Obama? Really!? Sigh…

Posted on June 3rd, 2008 in Politics by EngineerBoy

President ObamaFirst, a disclaimer:  I am not a true believer for any side, team, party, PAC, religion, or single-issue demographic.  My political and social views include both “Conservative” and “Liberal” policies, I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat, and I have no need for the President to be an older, white male.  I love America, I revere the Constitution, I think our three-branch system of government is the work of genius, and I’ve been around long enough to know that the pendulum always swings one way, then back the other way – all you have to do is wait long enough.

I also think that it’s time for a change, and that the current administration has been arguably the worst in the last 75 years.  Bush came from the oil bidness, Cheney came from the defense contracting world, and after 8 years of Bush/Cheney which two industries have had record, burgeoning profits as a direct result of the actions of this administration?  When these last two terms are studied by future generations they will scarcely believe that we, the people, stood idly by during these deadly, absurdly obvious shenanigans.

But now that era is over.  And while McCain is a reasonably competitive nominee, I don’t think there is any way the American people will put the Republicans back in charge.  So that means that the Democratic nominee will be our next president, barring a major scandal or some other Act of God/Rove.  And as of today, the Associated Press has called the Democratic race for Barack Obama.  This means that as long as he avoids mistakes, he is virtually assured of being the next President of the United States.

Yes, Hillary could continue to fight.  She could run as an Independent, which could put the election in McCain’s hands.  She could take the fight to the convention and end up poisoning the public on the Democrats altogether.  However, as much of a street fighter as she is, I don’t see her going so far as to risk putting the Republicans back in charge in order to win a Pyrrhic victory.

So, it’s going to be President Barack Obama.  And I’m scared.

Why am I scared?  Not because he’s black.  I don’t think he’s a secret Muslim.  I don’t care if he wore a lapel pin or put his hand on his heart.  My issue is that he’s an almost complete unknown, and the things that are known about him seem to be in conflict with the public persona he has created around his campaign, as follows:

 

  • His message of “Hope” and “Change”.  Well, hope is what losers have right up until the final out, and change can be good or it can be bad.  It worries me both that he would choose such ephemeral slogans, and also that the American voting public fell for it.  I “hope” the “change” he brings is for the better.
  • His portrayal as a political outsider.  A big part of Obama’s message is that McCain and Hillary represent the old guard, the political insiders, and that Obama represents a fresh, new wind that exists outside of politics-as-usual.  However, trace back the rise of Barack Obama, and if you’re like me (and not from Illinois) the first time you heard of him was when he was tapped to give the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention.  And when you’re a junior, one-term Senator and your party taps you to give the keynote address at the national convention, you are, by definition, a political insider.
  • His lack of a proven track record.  I will freely acknowledge that Barack Obama could turn out to be a great president.  However, he could also turn out to be a horrible president.  The issue is that he is a blank slate, and voters are able to project their own hopes and dreams onto him, because he’s never had to really do anything or take any stands.  He’s like a new-found infatuation who has never disappointed us – it’s so easy to dream of the perfect relationship.  But all relationships must mature, bills have to be paid, children raised, daily challenges faced.  And while he is undeniably charming, handsome, and articulate, we simply don’t know enough about Obama to know if he can be a dependable head of the household when it comes time to deal with the day-to-day grind and the long-term strategic planning necessary to be a successful leader.
  • Obama SmokingHis smoking.  Does smoking show the level of character and long-term decision-making ability we want in a national leader?  Do we want our children to be able to say to us, “Why shouldn’t I smoke, the President does!??”  Obama claims to have quit smoking during the primaries, but that just makes it worse, in my opinion.  So, he smoked up until the time that it could hurt him politically, then quit?  So does that mean that, as president, he will do things that are harmful in the long-term and will only quit when it threatens him politically in the short-term?
  • His wacky church and preacher(s).  On the one hand, you can say that Barack Obama is not responsible for what the preacher says at his church.  On the other hand, you can say that when it worked to his advantage, Obama was very happy to have the support of Reverend Wright and the Trinity Church.  And then when Wright and the church became a liability, Obama quickly distanced himself and quit the church.  I’m not saying that makes Obama any worse than any other politician.  In fact, I’m saying it makes him exactly like most other politicians, and not some squeaky-clean, fresh-faced outsider riding into town to clean things up.  Also, if I were a betting man I’d have to say that I think Obama is an atheist, or at best an agnostic, but that he keeps up his church-going because there’s no way to advance politically in this country if you aren’t overtly Christian.  So, that makes him a hypocrite, in my opinion.  You may condemn me for calling him a hypocrite over something I can’t possibly know, but, c’mon, don’t you also think he’s a non-believer, or at least a doubter?
  • His “no-lobbyists” bullshit.  Obama’s campaign makes a lot of noise about not taking money from lobbyists.  The funny thing is, that message is being delivered in part by his top strategist David Axelrod, who owns a political consulting firm in Chicago that specializes in “astroturfing”, which is double-speak for creating fake grass-roots movements to support big businesses.  For example, his firm launched Citizens Organized for Reliable Electricity (CORE) using money from Commonwealth Edision, an Ohio utility company.  CORE ran a scare campaign that warned that if a rate hike was not granted for ComEd then Ohio could face California-like electrical blackouts.  CORE was not grassroots and didn’t represent people, it represented ComEd trying to get higher revenues, but masqueraded as a grass-roots group of concerned citizens.  That, my friends, is lobbying.  Also, Obama accepts donations from the spouses of lobbyists, and from individual employees of lobbying firms who aren’t personally registered as lobbyists.  Also, any lobbyist can (and have, and do) join the Obama campaign or donate to the cause simply by de-registering as a lobbyist (and then simply re-registering later when it’s more politically expedient).  If you’re going to throw out the lobbyists, throw them out, don’t use sleight-of-hand to try to fool us.  Again, no different from any/all other politicians, but not really in keeping with Obama’s claim to be the clean and pure outsider.
  • His annoying wife.  I don’t really know Michelle Obama, and she might be a great person, personally.  But so far she hasn’t figured out how to be the likely first lady.  How is she annoying?  Well, she’s very focused on minority issues and equal rights, which is great – but she has an all-female staff.  I guess men are fair game for discrimination?  She has also done a lot of work in the public sector, and comes across as a hybrid mom-slash-public-servant.  However, until very recently she was also a paid board member of TreeHouse Foods, a huge supplier for Wal-Mart, and she only resigned after her husband made some anti-Wal-Mart comments at a union rally.  Now, how well does it fit with Barack Obama’s public persona that his wife was a board member for a major supplier for a low-wage-paying, benefit-denying, small-town-destroying, union-busting, borg-ship-like retailer like Wal-Mart?  Again, I’m not saying that in-and-of-itself it is wrong to profit from supplying Wal-Mart.  However, I’m saying that it’s very annoying when you try to mold your public persona into that of a caring public servant focused on changing the world, when you were actually part of the status-quo machine until it became politically expedient to change your stripes.
  • His connections to Zbigniew Brzezinski.  Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, he helped arm the mujaheddin in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets (the mujaheddin later became the Taliban and sheltered al Qaeda), was a founding member of the Trilateral Commission (along with David Rockefeller, Alan Greenspan, and Paul Volcker), is/was part of the ultra-secretive Bilderberg Group, worked in the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., has been a board member for Amnesty International and The Council on Foreign Relations, and has generally been involved in most major world affairs from the 1960’s until the present.  He is one of the ultimate insiders, definitely part of of the world political machine – a mover and shaker.  He’s “them”…he’s “they”…one of the men behind the screen that influence and control geopolitics like puppetmasters.  And guess what?  He was an instructor at Columbia University when Barack Obama was a student.  And now he’s Obama’s foreign policy advisor.  And Brzezinski’s son Mark is also an Obama advisor.  So, tell me again how Obama is an outsider who’s coming in to bring hope and change and a bright, shiny new America for us all?

There’s more, but they aren’t as important as the above list.  The bottom line is that Barack Obama is almost a complete unknown, and what is known about him is wildly at odds with his publicly crafted and marketed persona as a pure outsider.  He *could* be a good, or even great, President.  However, I think the Democratic Party has taken another swing at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, because they are making a very risky wager – that Barack Obama can come from nowhere and become the most powerful person on the face of the earth, based on a couple of years in the US Senate, good looks, great speech-writers, oratorical genius, and a shell-shocked American voting public looking for a savior.

Four years from now I will happily come back here and post a mea culpa if Barack Obama is able to deliver.  I don’t dislike him, and I don’t know that he won’t be a good President.  However, after eight years of Bush/Cheney/Rove I think the American voters should have chosen a more known, stable leader, and not rolled the dice on the sweet-talking stranger in town.  As always, America courts both greatness and failure – let’s hope we get lucky this time.

3 Responses to 'Obama? Really!? Sigh…'

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  1. Mimi said,

    on April 11th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Now that the fat lady has sung and we do now have Barack Obama as our President there is no sense in rehashing engineerboy’s comments however I would like to say that you should take into account the following:

    When Americans go to cast their ballots (if they are facing the truth) they can only pick the candidate they feel is the lest of the evils that are running for whatever office they are running for.

    On one other point – the Obama/Clinton war of words about each other during their two year campaigns and his following all of that nastiness should say something about Obama and Clinton – especially since Obama then turned around and made her part of his administration – they showed that they don’t even like each other and we are supposed to believe that they can work as a team.

  2. jayjay said,

    on September 12th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    wow… the smoking part is all i read and can understand how some americans think…. pathetic…

  3. EngineerBoy said,

    on September 15th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    jayjay,

    To be fair, I don’t claim that my opinions stated here are necessarily representative of all Americans, just me (and potentially some subset of the general American public).

    Scott

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