Yes, You’re Ex-Ceptional, too…

Sorry for the lack of free ice cream, but work has been leaving me feeling like Laocoon this week…

The big news is, obviously Obama. It’s on, as we say, and I think it’s going to be a great election. We’ve got two dysfunctional political parties, each one racing toward it’s own kind of oblivion – the GOP into irrelevancy, since most if the efforts it has made are about securing donors an appropriate place at the trough – and since they are losing power, why should the donors care? – and the Democrats, who have for decades managed to weld contradictory interest groups together into a coalition. Now the most reliable two members of the coalition want to kill each other. And we’ve got to decent, human, smart candidates, each with a wheelbarrow of flaws.

So which party mechanism will crumble faster? Which candidate’s flaws will blow up in their faces? And meanwhile, we may actually have an intelligent dispute about issues if the candidates can escape their handlers long enough to speak their minds.

Oh, and did I mention that a black man was nominated for the Presidency? For all the jet-setters who talk about the progressive wonders of Europe, try standing a well-spoken black man up as a prime ministerial candidate in England or France or Italy. Only in America – but oh, wait, we’re not really exceptional…

Why I’m Not Voting For Tim Goodrich For Torrance City Council

I live in Torrance, a suburb of Los Angeles where I moved thirteen years ago as a condition of getting custody of my older sons. It’s far more conservative than West Los Angeles where I grew up and worked, or than Venice where I’d lived before. It’s an interesting place to live, and the politics are very small-town – which is something I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing.

We’re about to have a councilmatic election, and one dear friend of TG’s is running – Gavin Hachiya Wasserman – who we’re supporting because we know him and think he’s a good guy, even if a little more conservative than we are.

I’d been looking at supporting other candidates, including Tim Goodrich, a recent Torrance resident, veteran, and antiwar activist.

Even though we disagree on the war and other issues, I’d been generally impressed by his other stances – on the environment, and schools – and had been looking for a progressive to support to see how we might leaven Torrance politics a bit.

But today, I decided not to vote for him. Why? Because yesterday we just got an 11″ x 14″ mailer from him extolling his military service, veteran status, etc. – and absolutely silent on what his real politics and beliefs are. And I looked back at the mailers we’ve received (I collect them during election season) and realized that he’s fundamentally dissembling about who he is and what he believes in.

Now I get why he’d do that.

Torrance is the city where on Armed Forces Day, there’s a giant parade with tanks down Torrance Blvd in front of City Hall. Torrance is a city where – as recently as a decade ago – black people driving through had a remarkably high probability of being pulled over. Torrance is not Venice, trust me.

And I understand why it’d be suicidal to come to Torrance and announce that you’re a fan of Che and Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden; but you know what – this kind of dissembling just leaves a damn bad taste in my mouth.

Because I’d like to see a mix of liberal and conservative Councilmembers here. But I’d like evn more for the citizens who elect them to do it with their eyes open, and I’d like to elect a liberal who respects we voters enough – and believes in the power of liberal values enough – to think that they could tell us the truth about their beliefs and win based on their values.

That’s not Tim Goodrich. And so I won’t be voting for Tim Goodrich when I send in my absentee ballot tonight.

And I think that there’s a lesson there for other candidates as well. Tell us the truth about who you are – because if you don’t think we’ll vote for you if we know it, maybe we won’t.

What He Said ^2

Great Andrew Sullivan column on the two condenders (h/t Moderate Voice):

There will be plenty of time to weigh the two on domestic and foreign affairs. But one observation about foreign policy is worth airing now. My major worry about Obama is the ghost of Jimmy Carter. Will Obama be too reflexively diplomatic? Does he believe that some of our enemies are reasonable in a good way rather than rational in a malign way? Could his admirable desire to restore America’s standing be compromised by naivete? And how will he respond if our enemies attack? More telling to me will be: can he adjust to new realities and possibilities in Iraq? I don’t mean not withdrawing. I mean withdrawing in the best way for our interests as possible.

With McCain, I have a reverse worry. Has he become Liebermanized?

Has his admirable sense of the danger of our foes blinded him to ways in which a defter diplomacy and shrewder deployment of force can help advance our interests? Or will he revert to a binary, victory-or-surrender blather that typifies the Bush-Cheney mindset? Does he understand the need to appeal beyond Muslim leaders to Muslim populations? Is he temperamentally suited to the delicate chess game of the new global politics?

This is the key question in choosing Obama, and here I tend to side with Sullivan. But…but…a lot hinges on the basic trust one has in Obama’s political competence, and that trust is being shaken a bit right now.

More on that later, as I’ll talk about the differences between OO, Extemp, and Impromptu…