Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A fading sheen?

Now that the Democratic nomination has wound down and Obama has emerged as the victor, the main stream media, driven by the hard right (especially the self avowed McCain "surrogate" Faux News) have started attacking Obama's positions. The most common attacks are the blatant lies - the "Obama is a secret Muslim" and "Obama says high gas prices are a good thing." What is more insidious, though, are the attempts to portray Obama's long held positions as "flip-flops."

Julie over at Momocrats has a great series of posts (starting here) addressing a few key issues. As she points out: on the death penalty he has consistently been against killing innocents, but not against capital punishment in general; on gun control - "I think it's important for us to recognize that we've got a tradition of . . . gun ownership . . . We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment."; FISA I will address later in this post.

Other attacks like this include NAFTA - his position has been that we need to renegotiate NAFTA, not drop it completely. His problem with NAFTA has been that there are no environmental protections and no worker protections. This allows manufacturing jobs that paid well and were union jobs here in America to be sent to Mexico and Canada where the workers can be paid less and there are fewer environmental protections. He wants to fix these issues; he does not want to unilaterally drop out.

Then there is Iraq. Obama has, since 2003, been against Iraq. But now you are seeing people attack him saying he doesn't intend to leave and in the same breath attack him for being a "cut and run Democrat." They can't have it both ways. Obama's stance has been "We have to be more careful getting out than we were careless getting in." This means that while he intends to pull most of our troops out in 12-18 months, he is not going to do something stupid that leaves us in a worse position than we already are in.

Just this past weekend we had yet another instance of this. General Wesley Clark said "Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." On its surface, it's true. However, McCain did serve in the military, achieving the rank of captain. This is a record of service that, as Obama has said for months, deserves our recognition. He has also consistently, even through the primary campaign, been against personal, ad hominem attacks. Thus, when he rejected General Clark's attack, he was not flip-flopping or throwing Clark under the bus, he was staying consistent with his message of bringing politics out of the gutter.

The last of these I want to focus on is the FISA legislation. In general, I am against these reforms. However, I have not read the legislation myself and I don't know all of the reforms it will be implementing. The one that I am most strongly against is the telecom immunity clause that will ensure no one is held responsible for completely ignoring the Constitution during Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. When this came up for vote a few months ago, Obama voted against cloture and co-sponsored an amendment with Sen. Dodd to strip the immunity clause. It has come back up for vote in the Senate and this time Obama did not vote on the cloture vote (neither did McCain or Clinton). He has, however said he will continue to push to remove the immunity. Without having researched this bill better, I can't make a complete judgment on his general support of the bill. As far as whether he has changed his position, that is harder to say; he still is fighting against the immunity, but it appears he has weakened his position on the bill at large.

Now all of this does not mean he hasn't changed position on things. The most talked about change has been his stance on public financing in his campaign. Back in 2007, he did say that as long as his Republican counterpart chose to accept public financing, so would he. This clearly is not happening. To explain this, he has said that with 1.7 million donors nationwide, his campaign is being financed by the public, but that ignores some of the other catches tied in with federal public financing. Personally, I am mixed on this. As an idealist, I would like for the public financing system to work and allow good campaigns. However, the other side is best summed up in a cartoon BAC posted a week ago:

There is also the issue of Israel. Throughout his career he has remained fairly neutral on this. However, after securing the nomination he spoke before AIPAC and came down very strongly pro-Israel. This really disappointed me. It weakens his ability to be a fair arbiter of any peace deal between Israel and Palestine. As of yet, I have not heard him address the issues raised in this speech.

I think Julie's final assessment is very accurate. Obama's positions are much more nuanced than a 10 second sound bite. This is something that draws me to him because it breaks away from the "with us or against us" mentality of the past eight years. But it is much harder to convey to the wider public and can be has been used against him. What should be the MSM's job, conveying the facts of the issues, has now fallen to us, the bloggers and grass roots activists.


no_slappz said...

Obama the genius stated the following:

"Sen. OBAMA: I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment."

Oh. Perhaps he could include some information that would define "gradual" for us. Meanwhile, his statement shows a stunning ignorance of oil-market realities. Price shocks have marked the shifts in this market. "Gradual" is a term seldom used to describe the market in this commodity.

He said:

"The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing."

In other words, he admits that HIGH oil prices are bad news and that HIGH oil prices punish EVERYONE.

Does it matter that prices rose quickly? No. In fact, for purposes of waking the public to the impact of high commodity costs, there's nothing like a big jolt.

He said:

"But if we take some steps right now to help people make the adjustment, first of all by putting more money into their pockets, but also by encouraging the market to adapt to these new circumstances more quickly, particularly US automakers, then I think ultimately, we can come out of this stronger and have a more efficient energy policy than we do right now."

What does the preceding obfuscation mean? The clown has no idea what he's talking about UNLESS he's admitting that the best strategy for reducing the pain of HIGH oil prices is to expand OIL DRILLING in the US.

Why in the world does this nut believe the CAR manufacturers can offer the solution to this problem?

There are 250 million cars registered in the US. What screwball logic allows this nitwit to believe the owners will dump their gas-burners for gas-sippers anytime soon?

Where would buyers get the cars? Less than 15 million vehicles per year are sold in the US. Where would buyers get the money? Especially since the desirable gas-sippers are selling for premium prices.

This nitwit is suggesting that buying an expensive manufactured product that uses less of a suddenly expensive commodity is the answer to our energy problems.

He wants Americans to bust their budgets buying new cars instead of letting Oil Companies INVEST their capital in expansion of drilling that will increase supplies of the expensive commodity.

It is a simple FACT that Oil Companies can increase production far more quickly than car buyers can be coerced into buying new vehicles. Meanwhile, the expansion of drilling and subsequent supply increases become available to EVERY American at no direct cost to the individual.

Most importantly, oil is a COMMODITY and the price of a commodity ALWAYS responds to the SUPPLY/DEMAND balance. More supply -- lower price.

John J. said...

Slappz, your post is completely off topic and all of your arguments have been previously debunked.

Mauigirl said...

Hi John, you make a lot of good points in this post. Obama said in the beginning his method of governing would involve reaching across the aisle which would include having a more nuanced approach and possibly compromising on issues. I am concerned about FISA and the issue of faith-based initiatives, but hope that he is looking at these situations as a case of "the best is the enemy of the good" - in other words, the current FISA compromise is flawed but if we have no FISA ruling the government then can't monitor anything...which might be dangerous for the American public. The faith-based initiatives are flawed, but he is hoping not to throw the baby out with the bathwater (I'm full of these little aphorisms, just ask me for more...).

I was concerned to see over at Yikes that there is a possibility of him being convinced to include an "abortion reduction" plank and I saw your comment on it. I see your point on it but I think it may be very dangerous for him to agree to something like that.

I personally feel after a certain point of development - certainly after viability - abortions should NOT be available on demand, depending on the situation. (Up until that point, on demand is fine). But for him to even indicate that would be a big mistake on his part - I think a lot of people, women in particular, are going to vote for him simply on that one issue - because the next Supreme Court nominee will tip the balance against Roe v. Wade and the next president will be making that nomination. He'd be crazy to signal anything but complete support for choice.