Tag Archives: Obama ’08

'80 vs. '08?

Looking at the current Presidential election, I can’t help thinking of parallels with the 1980 Presidential election. Not that I remember a whole lot, since I was 12 years old at the time and more caught up in other interests besides politics, but I’ve read some history on line and I do have some memories. Consider:

  • In both years the incumbent party was saddled with a major international crisis involving the Middle East; Carter and the Democrats were facing scorn for their handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, and this year Bush and the Republicans can’t seem to get out from under the shadow of the Iraq war.
  • In both years, the main challenger to the incumbent party had a well-run and well-executed campaign, while the incumbent party’s campaign was disorganized and shoddy.
  • In both years, the main challenger was an unlikely candidate. Ronald Reagan was an actor, for crying out loud, and even though he’d served as governor of California, he was still better known as an actor, not a politician. And Barack Obama will very likely go down in history as the nation’s first African American president.
  • In both years, the incumbent party was reduced to nothing but negative campaigning. I seem to recall that Carter’s ads toward the end of the campaign focused pretty much on the fact that Reagan was an actor, not a politician. I’ve seen ads from that period and they’re pretty nasty. In 1980 this tactic arguably led to a landslide victory for Reagan, and McCain’s negative advertising will very likely lead to a landslide victory for Obama (according to many sources and in my own humble opinion).
  • Reagan seemed to be made of Teflon, and Obama does as well. And not just Teflon, but Teflon infused with heavy amounts of rubber. Not only are McCain’s charges against Obama not sticking, but they’re bouncing back and sticking to McCain himself.
  • Finally, in both years the challenger brought with them a positive message about change and renewal. Reagan’s slogan was “It’s morning in America”, and Obama’s is the inspiring “Change we can believe in”.

I’m not a political scientist or analyst by any means. These are just some random thoughts I had, and I’m interested in some feedback.

More glass houses, more stones

First of all, a message from Governor Palin to the AIP:

Now, a little bit of history:

Vogler’s greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States “tyranny” before the entire world and to demand Alaska’s freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

Yep, Iran. As in, “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran!” Of course, it’s not particularly relevant that Iran supported Vogler’s speech, but neither is it particularly relevant that Obama sat on the same board of education that Ayers was a member of (a board which many Republicans sat on as well).

So, if we’re going to play the “Guilt by association with folks who long ago were terrorists”, why not throw this one into the mix? Because the AIP no longer supports the violent overthrow of the Federal government? So what? Ayers doesn’t either. I’ve already mentioned that I don’t approve of this sort of blame throwing, but as the McCain/Palin campaign continues their strategy of “Don’t vote for the terrorist! He’s going to eat your babies!”, I think it’s important to know who’s saying it.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Sarah Palin.

(Via Boing Boing, via the Jed Report, via Salon.)

McCain/Palin: Afraid of the issues, telling more lies.

…and while I'm at it (more politics)

May I just say that Palin’s other new tactic — implying that women who don’t vote for her are going to Hell — utterly unimpressive, and downright offensive? I suspect most of the women I know would feel the same. “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t support other women,” Palin said, quoting Madeline Albright. Although Albright — one of the most distinguished Secretaries of State that the US has had in recent decades — never actually said that. What she said was, “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women.”

It’s also a very curious tactic, coming from someone who, as former mayor of the town of Wasilia, voted against a measure that would have made the police pay for rape kits and leaving that burden with the victims, and who seems to be opposed to a number of ideals which are demonstrably good for women, including proper sex education and legal abortion.

More glass houses, more stones.

Political Playing Cards

I wonder if McCain really listens to himself when he talks, or does he, like Peter Griffin, just sort of drift in and out every now and then? More to the point, does he listen to Palin?

The McCain/Palin ticket, languishing in the polls at 42-50, has announced that they’re going to go really negative and attack Obama’s character. I guess they didn’t take into account the fact that announcing their new strategy gives the Obama campaign — never ones to let something like this slide — a chance to launch a pre-emptive counterstrike. Before McCain’s new set of ads come out, Obama’s campaign has already launched an ad emphasizing McCain’s erratic behavior during the recent economic crisis. Expect Obama to put out more such ads.

Meanwhile, Palin has decided to play the terrorist card, attacking Obama’s association with William Ayers, one of the founding members of the Weather Underground. Never mind that Ayers has been, since the 60’s, a respected professor of philosophy and an ardent politician (having worked closely with the Chicago mayor’s office to bring about school reform, for example), or that Obama’s association with Ayers was limited to working on two fundraising boards with him and living in the same neighborhood. These facts are supposed to be irrelevant; the point is, Palin insists, that Obama was “palling around” with terrorists.

Well, okay, I suppose that’s fine. But if they’re going to play the terrorist/anti-American card, they should expect to have it played back at them. For example, there’s John McCain’s association with G. Gordon Liddy, one of the men convicted of crimes surrounding Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Liddy served four years for his crime, and extolled more crimes in the name of subverting the Constitution. Said scandal, of course, led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. Liddy is now a conservative radio host, and McCain and Liddy apparently have a close relationship. Of course, Liddy’s radicalism never led to more than a breakin and time served.

Then, of course, there’s Palin’s association with the Alaskan Independence Party. The McCain/Palin campaign has delivered Palin’s voter registration history, showing that she was never a member of the party, but so what? Obama was never a member of the Weather Underground, but that hasn’t stopped Palin. Joe Vogler, founder of the AIP, made a number of statement extolling his hatred of the federal government and the “damn flag”. Palin was never a member, but the fact is her husband was a member for seven years, and she herself contributed to them.

Personally, I don’t care. Ayers’s radical past is behind him. Liddy has served his time. Palin’s association with the AIP ended several years ago. People and their ideologies change, and what matters in an election is the candidate and who they are now. Are any Republicans ever going to disallow Lieberman because he once embraced Democratic ideals? No, I didn’t think so.

Glass houses, stones. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Why I'm voting for Barack Obama (a brief note)

The world is a complicated place, and become more and more complicated every day. Communications technologies are still growing. Many resources, and not just fossil fuels, are becoming scarce (millions face a serious lack of drinking water, not to mention food). With Russia expanding their muscles again and ongoing threats in Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, diplomacy is becoming more and more important. The global economy is becoming more complicated and more interdependent. Medical and biotechnological advances are coming so rapidly that keeping up with them is almost impossible. More and more nations are developing viable space programs. And the threat of terrorism remains real for most of the world.

With increasing complexity comes a need for increasing flexibility, and better ways of leveraging the knowledge and technologies that we have. For the United States to remain relevant in the increasingly complicated world, we need to be flexible, to look at new ideas, and to work cooperatively with the other nations of the world to solve the problems that face everyone on the planet.

For eight years, we’ve been burdened with an Administration which has gleefully placed the interests of corporations above science, which has eschewed diplomacy as viable alternatives to warfare, has blatantly ignored the wishes of the international community, and broken a once strong economy with obsolete “trickle down” and supply side economic policies. The old ways of doing things don’t work anymore, haven’t really worked for decades; heck, if nothing else, Vietnam should have proven to the government that the old ways of war simply don’t work. The Bush administration has also degraded our nation’s moral standing in the international community. While we were once an inspiration for human rights organizations throughout the world, we have increasingly become their target, with the prison camps at Guatanamo, illegal wiretapping and pardons for the corporations involved, and interrogation techniques which are broadly understood to be torture (regardless of any rhetoric about waterboarding). Our nation has an obscenely high poverty rate, an unforgivably high rate of illiteracy, and a health care system which is leaving more and more Americans inadequately covered, not to mention an income gap that even Alan Greenspan admits is a growing problem.

My point is this: I believe that the Bush administration, and the Republican party in general, represent older models of how to deal with the increasingly complex problems which face the nation and the world (because with increasing international communications and travel, the world’s problems are undeniably ours as well). If continued, these models will simply decrease our nation’s relevance and exacerbate problems that could be solved. Relying on a “free market” approach to the economy has proven disastrous. John McCain, who has voted with President Bush and who yet maintains that he is a “maverick” and “reform oriented” (as if there has been any significant political reform in our country since 1787), has demonstrated a commitment to these older models. I believe that keeping such models in place is simply burying one’s head in the sand, ignoring how much more complicated the world is becoming.

Barack Obama has, I believe, demonstrated a level of intelligence and an open-mindedness which I believe will better meet these challenges, restore our nation’s moral standing, and acknowledge that the old ways of handling problems will simply no longer work. He’s not my ideal candidate; in some ways he’s far too conservative for my tastes. But by demonstrating a commitment to, for example, hiring a science advisor who is not beholden to any corporate interests, facing problems of the health care crisis, and increasing the role of diplomacy in working with the other nations of the world, I think he is better suited to lead our nation forward. Heck, of all the candidates I’ve seen, Obama is the only one who has not flat out denied that our nation still has a problem with race relations.

This is why I have chosen to vote for Barack Obama. He will, in my opinion, be more prepared to lead our country in the direction it needs to go. John McCain, no matter how many mooseburgers his running mate may have eaten from moose she’s killed herself, is simply unprepared for that challenge.