Click here for the premise of this list and #1-5.
Click here for #6-8.
At the risk of making this Obama supporter even more mad at me, here's the rest of my list of "How Obama lost me":
9. Rigidly opposing the surge
Obama's two main responses to being asked whether he was wrong on the surge (which you can see starting around 4:00 of this clip) are, to paraphrase:
- It didn't do what it was supposed to do.
- No one, not even Bush or McCain, expected it to achieve the positive results that it did.
If he wants to present himself as such a nuanced observer of the surge now, he should have taken a nuanced position back then. Instead, he seems to have opposed it without considering the possibility that it would work out.
I have very little understanding of the situation in Iraq, but I can understand this: if he got the surge right, he should explain why. He hasn't done so. If he got it wrong, he should be as blunt as John Edwards was in admitting he was wrong about whether to invade Iraq.
10. "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." (#87 in my campaign moments list)
This line -- from a speech Obama gave to the pro-Israel AIPAC in June -- was a worse foreign-policy gaffe than anything I've heard Sarah Palin say.
Robert Wright and Mickey Kaus -- both of whom, like me, are still supporting Obama despite lots of reservations about him -- give a very thorough explanation of why it was so awful:
11. Rev. Jeremiah Wright
I don't agree with all the attention and criticism Obama's pastor got, but that's water under the bridge. It was reckless of Obama to run for president, knowing he had something as explosive as this with the potential to tilt the election to the Republicans, and apparently do nothing to prepare for it.
He could have had a Sister Souljah moment by proactively distancing himself from Rev. Wright early on. He could have even done this out of the blue, before anything hit YouTube. And once the clips started circulating, he should have acted immediately and decisively. By dragging things out for weeks and weeks, he just delayed the inevitable reject-and-denounce, while making it look like a reluctant political calculation.
And lastly, of course...
I hate to say it, but he shouldn't have decided to run for president with just 2 years of qualifying experience.
I think I understand his calculation: he had the growing excitement around the beginning of the primaries, whereas if he'd waited around for years being a boring ol' senator, that might have eroded his luster. But he just should taken that gamble and run in 4, 8, or 12 years -- when he would have been in his 50s or just turning 60. It would have been worth it to be able to run as someone who's more fluent in policy, has more specific accomplishments to point to, and doesn't compel people to doubt whether he's "ready."
So, that's my list. To be clear, none of this is reason enough for me not to vote for Obama. Every candidate has a slew of flaws, and I think McCain's are worse. There are the staggering self-reinvention and flip-flops, which dwarf anything I've seen from Obama. There's his refusal to admit that invading Iraq turned out to be a bad idea. There's his painfully shallow understanding of economics. There's his "How dare you question my integrity or righteousness -- I was a POW!" attitude, which makes Bush look humble by comparison.
And yes, there's his age. Of course I think people in their 70s can handle serious jobs. I have no problem with, say, an 80- or 90-year-old judge, as long as they're able. But being president is a uniquely stressful and demanding job, so I do have a problem with an 80-year-old president (which is what McCain will be if he has a full, successful presidency). The idea that this is somehow offensive or taboo is ludicrous. The stakes are just too high to worry about offending people.
I haven't gotten to read all the comments on this list yet, but I might have an update once I do. Thanks for all the civil discussion.
And thanks to the many bloggers (and one Twitterer) who linked to this list and made it almost certainly my most-read content yet -- I've gotten about 20,000 visits since I started the list on Monday, compared with about 60,000 total visits to this blog. Thanks especially to Instapundit and my mom.