Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Endorsement

I had one of those "only in America" moments last Saturday. We went to a show put on by the local barbershop music chorus, a group you could only describe as "old". What caught my eye was that one member of the chorus bore more than a slight resemblance to those Neanderthal guys who turn up in the GEICO commercials. He was dressed the same as the others - gaudily old-fashioned, and sang along, but his long hair and beard certainly stuck out. His age was unknowable. It was as though a werewolf had joined the chorus and everyone had decided he was a swell fellow since he paid his dues and only attacked strangers after practice. The show? It depends on how you like barbershop music.

Now for the subject at hand. If my mother were alive, she would vouch that I have followed politics and elections for over 50 years. I studied political science, though I never earned a dime from that choice. Of course, like anyone else who brags about how long he's been blah blah blah, I could be wrong.
Elections are about the future, and the future frequently turns out to be different from the campaign view of what we think it will be. In 1960, Kennedy and Nixon debated the future of two small islands off the Chinese coast held by the Nationalists. Forty-eight years later, the status of these two islands is unchanged. By contrast, the 2000 campaign contained almost no mention of a nasty group governing Afghanistan known as the Taliban. No one at all made the possibility of economic crisis an issue in the last campaign two years ago.
We hire a president mainly for one thing - making good decisions. He makes so many that some are bound to be bad, but if he makes enough good ones it will make up for other weaknesses, such as being a mediocre speaker. Of course, he can call on all types of folks for advice, but is correctly held responsible for the decisions.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that I think the Bush administration has brought us a cascade of bad decisions, but Bush isn't a candidate. The two who remain at the top of the two major party tickets are both US Senators, a rare circumstance.
Senator Barack Obama has done some impressive things in his life. Top of his class at the Harvard Law School, author of two well-regarded books, with first-hand familiaity with city life as a community organizer in Chicago and a background that emphasizes different parts of the country and the world. His election as a senator four years ago was not versus heavyweight competition, but his presidential campaign victory over Hillary Clinton and a handful of other Democrats was extremely impressive. Taking the best shots his opponents could offer, he really hasn't suffered more than a couple of nicks and cuts, nor has he given in to replying to attacks with negative shots that misfired. The one item that's hard to contradict is that, at 47, he's much younger than the typical presidential candidate, and his opponents have naturally tried to exploit that.
Senator John McCain has been a Senate fixture since the early 80's. His reputation has been that of an independent Republican, unafraid to go his own way. His life history, warts and all, is well known to most Americans. He made a strong run at the GOP nomination for president in 2000, but was elbowed out of the way by some rough treatment from the Bush folks. He has consistently voted with Bush the last eight years, although he has tried to distance himself from the administration during the last phase of the campaign. His comeback over a full field of competitors during the Primary season was impressive, but he is now the oldest major candidate for president ever at 72.
So, who would make better decisions? Obama has come under fire for past relationships with a handful of characters whom GOP elites frown on, but no one can seem to come up with much that Obama's done that's actually hurt anyone. McCain, I believe, has made two errors that reflect poorly. His pick of Sarah Palin as running mate was both unexpected and, as things now look, a poor choice to independents and moderate voters. McCain had pledged to run a campaign free of the negative accusations we've come to be familiar with, but later gave way to a 100% negative TV ad strategy.
I admit that I would probably be backing the Democrat anyway, since I've now thought of myself as a political liberal for decades, but I truly feel that the country needs major changes that could best be implemented by a younger administration that owes nothing to the proven failure of the Bush debacle. Nothing against Mr. McCain, a person who has served the country well, but I don't put any faith in the popgun attacks his campaign has made on Obama. Barak Obama will learn from the mistakes he no doubt will make, but we can't base our national future on nothing but tax cuts for those already making the highest incomes. My vote goes to Obama.


Anonymous CF said...

As does my vote. Obama earned my vote for many reasons. It is hard for me to say those reasons in words. Not because I don't have specific reasons but because my fear of stating my reasons incorrectly outweighs my desire to say them at all.

At any rate I have never been more proud to stand behind a candidate. If I believed in placing bumper stickers on my car I would certainly feel proud to have a Barack Obama sticker along for the ride.

12:42 PM  

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