Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Reason Why

During the excruciatingly long campaign season, I've read a lot about the various candidates for President and, although I've been a Johnny Come Lately to the Barack Obama camp, I've (mostly) been OK with him as the nominee.

His FISA vote is a major exception, which has somewhat tarnished his image for me. As I've noted before, I was particularly disappointed on his change in position on this issue, because I know that he knows better.

On the other hand, I've known for a long time that he is politically moderate (at least from my perspective he is), but I realize that the country, despite its avowed yearning for "change," isn't really interested in the type of change that I'd like to see -- an embrace of true liberal values. Yet, I'm enough of a realist to understand that he is better than most overall, and after weighing the pros and cons, he's certainly the best of the bunch.

I think one of his finest characteristics is the fact that he the intelligent alternative, which is something we desperately need. I've observed his impressive ability to handle himself and the issues he's addressed during his international tour, all of which bode well for our future under an Obama Administration.

I was heartened to read this essay by M.J. Rosenberg, Obama's Overseas Success: What's His Secret?, discussing Obama's trip to Israel and Palestine:

He knows his stuff. I worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years and I can tell the difference between a staff driven politician and one who knows what he's talking about. The staff driven pol (McCain is an example) is always capable of the big blunder. He does not mix up Shiites and Sunnis because he "misspoke;" he really doesn't know the difference. Same on the economy, he studies a memo and works to assimilate it. But there is no depth.

The sad fact is that most of our politicians are like that. On the Arab-Israeli issue, all they know is that they need to sound pro-Israel. So they end up mouthing the most superficial pieties. They are afraid to talk about the Palestinians because they might say the wrong thing.

They pander and pander, knowing that they won't get into trouble by just sucking up.

Not Obama.

* * * *

So what's Obama's secret. He's smart. He reads. He knows his sh*t. And that is why the Republicans who are counting on him to lose this election through some verbal blunder are going to be disappointed.

I'm not saying that McCain cannot win. He can. But he'll have to win it. Obama is not going to hand this election to him by stumbling.

I just talked to a friend who saw Obama in Israel. I asked him what his friends in the Israeli media are saying. "What are they saying? They are saying that he's the next President. And they think he's the smartest American politician they have seen yet."

I like that. After all, I'm a liberal and an elitist, so I like smart too. He's just what the doctor ordered to fix the mess our country is in -- someone who knows his stuff.

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