Observations on Iowa

Romney and Clinton

Huckabee and Obama

Why pair them so? Simply put, they are cut from the same cloth. Romney and Clinton are craven, calculating and vacillate with the political winds. Huckabee and Obama do not. They actually listen to questions, think and then answer. Romney and Clinton aren't listening so much as screening for key words in the question(s) which trigger their brains to spit out response #2,413 with the appropriately associated platitudes. The mere look of Romney makes me queasy. He is the quintessential blow-dried, coiffed, manicured and buffed politician. I've heard little of what he says and trusted none of what little I've heard. Hillary has been foisting platitudes since the mid-90's. It was enough to get New Yorkers to elect her as Senator. (A feat which, to this day, makes me feel ashamed of my birthplace. That the denizens of Gotham, who are supposed to be the most jaded people on earth would roll over for a carpetbagging Southerner who had no love for, and no connection to New York is mind boggling.)

Huckabee and Obama represent a different type of candidate. The Thoughtful Candidate. The gulf between the two groups is so glaring it's hard to unsee it once you've seen it.

Leaving Huckabee aside for a moment, I have to comment on Obama. Initially I wrote him off as a lightweight with little experience and little to offer. If you'll pardon a pun, the darkest of dark horses. But I noticed something. Whenever someone asked him a question, he got a peculiar look on his face that was absent on the faces of this competitors. He looked...pensive. Studying the other faces in the Democrat debates I could see they weren't listening so much as waiting to talk. As mentioned above candidates have become nearly automatons who have been drilled by handlers and specialists to deliver key words and phrases in response to other key words and phrases. The purest examples in this race are Clinton and Guiliani. Joe Biden is wrong about many things but dead right that Guiliani's every sentence consists of a noun, a verb, and 9/11. Frankly his overuse serves only to cheapen that day and the victims. Clinton's clamoring for "change" is equally galling. How in Gaia's name can she claim to be the candidate of "change"? Why, because she's not George Bush? Really? At every turn she cites her time in the White House as experience. She's "retconning" her time as First Lady to make it seem as if she was some sort of Oracle to be consulted in difficult times. If her numbers continue to tank she'll probably "slip" and talk about her "last term in office".

(Frankly we've had 20 years of the Bush and Clinton families in office and this is getting embarrassing. Banana republics have politically dynastic families not us.)

I'm off track...back to Obama....

I don't think he'll be what I want in a President but I think he has the potential to be a really good one. In a refreshing change, he's a Democrat who speaks of hope and a bright future. Usually Democrats are doomsayers in order to convince you they need to expand the power and scope of the Federal government to fix things and that'll be OK because rich people will pay for it and it will be bread and circuses for everyone else.

He isn't the Nutroots candidate. In fact, they're actively against him because he's taken oblique shots at them in the past. He's openly seeking bipartisan government. An end to the shrill and shrieking Harry Reids, Nancy Pelosis and yes, Republicans like Ted Stevens et al. Frankly, we need it. The political has become the personal so any attack on political ideas is seen as a personal affront. That's not healthy.

He annoys all the right people. Bigots, Rush Limbaugh, Establishment Democrats, Nutroots, and so on. The list is long but nearly anything that annoys this group makes me smile.

He's smart enough for the job but not arrogant enough to think he knows everything.

He's strikes me as the guy who will hire people smarter than he is and listen when the speak. Even more so, if they disagree with him.

He's not a political triangulator. He doesn't reposition and repurpose himself.

Any attacks (to my knowledge) have been substantive and not personal.

Where I disagree:

Obama supports "fair" trade. "Fair trade" is usually a indication that Democrats intend to determine fair market value for things. I believe that free trade is fair trade. Anything else is monkeying around with the market. Caveat: judging by what I see on his website it appears he's using the term to mean forcing open foreign markets which may/may not have some merit

He also means to support investment in domestic manufacturing. This is economically a non-starter. Reducing labor costs is one of the prime factors that determine where you make your products. Chinese workers get paid $.057 per hour which is 3% of what US manufacturing workers make. You'd have to add 97% to your labor costs to produce the same goods here. That is going to make your product way way more expensive than the Chinese import.

Raising the minimum wage. Enough already. Minimum wage laws are price controls and self-defeating. They create unemployment.

There are others but they're largely vague ideas and not hideously expensive. Much of what is listed on the site wouldn't even make it to a vote in Congress let alone law.

In sum: If the Democrats nominate Obama I will, for the first time in memory, not be really really worried about Democrats driving the bus. Hell, I might even rest easy.


Obama is not a Democrat I could vote for. I just don't agree with enough of his policies. But given time I could probably respect him.

I have to disagree on Huckabee though. I've seen him use the same tricks as the other candidates. He answers the questions that he wants to answer, not the ones that are actually asked.
mkfreeberg said…
I see Obama as the opposite of John Kerry.

If you're Burt Reynolds in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and you ask Governor John Kerry whether he'll close down the chicken ranch, he'll say yes. Then no. Then yes then no. Then no, then yes, then no, then yes...and then that Texas deserves no less than a chicken ranch in the open/closed state that makes the most sense, and he has always been consistent on this back to Day One.

Kerry's secret was that a pro-close-chicken-coop guy could be listening to him, and somewhere in the response hear exactly the answer that was wanted. And anti-close-chicken-coop guy -- same thing. Somewhere in what Kerry said, is exactly the answer that was wanted. Everybody hears what they want.

Where Kerry gives both possible answers to any issue that comes along, Obama gives none. He'll just look pensive for a couple seconds, and then give you a measured, composed answer that says nothing about the subject at hand.

Again, both sides hear exactly what they want. But Obama, Mister Platitude, won't actually commit himself to anything. So nobody knows what his position is, but they'll all get lost in this "aw, give the kid a chance" nonsense.

He ends up being more dangerous than politicians like Kerry, because unlike Kerry he's not actually on record in any way. He can just smile, close the door, pass out cigars, and make whatever backroom deals he wants to.
The Last Ephor said…
Freeberg, I think you're using kid gloves here and you think I've been bamboozled by a huckster.

I take his positions from his website. Granted they are broad outlines of what he'd like to accomplish but that's to be expected. There isn't going to be step by step instructions. He even knows that some of these are not attainable.

One of us is right. Either I am and Obama is a straight shooter (largely) and seeks to govern with as much bipartisanship as he can muster or you are and he's the greatest snakeoil salesman. Better than Slick Willy and that's saying something.

At this point he has the momentum. It's still very early and the tides will likely change but if he keeps this up it will be his to lose.
mkfreeberg said…
One of us is right. Either I am and Obama is a straight shooter (largely) and seeks to govern with as much bipartisanship as he can muster or you are and he's the greatest snakeoil salesman.

Robert, love ya to death & all, but this is not a straight shooter.
The Last Ephor said…
Call it a momentary lapse into post modernism. I'd argue that he was trying to be overly clever and esoteric and thereby convince people of his intellect. Folly of youth mayhaps.
Anonymous said…
Great analogy. You caused me to take a harder look at Obama. Listeners vrs sayers. Great comparison.

Popular posts from this blog

Know your place, chappy.

The false dichotomy of Ukraine or Russia