Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Setting The Record Straight

As you all know, I am supporting Barack Obama's campaign to be president. I have given his campaign money, I am volunteering my time, and I am telling everyone I know in every way I can that they should vote for him as I have (Illinois is a Super Tuesday state, but we have early voting of which I availed myself yesterday. I love voting, even in years when I don't have a strong opinion about the candidates, but I digress). I encourage anyone who is reading this who supports Barack Obama to do the same--every dollar helps, every vote counts, and even an hour of phone banking can help win delegates.

So as I talk to people, I have encountered a number of arguments against Barack Obama's candidacy. People who struck me as intelligent and well-informed, yet they seem to be swayed by sound bites and lies. My friends and family members have told me that they have encountered the same in their efforts. I have been emailing articles one by one to respond to the arguments. Then it occurred to me that some people who stumble upon this blog--not my six regular readers who, I hope, would feel comfortable emailing me with their concerns, but strangers who find this blog when doing google searches for "dipsy and sophie eat tubby custard"--who might choose to read what I write, but don't feel free to comment, may also be laboring under some misconceptions which I could clear up. Or rather, I could link you to articles written by people far smarter than myself which would help clear things up.

So, you say , stop babbling and get to the list.

1) Experience. For some reason, people have really bought into the notion that Barack Obama is inexperienced as compared with his other competitors in the democratic race. As detailed by Slate in this article and The New York Times in this article, this is not quite the case.

From the Slate article
Edwards served a single term in the Senate. Obama served eight years in the Illinois state Senate and is halfway through his first term in the U.S. Senate. Clinton is about to begin her eighth year in the U.S. Senate. Going by years spent as an elective official, Obama's 11 years exceeds Clinton's seven, which in turn exceeds Edwards' six. But it's a silly calculus. They all come out about the same, even when you factor in Clinton's youthful work on the House judiciary committee's impeachment inquiry, her membership on the board of the Legal Services Corp., her chairmanship of the Arkansas Educational Standards committee, her crafting of an unsuccessful national health-care bill, and her sharing Bill Clinton's bed most nights while he was Arkansas governor and president of the United States.
From the New York Times article
Those are the meaningful distinctions in the Democratic field, not Mrs. Clinton’s spurious claim to “35 years of experience.” The Democrats with the greatest Washington expertise — Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson — have already been driven from the race. And the presidential candidate left standing with the greatest experience by far is Mr. McCain; if Mrs. Clinton believes that’s the criterion for selecting the next president, she might consider backing him.

To put it another way, think which politician is most experienced today in the classic sense, and thus — according to the “experience” camp — best qualified to become the next president.

That’s Dick Cheney. And I rest my case.

2) Rezko. While one of his opponents famously has some questionable relationships with shady characters and real estate shenanigans to live down, I agree that Barack Obama, by setting himself up as a different sort of politician, needs to be clean and better than the rest. So what is the deal with Rezko? I encourage you to go read this post on Daily Kos which details and debunks the myth surrounding Barack Obama's ties to Tony Rezko and the factcheck.org post regarding this topic.

From the Daily Kos post

Obama has been honest about the mistake he made, and the fact that Rezko was trying to buy future influence with him. Obama declared, "I am the first one to acknowledge that it was a boneheaded move for me to purchase this 10-foot strip from Rezko, given that he was already under a cloud of concern. I will also acknowledge that from his perspective, he no doubt believed that by buying the piece of property next to me that he would, if not be doing me a favor, it would help strengthen our relationship." Obama’s mistake was in allowing the appearance of impropriety. He never actually did anything wrong. And that’s the key issue here.

Despite all of these rumors about Obama and Rezko, none of the evidence indicates any actual wrongdoing. Conservative Republican Tom Bevan called the evidence against Obama "pretty darn weak." Conor Clarke of the New Republic reported that Obama’s real estate deal with Rezko was a "nonscandal." According to Clarke, "journalists have followed the smoke and haven’t found the fire. At that point, accusing someone of something that looks wrong stops making sense."

3) His middle name is Hussein and the question of religion. Well, even if he were a Muslim, I don't consider that a reason not to vote for him. However, he is a Christian, he pledges allegiance to the flag, and he took his oath of office on a Bible like most other senators. The ridiculous email which says otherwise that is floating around has been debunked time and time again. I am shocked that so many people who would never dream of following up on the unsolicited stock tips or pleas for money from Nigerian royalty which appear in their bulk mail folder still believe this crap. Of course, when people who should know better fan the flames in insidious ways, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.

4) Feminism. This is so much an argument against Barack Obama as it is an argument for another candidate. I don't disagree that the time is long past due for a female president. However, I cannot buy the argument that we should vote for a candidate solely because she happens to be female. It isn't as if we don't currently have women in positions of political power (Governors in a number of states and the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, to name a few). I don't think this is our last chance to vote for a woman for President and, for that reason, I am unwilling to throw away my vote this year. Because I feel we have a rare opportunity in Barack Obama, that he is a candidate who transcends gender and race. And I would say all that if he happened to be a she. It seems as petty to reduce one's reasons for voting to matters of gender as people who would reduce it to matters of race. which brings me to

5) Race. No one has actually suggested to me that they aren't supporting Barack Obama because of his skin color. However, I sometimes suspect this is the underlying (perhaps even subconscious) reason for some people's desire to latch on to one of the above reasons. And really, I have no response. All I can do is ask the person to go to his website and learn about him.

6) The issues. Some people tell me they support another candidate based on the issues. I can't argue with that. However, I do encourage people to go to Barack Obama's website and learn where he stands on the issues. Because it isn't easy to get all the policy details in a speech or a debate and you certainly won't get them in a soundbite.

If anyone is still reading, I thank you for your indulgence. I hope I convinced you to vote for Barack Obama or that you may be able to use the links I provided to help convince someone you know to vote for him. Because I really mean it when I say that every single vote counts.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Carol said...

I was already convinced but I were on the fence, I think you would have persuaded me!

5:04 PM, January 31, 2008  
Blogger K said...

What Carol said! Well done ;-)

5:44 PM, January 31, 2008  

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