History

June 3, 2008

It’s 9:00 Eastern.  Polls are about to close in South Dakota, and within a few minutes, the networks will be able to proclaim Barack Obama the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.  

Yes, I’m an Obama supporter, but this is not about gloating or self-congratulation.  The talking heads on TV often use the phrase “historic moment”.  They use it to talk about baseball games and golf tournaments and, yes, political events.  But this truly is a momentous occasion, one that, quite honestly, I never believed I’d see.  Our nation is only three generations removed from Brown v. Board of Education, two generations removed from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  And as of tonight, we have an African American representing one of our two major political parties.  Remarkable. 

To my many friends (among them my closent friends in my home town and my wife) who supported Hillary Clinton, I’m not going to go through all the “Clinton ran a spirited campaign” and “Clinton has broken down gender barriers” stuff.  She did and she has.  I began the campaign as a Clinton supporter.  But Obama changed my mind.  I feared that he couldn’t win.  He proved he could.  I feared that he wasn’t tough enough.  He proved he was.  I wondered if there was more to him than great speeches.  I believe with all my heart that there is.

I do want to say though, that I feel Senator Clinton was treated terribly by the media throughout the campaign.  She has been on the receiving end of a disgusting and sustained assault from misogynist elements in the press including not only Fox News and the right-wing bloggers, radio hosts, and commentators, but also such “mainstream” media figures as Chris Matthews and the crew at CNN.  They use different language to speak of her campaign — comparing her to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, dissecting her laugh, her tears, her clothing, her figure, her voice, using gender-loaded terms like “shrill” to describe her.  She didn’t lose because of any of this, but she did have to put up with it.  It was shameful and she and her female supporters have every right to be offended.   Further, she was the presumptive nominee, and so the press was looking for a story, trying to figure out who was going to be her main challenger, and when it turned out to be Obama, they gave him a great deal of positive press.  Only when he actually became the frontrunner, did they turn on him, and then they did so with gusto.

I hope, though, that after dealing with their disappointment and taking time to get used to the idea of an Obama candidacy, they will take a close look at the policy positions of Barack Obama and John McCain.  I hope they will think about what a McCain Presidency would mean to the future of the war in Iraq, the composition of the Supreme Court, the state of the economy, the prospects for health care reform, the ballooning of our budget deficit, improvements in public education, and a host of other issues.  The differences between Obama and McCain are far greater than any differences that exist between Obama and Clinton, and when it comes right down to it, these and other issues are what this election ought to be about.
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19 Responses to “History”

  1. Mark Wise said

    While I know that there is a lot of excitement over Obama within the Democratic Party, I don’t think he was the best canidate for November. So far, his speehes have had no substance and were full of fluff about “Change” (what kind of change?) and “Hope” (what makes voting for you give me hope?). The few glimpses of his foreign/domestic policy platforms have done nothing but scare the crip out of me.

    Frankly, I would have been more worried if Hillary was the canidate. She is liberal enough but also enough of a middle-liner to pull votes from liberal Republicans in Congress. With Obama being so far Left, he alienates a lot of the middle-liners and as such, his policies will fail to make it through Congress.

    However much I dislike McCain, I will probably end up voting for him simply to try to block the extreme Socialist policies coming out of a potential Obama presidency.

  2. Jon said

    I am in total agreement with Mark Wise. Obama speaks well, but I think that’s all he is. he has no experience dealing with other nations, and Hillary has at least witnessed these dealings, when Clinton was in office. Obama is a FRESHMAN SENATOR, and I think that is going to be extremely damaging. Not to mention the fact that he IS a black man, and let’s face it, in some areas of our nation that’s enough to condemn him even if I believed he did have what it takes to lead this nation. I say this not as a wounded Hillary supporter, but as someone who fears for the state of the nation. Obama is not going to do anything for our nation. All this “Change” he speaks of is just idealistic prattle, change that he himself cannot push. Obama must remember that Congress runs this nation, not him, and, Like Mark Wise, I do not believe his policies will pass. He is an extreme left and many of his ideals ARE Socialist in nature.

    As a soldier, one who can be redeployed at any time, I fear for the things Obama plans to do with our military. He wants to remove our troops from Iraq, but has said himself that he is not above using troops in other places. Pulling our troops out of Iraq would be devestating to that nation, and I firmly believe it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to clean up the mess we made. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. If the Americans leave, that nation will fall within months, if not weeks. I too will probably end up voting McCain, even though I swore to myself I would never vote Republican, even if Hillary is given the VP nod.

  3. Michele Conti said

    Boy am I glad I don’t have to deal with all of that politics.

    Regardless of what country people live in, it seems to me that a lot of people say things like “I’d never vote for so and so because of this particular idea they have” then it comes voting time, and they vote for that person because “It’s the lesser of all evils”.

    So what’s worse… voting for someone you don’t really believe in, or not voting at all. Hrm…

  4. Mark Wise said

    Michele Conti said: “So what’s worse… voting for someone you don’t really believe in, or not voting at all. Hrm”

    I would say not voting is worse. If the sensible people who can reason out the pros/cons of a canidate don’t vote, then that leaves the voting to extremist and party hacks. So voting even to act as a moderating vote, is better than none at all.

  5. Jon said

    Not voting is like saying “I don’t like this, but I’m not going to try to do something to change it.” Besides, voting itself is a way of voicing one’s protest. I’ve seen in various places that a lot of people are swearing up and down that if Obama doesn’t have Hillary as his VP, they’re not voting at all. And those people will be the people who complain the most. But what right do they have to complain?

  6. davidbcoe said

    As Mark knows, I always welcome divergent (from my own) opinions on my blog. I learn from people who think differently from how I do, and I hope they learn from me. But frankly I have to say that I’m deeply disappointed in Mark and Jon’s comments here. Calling Barack Obama’s positions “Socialist” is as misleading as it is ridiculous. People on the right always get their panties in a twist whenever people on the left call them fascists. This is no different. Barack Obama’s policy recommendations are no more “Socialist” than John McCain’s are “Fascist”. You disagree with them? Fine. Disagree on the merits. But that kind of incendiary rhetoric is just the sort of thing that has made political discourse in this country so divisive over the past generation.

    The fact of the matter is Obama is not “far left.” He is right in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Yeah, I know, the National Journal rankings had him listed as “the most liberal member of the Senate” for it’s most recent ranking period. Bogus ranking. It is based upon a limited number of votes and it doesn’t take into account missed votes. So Obama missed a bunch of votes to campaign, voted on the liberal side of a couple of key issues, and wound up with the highest ranking on that measure. And before you go there, guys: the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly just did a similar study of GOP Senators and their support of Bush Administration policies. McCain had the highest possible rating this year — 100% — for voting with the Bush Administration. Also a bogus rating, for the same reason. Selected issues, and he missed a bunch of votes. Obama cited the Congressional Quarterly study in his speech last night, but he didn’t use the 100% figure — he’s a class act and he knew the number was bogus. He used McCain’s 2007 number instead, because McCain made all the votes for that one. (The number was still high: 95%.) Anyway, back to Obama. The fact is that in the two previous years, when he had a full voting record, Obama was right in the middle of the pack among Democrats and to the right of Clinton. If you look at his health care plan, it is far less gov’t oriented than Hillary’s (I’d actually like it better if he was more aggressive on this issue). The point is, he’s not into any kind of state sponsored economics. Does he have a plan that will help ease the mortgage crisis? Damn right he does. Too bad McCain doesn’t. Does he actually have a health care plan that might help the uninsured? Damn right he does. Too bad McCain doesn’t. Does he want to eliminate Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and have a middle class tax cut instead? Damn right he does. Too bad McCain doesn’t. But he ain’t no Socialist, and both of you should know better. And by the way, why is it that folks on the right call everything that Democrats want the government to do “Socialist” but then have no problem when the government steps into our bedrooms and tells us how to love or steps into a doctor’s office and tells a woman what she can and can’t do with her body?

    I hope that the GOP spends this campaign attacking Obama for being a — gasp — liberal. ‘Cause Obama will kick the crap out of them if they do. Thanks to liberals we have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act. Thanks to liberals, we got out of Vietnam. Hopefully liberals will have us out of Iraq before long. Bill Clinton never liked to call himself a liberal, but he was one. He gave us budget surpluses which our “compassionate conservative” President squandered in less than a year. If it wasn’t for liberals this country would be in even more of a mess than it is today.

  7. Mark Wise said

    I believe that a case could be made for Obama to have Socialist policy. Whereas trying to make a case for John McCain to be a Facist would be near impossible due to him being practically a Liberal.

    If you look at Obama’s voting record and proposals for his presidency, you will see a strong Socialist lean. He wants to heavily tax the “rich” and give back taxes to the “poor” who don’t pay taxes by the way. He wants to create massive new government mandates and beauracies. He wants to give universal healthcare coverage to everyone and make sure 100 % of students attend college (even though not all students are cut out for college). He wants to have government Pre-K programs raise our children from birth to 5 years old, that’s when the school system gets a hold of them.

    If you look at the Socialist idealogies expoused by Marx, Sen. Obama’s policies run hand and hand with them.

  8. davidbcoe said

    You see, this is just what I mean. What you present as Obama’s positions on these issues is just flat wrong. His program doesn’t give health care coverage to everyone — this was central to his disagreements with Clinton over health care, and came up time and again in their debates. He has no universal mandate in his policy. I happen to think this is a bad thing, but it runs counter to what you’re claiming.

    Same with the college program. He wants to make college available to everyone, but he’s not mandating that everyone go to college. That’s a huge difference. And he wants to make Pre-K programs available to every parent who needs it; he’s not telling every parent that they have to be in it. Sure you can misrepresent the guy’s positions on all these issues and then make him out to be the second-coming of Lenin. But none of what you’re saying about him is true.

    I can do the same thing with McCain: He wants to force women to have babies against their will. He wants to throw homosexuals in jail. He wants to create an oligarchy in which the wealthy control all the nation’s financial resources. Are these things true? Well, he wants to make abortion illegal, he wants a Constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, he wants to make permanent the Bush tax cuts and economic policies which have already widened the gap between rich and poor. Do those things make what I said about him true? Of course they don’t. But playing by your rules I can say them anyway.

    I respect you, Mark. You know I do. I enjoy our political back and forth. But what you’re doing here doesn’t further political discourse. You’re demonizing and twisting words and turning what should be a debate into a farce.

  9. Mark Wise said

    I am afraid, David, that I will have to respectfully disagree with you on this point. I respect your opinions and right to express them, however I feel that I am also entitled to mine. I have read through Obama’s Campaign website and this are how I read what he says there.

    Universial Healthcare:

    “Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office that ensures all Americans have high-quality, affordable health care coverage. His plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures by providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American; modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.”

    PRE-K and College Education:

    “Today, I want to talk about what we can do to prepare every student to succeed in college – preparation that begins at birth and continues with world-class schools, outstanding teachers, and transformative principals. ”

    Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Our Kids, Our Future
    Manchester, NH | November 20, 2007

    He says “every student”. That indicates to me that he will look to turn his Pre-K programs and “free college” programs into requirements. And is this so far afield when education from age 5 – 16 is required by Law? All is needed is to expand the existing law since the precedent is in place.

    These words are not mine, they are his. He expects to expand government to unprecedented levels while enacting enormous tax cuts and tax credits. Where does he plan on the funding for these plans to come from? The one place he mentions increasing revenue is with more taxes “for the wealthy”. So he wants to tax the rich to give to the poor. Is that not the Socialist ideal of Wealth Redistrubution? Is not a Heavy Grduated Income Tax a tenant of Marx’s Manifesto (free public education is yet another)?

  10. Brian said

    Im going to disagree with Mark on his interpretation. Ill skip the healthcare thing because I think every American should have access to the same medical treatment regardless of income or insurance plan. If Obama mandates universal healthcare so much the better. He actually doesnt mandate it if you read his plan through, but he should.

    But how about his education speechs: “I want to talk about what we can do” “to prepare” “every student”- OK, paraphrase- lets talk, or discuss the options available to everyone, so that all kids can have a chance at a good education.

    You’re really stretching if you want to turn this into a socialist manifesto.

    SO lets talk about wealth distribution. You know it always bugs me when I hear people complain about helping people by letting go of their money. For a nation that founded its governing principles on the belief that God created everyone equally, we really have a problem treating people equally. And when I see republicans who claim to be Christians oppose any effort to help the poor and the working class I get all befuddled. Helping the poor is central to Christianity, so why oppose it?

    Our government is supposed to be OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people. But we’ve allowed it to be turned into a government OF wealthy elitists FOR padding their pockets. Its not democracy anymore if the will of the majority counts for nothing. And when you pack the government full of wealthy elitists you have just put legislative power in the hands of people who have no idea how hard it is to make a living in the real world. The minority (the wealthy) control the fate of the majority. IF you’ve ever written to your congressman you can tell when they’ve stopped caring about what the “voters” think.

    Thank God Obama has a conscience, and a goal to get the people back into government. He has inspired millions of new voters, and helped get people involved in many different ways. Even his website is designed for discourse and sharing ideas.

  11. Mark Wise said

    Brian, I would have to disagree with the opinion that universial healthcare should be made available to all. It should be the reward for those who make the right choices in life and rise above the obstacales in their life. To clarify, emergency basic healthcare I can see being provided for by the governemnt, but regular full insurance, no.

    I fully believe that it is my responsibilty as a Christian to help other who need help. However, I don’t think the government should be instrument of Christian idealology. I believe that it should be left in the hands of private groups, charities, and individuals to provide that assistance.

    As for the minority controlling the fate of the majority, that is true to an extent however ultimately the majority will have the final say since it is their right and duty to overturn a governemnt that has turned to tyranny.

  12. Brian said

    Mark, I agree with you that the Government should not be an instrument of any one religion, but there are often cases where legislative actions correspond to the ideals of Christianity. For example- murder. I don’t see anyone campaigning against freedom of murder. If the majority of the people agree that it is the responsibility of the Government to take care of people less fortunate, then I would agree with that (with certain limitations).

    What I dont agree with is the idea that healthcare is a reward for the the financially successful. The obstacles you speek of are likely put there by the wealthy to protect their wealth. If you are so willing ro deny healthcare to anyone you might want to consider those individuals who cannot work (by law), or vote (by law), or speak for themselves- I mean children. First of all there are cities in the US with higher infant mortality rates than some less developed countries. Part of the reason is that the mothers of the infants cant afford quality pre and perinatal care because they dont have insurance. Then there are the people, the middle class, blue collar, working people who pay outrageous monthly rates (sometimes up to 10% of their wages -before taxes-) and then on top of that have to pay 2000-4000 dollars up front for major surgeries, emergency care, and treatments, plus copays and coinsurance that can add up to 40-50% of their yearly income if the illness is chronic. Then their are the people that are denied insurance because of their age, race, gender, past health history etc. Then there are the people “lucky” enough to have health insurance that get denied treatments for cancer, surgery, or basic quality of life, and yes even emergency care because of some loophole. Then you have to deal with the insurance company’s automatic denial policy which is well known.

    Healthcare isnt really healthcare, its a game played by the wealthy with the lives of the poor.

  13. Mark Wise said

    I guess I just don’t have the same belief in a vast wealthy person plan to hold everyone back. To me that would be counter productive to the wealthy holding onto their wealth. When people are poor, they are disenfanchised. Then they tend to start overthrowing those with wealth. Not to mention that poor people cannot buy things which means the wealthy will not be wealthy for long.

    I still believe in the American Dream where if you have the knowledge, the Drive, and make good decisions, then you can achieve your dreams regardless of what the wealthy say.

  14. Jon said

    I’m with Mark, especially on the college program remark. Obama himself has said, in a debate on C-SPAN, that he believed that every person in America should attend college, every person in America should have the same opportunities, etc. etc. This is THE BASIS OF MARXIST THEORY. I didn’t complete my own college education, but in my philosophy classes we discussed the Socialist ideas.

    And I think its funny, Mr. Coe, that anything that shows Obama’s liberal position is considered “bogus”. He’s been called the far left by his own supporters.

    And to Brian, who said “Thank God Obama has a conscience, and a goal to get the people back into government”…I disagree. Obama is not a man of the people, if he was he would acknowledge the 300,000 point difference between himself and Hillary in the popular vote. Our government has never been one that is about the people.

    And what exactly are Obama’s plans to help the mortgage crisis, Mr. Coe? Where is the evidence that there is anything solid, anything tangeable, in these plans. Obama has never taken the liberty of outlining these plans in his campaigns, instead deciding to play on the public’s desire for change by talking about bringing it. But how? HOW?

    Brian made the comment that our government has turned into something ran by the wealthy. It hasn’t TURNED INTO anything. It always was. ALWAYS. You can;t run for president unless you can get your hands on millions of dollars–how ridiculous is that? and Obama is forever bragging about the money his campaign has raked in, as if it’s important, and why? Because to him it is important. I fear for this country if Obama is elected.

  15. davidbcoe said

    Jon — This from Obama’s website on mortgage relief. The information is there. He has outlined it. You just haven’t taken the time out to look for it:

    >>Protect Homeownership and Crack Down on Mortgage Fraud
    Obama will crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders. He will also make sure homebuyers have honest and complete information about their mortgage options, and he will give a tax credit to all middle-class homeowners.

    Create a Universal Mortgage Credit: Obama will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide homeowners who do not itemize tax relief. This credit will provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.
    Ensure More Accountability in the Subprime Mortgage Industry: Obama has been closely monitoring the subprime mortgage situation for years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama’s STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity.
    Mandate Accurate Loan Disclosure: Obama will create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential borrowers with a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan.
    Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures: Obama will create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners. The fund will be partially paid for by Obama’s increased penalties on lenders who act irresponsibly and commit fraud.
    Close Bankruptcy Loophole for Mortgage Companies: Obama will work to eliminate the provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from modifying an individual’s mortgage payments. Obama believes that the subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by outdated federal law.<<

    And also to Jon: You say all this stuff about Obama, but you keep on claiming that you were an ardent Clinton supporter. She wanted to do more with health care than Obama. She has a more extensive (from a gov’t intrusion perspective) mortgage proposal. She has similar educational proposals. She is also just as eager to get out of Iraq as he (an issue you brought up in your first comment). Why is he the reincarnation of Marx but she isn’t? Or are you claiming to be a Hillary supporter but really are a lifelong
    Republican? It’s either that or you were woefully ignorant about the candidate you claim to have supported all this time.

    Mark: Health care for all Americans makes health care cheaper for all Americans. You should know this. When the uninsured go to Emergency rooms for care, we — you and I — wind up footing the bill. I’ve never heard anyone say that comprehensive health care should be earned somehow. That seems brutal to me. Free public education has been a cornerstone of American society for more than a century, so I guess by your definition we’re already a Marxist state. And I have always found it curious that people who are most vocal in proclaiming their patriotism also tend to be those who are most opposed to paying taxes. This is a great country. I LOVE this country. And I feel that if I have to pay a bit more to make this country great, and to bring the benefits of American citizenship (health care, education, etc.) to as many people as possible, so be it. But that’s just me….

    Look, we live in a country in which different people have different starting points in terms of wealth and opportunity. If we all started at the same place, with the same resources, I’d be willing to say that gov’t should keep out. But we don’t and I just don’t think that a child should be punished for having been born into a poorer family, or being an ethnic minority, or living in Watts instead of Beverly Hills. We’re better than that.

    Brian: You go, Dude! Thanks for having my back in this discussion!

  16. Jon said

    I’m completely aware of Hillary’s inadequacies, but in my mind what she has good outweighs what he has good. Definitely not a republican. and as for the education comments, my theory is some people just aren’t fit for college–not because of background or race or wealth, but because they just don’t belong. I started college, found I didn’t really belong, and so I joined the military–to pay back some of those loans :-D.

    I’m eager to see where the party is going and how exactly they plan to defeat McCain–the margin in the exit poles is so close a few slip-ups on Obama’s side will hand the election to McCain.

    Here’s hoping Hillary is on his ticket

  17. Jon said

    and yes, i meant polls 😀

  18. Frank said

    Very late to the discussion here, but:

    When did “Socialism” become a bad thing? I see “Pure Capitalism” as a really abhorrent thing on one end of the spectrum, and “Pure Communism” as a completely unattainable (or at least unsustainable) thing on the other end.

    “Socialism” is what I somehow got into my head as a happy medium between the two. It may not be what Marx had in mind, but when I hear “Socialism” I think of regulations designed to enforce a fair playing field.

    In the Capitalist Basketball game, there are no Referees – players bring their brass knuckles, spiked elbow pads, and if players die in the process, who cares. Only victory matters. Whichever team can afford the best performance-enhancing drugs wins. And each win brings more money, which brings more wins, until one team has a “monopoly” on basketball, and can just announce the score (1000 -0) in advance and the other teams are too scared to even dispute it.

    In the Communist Basketball Game, the players are all awarded an equal number of passes, rebounds, and points at the end of every game regardless of which players did well. All the points scored during the game are distributed equally between the two teams. The best players stop trying so hard to achieve anything, and eventually leave the league altogether. (Until walls are erected around the sportsplex to prevent them from leaving)

    The Socialist Basketball Game is like the one we have now. Competition is encouraged, but A BASE LEVEL OF FAIRNESS IS ENFORCED. The teams may not be even strength, but the more wealthy team isn’t allowed to have 14 players on the court, just because they can afford more, and a foul draws the same penalty whether it committed by the highest or lowest paid athlete in the league. The players don’t get to make their own rules; the rules are made by the governing body, and players can compete fiercely, but only within those limits! Is it “unfair” that those athletes with access to performance enhancing drugs be “prohibited from competing at their full potential”?

    That is what I hear when I hear “Socialism”. It’s basically what we have had in this country for several generations. I think America is hungry for a little more “Big Government”, as long as it one that is looking out for all of us, not just those who have their own lobbyists.

  19. davidbcoe said

    Well, there’s a very interesting analogy that I hadn’t heard before. I certainly agree that America hasn’t had true unbridled capitalism in more than a century, if we really ever had it at all. And I’m certain that if those on the right who complain about Big Government were exposed to capitalism in its truest form, they’d be horrified. Thanks very much for the post, Frank.

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