Why I still think Obama will be a good President. (But I am wary, too.)

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

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During the last weeks when I was unable to post, reading was the most my kaput internet connection let me do. And I was left speechless by the about-face not by the Obama campaign, but some liberal bloggers. As soon as Senator Obama showed his will to win the next Presidential election and his will to engage most Americans in solving America’s problems, never mind their ideologies, the bitching began. The Huffington Post was, and is, prominent in that field. Arianna Huffington falls over herself in declaring Obama was supposed to firmly stay on the message of the primaries.

It is not that easy. Many Liberals seem to have a selective recollection of the message. It was a bipartisan message in many ways all along. Now Obama is running for the job of President of all Americans and he has to acknowledge there are not just Liberals around. It is understandable that after eight years of right wing rule, Liberals have a feeling it is their turn now. But still, he is running for President of the United States of America, and that means President of all Americans. And he didn’t leave much doubt even during the primaries, that he was planning to engage all Americans in the task to fix their problems. He asks Americans to act as adults.

Remember the message he gave young black men about their responsibility for their families? Or the way he took parents to task, who would place their kids in front of the TV set or computer, instead of giving them a proper upbringing? This is what we over here see as decidedly conservative. Asking families to live up to their own responsibilities, before asking the public and the schools to do something about it. No plans for a nanny state here.

Do you remember Obama’s race speech and the way he was talking to you as adults? He expected you to understand the complexity of the matter and he acknowledged the apprehension of some people about affirmative action as a fact and as perfectly understandable. Today he’d be blasted for such a sentence as “pandering” to white working class voters.

What about his engaging the faith-based initiatives? Bush soured liberal Americans to anything faith-based, by giving these initiatives influence beyond their due. But, what is wrong in engaging faith based groups in helping to solve poverty issues for instance? If they run child care centers, soup kitchens, provide clothing, would you really want to exclude them from this? Such initiatives very often close the gap, where government programs won’t or can’t provide help. And to put it bluntly America is in such deep doo doo, they will need all the help from everybody willing to help to get out of it. Obama seems to have understood that much.

Iraq. Barack Obama stands steadfast to his claim, he would withdraw troops from Iraq, beginning right after the the start of his Presidency. Now he is being blasted for pointing out the obvious, he will have to consult the commanders on the ground. A President provides the policy and the commanders on the ground provide the strategy to comply with the policy, as commenter mrbigblue has so aptly pointed out in this thread. Any President who ignores the military’s advice in military matters to push through a political agenda as the current President did, is a danger to his country.

There is one thing, however, that should be closely monitored: Barack Obama’s stance on all things constitutional. I do not really like what is going on about the FISA bill, but I am absolutely clueless when it comes to the intricacies of US Constitutional Law, so I give him the benefit of the doubt, for now. The Constitution as the basis of the rule of law, as the limits to the power of the government and as the protection of civil rights is sacrosanct. Must be. The vulnerability of the US Constitution has been highlighted by the actions of the Bush Administration. Barack Obama should make it clear, that he would fully accept the limitations to the President’s power imposed on him by the Constitution. If he did that, I’d feel entirely comfortable.

So, why is Barack Obama going to be a good president? He is an intelligent man, knowledgeable about and comfortable with the 21st century. He is able to analyze the complex problems of today with an open mind and he is willing and able to use all means available to solve these problem, but he is humble enough to know he can’t do it all by himself. He is willing to leave party lines and ideologies aside in the interest of getting America’s problems solved. He once said he was planning to form a cabinet of talents, and if he succeeds in doing that, America has a chance to overcome her current crisis. And his management style is highly efficient, too. Just think about his fund-raising. He gets things done. I do think he will be a good President.

But he should say something about the Constitution!


8 thoughts on “Why I still think Obama will be a good President. (But I am wary, too.)

  1. Amen!

    As I watch the inevitible turning on Obama because he dares to want to win the election and be a President for ALL Americans, not just the progressives, I remember something that I heard during the heady days when apartheid fell in South Africa, and someone was asked if the new government was going to be about payback against the atrocities of the apartheid regime. This person replied that turning an hourglass over so that there was a new person on the bottom getting buried in the sand didn’t change one thing about the hourglass. The time had come to destroy the hourglass and have a government for all the people.

    Seems to me, that if that is the attitude that South Africans could have after the evil of apartheid, us progressives could show a little restraint as we try to recover from the 8 years of idiocy that was the Bush Regime.

  2. Well said, ojibray. We must look forward and we must think about what is good for the nation as a whole and not just our own personal agendas.

  3. Well done, EV, and great commentary by BigBlue and ojibray.

    As much as we have Bush fatigue, WE are not the only peopel in this country, and Obama has to keep that in mind in his presidential run.

    The FISA thing is concerning — y’all keep writing him!!

  4. Excellent post, EV. Why do you understand American politics so much better than so many Americans?

    Regarding “faith-based initiatives”, you slightly miss the point on that one. There is nothing wrong with faith-based organizations participating in worthwhile causes, of course. The problem is that it is unconstitutional for the US government to provide support for such efforts. Therefore, this issue falls appropriately under your general concern about Obama making a firm stand in support of the Constitution.

    Even if government support is found by the courts to fall short of direct Constitutional violation, certainly it is a violation of the long-standing precedent (going back to Jefferson & Adams) of a clear separation between church and state. Funneling billions of tax dollars to (essentially unmonitored) church organizations, no matter how well intentioned, can only lead to abuse.

    Conceptually, these organizations are not supposed to directly use the funds to proselytize, spread their “good news”, discriminate against people who don’t share their faith, etc., but if anyone believes for a minute that these things don’t happen, they are extremely naive. The government should not be funding Pat Robertson any more than they should be funding Blackwater.

    I’m all in favor of faith-based groups collecting funds privately in order to conduct legitimate good works – soup kitchens, medical aid, clothing the poor, etc. I’ve even contributed to them myself, despite being a cranky atheist. But the government definitely does not belong in the role of confiscating citizen’s money and redistributing it to churches, period. That way lies madness.

    That said, I cringe my teeth and roll my eyes at this bit of Obama pandering, and I will hold to the audacious hope that he will not do anything as stupid as his predecessor. At least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t hallucinate that god talks to him and that he is god’s soldier of the End Times.

  5. I am not happy about some of what has happened in the last few weeks. That said, as you said, there is more to America than Liberals and Conservatives. I think that My Way or the Highway has taken a severe turn down a path which is bad for ALL Americans, no matter which way they lean. The government has got to go back to being a government for the people (I give up on the By the People, but one has to have dreams, I suppose).

    And no matter what happens, no matter what Obama says or does, there is one question which always comes to my mind, first and foremost: McCain or Obama? For it will be one of these two (unless one or both conventions shoot us an August surprise). And which of those two would better serve America?

    McCain or Obama?

    BTW, I noticed that MrBigBlue expanded on his thoughts a wee bit. You can read them here.

  6. Thank you gorn for the compliment. To better understand why I got this faith based thing wrong:

    In Germany, while church and state are theoretically separated the government collects church taxes for the churches. (We got that from Hitler, too. I guess it was his way to ensure, they didn’t complain so much about his tyranny and, more important keep their catholics/protestants from complaining) If we are not a member of any church, we have to have this entered into our tax records, if we want to avoid paying taxes. As most of us are christened we are members and have to quit actively to get out of church tax. Nice one, eh?

    On top of that the churches get money from the government e.g. for schools, because they provide services for the goverment (home-schooling is illegal in Germany), but they have to stick to the government curricula for schooling. They may not e.g. teach creationism instead of evolution theory.

    So I couldn’t find anything wrong with that. it is done here and no legal problem. I am grateful you corrected this., I assumed a similar situation as in Germany and assuming is always wrong.

    So, if he wants to enlist the support from health-based organizations, Obama will, of course, have to make sure it is on a legal footing. Disdain for the law is what we have seen for eight years now and eroding the law is eroding the fundament of your society.

  7. Thanks for the insight into the German approach, EV. It is interesting that the German approach creates a direct connection between church and state, and yet Germany (as most of Europe) seems to have less of a problem than the US with religious fundamentalists controlling politics. Perhaps there is a cause-effect relationship that I would not have expected.

    The First Amendment to the US Constitution (Bill of Rights) states:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    Note this is a two-edged sword that not only prevents the government from endorsing a religion, but also prevents the government from interfering with religious freedom. It has been argued that greater involvement of the government in religion would ultimately result in direct or indirect restrictions on religious freedom, and it appears that perhaps the German experience is evidence that this is true.

    I may need to re-think this subject, as it bothers me greatly that religious organizations actually get special treatment in the US, in that they are exempt from taxes. It is not clear to me why they should get special treatment (seems, in fact, that the two edges of the First Amendment are in direct conflict in this case.) There is a long history of religious organizations abusing this special treatment.

  8. Yes, it’s weird. We are actively fighting against Scientology here and they are not accepted as a church. I do think this may have to do with the fact that European states have evolved from monarchies (by whatever means) and monarchies have traditionally been close to the (mainly catholic) church. The US has a different history.

    Our discussion reminds me of a thesis I once wrote on how the concept of welfare has taken on an opposing meaning in France vs. the US, never mind the concept stems from one source the French enlightement. I will try to hunt up my copy of it (it was rated an A at University, so it can’t be all that bad) and if I still find it I might turn it into a post. It is really fascinating and explains a lot about the different perspectives we have as opposed to Americans when it comes to things like universal healthcare.

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