Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Change"="Same Old, Same Old"

I like Obama. What I don't care for, is the way his disciples elevate Obama to a pedestal, which frankly doesn't have any merit. It's not cynicism, but realism, and the more we see of Obama, the more it becomes crystal clear that "change" is largely a mirage in any substantive way.

I couldn't help but be amused as some supporters reacted with surprise, when Obama began the traditional move from left to center once the primary season was over. It happens ever time, everyone knows it, and yet, for some reason Obama was supposedly unique. To say Obama is a skilled politican is almost a negative characterization, because it challenges the notion that he operates differently than standard practice. If you listen to the speeches, and take the rhetoric to heart, then you are forced to confront a simple conflict. Obama does put his finger in the air to see which way the wind blows, his principles do waver, and yes, he is really ordinary, in many respects.

Anyways, the point, is illustrated here in spades, political speak of the highest order, oozing of pander and flip flop, pure unadulterated Washington speak:
Barack Obama Friday dropped his opposition to offshore oil drilling, saying he could go along with the idea if it was part of a broader energy package.

Obama made his comments in St. Petersburg during an interview with the Palm Beach Post. "My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," he said.

"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage - I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done," the paper quoted Obama as saying.

I think it better to look at Obama without the rose colored glasses, it will only make his descent to the realm of mere mortals easier to digest. And, in the end, it's okay, because Obama was never worthy of the lofty adjectives in the first place, misplaced hype and personal aspirations aside.

31 comments:

Blues Clair said...

Agreed, adopting Change as a campaign theme, is in itself old politics. When I read that Obama was willing to compromise on his offshore drilling position, I was thinking to myself that someone should remind Obama that he is the frontrunner. Then again, what do I know about running presidential campaigns.

Steve V said...

blues

It was the massaged language that spoke volumes, it almost sounded like Kerry, the career politican. I'm not trying to belittle Obama, I hope he wins, but I tend to resist all the special attachments.

Mushroom said...

I have responded to your post with one of my own in my blog. I will argue that it is not rose tinted glasses. Yes, Obama is a mortal (if you believe a right wing conspiracies), his personal aspirations genuine, and he deserves the true main adjective that he is tagged with "authentic". If we can drink the kool-aid of Bobby Kennedy and Pierre Trudeau, I will take Obama by the keg full stop.

Steve V said...

mushroom

No more authentic than McCain. Oh, McCain flip flops, well so does Obama, so how that's different frankly escapes me. I would add, just because Americans romanticized Bobby Kennedy, doesn't mean we should repeat the same mistakes now. Just imagine the Kennedy's in today's environment, with the womanizing and such- actually more like Bill Clinton. The horror!

RuralSandi said...

The fact is - we don't know how good a president either John F. and Robert Kennedy would have been. JFK was only president for 2 years or so and of course, Bobby never was.

So, just because they made pretty speeches - we will never know for sure.

I always thought Uncle Teddy, Carolyn, etc. were trying to bring back the Kennedy dynasty via Obama.

Bill Clinton's escapades were mild compared to the Kennedy's, and yet the Kennedy's are held in such high esteem - baffles me.

Also, the US is in such a mess - change will take a very long time, if at all.

Joseph said...

I agree coming down to earth was long in coming but necessary, Steve. I think I've commented enough on your blog that you too detected my initial resistance to Obama was more about the adulation of his supporters than a rejection of him as a person or a candidate.

But I think his move to accept compromise on the off-shore drilling is smart. I also think his way of explaining it is very shrewd. And the fact that he did it all while in Florida over the course of a few days (not just one quick hit before he moved elsewhere) is wise as well.

The Gulf Coast off-shore drilling issue is interesting. If anyone has ever been to the Northwest part of Florida, you may understand, what I mean. It is truly the deep dark red corner of a mostly red state. Yet the beauty of the pristine, almost snow-drift like beaches - the prettiest beaches I have EVER seen - is what draws people there, including the many military retirees who now live there who were came to know it at some point during their careers, as both the navy and the air force have a huge presence there.

So the one fly in the ointment about all this discussion about drilling off-shore - no matter how (short-sightedly) popular it may be for many in the US - is that the folks who live there adamantly reject anything that might risk their mostly unspoiled beaches, which consists of long stretches undeveloped and protected in parks, national seashore, or undeveloped military land (radar stations, etc). Even the development there, having come later than other parts of the state, is done with amazing care to protect the shores. Many developments integrate nicely behind the dunes with very little development on the beaches themselves. The very idea of an oil slick along the shores sends shivers up the backs of the residents - really, I'm not exaggerating. Just imagine far-right conservatives who would take up arms (they probably have under their beds) for an environmental cause . . . that kind of devotion.

So I kept wondering how that part of the state would handle the news that John McCain and their own governor was backtracking on previous rejections of previous positions - yes, they too had been against off-shore drilling before they were for it.

Part of the compromise that Obama has given praise too specifically includes keeping a 50-mile buffer off that part of Florida, and it also includes clauses to ensure that any state would have to approve drilling off their coasts and would be able to benefit financially from the development.

So his acceptance of the plan - which I think is what will take shape after the current recess - with the caveat that it needs to include other efforts to wean the dependence on carbon sources of fuel - is just very shrewd politics and sends a good message. It gives credence to Obama's oft-stated message to be a different kind of politician who (eeks!) actually embraces the concept of compromise.

I think it is a good case of turning what could be bitter lemons into lemonade. He could ill-afford to be seen as intransigent on an issue that is resonating in the election. The Republicans so wanted to milk this as far as they could, as seen throughout the week.

The fact that he is taking the issue off the table - and can be seen as moving the congressional efforts towards a reasonable compromise - goes along way to giving him some credence to be able to think through tough issues, especially when he can do so while pointing out that McCain continues juvenile pranks while he, Obama, is thinking about issues.

Joseph said...

Almost shameless promotion - but great images of the coast along the panhandle of Florida . . . both the snow white beaches and the other natural elements - dune lakes, marshes, etc.

http://www.beachesofsouthwalton.com/video/03-Nature-Hi.html

Know borderline off-topic, but gives you a sense of how proud the red panhandle is of the natural beauty.

Steve V said...

joseph

Probably is a shrewd move politically, but really no different than when people accuse McCain of flip flopping. A nuanced position is standard fare, all I'm doing is chipping away at the pedestal. I'd vote for Obama, but my expectations would be realistic.

sandi

If the JFK were around today, he would have mired in continual controversy. The only difference between Bill and JFK was historical circumstance.

Mushroom said...

"Just imagine the Kennedy's in today's environment, with the womanizing and such- actually more like Bill Clinton."

So you believed in the conspiracies between Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe's? There is a difference between the two. Bobby was the more level headed one.

"Bobby never was"

Ruralsandi, Bobby "saved the world from the brink of nuclear war" by removing the Jupiter missiles from Turkey. Stood down the hawks at the US Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Can Bill and Hillary do this? Both are too centrist, just like Chretien and Martin.

This is the nostalgia of Bobby Kennedy. Promise unfulfilled, making a full conversion from Cold warrior in the early 1960s to calling for a war on poverty. Obama will fall short because the US will inevitably collapse due to imperial overstretch. But both Bobby and Obama calls for a message of hope, and for someone mired in poverty in South Carolina, this may be his or her sole consolation.

RuralSandi said...

Mushroom....you can look at it the way you want.

I for one don't get too excited over pretty speeches. I can name many who can inspire by speeches.

You only really know when they are in a position to do what they talk about....then and only then does one know for sure.

Steve V said...

mushroom

One more reason why I don't like all these past analogies, that short of romantic, noble language is out dated. Speechs almost innocent in their idealism, I just see a far greater sophistication, which is why the shakespearian phrasing, the almost cheesy platitudes, it doesn't relate to the world today, it just doesn't. Maybe it's jaded, I prefer its more a real street perspective, we just don't want anymore bullshit. Straight talk, not the shephard leads, nobody is looking for religion. Or, I'm not.

I like Howard Dean, that was the authenticity in my estimation, not superheros.

the electioneer said...

The problem is,

the veneer of being superhuman was all he had. No experience, no accomplishments, no true signs of character, courage, or even firm beliefs.

Without the veneer, he's just a sleazy politician who talks outside both sides of his mouth, and nothing more.

McCain, who's certainly not perfect, has reams of experience, political courage, fortitude, and strength (real, not the bare words kind).

McCain landslide.

Joseph said...

Oh, come on . . . "all he had"

You should stop smoking whatever you're on. Whether he wins or loses this election, Obama is already an American success story, and he'll accomplish much more in his lifetime.

You should at least pretend to be able to see beyond your little myopic tadpole pool every once in a while.

RuralSandi said...

McCain - born with the silver spoon story - Obama the so-called American dream.

Big difference.

McCain - a hero - okay, but so were many others that were in Viet Nam and this certainly doesn't mean someone is presidential material. If so, every veteran of the Viet Nam war should run for president.

McCain - experience - hmmm....he, with all his so-called experience has gone along with some pretty pitiful policies.

Antonio said...

yea sandi nothing says silver spoon like 5 years in a Vietnam prison

besides, McCain graduating from the naval academy and Obama being at Harvard (despite the circumstances) is likely to become an issue later on.

Hillary Clinton successfully portrayed Obama as out of touch with Middle America in very important states. This one will go down to the wire especially in states like pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio

kody said...

Funny that accusations of Obama being about mere words, puffery, with no accomplishments or ACTIONS to back up his grandiose words,

are never met with examples.

The most powerful evidence of Obama's shallowness is the fact that his most ardent supporters are left with "yeah right, says you" shallow brush-off's rather than concrete examples refuting the charges.

Obama is perhaps the most underqualified presidential candidate in the history of the US.

Which is why he's now starting to sag.

The sagging is coincidental with the populace starting to pay attention to actual details/accomplishments/signs of character as the election draws closer.

It'll only get worse. The Dems started to realize this (Hillary taking most of the primaries in the latter part of the race) but it was too late.

Steve V said...

kody

Obama is a great candidate, he just isn't the messiah some say. That's my only point, which doesn't equate to the no substance nonsense.

kody said...

Things that make you go "wow, that's impressive!" about the candidates.

I'll give a few for McCain and you can counter with Obama (a friendly wager that you can't come close to the "wow" factor):

1) McCain after years of torture was offered freedom, but refused as he believe it would be used to break the will of fellow prisoners left behind and be a propoganda coup for his torturers - continued torture for the sake of country - wow!

2) McCain Fiengold: campaign finance reform the drew the ire of his party faithful, and to this day cost him crucial base votes (and a loss of serious donations) because he thought it was the right thing to do.

3) Ditto with immigration reform

4) At a time when the public thought Iraq was lost he went against conventional wisdom and advocated the surge (against every public opinion poll in the country saying "pull out now") Surge worked faith in troops country, what he believes is right - wow



Obama?

Joseph said...

Why don't we start by answering yours point by point:

1. DAMN RIGHT THAT'S IMPRESSIVE! Yes, he fought in a war and was captured and was an example of self-sacrifice and heroism. But, you know what, we don't go out and just find the person who has done the most or suffered the most and make them President or PM. Because there is some quadriplegic somewhere in the US today who probably endured more than John McCain or any of us can ever imagine. And John McCain probably voted to limit their medical care at some point in the past 10 years because he tends to soft-sell his compatriots these days.

2. Sorry that doesn't quite reach the "wow" factor. Debatable results, and most Democrats did support it, and the public was demanding it so, yeah, he pissed off his own party. I comfort myself knowing that McCain, if elected, is willing to do such things, but that doesn't add up to a "wow" Somewhere today there is some Republican thinking, "at least Obama is willing to bend on oil development" while some Democrats are aching to the core," so do we get to cite his actions as an Obama "wow!" . . . hardly.

3. Immigration Reform - I hardly consider it a "wow" to recognize reality. The Democrats did. Incidentally, this is the only thing Bush took on that I actually felt some respect for him on. McCain better hope its a veto-proof majority in the Senate if he would intend on following through with this "wow" factor.

4. The "Surge." Let's just counter that with supporting the war to begin with while Barack opposed it from day one when 80% of the public by many polls were all over it. The war was based on mis-truths, half-truths, and market spun like a new brand of dish soap. And everyone ate it up. Obama's wow is having the stones to oppose it then.

As for Obama alone, a mixed-race child raised by a single mom and with a confused youth grows up and uses his God-given talents to make it in to Harvard, become the first African-American President of the Law Review, graduates near the top of his class by-passes Wall Street to go to Chicago to work to help poverty-stricken communities organize and advance their interests.

That sounds like a "wow" to me.

When you boil it down, McCain was a prisoner in Vietnam who acted bravely and with self-sacrifice. And I am genuinely impressed by that. But nothing else in his career comes close to quite reaching that level. If that is the sole qualification for President, I guess he'll have it in the bag. So hard to find heroic war prisoners these days. I had no idea that serving the military was a pre-requisite to running a Democracy.

And let's not even go into McCain being so willing to call the evangelical right on the carpet back in 2000 and now ready to dive into bed with them.

I say "wow" to that, but not in a good way.

Antonio said...

Obama was tortured by Hillary Clinton for 5 months

ask ludacris...

Joseph said...

The bizarre aspect of all of this is I like John McCain - tremendously. I have friends who have worked in his Senate office and got to know him personally who have the highest regard for him, even though they disagree with him on many issues. From day one I told friends that of all the Republicans, I could only hope they would choose McCain. I think whether Obama or McCain wins this autumn, it will be a breath of fresh air for the US.

But just as I flatly reject the adulation of Obama's most fervent core supporters, I flatly reject anyone who claims there is nothing to him and his own path. It's just ludicrous and makes whoever says it look petty and stupid.

Antonio said...

One thing I do find intriguing Joseph, if youd like to answer is:

There are people in Canada who fawn over Obama (particularly the NDP crowd) who see that he staunchly supports staying in Afghanistan and helping fight the Taliban (and not negotiating with them). Yet, they consistently attack the Canadian government (and Liberals who also support the War in Afghanistan) because we should never have been there in the first place and should immediately come home.

Antonio said...

oops lol

the question is why do they hold Obama to a different standard?

and I laughed at your use of the word ludicrous

Joseph said...

Sorry, Antonio, I don't have an answer for that. I don't have an answer for most of what NDP supporters say in Canada.

That's actually not a joke. I really don't get it. Even the provincial NDP out here drives me crazy. They were all for the Olympic drive here back in the early days of the bid, but not act like it's a scourge on the province (until opening day is my estimation ; ). They are for a carbon tax just not the one the governing party implemented because theirs is "good" and his is "bad."

So I wish I had an answer to your question as well.

Joseph said...

Oops myself - I had responded before I saw your question.

On your actual question, I guess you are assuming I'm opposed to the Afghan mission.

I'm not. I'm also not opposed to shifting the mission of Canadians so found the compromise this past spring a good one.

So I guess my answer really hasn't changed. I have no idea why the NDP wants Canada out of Afghanistan yet seem to fervently support Obama who has said repeatedly (and before others "shifted" - such as McCain) that it needs to be the focus of the war on terror and that efforts there should be expanded.

I do think it is ludicrous to be unwilling to recognize that Obama possesses impressive attributes and has achieved impressive accomplishments. But then I think it is sort of ludicrous anytime someone proclaims some other individual has "nothing" to offer.

To me there is a night-and-day difference between advocating one person may be a better choice than others in an election and entirely erasing any possibility of worth from their opponents.

But you can chuckle if you want, Antonio. I've probably chuckled at your comments at some point ; ) . . . that's a weak joke.

kody said...

Those are debatable points.

They are also debates on what McCain has done?

Care to mention anything of substance Obama has done?

Anything?

In fact he has NO major legislative accomplishments, and even going back to his days with the Illinois legislature he was notorious for voting "present" on vote after vote after vote.

Even as editor of his law review journal, he had not a single piece of literary work - which for the position is unheard of.

He has literally done nothing of note.

Again, the attacks on McCain's extensive record, when challenged to come up with something (anything) Obama has accomplished speaks volumes.

In reality I suspect most of you know very little about Obama, but are merely following the fawning American press coverage.

The empty suit label isn't unfair.

It's frighteningly accurate.

Joseph said...

Yeah, one suggestion Kody . . .

learn to read.

My post includes examples of Obama "wows" (as you call them).

And, alas, I'll be taking no more "assignments" from you. The mountains are beckoning for a hike this afternoon.

Antonio said...

I chuckled because of the recent fiasco around the rapper Ludacirs silly song

kody said...

McCain has now pulled ahead of Obama in Rasumussen's daily tracking. (Gallup has been showing a similar trend though I believe the basis is off by about 2 pts - within the margin of error)

Joseph said...

I purposely held back on this a couple of days because it was clear where this was going, since Kody jumped right on the one poll that showed a sliver of deep in the margin of error lead for McCain. I doubt anyone is even paying attention to this post anymore but I just couldn't resist ; ).

Recent polls including Rasmussen courtesy of Real Clear Politics:

CBS News 7/31-8/5 45O 39M Obama +6
Time 7/31-8/4 46O 41M Obama +5
Gallup 8/3-8/5 46O 44M Obama +2
Rasmussen 8/3-8/5 47O 46M Obama +1
AP-Ipsos 7/31-8/4 48O 42M Obama +6
CNN 7/27-7/29 51O 44M Obama +7
USA Today7/25-7/2745O 49M McCain +4
Pew Res 7/23-7/27 47O 42M Obama +5

So using your reasoning, I guess we can conclude that McCains antics have plummeted since Obama is now "surging."

I don't actually believe that, btw. I still think the real race begins after the conventions.

But if you're going to watch for every little glimmer to support your case, I guess you have acknowledge the inconvenient facts that stumble forth in that scrutiny.

Joseph said...

And today, all with polls started at same time or after the "just a celebrity" push by McCain

AVG 7/31-8/10 46.8O 42M Obama +4.8

Gallup 8/8-8/10 47O 42M Obama +5
Rasmussen 8/8-8/10 48O 46M Obama +2
CBS News 7/31-8/5 45O 39M Obama +6
Time 7/31-8/4 46O 41M Obama +5
AP-Ipsos 7/31-8/4 48O 42M Obama +6