To Obama Skeptics


I know there are some people who are skeptical about Obama. My own opinion is that it’s right to question his ability to control the legislative agenda and magically make all of America’s problems go away. comprehensive healthcare, Iraq, energy, tax reform, regulating Wall Street are all big issues and if manages to accomplish only half of these things I think he would have done a pretty good job. In order to achieve it he’ll need to build up his political capital, perhaps by doing some things which are unpopular amongst liberals, as well as skilfully building up support in Congress.

On the other hand I have a lot of faith in his character and temperament and believe that he will bring a lot of intelligence and good judgment to the White House. To those who doubt this I encourage you to read ‘Dreams From My Father‘.

Written after finishing law school and before he ran for elective office, it is a remarkably honest and moving memoir. It is the story of a very precocious person, who partly due to the colour of his skin, partly due to not having a father and partly due to having lived abroad, never felt at home in the dominant culture and was continually looking for a home and a purpose which he eventually found organising in Chicago.

In many ways it relates to a lot of what is discussed at Pickled Politics. Progressive politics, race and identity, having an appreciation for what is going on the world and America’s role in it. If you want to wait till he wins before reading it that’s understandable, but it’s definitely worth reading in its own right.

Book Review

  1. #1 by Ravi Naik on 15th October, 2008 - 6:35 pm

    I know there are some people who are skeptical about Obama.

    Yeah, these ones. At this point, is there anyone here who believes McCain and Sarah Palin would be better than Obama?

  2. #2 by Shamit on 15th October, 2008 - 6:40 pm

    “I know there are some people who are skeptical about Obama.”

    Shariq - good post. I am one of those skeptics and I have read both of his books. I dont question his intelligence or his ability to dazzle people with his brilliant eloquence but governance is more than that.

    Your post deserves a well considered response — and I will write one.

    His willingness to paint Bill Clinton as racist and as a failure as President of US and then after the primary saying that Clinton was the Best President for a long time in the US — makes me wonder of a guy who would say anything to get elected. And I dont see him as a change agent as most people like to paint him as.

    Will explore his policy contradictions as well as his whole change agenda in a later post. But most of all what I worry is his foreign policy positions which as a Brit would affect me more than anything else he does.

    Saying all that if I were an American I would vote for him against McCain/Palin. And I will give those reasons too.

  3. #3 by Ravi Naik on 15th October, 2008 - 7:04 pm

    His willingness to paint Bill Clinton as racist and as a failure as President of US

    You couldn’t be more wrong. Obama never said that Bill Clinton was a racist. But he did call out that they were using the race card: when they compared Obama to a failed black candidate (Jesse Jackson), to a black preacher (MLK) as opposed to Clinton who compared herself to a white president (LBJ), when they said that good working WHITE folk or HISPANICS would not vote for a black candidate. And then you have the leaked memos about emphasising on Obama’s otherness.

    Obama only attacked Clinton’s NAFTA policy, but not his administration. He never said that Clinton’s presidency was a failure. It would be stupid to do so, considering it would have alienated a lot of Democrats and independents who have fond memories of that era.

  4. #4 by Rumbold on 15th October, 2008 - 7:30 pm

    What worries me is not so much that people think Obama/Biden will be better than McCain/Palin (they will), but that some of his supporters refuse to offer any criticism of any of his policies or anything he has ever done (such as Sunny here or Gene at Harry’s Place). That points to a worrying level of adulation which is not healthy in a democractic system. I can’t think of one party or candidate which I have supported that I regarded as above criticism.

    Shariq and Shamit’s considered support for Obama is the way forward.

  5. #5 by douglas clark on 15th October, 2008 - 7:31 pm

    I am a huge fan of Barak Obama. I think he is single handedly attempting to heal what has been essentially wrong with America these last eight years or so. When he becomes president - there is really no ‘if’ about it - he will have a massive job on his hands.

    Though, to be honest, I’d think it is a job that is impossible for anyone to undertake.

    I’d say, and he wouldn’t, that it is to get Americans to recognise that the world has moved on from the uni-polar world policeman role that they have adopted with frankly misplaced greed. It is also to stop them being afraid.

    I’d be particularily enthused to see Blackwater file for bancruptcy, and for, at least, some of the present regieme to be had up for their illegal, or at least immoral, actions. It will be interesting to see who George W Bush gives immunity to, immediately before he resigns. I’d be keen to know how that rule came about.

    Barak Obama is, amongst other things, a lawyer. Hopefully as an ex-editor of the Harvard Law Review, we can at least expect him not to mangle law with expediency. The uni-polar treaties that the daft Bush regieme has pursued come to mind.

    Anyway, I wish him a wind at his back and a clear horizon.

  6. #6 by douglas clark on 15th October, 2008 - 7:45 pm

    Rumbold,

    Point. I find Daily Kos almost unreadable for just the reasons you state. No politician ought to be above friendly, or even unfriendly, criticism. It is, frankly, a love in.

  7. #7 by Ravi Naik on 15th October, 2008 - 7:48 pm

    What worries me is not so much that people think Obama/Biden will be better than McCain/Palin (they will), but that some of his supporters refuse to offer any criticism of any of his policies or anything he has ever done

    It is not a question of one being better than the other. It is a question that a lot of us believe that McCain with his sidekick Palin would be more disastrous than Bush has. Let’s not pretend like moderates and reasonable left-wingers and right-wingers have a choice, ok? This election is about moderates vs fundamentalists.

    I also haven’t seen anyone here censoring people for criticising Obama.

  8. #8 by Rumbold on 15th October, 2008 - 7:52 pm

    Douglas:

    And it really grates as well.

    Ravi:

    As I said, this is not about who you think will be the best candidate(s). It is about being willing to critique the imperfect policies/behaviour of the man who is likely to be the most powerful person in the world in a few months time.

  9. #9 by Ravi Naik on 15th October, 2008 - 8:01 pm

    As I said, this is not about who you think will be the best candidate(s). It is about being willing to critique the imperfect policies/behaviour of the man who is likely to be the most powerful person in the world in a few months time.

    It is a question of priorities. At this point, the most important factor is deciding who will be the best person and ensuring he gets elected. After he gets elected, then we criticise his polices and behaviour based on what he does as President.

  10. #10 by Rumbold on 15th October, 2008 - 8:08 pm

    Ravi:

    So Obama cannot be criticised until he is in the Oval Office? I think I will pass.

  11. #11 by Sid on 15th October, 2008 - 8:24 pm

    Yeah, I’m with Rumbold. I much prefer the considered support of Obama to the breathless, unqualified and unconditional support that is apparent with most of his fanbase. Douglas is right, the Daily Kos makes me cringe. Its almost a religious impulse for some. I think the phenomenon is actually called “displaced religion” - the phrase Obamamessiah rings true.

    One only has to remember the hero-worship that preceded Clinton’s first presidential campaign against Bush senior to know that this degree of worship can only end in tears.

    My own support for Obama waned when I saw how below par his (unscripted) debate performances were. I think politicians should be criticised early and should be criticised often.

  12. #12 by douglas clark on 15th October, 2008 - 8:55 pm

    Rumbold @ 8,

    And it really grates as well.

    Yes, it does.

    I have never really taken much interest in the US elections up until this cycle, so, what Sid says passes me by. I have no recollection of Clinton’s campaign whatsoever.

    But I do find this a fascinating game of judo. The rules seem to include, although not exclusively, the following:

    grab the news cycle. I suppose the more media savvy folk here knew about that idea. I didn’t know there was a news cycle.

    lie. Sarah Palin, for all her other charms is a liar. But no-one gets to call her out on that.

    patriotism. What is it about Yanks that says that wearing a uniform makes you a hero? I have never understood how getting shot down and captured by Vietnam makes you some sort of icon. Is there any sort of equivalent narrative over here? And Andy McNab doesn’t count. Now that really is judo.

    lurve: I’d doubt the most fervent Camoronista would declare that they were in love with him. Still and all, that seems to be what it takes to get elected in the good old USA.

    We are living in times of high strangeness, I think.

  13. #13 by Shamit on 15th October, 2008 - 9:33 pm

    Ravi - I do not want to go on about how I think Obama campaign manipulated a comment about LBJ to make it sound like Hillary was criticising MLK.

    But, I will say this, Obama went on National TV and said Reagan had a more positive impact on Americans than Clinton. We all saw it on TV. And, you cant refute that. But this thread is not about that so lets not get into it.

    Sid, I dont think the Clinton presidency ended up in tears — it was actually probably some of the best years America had. He was flawed but as a President you can hardly fault his performance. But again that is not what this thread should discuss.

    Why I think Obama is just another politician??

    Lets start with the Democratic primaries or even now. Why does this man (the first African American to be on the cusp of being the next President of the United States — ever give credit or pay homage to Lyndon Johnson. The man who made civil rights possible — the man who single handedly put his people’s interest above his party.

    Because Obama needed the Kennedy backing. JFK told a close friend of his, one of the rat pack to enter the white house from the back door because he was a black man married to a white woman. Kennedy did not even really try to resolve the civil rights crisis — he only nationalised the Alabama National Guard after there was a blood bath and the Soviet Union started an intelligent propaganda war about how America treats its Blacks. And, his brother and probably his closest advisor by far, was the AG who was getting reports well ahead of time about what was going to happen to those protestors who were willing to ride into Alabama.

    But no LBJ mention during any stump speech not on the Nomination speech — but reference to Kennedys - all the time. Without the Kennedy support it would have been hard to beat the Clintons. Also, a lot of Wall Street money and Hollywood money flowed to him after the Kennedy support.

    And, yes his campaign got more money from ordinary Americans but real bulk money have come from Wall Street and Hollywood.

    But paying respect to the President who put country first would have been nice..and thats what you would have expected from an agent of change and one who wants to paint himself as the epitome of an idealistic candidate.

  14. #14 by Shamit on 15th October, 2008 - 9:53 pm

    I agree with many of Obama’s policies on Supreme Court, power of the Executive and also on many part of the Economic policies. But how is he going to pay for it all?

    I heard about the middle class tax cut in 1992 and economists said that would be difficult then and they were right as was the massive investments which Clinton promised — he had to back track to get deficit under control.

    Now the situation is far worse — so how would Obama pay for it? Infrastructure spending which Rubin proposes I agree with but bond markets would not especially with stock markets so volatile and deficit so high.

    The 95% of american families getting a tax cut — well less than 40% of American population really pay any federal income tax. So he would basically increase the welfare budget but he would hand cheques over to these families. What about training - what about job programmes — so the opportunity cost of those would be rather high. And, I am not against giving more welfare if well directed but how do you do this in this economic environment.

    Finally trade — his rhetoric is blatantly protectionist. Giving subsidies to Ethanol, protecting American farmers — does not bode well for international development especially in African and other developing nations which in turn hurts national security in the long run.

    And most importantly, when I pit him against someone as young as Jindal — I find his CV very thin. Jindal is 37 — he had already at the age of 24 transformed Louisnana’s bankrupt healthcare system, and have served in the Federal Administration and done very well according to bi partisan reports and served as a Congressman and now Governor.

    What has Obama run except for his campaign and Ayers Educational fund — not much really. Name two important legislation — why did he back away from supporting the immigration bill which his hero now Edward Kennedy and John McCain co-sponsored. His record seems to be about running and achieving for himself.

    And he is one of the rare politicians who said nuking an ally is okay to gain a tactical advantage ie killing osama bin laden.

    I think he is a brilliant man — he is a thinker clearly but may be he is another Kennedy huge rhetoric less achievement.

    But in this election there is no competition who one should vote for if you are progressive — Obama wins hands down.

    I am pro-choice and I want abortions to be rare but I think it is finally a woman’s choice to make. I am for checks and balances and I think the Supreme Court would be packed with fundamentalists like Reinqhuist who would make liberty and justice for all just words.

    But I dont see why we are getting so ga ga as foreigners because America is not going to change its decade old policies — they might reverse some of Bush policies but no change in UN policy, no change in massive support of Israel (btw, the Republican President especially Bush Senior was the toughest with Israel) which sort of forced Rabin to engage with Arafat. And, I dont see changes in policy where Brits can be extradited to US but not US citizens or US Government giving up the right to kidnap UK citizens if necessary from UK soil as they have claimed their rights to be.

    So why are we getting so bloody excited with whoever becomes American President?

  15. #15 by Shamit on 15th October, 2008 - 9:57 pm

    Not many US Presidential Candidates come in front of No. 10 Downing Street and when asked about special relationship with Britain — evades the question and says its a historic relationship and that offends me.

    Both him and McCain want to deal with a United States of Europe — and obbviously with all his nuance and knowledge he does not realise that its going to be difficult. Just look at how Europe is divided over Russia.

  16. #16 by Ravi Naik on 15th October, 2008 - 10:15 pm

    So Obama cannot be criticised until he is in the Oval Office? I think I will pass.

    I am not sure I understand your obsession with “not being able to criticise Obama”. Are you saying that people like me are unable to criticise Obama because we think he is perfect (the idiotic “Obamamessiah” accusation), or that we do not allow people to criticise Obama? I believe you are wrong on both accounts.

    What I said is that for the majority of Obama supporters, their priority is to get their man elected in office because the alternative will be disastrous, and they are not worried whether he hurt Clinton’s feelings and ego, or start ranting about the disagreements they have with Obama’s policies or behaviour.

  17. #17 by douglas clark on 15th October, 2008 - 10:18 pm

    Shamit,

    Good posts, I think. There ought to be alarm bells ringing about this:

    And, I dont see changes in policy where Brits can be extradited to US but not US citizens or US Government giving up the right to kidnap UK citizens if necessary from UK soil as they have claimed their rights to be.

    And, yet, I hear nothing. This is, frankly, outrageous.

  18. #18 by El Cid on 15th October, 2008 - 10:20 pm

    “His willingness to paint Bill Clinton as a racist.”
    Shamit, I thought Hillary, Bill, and their campaign team did a fair job of that by themselves. But then, that’s the impression served up by a media only too willing to blow up individual words out of proportion in order to tell a story to an international audience. And we all know how important individual words can be, don’t we?

    But as you said, this thread is not about that. I would also bow to your superior knowledge of the U.S. election.

    In some respects, it doesn’t really matter whether Obama proves to be as great a leader as his most fervent supporters contend. It just matters that he is good enough and better than Bush. I’m optimistic that he will step up to the plate and prove good enough.

  19. #19 by Sid on 15th October, 2008 - 10:49 pm

    Shamit #14
    *stands up and claps loudly*

    So why are we getting so bloody excited with whoever becomes American President?

    Apart from the fact people are generally Bush-demob-happy, I dunno.

  20. #20 by Leon on 15th October, 2008 - 10:57 pm

    So why are we getting so bloody excited with whoever becomes American President?

    Nothing to do with the massive power the US has over UK foreign policy, and even judiciary when it comes to terrorist ‘suspects’ then…

  21. #21 by Shamit on 15th October, 2008 - 11:38 pm

    Leon

    What makes you think in actuality US foreign policy would be any different between McCain and Obama?

    Or for that matter what Bush has been doing in the last two years of his Presidency?

    They are going to follow the course in Iraq, no immediate pull out — more troops in Afghanistan - unwavering support for Israel and continue Bush’s policy in Africa which has been good — same with North Korea which has been good as well.

    Not much change in policy with Iran — to change it massively they would need Congressional approval — thats not going to come considering the power of AIPAC in US.

    Obama is against free trade and McCain is for it. I think that would be the key difference and on that point I would have to say McCain would be better for the world.

    Rhetoric is easy and easy to campaign — but governance becomes different especially when your words become the words of the United States.

    Who ever is the next President will have to deal with engaging Iran without offending Israel? And that would be difficult as the whole edifice on which Iran’s political system stands on is hatred towards the Big satan and its little brother Israel. Remember whoever is President has to lead his party to a congressional mid term election in 18 months.

    Would have to continue pressurising Syria to come into play a more constructive role — and again the 44th President would have to play ball on that one.

    Will try to evade the question of UN security council and the G8 expansion — as Russia does not deserve a seat on that. China and India do — so we will continue with inviting them along with the rest without making them part of it.

    Will be focused on climate change without signing Kyoto and will take a different stance in Copenhagen and thats a given — there is consensus.

    Both will close Guantanamo but will not rescind Patriot Act — will not stop exercising the right of US to defend itself wherever they see fit. So American foreign policy is again consensus based — and no President as Commander in Chief would like to retreat from war zones — as it would hurt them politically. Americans love winners hate losers. So again can anyone tell me what is the big difference between Obama and McCain except for free trade is?

    may be I am thick but I dont see much. And sadly they would more or less carry on with Bush policies for the last 2 years. No Obama would also do one more thing allow organisations that support abortion to do more international development work and give them aid.

    Aside from that where is the fundamental difference? Again as a Brit or an European, I am still going to finger printed — and my records taken over by American law enforcement — does not happen to American citizens they have the Constitution to protect them. My government would hand me over without just cause if america believes I have comitted a crime. What happens to protection of the law?

    So tell me my learned friends why are we so rooting for anyone?

  22. #22 by Shamit on 15th October, 2008 - 11:45 pm

    apologies for the typos — I will blame it on me being very tired.

    Apologies.

    One more thing, none of them is going to rescind the Bush Executive Order which enables American Military and CIA to assasinate individuals they deem to be against American national security interest. After all, if the President of US thinks its a clear and present danger to US national security, then all laws go out of the window. And that is one power, you cant even challenge in the Supreme Court.

    Defending national security of US is the primary responsibility of the President and so I dont see that power being taken away by the President himself. Can you guys?

  23. #23 by Ravi Naik on 15th October, 2008 - 11:56 pm

    I do not want to go on about how I think Obama campaign manipulated a comment about LBJ to make it sound like Hillary was criticising MLK.

    When she says that MLK only inspired the civil rights movement, but it was LBJ who really made the difference because he agreed and signed it… that’s like saying that Gandhi’s role in the independence was minimum compared to the British Raj who actually signed and conceded the independence.

    But, I will say this, Obama went on National TV and said Reagan had a more positive impact on Americans than Clinton.

    That’s not true. He was making the point that in 1980, like now, people wanted to fundamentally change the direction of the country. And that while Reagan was more revolutionary in regards to previous administrations, Bill Clinton took the evolutionary approach. He never said that Reagan had a more positive impact than Clinton. Or had better ideas than him (another ridiculous Clinton accusation against Obama).

    Why does this man (the first African American to be on the cusp of being the next President of the United States — ever give credit or pay homage to Lyndon Johnson.

    I am sure you also feel upset that Indians don’t pay homage to the British Raj on Independence Day, or even to the last viceroy.

    And, yes his campaign got more money from ordinary Americans but real bulk money have come from Wall Street and Hollywood.

    What’s the difference between “more money” and “real bulk money”? And what is the difference between money coming from ordinary Americans and money from individuals that happen to work in Wall Street and Hollywood? You do realise that donation rules are the same.

    And most importantly, when I pit him against someone as young as Jindal — I find his CV very thin.

    Obama has as much gubernatorial experience as McCain: which is none. And that’s a lot less than Bush’s as both governor of Texas and as President. Not to mention much less than Palin. What is your point again? :)

    What has Obama run except for his campaign and Ayers Educational fund — not much really. Name two important legislation

    First of all, get your facts straight. It was the Chicago Annenberg Challenge charity which was run by a Republican (Walter Annenberg), and whose wife backs McCain. Ayers attended the open meetings as a guest, not as a member of the board. Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans in that charity. And as for his legislative record, here is a summary. And I believe that managing a +$200 million campaign with thousands of volunteers so efficiently, has to count for something.

    And he is one of the rare politicians who said nuking an ally is okay to gain a tactical advantage ie killing osama bin laden.

    That’s a lie: he never said he would nuke Pakistan.

    I think he is a brilliant man — he is a thinker clearly but may be he is another Kennedy huge rhetoric less achievement.

    Yes, I agree with you on that one - as a presidential candidate, he has only made speeches and debates, not really done anything he promised to do as President. Why wait until he is President, when you can criticise him now? :)

    Not many US Presidential Candidates come in front of No. 10 Downing Street and when asked about special relationship with Britain — evades the question and says its a historic relationship and that offends me.

    Yes, how dare he say that Britain and US have a historic relationship which is the basis of that special relationship he was asked. Bad Obama. :)

  24. #24 by Ravi Naik on 16th October, 2008 - 12:05 am

    What makes you think in actuality US foreign policy would be any different between McCain and Obama?

    For starters, Obama doesn’t sing “Bomb Bomb Iran” to entertain his crowd, make jokes about sending cigars to kill north koreans, or require someone to whisper in his ear the difference between Shiites and Sunnis.

    I cannot believe that you have heard both Obama and Biden talk about foreign affairs, and think there is no difference between them and McCain… and Sarah “see Russia from my house” Palin.

    So tell me my learned friends why are we so rooting for anyone?

    Sanity, intelligence, reason and competence. And if anyone thinks that McCain and Palin represent any of that, then you really have not been following this election as closely as you should.

  25. #25 by Refresh on 16th October, 2008 - 12:06 am

    Shamit, very clear and concise posts. Thanks.

    Would you say it may therefore be better for the world for a McCain victory on the basis he would go fight more wars, create more anti-US hostility and in the process diminish its power overseas?

    Lets face it free-trade will be an irrelevance either way, if he goes ‘bomb, bomb, bombbb Iran’.

    Your point about AIPAC is very well put.

    We’re doomed.

  26. #26 by Refresh on 16th October, 2008 - 12:11 am

    Ravi, how do you do that, bold, italics, red formatting thing?

    It seems however learned a comment is, it doesn’t quite cut it unless its got style.

  27. #27 by Ravi Naik on 16th October, 2008 - 1:25 am

    Refresh, you just need put the desired words inside special tags. Just copy the text below and paste it on your comment box to see the effect:

    <blockquote>

    I am a quote!

    </blockquote>

    <b>I am bold!</b>
    <i>I am italic!</i>

  28. #28 by Shamit on 16th October, 2008 - 1:44 am

    Ravi

    I never said I am backing McCain/Palin.

    I also said I am not going to get into arguments about Bill Clinton as that is not what this post is about. But he did say and imply that. We all saw it. And by the way Obama is no revolutionary either — name one policy position which is revolutionary and not evolutionary. But lets let that one go.

    While I said I would not argue with you by implying I am stupid and don’t know what I am talking about — lets go through at least some of the points that you have raised.

    LBJ and the British Raj? Thats the one I never heard.

    Okay civil rights legislation in US 101 -

    The first civil rights legislation which was not very powerful was passed in 1957 and Eisenhower signed it into law.

    MLK was frustrated with Kennedy because he could not get civil rights legislation out of committee. Soon after Kennedy’s death in 1963, MLK told the new President Johnson that there would be more bloodshed on the streets unless Johnson got the act passed. Johnson pulled some interesting moves including wheeling in Claire Engle a Democrat from California to break the filibuster in the senate and get the deal through. Johnson, used all his skills of bullying, powers of patronage and got the bill through and signed it which was attended by MLK. And then in 1965, again they joined hands to pass the National voting rights Act and King got one of the pens that Johnson used in signing the legislation.

    Well that was a good gist but if you want to know really what these two great men talked about please read this:

    http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/displayhttp://02/01/mlklbj/

    Thats based on the tapes of conversation between LBJ and MLK.

    Well if MLK thought Johnson was a great President.-I think Obama could have paid some respect — MLK was the driver of the change in America but he needed some support to institutionalise that change and that is where LBJ came in and did a great job.

    So your depiction of history is utterly flawed.

    And obn your question about funding — are you really that naive about political donations - okay - here you go

    US Presidential Politics - 001 -

    1. Companies use subsidiaries and its affiliate auxiliary enterprises (which even could be charitable organisations) to fund campaigns. Each one of those as legal entities provide the maximum.

    2. In investment banks and some other major corporations, top executives and sometimes even mid level executive through tacit agreement each donate the maximum possible amount to a campaign thereby not violating campaign laws.

    3. There are things called fundraising dinners -where you create a PAC - incorporate it and then an individual can pay upto $25,000 to a PAC — and say a 100 people dinner each paying $10K — now you can do that with a large number of PACs and thats how you raise money. Now you do the math

    4. Also, when a Senator or another public official who already has a campaign fund aside from the Presidential campaign fund — they can use that fund to support their Presidential candidacy. Now on that one, the law is interesting, it says Individual fundraising is limited to 95.000 Dollars per legislative period ie That means a private person can donate no more than 95.000 Dollars to a candidate in the present legislative period.

    So that limit of $4,600 that people talk about can be circumvented and have been circumvented for ages — and soft money drives US elections.

    Does that answer your profoundly naive challenge?

    On wow you got one right- but again got something wrong there too.

    On the Annenberg thing, I am sorry I should have said the Chicago Annenberg challenge. But it was ayers who got the money and then invited Obama to be the Chair.

    You were right on that one.

    But you got one key thing wrong -Annenberg was dead when the foundation was giving the money out. And, so it was not a republican thing it was an educational thing and as Chair Obama drove the group. I actually thing it was a good thing. So, why the attack ?

    And, I already said he ran a brilliant campaign and I said that his experience is about getting him elected. And you agree so again why attacking me with snide comments?

    Comparison with Jindal

    I did not compare him to Bush, Clinton, McCain or Palin.

    Why I compared him to Jindal?

    Another minority Politician who did not wanna run for VP — who is 10 years younger to him- who is currently toast of the country for handing the recent hurricane.

    And, again if I were an American I would vote for Obama. So stop butting in with these stupid McCain jibes.

    But comparing against Jindal (who does not have the automatic support of the second largest population group in the US) — Obama does come up short when comparing CVs.

    And, the point of my post was why I am a bit skeptical. Imagine so much talent, so much promise — yet not much in the achievement column. That bugs me. May be he is too busy running for the next job than doing a job. Valid point I would say.

    You were absolutely right on the nuke issue My fault — yeah he agreed to invade Pakistan to capture and kill terrorists which is Bush policy anyway. But he did take nukes off the table — I eat humble pie but it helps me prove my point. There would not be much difference in American foreign policy except for rhetoric and better speeches. America as a nation will always reserve the right to act alone and while we would have Presidents like Clinton or Obama who would minimise that — but if push came to shove America will act alone if they felt threatened. And, they would rather keep the fight on foreign shores rather than on home soil. Thats their mindset. And a change of President does not necessarily change that fundamental mindset - especially in the post 9/11 world.

    On Foreign Policy the rhetoric now is very different — in office when your words are the words of the USA then you would try to develop a consensus so that you have Congress and the people behind you. lets look at some of the key foreign policy questions;

    For example DO you think Obama’s policy towards Saudi Arabia would be any different than Bush’s? We defend those royal assholes who use torture and curb down on any freedom — and guess what they also fund various activities which are not in either US or British interest. But can Obama act against Saudi Arabia — NO- I would love for him to but he cannot

    We define Bush as the ultimate unilateral President? But he worked with China, Russia, Japan and South Korea to resolve the North Korea issue — And on Iran, they are building a coalition and that would continue.
    Arab countries don’t like Iran either — remember. And the Israel factor looms large — so Obama meeting ahmedinajad would be objected by people close to him including Tony Lake and Ralph Emmanuel.

    Russia — now both parties in Congress and former Secretary of States as well as others know that Russia needs to change its behaviour both internally and externally. No American President would allow Russia to have a veto on who gets into NATO.

    The World Trade Agreement — Doha round has failed. Whats next? Are we moving to a bi-lateral agreement and regional agreement phase.. Now again domestic compulsions would not allow the US President to do much when his political capital is at the highest level which is the first 18 months of his Presidency.

    Climate Change — have to convince the senate — not going to be easy unless you can get China and India to agree on somethings. Yeah they know they have to do something and both candidates are willing to do it and show some leadership — and it would be related to energy security and guess what not much difference there.

    I am talking policy substance and not rhetoric — as rhetoric is campaigning not governing. And after Bush whoever is the 44th president would develop some strong coalitions to work through things. So where is the fundamental difference -again policy please? show me some — I am probably missing something.

    On the special relationship

    He avoided saying the phrase special relationship even after directly being asked that question Ravi. I may be stupid but not that stupid and as Brit doesn’t it hurt your pride that our citizens can be extradited but not Americans — Americans are not finger printed when they come here — why should we be…will Obama change any of those things or for that matter any President.

    I respect Obama and what he has achieved. And, I hope he is the next President of the United States — political reality tells me that I dont expect sea change in American foreign policy — there would be some good movements and there would be some symbolic yet powerful changes especially in rhetoric. But I do not see fundamental difference between the candidates’ foreign policy actions.

  29. #29 by Seg on 16th October, 2008 - 1:48 am

    If you prefer a social USA then you guys have the right guy.

    Redistribution of wealth

    National Health care (Like the government can run healthcare lol, Look at social security, medicare, the housing markets)(fanny and Freddie.)

    Will not take Iran seriously. ( The Nuclear deterent does not scare someone who is willing to be a suicide bomber on a national level)

    Wants to eliminate oil in 10 years. ( Other countries are doing all they can to produce or take more- see Russia moving into Georgia) How will America defend itself.

    Raise taxes (Dont buy the hype about 95% of poeple will get a tax cut- See Bill Clinton 1992- The headlines will be -Situation to dire for tax cuts, on the contrary in order to survice we will raise taxes accross the board)

    Supreme court-

    The bail out gave away another part of our constitution,- The battle cry is that for stability we will give away our freedoms- So people do not suffer.

    This is just off the top of my head. I am sure I can come up with more.

    Do not forget about the silent majority. I call upon all of you that will not stand for this to rise up and show up when it matters. Election day.

    Have a nice evening.

  30. #30 by Shamit on 16th October, 2008 - 1:51 am

    ravi

    thanks for spotting the nuke thing — you were correct of course and I actually wanted to mean bomb an ally for tactical advantage.

  31. #31 by Seg on 16th October, 2008 - 1:55 am

    Forgot to add that Obama skeptics should be skeptics.

  32. #32 by Shamit on 16th October, 2008 - 2:04 am

    Seg

    Supreme court - Obama would appoint a court which would defend your freedoms mate — and McCain would take that freedom away — liberty and justice for all — and that should include those who are charged but not convicted of heinous crimes. Thats what a liberal democracy does.

    Without the bailout and the recapitalisation of banks, I think you would have a financial meltdown and that would affect your economy — or would you prefer that -
    On domestic policy Obama is miles and miles ahead of his opponent.

  33. #33 by Ravi Naik on 16th October, 2008 - 3:09 am

    I also said I am not going to get into arguments about Bill Clinton as that is not what this post is about. But he did say and imply that. We all saw it.

    I didn’t see it, and I doubt anyone saw it. But I appreciate that you provide evidence that Obama ever said that the Reagan administration was better for the US than the Clinton administration.

    So your depiction of history is utterly flawed.

    I made a parallel between two personalities who inspired and lead a powerful movement. I still think it stands. Clinton’s words minimised MLK by saying he just inspired and made good speeches… that the real deal was LBJ.

    Does that answer your profoundly naive challenge?

    I was not trying to challenge you, but to understand what you were talking about. I still do not know what’s your point on this topic of donations. Are you against donations?

    But comparing against Jindal (who does not have the automatic support of the second largest population group in the US) — Obama does come up short when comparing CVs.

    That’s your opinion. I think Obama’s accomplishments and more importantly his skills are far far better, and far more impressive than Jindal’s - not only as presidential candidates, but also as President.

    Climate Change — have to convince the senate — not going to be easy unless you can get China and India to agree on somethings… So where is the fundamental difference –again policy please? show me some — I am probably missing something.

    The fundamental difference is that Obama is more knowledgeable than McCain on foreign policy, and he is a guy that has stated he believes in diplomacy including with rogue regimes. And since Democrats are going to win big time on the Senate and the House, Obama will have an easier time making the changes he sees fit.

    He avoided saying the phrase special relationship even after directly being asked that question Ravi. I may be stupid but not that stupid and as Brit doesn’t it hurt your pride that our citizens can be extradited but not Americans — Americans are not finger printed when they come here — why should we be…will Obama change any of those things or for that matter any President.

    I don’t understand your rant about “special relationship”, but it seems like it is Blair and Brown who should do something about it, not Obama who is not even President!

    yeah he agreed to invade Pakistan to capture and kill terrorists which is Bush policy anyway…

    Invading Pakistan is not at all like Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Obama didn’t defend that he was going to occupy Pakistan, nor overthrowing its government. These are tactic operations that target Al Qaeda - and only if Pakistan refuses to or is unable to get those people.

  34. #34 by Shamit on 16th October, 2008 - 3:33 am

    Ravi

    You are splicing my statements and basically not discussing.

    You are doing exactly the same thing to Hillary Clinton’s statement what Obama campaign did and then equating LBJ with a colonial power.

    And then you imply I dont know about Federal Election Laws about Contributions and Donations and then when I tell you the limit is actually quite easily circumvented — you say whats your point- wtf????

    Oh no, I get it — I have committed blasphemy — oh the messiah has been challenged…oh i tremble with fear.

    god get a fucking grip on your obsession will you?

  35. #35 by Ravi Naik on 16th October, 2008 - 4:08 am

    Oh no, I get it — I have committed blasphemy — oh the messiah has been challenged…oh i tremble with fear. god get a fucking grip on your obsession will you?

    You seem a little frustrated. Well, it’s 4:00AM.

    Why don’t you try to reply #33 again tomorrow after a good cup of coffee (or tea)? I might return the favour by telling you what I disagree with Obama.

  36. #36 by shariq on 16th October, 2008 - 11:56 am

    1)Obama said clearly in the debate that he is not a protectionist and is for free trade. I think this is broadly true despite what he may have said in order to win states such as Ohio.

    2)Shamit, the Clintons were skillfully playing the race card e.g The Turban photo and Bill’s comment about Obama winning South Carolina.

    Having said that you are 100% right about LBJ. Hillary was perfectly justified using that argument because it tied in with her point about experience.

    It was unfortunate that the Obama campaign also engaged in race-baiting but I think it wasn’t too serious and probably justified given the cynicism of the other side.

    3)Shamit, also good critiques of his policies especially the tax stuff.

  37. #37 by Ravi Naik on 16th October, 2008 - 12:12 pm

    Having said that you are 100% right about LBJ. Hillary was perfectly justified using that argument because it tied in with her point about experience.

    Here is the exchange. This needs to be in context: she was campaigning at that time with the message that: Obama was all talk (just made good speeches), and she was the experienced one - that she would get things done. And then she makes the parallel between MLK (black preacher - the one who had dreams and inspired people) and LBJ (white president who had things done).

    Regardless of interpretation, we can agree that it was a gaffe that with her fantasy of being under fire in Bosnia, precipitated her downfall with blacks, Democrats and Independents. And she was unable to recover.

  38. #38 by Ravi Naik on 16th October, 2008 - 2:01 pm

    Having said that you are 100% right about LBJ. Hillary was perfectly justified using that argument because it tied in with her point about experience.

    Also, I do not buy that “experience” crap of hers. Obama worked in the Senate (first as a State legislator and then as a US senator) for longer than she had. And being a wife of a President doesn’t make you experienced, as much as Yoko Ono was not a Beatle because she was married with John.

  39. #39 by Jai on 16th October, 2008 - 9:01 pm

    You seem a little frustrated. Well, it’s 4:00AM.

    I’m gonna be frank, my friends. I have no idea what you guys are doing at that time of night having arguments on PP, instead of having your wicked way with a suitably gorgeous woman or running up an embarassingly huge phone bill via those naughty Babestation satellite channels which you’re going to pretend never to have stumbled across.

    Sorry, badmaash snarkiness is going to be the limit of my contribution to this thread for the time-being ;)

    Oh yes, apart from “Go Obama !”.

    Carry on.

  40. #40 by Nyrone on 17th October, 2008 - 2:20 am

    Just got the book a few days ago.
    I’ve decided to start it today:)

  41. #41 by Shamit on 17th October, 2008 - 2:47 am

    Jai

    you are letting out too many secrets mate - ssshhhhhhhh with a smile.

    S

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