Thursday, February 14, 2008

Expectations



J.D. and I had an interesting exchange of email this morning, and I thought what I said to him about a nice piece he has on his site -- go look -- might be worth mentioning here, to clarify my position on the upcoming presidential race:

Here's the pertinent point -- what I consider a reality check. Bear in mind, I like Obama and will vote for him if he gets the nomination:

... as much as I like what Obama has to say, and his manner of delivery, and I'd be happy with him running against McCain, I know to my core that he isn't going to be able to deliver everything he is promising. Carter couldn't do it, Bill Clinton couldn't do it, and they were both as smart as anybody since Jefferson. Hillary won't be able to, nor will McCain.

It's like wishing you could fly by jumping up in the air and waving your arms; it would be wonderful, but the aerodynamics aren't going to allow it on this planet.

The politics of hope are not the same as the politics of accomplishment.

This is Obama's biggest drawback. If he does get elected, the expectation level is astronomical. And while it is true that if you reach for the stars, you don't come up with a handful of mud, and that a man's reach should exceed his grasp, people who believe Obama is going to completely fix the broken state of the U.S. are living somewhere between Sleeping Beauty's Castle and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Yeah, if he gets the nomination, he has my vote. But I don't think he can walk on water. If it turns out I am wrong, then you'll see me hat in hand in a few years admitting it in public. But I wouldn't bet serious money that is going to happen.

Not cynical here, but realistic. We've never had a black man as President, true enough. But we've had plenty of bright and dedicated guys who held the job, and none of them were able to completely revamp the state of the nation for the better. We've had a few who have made it considerably worse: Witness Current Occupant. I think that Obama would work hard at it, but this isn't The Matrix, and he isn't The One, no matter how much people would like him to be.

Before anybody gets all excited and wants to hammer me over the head, remember, I will happily vote for the guy if it gets to that. And that I am an old hippie who would love nothing better than to see the Age of Aquarius get here before I shuffle off. Thing is, I've heard it all before, and yeah, he's different, but until I actually see him walking on water, live and in person, I'm not going to believe that he can.

9 comments:

Michael said...

I agree with what you say and I have some minor complaints about Obama that have nothing to do with his campaign message.

I don't support Obama because I think he's going to be the best thing since sliced bread, I support him because I have serious problems with things that Clinton has done in the past and the specific compromises she seems willing to make in the future to achieve her agenda.

Personally, I'm not thrilled with either of the major parties, Obama just represents the lesser of three evils when compared to Clinton and McCain (or even worse - Huckabee).

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

Reality? I like Obama slightly better than Clinton. I'm not crazy about either of them, and Kucinich dropped out.

But the other half of reality is that we can't survive four more years of flat-out fascism.

J.D. Ray said...

Well, frankly I think quite highly of Ron Paul. And for the longest time I was holding out hope that Michael Bloomberg was going to jump in the race. I think it's too late for him now, just nine months to the election. As I told Steve in our little e-mail exchange, I admit guilt to applying a healthy dose of hyperbolae to the essay. But Obama's about hope, right? Not cynicism. We're all adults here (well, except for you over there. Do your parents know where you are?), and realize that there are a lot of roadblocks ahead no matter who gets elected. And, sure, the burger in the sack looks nothing like the one on the menu. But if a little grandstanding on my part can help ensure that Obama gets nominated over Clinton, who arguably has a smaller chance of winning against McCain, well, then, I'll pour on the sugar.

Wow, I'm full of metaphors tonight. Maybe it's time for bed.

Steve Perry said...

Well, I went through my Ayn Rand stage when I was eighteen, and as an objectivist, we thought the libertarians were pinko commies trying to give away the store.

Loved John Galt when I was eighteen. These days? He'd need to be on some serious medication if they let him out on the street. I was his shrink, I'd keep him indoors.

Howard Roark blowed up his building and I cheered, back then. Today, he'd be a terrorist and should hang for all the dust and crap he'd put into the air that would even up giving thousands lung disease.

Theoretical ways of living that have never worked in the real world? And can't possibly? Nope. Not for me.

The world isn't black and white. Never was. Never will be.

And yet, now and then, somebody digs up the moldy corpse of Libertarianism as if they expect to bring it back to life. It doesn't even make a remotely passable zombie ...

If Obama is painting perhaps too rosy a picture, at least he's from this planet. Ron Paul's philosophy has less chance than a snowball in a supernova of ever happening anywhere on this world.

We have never had a "pure" anything government. Ain't gonna happen this late in the game. Want to get rid of the unions, bring back the robber barons, and fourteen-hour work days for children?

Uh, uh. Thank you, but no.

Other than his anti-war stance, Doc Paul's got nothing I want.

Michael B. said...

I back Obama for one simple reason and, I like the man. We have had a quagmire of lies in that oval office and a same old same old mentality since Christ was a corporal..Bush Sr., Clinton (twice), Bush (twice..seems like forever)..people should give this man a chance, he is new, fresh and intelligent. Mrs. Bill is no dummy mind you but I swear I can see Bills lips move every time she opens her mouth. Same old, same old if ya ask me.

(Dick Cheney in a pants suit we do not need)

And as far as walking on water is concerned...nobody can but I'd be willing to bet that Obama can get closer to the surface than any one else. He has less baggage weighing him down.

Dan Gambiera said...

He was my third choice after Kucinich and Edwards. They were pretty effectively frozen out as "too radical" for following policies that would have been those of a moderate Democrat forty years ago.

So what are we left with? On one side we start with a vindictive but charming theocratic witch-burner who wants to replace the Constitution and the Enlightenment with "God's Constitution". He's fading in the face of a corrupt aging "maverick" who was against torture before he was for it and who is absolutely jake with the idea of fighting several more wars right now and thinks the country will be happy if "we're in Iraq for 10,000 years".

The other candidate started off as head of the Young Republicans in college, worked for Goldwater and Nixon, supported union busting as a member of Wal Mart's Board of Directors, pushed hard for NAFTA, defended Coca Cola against the claims of its injured workers, authored a health plan that insured and entrenched the insurance industry against any threat of single payer, and has supported every Bush Administration initiative for the war and against civil liberties. Except for the current one of course. That was an abstention when a "no" vote would have had some real effect.

King Log or an orangutan in the Calcutta zoo would be better than that bunch of King Storks. We can't take eight more years of fascism, economic suicide and the growing Police State.

And the Iraq war? The only one against it is Obama. The others have supported it at every turn no matter how it has degraded us, turned the world against us, damaged the US military, and mortgaged the next five generations. When you go to war you're supposed to come home with glory, of course. But there's supposed to be land, gold, horses and exotic slave women with large breasts. You're not supposed to pour out blood and gold and get nothing in return.

Obama isn't the Messiah. But he's a damned sight better than the three Republicans - Clinton, Huckabee and McCain. Even a mildly conservative Democrat would be a dramatic improvement. Or maybe we can outsource the job to that furry orange guy who lives in a cage in Bengal. He'll do the job for peanuts, literally, and won't throw anything deadlier than ape poo.

Dan Moran said...

jd, I think highly of Ron Paul too. He's an honest and principled man.

But the thought of him as President scares the hell out of me. Even where I agree with his radicalism, and I do more often than you'd think, the society we live in is complex and has a lot of intermoving pieces -- a conservative (and by that I mean cautious) approach to governance is merely sensible in a world this complex. Look at what 8 years of shoot from the hip has brought us too -- I don't want another 4 years even from someone I like.

Theoretical ways of living that have never worked in the real world? And can't possibly? Nope. Not for me.

I want to see a libertarian run a city before I trust one running a country with eight billion nuclear weapons.

Dan Gambiera said...

Ron Paul is the proverbial stopped clock - absolutely right twice a day.

Civil liberties?
Check.

Get out of Iraq?
Check.

Barely coded racist crap?
Ayn Rand style capitalist fundamentalism?
Had a chance to stand up for science but refused to?
Glad hands Nazis and appears at their conventions?
"Let them eat cake" approach to all economic and social problems?
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Dan Moran said...

Dan G -- I didn't know that about Paul. Googled up Ron Paul Nazis and found he's taken money from white supremecist groups, and not returned it.

I wouldn't have voted for him anyway, but that's just beyond the pale. Thanks for the post.