The New York Times brings up a set of very interesting questions about Barak Obama with their article Obama’s Test: Can a Liberal be a Unifier? Here at the 12 Angry Men Blog, we’re always interested in providing more analysis than you get on the news. Today, three of the twelve offer their perspective.
“I’m interested in solving problems as opposed to imposing doctrine,” he said. “I see a lot of convergence of interests among people who in traditional terms are considered to be divided politically.
Well, yes, but those people are divided politically between the left “The government should regulate core industries for public health and safety concerns” and the far left “anyone trying to make a profit is evil, and we should become Sweden”. He’s even having a hard time uniting those people.
But, on the flip side, a junior Senator who actually tries to build bridges and unite a massive center coalition will get zero support from his own national committee, which is largely partisan. It’s possible that he knows he has to bow, scrape, and be generally subservient to his party handlers until after the convention. After Hillary actually steps down, Obama could suddenly actually become the centrist uniter he keeps insisting that he really is, since he won’t have to appease the foaming-at-the-mouth crazies on both sides of him anymore. He could really mean what he says, but be constrained to being fanatically Democrat his whole career up to the point that he’s the presidential nominee. It’s conceivable. I don’t really believe it, but I’m exploring possibilities. If Hillary would just sit down and shut up, he could actually start working. Or he could self-destruct in a fall not seen since Icarus once the Democratic party gets to look at his ideas long enough for some small child to point out that the Emperor is naked…
McCain, being the senior senator who never really thought he’d get a shot at the big boy chair, already switched over to “curmudgeon” mode to do whatever he felt like doing at the moment without real fear of recriminations from his party. He’s done some real uniting across the aisle, but that’s more of a coincidence of convenience, rather than an overarching theme to his career. He’s already moving left to grab the center, and generally leaving the camo-wearing nutjobs and the pinko-commie socialists to fill the blogosphere with their empty whining.
Angry Overeducated Catholic
When Obama speaks of uniting, he’s been pretty clear that he doesn’t mean some sort of mushy middle ground where we, and he, give up our dearly held principles. Rather, he means that in the midst of partisan fights, he’s also willing to move ahead on those issues where there’s shared ground. Or, at least that’s my read on him. To me, that’s actually pretty refreshing. I don’t expect, or even want, liberals to just give up their wacky, unworkable ideas. 😉 But, as we work hard to ensure that those insane ramblings never become law, I do want us to be on good speaking terms and get work done in those areas where we actually agree.
A commitment to work with your political opponents on issues where you agree doesn’t sound like much, until you look at how much political “debate” is shrill name-calling on both sides (“Bush lied,” “They’re not anti-war, they’re just on the other side,” etc.). If Obama is really willing to sit down and rationally talk with those whose policies he abhors and look for common ground, I’m behind him 100%. In this light I think the knee-jerk reaction to his desire to “talk with Iran” was silly. I can understand worrying about his Carter-like naivite but viewing any call for discussion as treason seems foolish. It just illustrates the current problem, and the thing that makes Obama so attractive to many people.
In short, he just drips common sense and reasonableness, at least on the issue of dialog. For me there’s no contradiction between Obama being a hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool liberal and promising to support honest and respectful dialog. Actually being able to pull off the promise is a different matter, but that may not be his fault. It takes two to dialog, but only one to shrilly accuse, after all. Anyone attacking Obama on his liberalism might be on dangerous ground, though. If Obama can stay calm and reasonable, and find a few Republicans to announce that they disagree with his politics but admire his bipartisan efforts, any attacks could come across as just more tiresome partisan sniping. No, as I see it, if Obama stumbles it won’t be on this issue, it will because certain past associates, etc. make us wonder if he really cares all that much about dialog in any form (*ahem* Pastor Jeremiah “Down With Whitey” Wright).
Angry New Mexican
As John McCain has learned time and time again in his campaign, pretending to be someone you’re not (in his case, pretending to be a social conservative) will cost you dearly as human beings are generally pretty good at spotting phonies. McCain’s gotten off easy — he hasn’t been subject to a full-out assault from the likes of George Soros yet, so the price he paid was watching his campaign disintegrate last summer. Barak Obama has yet to learn that lesson, and I guarantee you it will come back to haunt him come the general election. He’s painted himself into a corner with rhetoric incompatible with his record. As Danny Diaz, a RNC mouthpiece noted, “When you’re rated by [the] National Journal as to the left of Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders, that’s going to be difficult to explain.” Mr. Diaz, I believe has hit the nail square on the head… and the Republican attack machine will be working overtime this fall to get that message across. I can see it now…
Cue the ominous music and cut to a middle-aged, lower-middle class white woman with a child. “I want straight talk from the next president. Don’t claim you’ll do something when you’ve been something different your entire career,” she says angrily.
Cut to a still of Barak Obama: “We need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington.”
Cut to a middle-class white man: “Run on your record. Talk is cheap.”
Cut to a photo montage of Obama meeting with liberal icons. Cut to ominous voice: “And what is Senator Obama’s record? In 2006 he was the 10th most liberal member of the Senate. In 2007 he was the most liberal.” (The ad can go on for an additional 5 seconds or so touting Obama’s liberal record).
Cut to man and woman above: “He’s a died-in-the-wool liberal.” Ominous voice echos: “Obama. Liberal.”
Cut back to voice (now much nicer) as a video clip of McCain fades in: “Who is the candidate who has an actual record of working with both Democrats and Republicans to achive real change in Washington? John McCain. Check the record. It’s in black and white.”
Cut to Senator McCain: “I’m John McCain and I approve of this message.”