Feb 11, 2007

Much Ado about a Presidential Hopeful

The nation's worst-kept secret became public knowledge yesterday as Illinois senator Barack Obama announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008. The announcement dominated news programs and talk shows on a weekend otherwise focused on little more than the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

I find the candidacy of Obama intriguing on the surface, as I have a natural inclination to cheer for someone of humble origins who tries to break the barriers that skew American politics in favor of those with money. I would also like to live to see the day when the highest offices of American politics have been held - at least once - by persons other than those with white skin, breaking one of the last bastions of white privilege. Finally, Obama has a history of being able to work with members of the Republican party to push forward legislation, a knack for true bipartisanship sorely lacking in this era of polarized American politics.

Yet I cannot help but look at the rather thin resume of Barack Obama and come to the conclusion that the likeable senator is wholly unprepared for the demands of the Oval Office. He served two terms in the Illinois state senate, and has been a US senator for two years.

Obama is an excellent public speaker, and yesterday's announcement was chock full of passages like this that resonate with voters:
All of us know what those challenges are today -- a war with no end, a dependence on oil that threatens our future, schools where too many children aren't learning, and families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working as hard as they can. We know the challenges. We've heard them. We've talked about them for years.
The next president, unfortunately, will need a great deal more than feel-good speeches to fix the problems that face our nation, and Barack Obama has yet to show me that he has the ability and experience to lead this nation.


Anonymous said...

Obama will say anything to get elected. Democrats and Republicans alike distrust this guy because he is so unknown.

historymike said...

I'm not sure that he is wishy-washy, anonymous. I haven't heard enough from him to detect blatant opportunism.

I agree that his status as an unknown quantity will make the big money donors nervous, and I suspect he will struggle to compete with the Clintons in raising cash.

Besides - maybe his present goal is vice president, and he might just settle for VP in 2008 for a shot at the big prize in 2012 or 2016. The guy is still quite young at 45, and even 8 years as VP would only make him 55 in 2016.

microdot said...

I would not say he is wishy washy and saying that he will say anything to get elected is a baseless non factual statement.
I would say, maybe with what constitutes "experience" in the world of professional American politics, maybe we would be lucky to get a leader who hasn't had time to become jaded and corrupt.

historymike said...

I am in complete agreement, Microdot, that a healthy infusion of people free from the stench of corrupt lobbyists is a good thing for government at all levels.

This, of course, raises a dilemma - if we send new faces to Washington, are we trading corruption for inexperience?

Anonymous said...

Do we really want a cokehead to be our president?

Anonymous said...

What an ignorant comment! Do you really think that Barack Obama is a cokehead?

Anonymous said...

It is incredible how much people just buy into and spit back whatever they hear in the media. Inexperience does not mean incompetence. For such an "inexperienced" senator, he sure has managed to float above the bipartisan cesspool, on both a personal and political level in a way that very few of his more "experienced" counterparts have been able to do. Read some of the comments that his Republican colleagues have made about him--they are positive and glowing! He appears to be, as of now, the only candidate on the democratic side who truly shows promise of uniting, rather than continuing to polarize, congress and the country.

historymike said...

Anonymous #1:

Obama's admission in one of his books that he tried cocaine as a teenager hardly makes him a "cokehead." I think it just means he is honest. I give him credit for that.

If every stupid thing people do as teenagers means we can never be President, I think the field would be mighty thin.

historymike said...

Anonymous #2:

I offer a commentary based upon what I think, and this means I just "buy into and spit back whatever they hear in the media"?

Not falling for the bait. I consider myself as informed as any other voter - perhaps better informed than most - and I write what I think.

Were I of such a mind, I might turn the accusation around and describe you of being a partisan shill whose zeal for this rising star blinds you to his inexperience.

I won't.

But you would better make your case if you formed an argument that did not imply that your opponent is little more than a mindless zombie following the marching orders of some members of the media.

I do agree that Obama's possibilities as a bridge-builder are intriguing.

anonymous #2 said...


you are right, I should better qualify my statements. What I meant is that the media highlights a perceived weakness, such as inexperence, in a candidate. The public then begins to expand upon it without truly questioning what the criticism is referring to.

Level of experience, as this current administration has proven, is not necessarily an indicator (either way) that a leader will be good or bad. There are very experienced leaders that are terrible at their jobs, and vice versa.

The clear problem in american politics today stems from the chasm that exists between the leaders and the general populace. Our leaders have stopped acting intuitively on behalf of the people, worrying instead about gaining the favor of the powerful few.

Approval ratings are at an all-time low, signaling that this administration is not acting on behalf of the best interest of America as a whole.

My point is, the focus of politics and leadership has shifted to something petty and partisan, and changing this direction requires something more than political experience. It requires experience in tact, diplomacy, and an understanding of the real reasoning behind the laws of this country. It requires a leader who can erase cynicism by being "real" and "honest" and atypical.

The state of this country is not as it is because of the current leaders' experience level, but rather their approach. So changing the state of affairs, to me, is mroe about changing the approach than scrutinizing one's resume.

John Spalding said...

I am with anonymous #2 on this one!

-Sepp said...

He'll never be able to compete with the Clinton cash machine.

Maggie M. Thornton said...

I'm up for all the competition Hillary can get. We'll see about Obama. He deserves his chance, if the people want to give it to him.

Historymike: I have an Obama article up. I'll link to yours.

This a good comment thread.

Maggie's Notebook

Dariush said...

So far, Obama seems to be the least objectionable of all the candidates.

I absolutely loathe Hillary and don't trust Edwards any further than I can throw him.

Although I'll confess that his (Edwards') Meet The Press appearance elevated him slightly in my book.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I don't care who anybody runs, as long as what used to be our government maintains its "party-centric" ways, they will not be working in our best interests, but those of the party leaders and that will never be good for "We the Sheeple. . ."

Peahippo said...

What a yawner.

Modern American political history shows that we give the Presidency to state Governors or VPs, not Senators. If the Dems run Senators and the Repubs run a Governor, then you can count on a Republican President being elected in 2008. This also applies to the obvious turds, namely Lieberman and Clinton.

Furthermore, Obama is insipid as a Centrist Democrat. Democrat Centrism has helped to lose elections for Dems since the year 2000. Like Kerry, he's trying so hard to lean right that he just ends up being a DINO. That's another nail in his campaign coffin. Additionally, his "Blackness" is just a gimmick, which is causing the mainstream media to eat out of his hands ... but the voters are either polarized or uncaring about such a thing.

P.S. The idea of a "divided" Congress is a f*cking howl, and I greatly enjoy hearing how the dumb*ssed US population continues to promote such a myth. How has the Congress been anything BUT united since 911? In vote after vote of military-supporting and worker-attacking legislation, the Congress has voted YES 99%+ Repub and YES 33%-90% Dem since Sep 12th 2001. This is a majority coalition by any measure. The coalition was formed of Imperial desires. Hence, the US Congress will continue to vote in a majority for the only things that matter: militaristic foreign relations with regards to weak nations (Middle East (except Israel), Africa, etc.), mewling economic submission to strong nations (China, Israel, Russia, etc.), and constant attacks upon the working class of the nation itself. (The poster "anonymous #2" pointed out that the REAL disunity in the nation was between the leaders and the people. This is simply the Imperial model, since the USA is an Empire and not really a Republic anymore.)