. Tom Coburn? Dick Lugar? We’re not exactly talking Ted Kennedy here.”_

    Again, you misunderstand… that isnt crossing party lines. His party doesnt have a line against those things to cross. Those are easy issues, NOBODY is against them, CERTAINLY not any democrats. Working with a republican on these issues doesnt say anything about him at all.

    _”Which is kind of my point – there’s virtually nothing Obama can do from the perspective of most people here that isn’t “_

    Nothing? Here’s a freebee- come out against partial birth abortion. Call for lowering the capital gains tax. Condemn Syria for harboring Al Qaeda. Call for school vouchers. Demand the Mexican border wall be finished immediately.

    Just show me ONE instance where Obama has _demonstrated_ a break from the Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy party line. Thats all I ask.

    _”So, Mark, you can choose to dismiss this statement, but that won’t make it any less true: it’s not that there’s no evidence that Obama’s not a radical, it’s that you’re consistently choosing to ignore that evidence”_

    I rather think its that you are willing to accept the fact that Obama isnt a raving lunatic that tears out the eyeballs of Republican Senators as evidence that he isnt radical. Hey, he cosponsored a bill to name a school with Senator Republican. He’s SO moderate. THATS ridiculous. Show me some _meaningful_ policy stances he has taken that arent wholly liberal. Show me one.

  46. A.L., you should spend more time with the prog blogs before saying something like

    The progblog’s heads will directly explode all over their Apple monitors is this turns out to be true – and I’ll be damn happy.

    Rahm’s known as an enforcer, which sounds useful in the role. He was on the wrong side of the 50-state strategy, but if Obama can forgive him, so can we. I doubt if Rahm minds eating crow watching the Congressional candidates in AZ, NM, even ID-01 and WY-AL be competitive. When he kicked out a netroots favorite in the primary to run Tim Mahoney (officially anti-endorsed at DKos) as a Blue Dog self-funder for Mark Foley’s seat, well, how’d that work out anyway?

    You think anyone wanted Kucinich as WH CoS??

  47. I don’t think I tagged it, but one of the progblogs I read this week was talking about the post-inauguration strategy of prying Obama away from the likes of Rahm. His name has been accompanied by a spitting sound over there for the last two years…so yeah, they may see him as reformable, but they coertainly don’t see him as one of their own.

    And I’ll point out that he’d be consistent with my (positive) interpretation of Obama as a tough Chicago pol.

    A.L.

  48. bq. Well, maybe i wasnt clear but thats my point. Those are easy to agree on issues. Its like being against murder. Obama is against murder, and thats no a liberal issue… well, yeh, of course he’s against murder. Whats he supposed to be? I never said every issue Obama has ever come in contact with he has come up with some insane stance. None of those issues require an ounce of political courage to champion. Thats my point. Heck, i’m sure Mao was against loose nukes. Is that supposed to be an indication of something?

    Mark, your original request was:

    bq. Better yet, start the day before he started running for president and show me one thing in his life that suggests he isnt a radical.

    Those bills represent the thrust of his legislative efforts thus far, and as you say, they’re not particularly liberal. I’d suggest that if he actually was the radical you’re painting him as, his bills would reflect that.

    bq. _”As for crossing party lines, it’s ridiculous to say that, given Obama’s co-sponsors for those bills. Tom Coburn? Dick Lugar? We’re not exactly talking Ted Kennedy here.”_

    bq. Again, you misunderstand… that isnt crossing party lines. His party doesnt have a line against those things to cross. Those are easy issues, NOBODY is against them, CERTAINLY not any democrats. Working with a republican on these issues doesnt say anything about him at all.

    bq. Nothing? Here’s a freebee- come out against partial birth abortion. Call for lowering the capital gains tax. Condemn Syria for harboring Al Qaeda. Call for school vouchers. Demand the Mexican border wall be finished immediately.

    bq. Just show me ONE instance where Obama has demonstrated a break from the Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy party line. Thats all I ask.

    Ah, I see – he’s a radical unless he specifically supports some pet conservative issue. In fact, given that Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy are both Democratic party leaders and, apparently, something Obama has to break from to prove he’s not a radical, then the entire Democratic party must be radical, right?

    Just out of curiosity, do Tom Coburn or Jim DeMint have to vote against their party – or did GWB have to embrace a liberal issue back in 2000 – to be considered non-radicals, or does this rule only apply to Democrats?

    bq. I rather think its that you are willing to accept the fact that Obama isnt a raving lunatic that tears out the eyeballs of Republican Senators as evidence that he isnt radical. Hey, he cosponsored a bill to name a school with Senator Republican. He’s SO moderate. THATS ridiculous. Show me some meaningful policy stances he has taken that arent wholly liberal. Show me one.

    Ok, I get it now – according to you, Mark, to be liberal _is_ to be radical – there is no difference between, say, Al Sharpton and Kucinich Dennis on the one hand and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton on the other. Gotcha.

    I think my remarks about you choosing to ignore any evidence that Obama’s not a radical stand up increasingly well the more you argue this, Mark.

  49. Line of the day: Just out of curiosity, do Tom Coburn or Jim DeMint have to vote against their party – or did GWB have to embrace a liberal issue back in 2000 – to be considered non-radicals, or does this rule only apply to Democrats?

  50. AJL #46 —

    bq. Indeed, while Kos banned 9/11 Truthers and Stolen Election Truthers, the GOP is relying on the former (viz., Jerome Corsi and Philip Berg) for its campaign against Obama, and its accusations against Acorn are preparation for disputing the legitimacy of the election, now being fought in Acorn-free states like “North Dakota”:http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/31/obama-ratchets-rhetoric-moves-gop-turf/ [!], once Obama’s significant victory is in.

    The link to the Fox News story “Obama Ratchets Up Rhetoric, Moves Into GOP Turf” might have something to do with the fractured sentence’s clause “its accusations against Acorn are preparation for disputing the legitimacy of the election…” But since ACORN isn’t mentioned, it’s hard to see what.

    [off-topic]

    Chris asserted in #45 that “I’ll just point out that neither you nor he [Steve Diamond] explained why his pet legal theory should take precedence over contrary statements by two people actually involved with Obama’s selection for the CAC…” I find it difficult to believe that many readers not already committed to Obama would agree. Here’s “a link to the start of the referenced discussion”:http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/prof_william_ayers_phd_model_scholar.php#c110 (comments 110 through 123). I’ll leave it at that.

    [/off-topic]

  51. bq. Chris asserted in #45 that “I’ll just point out that neither you nor he [Steve Diamond] explained why his pet legal theory should take precedence over contrary statements by two people actually involved with Obama’s selection for the CAC…” I find it difficult to believe that many readers not already committed to Obama would agree.

    …but you don’t bother to explain _why_ you think so, AMac, you just continually link back to Diamond and insist there’s a pony in there… somewhere. Just out of curiosity, do _you_ think that the New York Times “knew” what conclusion it wanted its reporter to reach ahead of time, or is Diamond the only one pushing that particular conspiracy?

    And interested readers should start at #109, not #110.

  52. Just out of curiosity, do Tom Coburn or Jim DeMint have to vote against their party – or did GWB have to embrace a liberal issue back in 2000 – to be considered non-radicals, or does this rule only apply to Democrats?

    Well, first of all Obama explicitly analogized Tom Coburn to William Ayers as a defense of his association with Ayers. Since I don’t think anyone is claiming William Ayers is not a radical, I certainly took Obama to be claiming Coburn is radical.

    Secondaly, in 2000 GWB did embrace a senior prescription drug benefit and a massive expansion of the federal government in education as part of his compassionate conservative pitch. He also had a record of being effectively bipartisan when governor of Texas. He had both a record and a pitch of being non-doctrinaire right wing.

    Third, I’ve spent 8 years listening to you and others repeatedly accuse George Bush of being some kind of crazy right-wing ideologue bordering on fascist. Unless you’re now willing to concede that GWB has governed well within the mainstream of the American political spectrum, it’s highly disingenuous to try and use this example here.

    Finally, I actually agree with you that Obama isn’t radical per se. But Tom Coburn does make a good analogue to Obama – no one particular position is outside the mainstream, but all of his positions are towards the same edge of the spectrum. Fundamentally, that sums to an extreme, and arguably radical, whole. (FWIW, I think the word “radical” has connotations that make it the wrong term in this context.) There’s nothing I’ve seen (prior to this campaign) that counters that impression. Even in his one true bipartisan policy success – the Illinois anti-death penalty reform – his success was getting the right to buy into the left’s agenda.

    I don’t expect any of this to convince you that Obama is extreme. You probably share his views on gun control, on abortion, on income redistribution, on tax policy, on foreign policy, on health care policy, on environmental issues, etc. If you share his views, then by definition you won’t find him extreme. But there’s a lot of the country that doesn’t share those views. Remember – GWB won re-election with more of the vote than he got the first time. For those people, the Obama position (and likely yours) is extreme.

    If I had confidence that Obama would govern as he’s campaigned, or if he faced an oppositional Congress, I would be much less troubled by his election (I fully expect him to win). I still wouldn’t vote for him, but I wouldn’t feel compelled to vote against him either. But lacking any history of moderation or a Congressional check, there’s good reason to worry that his presidency could be extreme, relative not just to my views, but even relative to the center of the American political spectrum.

  53. I think Obama’s vote on FISA is important. Unlike positions that strike me as campaign strategies, I don’t think supporting FISA was ever going to get Obama any votes. Blogs care about these issues, but they are not meat and potatoes. I take him at his word that he would want this kind of power as President.

  54. OTOH, Chicago politics means something different to me: a lot of personal grudges, face-saving, and political retaliations. No wonder the media is in the tank for Obama. The drama might save the industry.

  55. tagryn had it right: it’s ‘Kerrey’ (probably Irish, which shouldn’t be confused with the French ‘Kerry’).

  56. AL

    How in the world did you end up running this blog. You take an inordinate amount of pure BS when you put out your opinions by ideologues whom have nothing to say.
    Stop being a human punching bag and let Amac or Mark B write this blog and start your own. The centrists far out number these people.

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