Monday, September 22, 2008

How Obama lost me

In September 2004, my mom (Ann Althouse) posted "How Kerry lost me." She never particularly supported Kerry, and she ended up voting for Bush. She didn't mean "How Kerry lost me" as in "Why I stopped being a supporter" -- she just meant how she went from open-minded about him to turned off from him.

I'm not usually explicit about my political preferences on this blog, so I want to be clear: I've supported Obama since I watched his announcement in early 2007 with excitement, I voted and caucused for him in the Texas primacaucus, and I'm going to vote for him in November.

So in what sense did he "lose me"? As with my mom's "How Kerry lost me," I haven't gone from supporter to non-supporter. What I mean is that I used to hold these beliefs:

  • I thought he was clearly, dramatically preferably to Hillary Clinton.

  • I thought he was virtually the dream candidate for 2008, with the obvious but overlookable exception of his thin resume.

I now believe that I was wrong. Specifically:
  • He's probably better than Hillary would have been, but it's at least really close, and I'm even open to the idea that she would have been better.

  • I still support Obama, but not particularly more strongly than I'd be supporting any other mainstream Democratic candidate who was the nominee.

  • He's just not a good enough candidate. Democrats are entitled to feel very disappointed about this.
It's taken me a long time to get to this point because there's no single issue or moment that decisively turned me off from him.

Rather, it's a long list of things that add up to the "He's not good enough" conclusion. Here are the ones that most stand out to me:

[UPDATE: The list is now finished, with part 2 here and part 3 here.

1. "It's not surprising that they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations." (#28 in my list of campaign moments, by the way)

It's not the "bitter" part that bothers me. In hindsight, this was a tactless choice of words, but not worth devoting days of media coverage to.

The "cling" part is what bothers me. There's no context that justifies this; it's simply unacceptable for an American presidential candidate to put on the record any kind of negative comment about people clinging to guns and especially religion. How could he have possibly thought it was a good idea to list "religion" along with "antipathy towards people who aren't like them," as if both of these things were part of some larger problem with middle America? (And if he didn't realize all this was going on the record, in the age of blogs and YouTube, he should have.)

This comment alone has given people grounds to doubt the sincerity of his politically convenient conversion to Christianity as an adult. I don't personally care what his religious views are, but a lot of voters obviously do care and doubt whether he's really a Christian.


2. His answer about "evil" in Rick Warren's Saddleback Forum

I'm sure this kind of analysis -- focusing on moral equivalence and the need for American "humility" -- goes over well at elite liberal cocktail parties, but he's supposed to know to avoid that image. He should have realized that McCain would turn the question into a question about defeating terrorism. There's no benefit to ceding moral clarity to McCain on that issue.


3. Saying he would personally meet with dictators in his first year without preconditions

Everyone knows that Hillary got this right and Obama got it wrong. When he was asked about it after the debate, he should have been humble enough to admit that he wasn't paying enough attention to the details in the question when he gave an unqualified "yes" answer. Instead, he's subjected us to tortured explanations for why he really did have the right answer. He seems to have based a whole foreign-policy plank on standing up to Hillary and McCain's taunts about this gaffe!


4. I think he got a bad rap for supposedly flip-flopping and moving to the center immediately after he clinched the nomination, but his timing and PR could hardly have been worse.

And what did he get out of it? Very little, as far as I can see.

How many voters still remember the nuances of his positions on various Supreme Court decisions? How many voters are truly upset about his utterly innocuous comment about being willing to "refine" his Iraq policy based on talking to military commanders about the changing circumstances? Probably not many anymore, since ... circumstances in Iraq have changed, which would force any rational president to ... refine their Iraq policy!

It's not Obama's fault that the media -- and, let's face it, the voters -- have an unrealistic expectation that a candidate should be able to sum up a clear foreign policy in the form of simple soundbites that don't change for years. Obama is smart enough to know that foreign policy doesn't work like that, and his only gaffe was letting it slip that he understands that things are more complex than the media or the people would like them to be. So I'm basically sympathetic to Obama on this. But he let McCain and the media run away with the narrative instead of taking charge of his own narrative.


5. The Palin pick seemed to catch them utterly by surprise.

My mom was gearing up for the Palin pick well in advance (blog post, Bloggingheads video clip). Lots of other pundits and bloggers were gearing up for the Palin pick. So why wasn't the Obama campaign gearing up for the Palin pick?


Continued here.

65 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

Nice post. I'm a regular reader of your mom's blog.

I'm voting for McCain, partially for the reasons I just listed on MY blog.

Best, Kirby Olson

American Liberal Elite said...

Thoughtful post. I too am an Obama supporter on the verge of bolting. Only SP and McCain's flip-flops are keeping me in the Obama camp.

Anonymous said...

"The "cling" part is what bothers me. There's no context that justifies this; it's simply unacceptable for an American presidential candidate to put on the record any kind of negative comment about people clinging to guns and especially religion. "

Is it just the fact that he said it that bothers you? Just the fact that he politically hurt himself, not the fact that this is what he believes?

The problem for Obama is that in his heart, he doesn't feel affinity for America as the great majority of Americans feel about it. He truly is a man of the left edge of the left wing - his parents and grandfather were very strong leftists, his mentors were black nationalists and leftwing thinkers. The reason he won't sing the national anthem or put his hand over his heart when it is played, or wear a flag pin, among other things, is that he is truly a man of the transnational progressive left. So he has to constantly be carefully watching what he says in public forums lest his true (and politically unhelpful) feelings slip out. That's what happened in San Francisco - he was talking to a group of people who were leftists like him, and he "let his hair down" and allowed himself to say what he really felt.

He understood that he would never have a chance at getting elected if he campaigned on the far-left platform that he believes in, so he decided to go for the age-old strategy of talking in lofty generalities about "the audacity of hope" and "change". And he is articulate and clean-cut and the enormous appeal of that can hardly be overstated. Which is why, I think, so many young voters were enthralled with him. Plus he offers liberal whites that thrill of feeling good about themselves because they're voting for a black man.

I think he really does feel, if not scorn or hatred, at least contempt or condescension towards "typical white people". He has to cover it up in order to have a chance to get elected, but it will become more apparent as time passes that his vision of the future is to turn the United States into something very different than the great makority of traditional Americans wants.

Simon Kenton said...

Mr. Cohen, some of this depends on being old and having a memory. You haven't, but I have, seen it before. Obama is a more-than-usually-articulate classic Chicago pol with the self-admitted ability to be cathected by a lot of (soon- or eventually-to-be-disappointed) people. See or re-read "Miami and the Siege of Chicago." Same old crooked associations, same corrupt Teamster ties, same venality (see his earmarking and his Fannie/Freddie connections), same connections with public-private partnerships in housing and education that never quite seem to work out as well for the public as for the politically-connected private sector types. If anything's new, it's the association with terrorists, which Daley the First would never have done or even countenanced. I started with the attraction of post-racialism but there's only so far I can go with change that isn't.

former law student said...

jac -- Why did you trim the Obama quote down to the damaging soundbite? Examine the context.

Why are the Pennsylvanians bitter and suspicious of any promises Obama supporters make? They have lost the good paying jobs that made a middle-class existence possible. No Rodhams today could afford a cottage by a lake or a boat to pull water skiiers. Administration after administration have promised "change" that would help them, but they're still in the same spot.

So, having lost their middle-class life, they "cling" to what they have left: their guns and their God. And why did they lose their middle-class life: Foreigners can make things cheaper than they can, and immigrants are willing to work cheaper than they could, and still maintain a middle-class lifestyle. There is no mystery here, or really anything discreditable. Back in the 70s, Midwest steelworkers pasted "The Threat Is Real/From Foreign Steel" stickers on their Fords and Chevys.

The only thing that reflects poorly on the good people of Pennsylvania is "antipathy to people who aren't like them." Considering how many white Pennsylvanians voted for Obama, this judgment is harsh and unfair.

former law student said...

Regarding evil: Obama responded as if Warren were Reinhold Niebuhr, not Tim Russert. Preachers have sophisticated, nuanced ideas of evil, and that's how Obama responded to him. Only a crass McCain could seize the opportunity to launch into his stump speech.

I wish I understood what preconditions are necessary or even possible to begin negotiations. Because it sounds like McCain's position is "Yield to all my demands, then we can begin to speak."

Obama was caught between a rock and a hard place. For practical reasons, he couldn't have picked HRC (baggage, Bill, her resentment at being no. 2 to this unlicked pup who had barely beaten her) and yet he could hardly have picked any other woman (instantly hated by all the Hillary voters for rejecting their choice for the national ticket.) What could they have done differently?

MikeR said...

I also am a reader of your mother. Good post. I liked the point of how Obama's foreign policy got built, based after the fact on a comment in a debate. But I think he's been doing that a lot. For instance, I get the same impression about his Iraq policy. He has a tendency to use the phrase "As I've already explained" a lot. See the Bill O'Reilly interview, where O'Reilly finally asks him - "Why can't you just say you were wrong on this one?" We all make lots of mistakes, and McCain seems to have an easier time acknowledging that.

Doyle said...

For most people, the question of who to support in the general election comes down to whose policies you agree with. You hope that your preferred candidate is also "good at being a candidate," so he/she will be more likely to win.

It's one thing to complain about your candidates deficiencies in the latter, tactical category, but less common to cite them as a reason for supporting the candidate from the opposing party.

But then maybe bizarre political judgment just runs in the family.

Yarrow said...

I'm sorry, but this list is pretty thin gruel. I think you're just exhausted and dispirited by the long march of this campaign, not to mention Obama's shift of focus from the lofty to the mundane as he pursues the independent voters who are unimpressed by ideals and rhetoric. Look - he's playing to win, let him do that... then will be the time to hold him accountable!

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

"He seems to have based a whole foreign-policy plank on standing up to Hillary and McCain's taunts about this gaffe!"

Yeah, very true. That's actually when I originally decided to go with Hillary over Obama. I could understand giving an idealistic, unrealistic answer on the spot, but he kept hanging onto his answer in a ridiculous way when he could have amended it pretty easily and moved on.

I'll tell you when Obama likely lost my vote for the general election. It was during a feud with Hillary late in the campaign, over what should be done to prevent Iran from attacking Israel. Hillary said about Iran, "In the next ten years, during which they might they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them." Obama's campaign went after her for this and characterized her as a warmonger over the quote, when I think it would be unacceptable not to take her position. I don't see how you can even have effectively diplomacy with Iran if you're not willing to make a statement like that. And I don't see how you can claim you would defend Israel if you would find it outrageous to respond militarily to an attack against Israel. And I don't think it was just a matter of attack vs. obliterate, because he never, from what I remember, said that he would use military force in that situation. It came across as him taking what to me was an extreme pacifist position. I realized I'd actually rather have a Republican who I knew would do the right thing in an emergency rather than have a Democrat who might take a lot of positions I like but who I would have to worry wouldn't hold up the most basic requirements of being President.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

yarrow: I think John is unsatisfied with Obama as a general election candidate. Your statement only really makes sense if the things John is talking about were actually in the interest of winning the election, but they're not. In fact, just about all the things listed here are things that hurt his ability to get elected.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the Obama campaign's thuggish intimidation tactics of WGN. Or the reports that a lot of the wacko sleaze thrown at Palin was fed by his campaign.

Did you really ever buy into the post-partisan BS?

Stan

Kirk Parker said...

"dream candidate..."

To borrow a line from Herb Gardner--in general, you need better dreams. One of the ways you can tell if they're "better" is, they won't be about politicians.

Anonymous said...

Jac is paring down, ridding himself of all the old encumberances, extricating himself from the ties that bind:

1. First he ditches MySpace...
2. --Then he leaves Texas......
3. Next, he tosses Obama...

Can giving up Vegetarianism be far behind ?

Launcelot said...

The idea that your list of problems with Obama doesn't start with the fact that the conversion to Christianity he had that you mentioned was through JEREMIAH F-ING WRIGHT. Who preached hatred to children. Obama gave him money and had his children baptized by the man. Anyone who is not disgusted by that should be voting Obama. If a majority of Americans actually think that's no big deal then we deserve what we get.

Christoph said...

You're a stupid fuck. Actually, check that.

You're an evil asshole. Supporting a man who supports abortion and thinks infanticide after a botched abortion is A OK.

You disgust me, creep. I hate your guts.

Anonymous said...

I hear ya bro.

Beyond his Ares, Rezco, Wright problems, I am thinking he is something of a Marxist.

I voted for him in the Texas primary too but will now support McCain.

Obama took a lot of money from the Fannie mae and freddie mac folks.

McCain is the cleanest candidate to come along in years.

This is a fact I have to face.

Anonymous said...

A good post and you've obviously given it a great deal of thought. If you would allow, go back and look at the theme or generalized message. Throughout your post the primary disillusionment is caused when Obama strays away from what people want to hear and perhaps exposes his own core traits.

He is by far and without a doubt one of the great orators. Unfortunately these departures from the core message reveal an ever darker side - one, as you point out, upon reflection is a significant problem.

Southern Gal said...

Does anyone see how divisive this man is? The biggest problem I have with him is that he stayed in that church for 20 years listening to a man preach about hatred for this country. Then he lies and says that he didn't preach those type of sermons when he was sitting in that church. Who actually believes this man. I am a woman and a Democrat but I could never vote for this man.

John Althouse Cohen said...

My responses to the commenters:

former law student said... Why did you trim the Obama quote down to the damaging soundbite? Examine the context.

I'm trying to get a lot of points out there very clearly and efficiently, so I just quoted the newsworthy portion of the quote. As I said, there's no "context" that justifies an American presidential candidate saying that kind of thing about religion.


former law student said... Regarding evil: Obama responded as if Warren were Reinhold Niebuhr, not Tim Russert. Preachers have sophisticated, nuanced ideas of evil, and that's how Obama responded to him. Only a crass McCain could seize the opportunity to launch into his stump speech.

It was a political mistake for Obama to give an answer that mainly focused on "humility" and didn't mention the war on terrorism. I don't see how this is even debatable.


MikeR said... He has a tendency to use the phrase "As I've already explained" a lot.

Good point. He often begins sentences with "Well, what I've said is..." as if he's lost track of whether he still believes it.


Doyle said... For most people, the question of who to support in the general election comes down to whose policies you agree with. You hope that your preferred candidate is also "good at being a candidate," so he/she will be more likely to win. It's one thing to complain about your candidates deficiencies in the latter, tactical category, but less common to cite them as a reason for supporting the candidate from the opposing party.

I didn't say what you're saying I said. Please re-read the intro to my post. Hint: notice the "I'm going to vote for him in November" part.


Yarrow said... I'm sorry, but this list is pretty thin gruel.

Hmmm ... maybe I should have put the "TO BE CONTINUED" in an even bigger font?


Christopher Althouse Cohen said... I'll tell you when Obama likely lost my vote for the general election. It was during a feud with Hillary late in the campaign, over what should be done to prevent Iran from attacking Israel. Hillary said about Iran, "In the next ten years, during which they might they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them." Obama's campaign went after her for this and characterized her as a warmonger over the quote, when I think it would be unacceptable not to take her position.

Wait a minute -- essentially the same thing happened with Obama and McCain, except with Obama on the other side. Obama made a big show of how hawkish he is by making belligerent statements about Pakistan (that the US would be willing to unilaterally order strikes to kill terrorists), and McCain criticized him for the hawkish rhetoric. And watch this starting at 1:00 -- they're talking about Obama's statement about Pakistan, and Hillary lambastes Obama for "engaging in hypotheticals" and going too far in "saying what you think" because it could have "consequences around the world." So when it comes to being cautious about throwing around hawkish threats to other countries, you could just as easily criticize McCain or Hillary Clinton as you could Obama.


Launcelot said... The idea that your list of problems with Obama doesn't start with ...

The list is in no particular order.

gregq said...

So why wasn't the Obama campaign gearing up for the Palin pick?

Because his campaign is run by blinkered people who have never had to fight to win an election against a Republican (the 2004 race against Keyes wasn't a fight), and so none of them bothered to look outside their cocoon and see what the other side was actually thinking.

As for the "no preconditions" thing, the major problem with it is it shows Obama's response to screwing up "deny it".

You should really fear him being elected, because a "leader" who can't admit it when he's screwed up, and doesn't have people around him he'll listen to who can and will tell him when he's screwed up, is guaranteed to be a crappy leader.

Anonymous said...

You found your jumping-off point !

Imagine how many more readers you could acquire if you'd simply go a step further and swear you'll not vote for him, altogether.

Then again, with the voting-booth being private, how are we to know, with absolute certainty, who you vote for?

Thunderstorm Patriot said...

=======================
JAC said...
Wait a minute -- essentially the same thing happened with Obama and McCain, except with Obama on the other side. Obama made a big show of how hawkish he is by making belligerent statements about Pakistan (that the US would be willing to unilaterally order strikes to kill terrorists), and McCain criticized him for the hawkish rhetoric. And watch this starting at 1:00 -- they're talking about Obama's statement about Pakistan, and Hillary lambastes Obama for "engaging in hypotheticals" and going too far in "saying what you think" because it could have "consequences around the world." So when it comes to being cautious about throwing around hawkish threats to other countries, you could just as easily criticize McCain or Hillary Clinton as you could Obama.
=======================


It is essential to treat Iran and Pakistan differently. Iran does not YET have nuclear weapons. That makes all the difference in the world in how tolerant you can be to a collapse of the government and chaos within the country. lack of recognition of this important point shows an utter lack of understanding of diplomacy in a nuclear age.

Anonymous said...

The most important point you've made for me is that it's up to us to decide who is best for our country. I agree with all that you've said. I decided when the swarm attacks started from the surrogates, etal, on Governor Palin and the misrepresentation of the opposition ads on McCain's honor that this just isn't a ticket I can support. I grew up on PA and I've lived my adult life in CA. There is too much at stake and leadership matters.

Odysseus said...

former law student said...

I wish I understood what preconditions are necessary or even possible to begin negotiations.

Despite whatever opinion you may personally hold of the office, meeting with the POTUS is an honor that you just don't hand out like candy.

With Ahmadinejad, here is a few off the top of my head:

1) Allow the UN to inspect your nuclear sites to ensure that their sole purpose is the generation of electricity.

2) Stop threatening to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the planet (especially while you're playing with nukes).

3) Stop chanting "Death to America" after Friday prayers.

4) Stop throwing dissidents into prison.

5) Stop stoning adulteresses and homosexuals to death.

6) Apologize for illegally holding our embassy staff for 444 days.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

John, the reason that doesn't work for me is that it's not about placing the candidate on a spectrum in terms of foreign policy. I actually care about their specific positions on Iran and defending Israel. Keep in mind I'm to the right of Bush when it comes to Israel. And Obama holding a press conference to announce that he's willing to be hawkish on one narrow issue as a way of compensating for all the other stuff doesn't change that for me.

Hillary Clinton saying she wouldn't do hypotheticals was basically an unsuccessful strategy that she had at the beginning of the debates to try to avoid those types of questions. It sounded smart when she first did it, but you can't really go through a whole presidential campaign without every saying what you might do in a certain situation, so it's a good thing she stopped saying that.

P. Rich said...

What, exactly, is the point of a post that begins with, "I am going to vote for Obama." and then follows with extensive reasons not to vote for Obama? Perhaps you should give this question some serious thought.

Or is it that you believe somehow, magically, Obama the miserable candidate will be transformed into Obama the wonderful President if he can just get elected? You should give this question some serious thought also.

Anonymous said...

Please ignore the troll. Smells like astroturf to me. Maybe he's been rolling around in the back of BC's pickup truck too much?

Anonymous said...

The "cling" statement was wrong because it was an a priori theoretical assessment of people he doesn't know. Indeed, he seems to avoid getting to know people because he can't handle having his preformed worldview challenged. He avoided discussion with law profs at Chicago. He didn't socialize with co-workers at that business publishing firm. There is something inauthentic about his empathy.
His move to the middle also seems inauthentic. He is repeating what advisors tell him, and perhaps at some abstract level he sees their point. But I can't detect any integrated philosophy in him. That is something necessary in a leader who must make hard decisions.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, quit being an equivocating wimp and do what your head tells you to do ... NOBAMA! Dump the man, he's an empty suit who thinks himself a messiah who has blinded people by the light of his teleprompter and is nothing more than a Chi-town hustler. Being from the People's Republic of Illinois I'm allowed to say that.

Let's see if the following analysis by Gerard Baker writing in the London Times (who, being a Brit, is neither Republican or Democrat) is enough for you to grow some cojones and vote for someone who truly loves this country and in some respects literally spilt his blood for it, unlike the self-absorbed, arrogant Obama who has demonstrated time and again his willingness to put party before country.

Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform.

However,Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.

Speechmaker Obama talks about an era of bipartisanship, He speaks powerfully about the destructive politics of red and blue states.

However, Politician Obama has toed his party's line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. He has never challenged his party's line on any issue of substance.

Speechmaker Obama talks a lot about finding ways to move beyond the bloody battlegrounds of the “culture wars” in America; the urgent need to establish consensus on the emotive issue of abortion.

However, Politician Obama's support for abortion rights is the most extreme of any Democratic senator. No one in the Senate - not the arch feminist Hillary Clinton nor the superliberal Edward Kennedy – is more liberal on abortion rights.

Here's the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man's stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.

The fact is that a vote for Mr Obama demands uncritical subservience to the irrational, anti-empirical proposition that the past holds no clues about the future, that promise is wholly detached from experience.


Hankmeister

pnevai said...

If Obama has trully lost you then it is your right as a American Citizen to Vote fro a third party if you choose to.

Never vote for someone if they do not represent your wishes or beliefs. Doing so only garentees that you will empower the person and if elected to office has the chance to impact your life in ways you would not want.

This is your choice, but do not feel as if you have no options. A vote for a third party sends a message to the candidates that you are dissatisfied with the statuss quo.

Dr, Ellen said...

If somebody wants to be in charge of the country, he or she should at least approve of it. I think, with Wright, Ayers, his wife, and a lot of other things, that Obama holds America in contempt.

"Maybe", he seems to feel, "I can make it a worthy place."

It's scorn and hubris, and it's a nasty combination. The Republicans would have to run Pat Buchanan to get me to vote Obama.

Chester White said...

The main reason Obama has done as well as he has is that there are too damn many voters under 35. They don't remember how INCREDIBLY GODAWFUL things were under Carter and his Democratic Congress.

I'm 49 and I hear young folks all the time saying, "Times are so terrible and the economy just CAN'T get any worse." To someone who had to live through that late 70s crap it's utterly mindboggling.

When there are no jobs offered any more once businesses and successful people have been screwed over by Obama/Pelosi/Reid, don't you dare come crying to somebody like me. I sure won't be expanding my business; I'll be looking to fire people.

I trust the "hope" and "change" will be worth it.

I also don't see how anyone can support Obama after he flipped on about 15 important issues right after he sewed up the nomination. It's absurd how many "deeply held" beliefs vanished in about 2 weeks. Does no one care about this?

Is it not obvious that he's just lying all over the place?

Greg said...

I'm not sure you can compare the Pakistan comment and the Iran comment. One country is an 'ally' (admittedly, I use the term loosely), and the other has repeatedly made clear that they would like to destroy us and Israel if possible. Is it good "diplomacy" to discuss sending troops into Pakistan, especially if we are trying to strengthen the government.

You can criticize one or the other, but I'm not sure you can really compare them.

Great post, by the way. Refreshing to hear anyone trying to be honest these days.

nick said...

Simon Kenton is a lying moron.

Christoph is also a moron

tell me what abortion Obama paid for?

we dont need your brand of Talibanism.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ithaca "Boulder East"), and Obama would fit right in. His socialist views put him somewhere to the left of center in this city--as they say, we have a lot of diversity of opinion here, from the Greens on the far left to the Democrats on the far right.

We're still suffering from having an avowed socialist as mayor a little more than a decade ago, but most Ithacans don't view it that way. I've seen the actual effects of Obama's socialist viewpoints, and I wouldn't wish them on this country for all the tea in China.

McCain's positions are better in some areas and worse in others. Or as my favorite suggestion for a bumper sticker last year read, "Vote for McCain or we're REALLY in trouble."

nick said...

yes cling was poor choice of
words


He should never have gone to the Saddleback Forum - stupid


3. Saying he would personally meet with dictators in his first

yes, need to add preconditions




he was against the war ,
and understood the need to support what we started


yes he should have picked hillary
not loose libs biden

newscaper said...

Thanks for showing some real maturity in taking a more hardheaded look at things.

I'm NOT a Dem, rather a perenially never satisfied libertarian-conservative who usually votes Republican, but I took the unsual position (in my circles ;) ) very early on that I would rather have Hillary as prez than Obama.

She's a known quantity, warts and all, who we could deal with -- him I just didn't trust, on many grounds.

Regarding your observation:
"How many voters are truly upset about his utterly innocuous comment about being willing to "refine" his Iraq policy based on talking to military commanders about the changing circumstances? Probably not many anymore, since ... circumstances in Iraq have changed, which would force any rational president to ... refine their Iraq policy!"

That's not really valid because it is only plausible if you treat the turnaround in Iraq as some sort of random utterly unforeseeable event that occurred in a vacuum rather than the result of Bush (with McCain's urging& support) changing strategy over there while remaining fixed on the same larger objective.

If Bush had listened to Obama, we absolutely would NOT be in the much improved situation we are in today.

Matt said...

cogent analysis, thanks. The reason he always says, "As I have said previously.." is that he has never actually done anything. A better candidate would demonstrate his competence rather than allege it which is all this candidate can do.

I'm also perplexed that a candidate for president would have so few personal friends out pitching for them. Where are this guy's friends?

Mark Daniels said...

While I think that Obama is even likelier to win the election in the wake of last week's Wall Street news than he was before, I sense that the ambivalence you feel toward his candidacy is apparent among many of the once-enthusiastic Obama supporters I know.

None are willing to concede that Clinton would have been a better nominee. But they perceive Obama as politically tone deaf, susceptible to many of the same inability to relate to vast chunks of the US electorate that seemed to characterize Kerry. They prefer him, but not passionately, as before.

Mark Daniels

Michael Crosby said...

My first time to this blog. I must say it's refreshing to read a blog about politics and not read so much hate but reasoned thought (for the most part).

Anonymous said...

Your point no 1. completely disqualifies Obama from being president. How can a man who holds such a huge portion of the citizenry in utter distain and contempt possibly claim to be president of all Americans? You obviously do not include yourself in this huge group of pre-disenfranchised citizens. But why? Things most likely will change. Obama is self-admittedly the blank slate upon which YOU project YOUR desires - leaving him completely free to make no promises and do whatever he pleases if he gets elected. Tomorrow, your desires may not be his. La dee da. Too bad. He told you that up front! Not much solid ground to stand on there. Scary. Very scary.

Anonymous said...

I read a blog post somewhere that suggested that Obama didn't expect to win the primaries, that he was mostly positioning for a run in a future election. That rings true from what i've seen. He's basically winging it and making rookie mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Well, you're not making big bucks yet, but you're smart, so you will, and then you'll care about taxes on guys who make the big bucks. You know, people who defer gratification and go to med school, law school, and people who start up businesses which use up capital, including sweat equity in the early years, but pay out in the later years. By the time you're my age, you'll hate the guy, and guys like him as much as I do.

Richard said...

How could he have possibly thought it was a good idea to list "religion" along with "antipathy towards people who aren't like them," as if both of these things were part of some larger problem with middle America?

Ah, Grasshopper. You are learning. And you already know the answer to your question. America's Left hates religion. They see it as a "problem." You cannot possibly over state just how much it is loathed.

Anonymous said...

My friend, if you vote for 0bama you are voting for a Marxist.

The democrats nominated someone to run for Potus who's never run against a real republican.

Hillary was your best shot. 0bama will lose this election because he wasn't vetted by the party. Hillary tried to illustrate this, but everyone overlooked not only his resume but his radically left past.

Historically, Americans are center / right for the most part and 0bama is, well, inexperienced and arrogant. It doesn't bode well if he's elected for the country.

Jim said...

I am reading your blog for the first time from a link that I frequent.

I commend your very considered commentary and your commentators on their very considered posts.

As a young man I voted for Carter to punish Nixon. The outcomes of the Carter presidency began my real political awakening.

The best to you and yours,
Jim

Peg C. said...

You make some cogent and reasoned arguments. I'm (naively) surprised you drew some insane vitriol from anyone; you certainly did not encourage it with your post.

That said, it's hard to imagine voting for someone for whom I had so many doubts and so little respect (if that is the right word) -- except that McCain was my last pick in a long list and I will vote for him. Arrggh!!!!! I respect him but disagree on huge issues. However, as with so many others (and apparently a lot of former Obama-supporting women), Sarah Palin seals the deal. The fact that she is driving the Democrats right over the edge just makes this all that much sweeter.

I wonder if you will still be voting for Obama when the election is actually here...

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you sticking with Obama and not switch to Nader?

David Warner said...

"Obama responded as if Warren were Reinhold Niebuhr"

Warren is no Niebuhr, (mostly) to Warren's discredit. Almost all of Niebuhr's descendants are already voting (mistakenly, in my - very- minority opinion) for Obama.

Warren is actually quite similar to Obama's mentor, Wright (large, rich, ambitious congregations with a focus on community outreach). He should have spoken as if he was speaking to Wright, but instead retreated to his Ivy comfort zone. Big missed opportunity.

Inkling said...

You're right to conclude that Obama isn't a "good enough candidate." Just keep in mind that running is a lot easier than governing. McCain has to play by far more rules than those soon-nuclear thug-states or Russian's increasingly nasty nationalists. We used to worry about our Presidential candidates being up to having their finger on the button that would start a nuclear war. Now we need one with the credibility to keep someone else's finger off their button. Obama isn't remotely up to that task. Old and battered as he looks, McCain is.

My own suspicion is that Obama intended to play 2008 like JFK played 1956, treating it as a warm-up for his campaign team and a chance to get face recognition for 2012, if McCain wins, or 2016 if Hillary wins twice. In either case he'd still be young, but a more experienced candidate and politician. You wouldn't be seeing as many blunders if he'd died in the primaries like he (secretly) intended.

Unfortunately, Hillary perhaps got overconfident and self-destructed. She's handicapped by all the enemies, Democrat and Republican, she made between 1992 and 2000. In contrast, Obama began with a clean slate and has only recently begun to turn people off with his nasty religious ties and his poorly concealed disdain for middle America. Now he's facing the fact that Democrats rarely give their losers a second chance. Like it or not, 2008 may be his only shot at the White House. That's why a note of desperation has crept into his campaign.

The result is the mess he's gotten himself into. For all the fuss about Palin's as a new face in national politics, she's clearly more politically mature and experienced than he is.

* She cleaned up her own party in Alaska. Obama has never challenged Chicago's corrupt politics, must less defeated it.

* She's taken on three major oil companies and won, getting work started on a pipeline that Alaskans have wanted for twenty years.

* Perhaps most important of all, she's got an approval rating among Alaska Democrats of 75%. I doubt Obama is doing remotely that well with Illinois Democrats or Republicans.

My advice to Democrats: Obama is at least as weak a leader as Carter, who was so gosh-awful the Republicans owned the White House for the next three elections. If he wins this year, probably narrowly, you can forget seeing another Democrat in the White House until at least 2020. Instead, vote for McCain, whose "maverick' status makes him half-a-Democrat anyway (as many Republicans know all too well) and who'll be too old to run in 2012. Then field an experienced candidate in 2012 who'll have a chance at two terms.

--Mike Perry, Seattle

cf said...

"Unfortunately ... departures from the core message reveal an ever darker side", which is true, and getting more chilling:
If you haven't read through this investigation of Obama/Axelrod's "any means necessary" manipulations against a decent opponent, you owe it to yourself: http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/194057.php


On the "no pre-conditions with dictators" response, I caught something different: He wasn't really addressing diplomatic policy, he was telegraphing code: "the President of the United States ain't nothin' special" and shouldn't set himself up higher than the lowest dictator -- it's not fair.

In one contemptuous flick, he brushed away our exceptional position in the world that can make such a difference for so many. I refuse to throw our integrity and strength away so casually.

I am thrilled that John McCain has reshaped the battle to tackle the crony capitalism rife in the halls of Congress. He makes it so that I am voting FOR something -- real change, not simply against the calculating "Emporer with no clothes".

As far as you continuing to support Obama, geez. Make the leap! Do it, Dude!

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Before you do a post about how Obama "lost you," why don't you tell us why you were ever for him in the first place. All you say is that you thought he was "virtually the dream candidate for 2008."

If you can't say what specifically attracted you to him in the beginning, all your current disillusionment is completely baseless.

Still, you're making the right choice by voting for Obama. McCain's utterly clueless, farcical performance over the past month (picking Palin to lead the free world, bumbling around during a dire financial crisis, blatantly lying about every ad and every statement he's ever made) is enough to scare even the dumbest Republican into voting for Obama.

November 4th can't come soon enough.

mockmook said...

Obama talks out of both sides of his mouth regarding Iraq.

He says he will listen to commanders on the ground, but it won't change his timetable.

Does not compute.

Anonymous said...

As I understood, the main reason is that Obama is so bad (maladroit) politician that you doubt he will be able to do anything, thus making questioning of his intentions irrelevant.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Before you do a post about how Obama "lost you," why don't you tell us why you were ever for him in the first place. ... If you can't say what specifically attracted you to him in the beginning, all your current disillusionment is completely baseless.

You don't have to believe me, but anyone who's talked to me about the election for the past year and a half, or anyone who's looked at my Facebook profile, knows I've been a strong supporter. I don't need to blog every single thing in my head. Right now, I'm feeling overwhelmed with the flaws in his candidacy and finding it hard to see why I thought he was so great. So this is not the time to write a "why Obama is great" post; the time to write that post would have been in the past, but I didn't do it because I didn't feel that I had much original to contribute.

Jim said...

I read a number of blogs daily - kudos for this. And your readers comments are also high caliber. I too remember the Carter years - no repeat of that is acceptable. McCain is, as one poster said, half Dem - as a Reagan fan, I figure I AM voting moderately.

AllenS said...

"How Obama lost me"..."and I'm going to vote for him in November."

You have some issues.

rea said...

his politically convenient conversion to Christianity as an adult

Oh, god, the "Obama is an apostate Muslim" thing resurfaces. Surely you're not that silly?

Lorelei Leigh said...

Oh, god, the "Obama is an apostate Muslim" thing resurfaces. Surely you're not that silly?

Just because someone calls Obama's Christian faith into question, doesn't mean that person thinks he's a Muslim. I think it's much more likely, if he's not a Christian, that he's an atheist.

Very good post, Jac. It's nice to read such even-handed, thoughtful commentary. My own view of Obama is that he's in over his head, and maybe he'd be a better candidate four years from now.

Nitpicker said...

Look, if you'd get serious for a second, you'd see that the "cling to god and guns" comment wasn't about the blue collar guys, but about the way the right uses those things as tools to smear Democrats. For example, in 2004, a conservative organization sent a flyer around in Alabama suggesting that Kerry win would mean the Bible would be banned, but gay marriage would be pushed on everyone. Today, the NRA claims that Obama wants to take away your guns. The right runs on nothing but wedge issues these days and Obama's right to point it out, but he just said it badly.

Ann said...

I just learned that BOTH Obama and Biden voted FOR The Bridge to Nowhere!

John Althouse Cohen said...

So what? They never claimed to oppose it. McCain and Palin claimed that Palin did. The problem with McCain/Palin is the blatant lying, not the merits of that specific earmark they've chosen to focus on.

Matt said...

on the BTNW, I just ask what did Sarah Palin do, not what did she say. I'm tired hearing about what people say. People say all kinds of things, the question is what do they actually do. Especially politicians. You can use what they say to fill a zeppelin. The question is, what do they do.

rn/ said...

as a former Hillary supporter... i guess i'm not surprised. many of us knew that the shine would wear off by nov. and many of Obama's supporters would vote for him in a lackluster sort of way, and others would stay home. his major selling point was he was new. and after you wear those awesome new tennies to school about 5 times, they're not new. they're all scuffed up and cruddy looking. BUT now we're stuck with not-new Obama and old-comfortable-already-broken-in McCain. In the end, i always go back to my old birks.... i'll take McCain, so maybe some dem will have a chance in the next 12 years.