Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Thoughts on Barack Obama

You know, I used to drink the Barack Obama kool-aid. When he gave that magnificent speech at the 2004 DNC, I was among the millions who swooned at the idea of someone who wanted to focus on reunited our sharply-divided nation. His speech became the point of no return for Obama himself, as he had not solidified himself as the "future" of the Democratic Party.

At first, this gave me hope for the party of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Harry Reid. I thought that maybe he would usher in an era of younger, more centrist Democrats who would break away from the party lockstep and force the stalwart Dems to change their tune.

Almost 3 years since that magnificent, rallying speech...and nothing. Obama has become part of the party machine instead of changing the machine. He pretty much votes liberal-down-the-line. He's an eloquent speaker, and seems cool under pressure...but he speaks in broad tones and loves to talk about "hope" and "promise", without defining what he will do to deliver "hope" and "promise". In fact, he's barely defined his idea of "hope" and "promise".

He and Deval Patrick (Democratic governor of Massachusetts) have used the same playbook, so far. It worked for Patrick in the 2006 campaign, but his lack of political experience has come through, and Patrick's once soaring approval ratings are now tanking. Patrick has seen his approval ratings slump to well below 50% in one of the most Democratic states in the nation. His job approval rating in an April showed that 45% polled thought he was doing a Below-Average/Poor job as Governor, compared to only 31% saying he was doing an "Above-Average/Excellent" job. This is mainly because Patrick, who had lots of Obama's style and eloquence, lacked political experience and substance beyond the style.

Obama, whose political experience equals 3 terms in the Illinois State Senate and 4 years in the U.S. Senate (he hasn't finished his first term), needs to show people that he has solid political stances on individual issues, and deliver that in his speeches and statements. His relative lack of experience at the federal level is his achilles heel right now, and he needs to overcome that with policy initiatives that are sensible and appealing to both sides of the aisle.

Now, as a person, I have no problem with Obama. In fact, I would love to sit down at a poker table with him, Fred Thompson, and Glenn Beck, and just talk politics and society while playing cards, smoking cigars and drinking a good brand of scotch or gin. Obama is a likeable guy, from what I've gathered from listening to him and watching his demeanors. He seems like someone who you could talk to and debate with, and not have to deal with agitation of feelings or opinions.

I'm not going to be like some of my fellow conservatives and use Obama's full name (Barack Hussein Obama) as some sort of subliminal or satirical ploy to denigrate Obama, as I feel that he really hasn't done anything to deserve denigration...except for that "10,000 died" comment last night...that was outright ludicrious. Other than that, I really can't complain about outrageous or ignorant comments coming from the man's mouth.

However, given what I've read through his voting record, and his relative lack of political experience, and the needs of our country right now...I just don't think Obama (or any of the Democratic candidates, for that matter) is the right choice. However, I do think that in comparison to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (the other two front-runners), I prefer Obama.

No comments: