Let’s get this out of the way right now. I’ll be voting Obama in November. Yes, I know. I just made a bunch of Republicans howl in agony, but then I have the same reaction when I see the gang of morons they’re trotting out this year. And why should they run their best and brightest? Why run Rob Portman or Bobby Jindahl or Chris Christie against an incumbent? Likewise, what motivation did Hillary Clinton have to run in 2004?
Let’s be honest. Unless the incumbent is Richard Nixon, Warren Harding, or James Buchanan, canning the incumbent while there’s a war on or the economy’s in the tank is generally a bad idea. Why? Well, look at this year’s field. To a candidate, their chief position is “I’m not Obama.” Hmm… Very much identical to the John Kerry “I’m not Bush” platform. Do I have to reiterate why such a candidate’s every second on television is time stolen from my life?
If you want to oust an incumbent (Jerry Ford does not count.), you have to run a Lincoln or a Roosevelt or a Reagan, someone who can motivate the nation and move them to be better, even the opposition. Obama gets compared to Jimmy Carter a lot, but you don’t run Chester Arthur against Jimmy Carter (or, for that matter, Jerry Ford). You need FDR or JFK or Reagan. People want a leader. Like the Democrats in 1976, the Republicans are only putting up cannon fodder.
But my vote will be a vote for Obama, not a vote against (insert GOP cannon fodder here). Why?
There are a number of reasons. For starters, healthcare reform. And I just made a bunch of Tea Party heads explode. Doesn’t bother me. Most of what the Tea Party has said about healthcare bears little resemblance to fact anyway. (And I know some idiot is going to rattle off a bunch of “facts” in the comment section. Save your breath.) We didn’t get healthcare reform. We got insurance reform. Basically, you have to buy insurance and quit overburdening the ER because you wanted to wait until it’s almost too late to stick it to the hospital. And dude, I totally understand why people do that. I’ve done it. I like having insurance better. In return, insurance companies are not allowed to screw you quite so badly anymore. They can’t tell you they’re just going to let you die because you’re diabetic or had toe nail fungus when you were 25. Perfect?
No, but if you want perfect, I suggest Mother Goose. Oh, wait. Perfect does not exist in fairy tales, either. Oh, well.
Second, let’s look at the economy. Pinheads like Beck and Hannity have done a good job selling people on the idea that somehow, the junior senator from Illinois, through a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy (TM), caused the Great Recession in a bid to turn us into a socialist Islamic republic. For those of us not on crack, the truth is less spectacular, but it did light a fuse that started with the Tea Party and is now burning through the Occupy movement. Put the blame squarely where it belongs. Not on Obama or even Bush, not even the one percent. It’s the banking industry. If ever there was a business that had its head so firmly up its collective ass…
Well, there’s the recording industry, and I’m still outraged they didn’t all go bankrupt. But the banks have been in a collective stupor for a very long time now. They’re like your idiot drunken brother-in-law. Take the locks off the gun cabinet, and he gets into all sorts of trouble. The only problem is that if you don’t bail out your brother-in-law, Thanksgiving is a little quieter this year. If you don’t bail out the banks, well…
The problem is then you end up bailing lots of other people out because, well, the banks managed to lose everyone’s money and now wants all of theirs. So if the banks are whining because Mr. Obama won’t let them sell liar loans anymore, screw ’em. If you thought Gordon Gecko was the hero of Wall Street, you’re too stupid to live.
But the thing that keeps me firmly in the Obama camp is that he’s not a hardliner. Let me be blunt here. Hardliners are worthless. Hardliners cause just about every bad thing that happens in the world. In American, hardliners (both left and right) love to invoke the Founding Fathers to justify their inflexible thinking and unyielding approach to governance (until some sweet, sweet pork comes their way. Don’t kid yourselves. Everyone who says they don’t take pork is a serial offender. Every. Single. One.) Never mind that said Founding Fathers agreed on virtually nothing and could only birth a nation and write a Constitution through debate and compromise. If you’re not open to compromise, would you kindly get the fuck out of my government and leave my country for someplace more your speed? Like North Korea?
That’s not to say I’m happy with Obama. I’m not. I’m disappointed.
For one thing, Obama is too wishy-washy. In the recent biography of Steve Jobs, Jobs told Walter Isaacson he was massively frustrated with Obama for constantly telling him why things can’t get done. OK, one of my complaints about George Bush was that he was The Decider. Not that I dislike decisiveness; I just want a bit more thought and finesse to go into the process. On the other hand, Barry needs to be more decisive. I need once to hear Obama look, not just at the GOP, but at his own party and go, “You know what? Fuck you. I’m the president. This is my job. Lead. Follow. Get the hell out of the way.” We haven’t had that for about twelve years. Not with any degree of nuance or skill, anyway.
Second, this is a horrible cabinet. Gates, followed by Panetta, and Hillary Clinton are the only ones who really shine. That’s it. The rest of them? Yes, these are better people than George W. Bush had around him, but hell, I’ve been on beer league softball teams that could do better than Bush’s cabinet. Geithner is even more wishy-washy than Obama. As Treasury secretary, he should have spent the last four years putting the fear of God into the banks and AIG. Instead, he does it to GM and Chrysler. You know. The companies that actually build stuff and employ people, not spend their days trying to con investors into financing liar loans. And then there’s Steven Chu, the genius behind the Solyndra deal that’s become a symbol of what people hate about Obama’s administration. That guy should have been fired the day Solyndra filed for bankruptcy.
And let’s look at the stimulus, shall we? In principle, pumping money into the economy is classic Keynseian economics. Even Milton Friedman cited it as part of the basis for his own hands-off approach to the economy. But you have to put money into things like highways and the power grid and the Internet. Stuff that will generate income and jobs when they’re finished. (Hmm… Didn’t Clinton do this? Oh, yeah. He presided over a boom.) You don’t fund cops and teachers for a couple of years only to have them laid off again when there’s no more money coming in. And you don’t let idiots like Steven Chu make deals with companies like Solyndra. If you’re going to go that route, you might as well send out those stimulus checks Bush was so fond of. On second thought, don’t. My taxes are going to go up enough as it is when that bill finally comes due. (Yes, Virginia. Your taxes already went up 10 years ago. You just haven’t gotten the bill yet.)
And finally, there is the NDAA. Last I checked, Johnny Reb wasn’t marching on Washington or Gettysburg. That all ended slightly over a century before I was born. The NDAA extends a really bad policy of the government wiping its ass with the Fourth Amendment that started with the Patriot Act. There is no legitimate reason whatsoever for warrantless wiretaps – NONE – nor the suspension of habeas corpus. Yet the Obama Administration actually asked for this to be put into the NDAA. I’ve got a problem with that.
“Ah, ha!” some of the few Republicans who haven’t stopped reading this to put pins in their Jim Winter voodoo dolls say, “there’s why you shouldn’t vote for him.”
Um, well… Name me a candidate in the GOP slate who wouldn’t have signed that bill. Ron Paul? OK, name one with a serious shot at the nomination.
Yeah. That’s what I thought.
I’m not happy with this year’s election, but unless someone breaks into a hotel at the GOP convention, none of the bozos wanting to be the new president give me any compelling reason to change course.
If anything, they inspire me to push for reconciliation with Britain.
But only if we can have Eddie Izzard as our governor-general.