Sunday, July 13, 2008

Electing Obama: send money, stop listening

Gail Collins mounts a spirited defense of Obama's reversals, with a concession on one point ...
Op-Ed Columnist - Gail Collins - Obama’s Flip-Flopping - Op-Ed -

....Dumb-avoidance would include his opposing the gas-tax holiday, backtracking on the anti-Nafta pandering he did during the primary and acknowledging that if one is planning to go all the way to Iraq to talk to the generals, one should actually pay attention to what the generals say.

Touching both bases are Obama’s positions that 1) if people are going to ask him every day why he’s not wearing a flag pin, it’s easier to just wear the pin, for heaven’s sake, and 2) there’s nothing to be gained by getting into a fight over whether the death penalty can be imposed on child rapists.

His decision to ditch public campaign financing, on the other hand, was nothing but a complete, total, purebred flip-flop. If you are a person who feels campaign finance reform is the most important issue facing America right now, you should either vote for John McCain or go home and put a pillow over your head. However, I believe I have met every single person in the country for whom campaign finance reform is the tiptop priority, and their numbers are not legion...

I can't resist an aside on that last paragraph. We're at the start of a trillion dollar bailout of the federal mortgage financing corporations. One of the reasons we're doing the bailout is because it's too easy to buy a senator and even a big piece of a president. I've got fixes for that, but even I have given up on campaign finance reform. We need to repair our culture.

Otherwise, Collins is right. There was one Progressive in the race, and John Edwards finished third while putting Clinton in second place.

Heck, I'd go even further than Collins, and say what every professional journalist knows but dares not say.

We're not electing the President of the Wise.

We're not even electing the President of the SPCA.

We're electing the President of a nation that chose George W Bush over John Kerry. Bad enough to almost-elect W when he was a little-known governor, but by 2004 most people should have heard of him.

This is a nation where a very substantial number of people are just fine with government-approved torture, a nation where a majority think Iraq was allied with bin Laden, a nation where people think offshore oil drilling will lower their truck bill this year.

You don't get elected to be president of the United States by listening to Paul Krugman -- no matter that he's ususually right. You don't get elected by crafting policy for John Gordon. You get elected by money, and by swaying the vote of a critical sliver of Americans who, ten minutes before they vote, don't know who they favor.

Obama knows this. Obama is a Chicagoland guy. I realize that doesn't mean much outside the American midwest. Briefly, Chicago is a relatively small city at the heart of a massive, incomprehensible, sprawl of self-contained wealth and power. I drive (way) around that sucker at least once a year -- and each time I need to take another newly built ring road. Chicagoland is the world in miniature, with the core byzantine politics of an old city.

So, if you're a Progressive, or if you're simply Gen Y, you should stop listening now. You're not going to like what Obama will say and do. If you want him to have a snowball's chance of winning, you have to hold your nose, cover your ears, and send money.

Then, after the election, we'll find out what we've bought.

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