Tell me - does he say anything that really makes sense? I have a series of quotes of his taken from a New York Times article. I'm going to look at each one and see if he's saying anything at all:
We need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, independents and Republicans together to get things done.
Uh... okay. What things? And how can you move beyond the divisive politics of Washington when people disagree? Will we stifle debate? Nice sound bite... but there's not really much substance there.
Senator Clinton's argument in this campaign has really been that you can't change the electoral map, that it's a static map and we are inalterably divided, so we've got to eke out a victory and then try to govern more competently than George Bush has. My argument is that if that's what we're settling for, after seven or eight years of disastrous policies on the part of the Bush administration, then we're not going to deliver on the big changes that are needed.
Okay, so he's saying that he believes he can get the entire country to vote for him, rather than having the country split down the middle. Or, at the very least, he believes he can get the majority of the country to vote for him. He's not interested in settling for an eked out victory... and he's once again promising some "big changes." There's really still incredibly little of substance in here, though. How will he change the electoral map with his policies? By not sharing them with anyone? Making everybody guess?
Barack Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. According to the NYT, Barack Obama was number one and Hillary Clinton was 16th. Given that, you might think that there's a vast difference in their voting records... I mean, first for liberalism and 16th? But no - their votes differed only 10 times out of 267. I'm beginning to think that perhaps the Democrats are stronger ideologues than the Republicans!! One of their main differences? Obama opposed designating the Revolutionary Guards in Iran as a terrorist organization. The Revolutionary Guards are a large part of the insurgency in Iraq, fighting against our troops there.
Barak Obama, promising a new and less ideological approach to politics, says that he understands the criticism of his voting record, but says that Senators end up on one side or the other because the Senate is so polarized. He says, "The only votes that come up are votes that are purposely designed to divide people. It's true that if I'm presented with a series of votes like that, I'm more likely to fall left of center than right of center. But as president, I would be setting the terms of debate." Ah! Finally a quote of some substance!! Scary substance, but substance nonetheless. Barak promises a less polarized feel to Washington by "setting the terms of debate." I don't know about you, but I'm not too keen on a president bringing "unity" by stifling his opposition.
What I'm certain about is that people are disenchanted with a highly ideological Republican Party that believes tax cuts are the answer to every problem, and lack of regulation and oversight is always going to generate economic growth, and unilateral intervention around the world is the best approach to foreign policy. So there's no doubt the pendulum is swinging.
This quote can be classified in the "if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it" category. First of all, the Republicans overtax Americans just as the Democrats do. Republicans are possibly more inclined to cut taxes than Democrats are, but they are just as bad about spending money they don't have. Secondly, Republicans don't think that a lack of regulation and oversight is going to generate economic growth. But they have enough common sense to know that regulations tend to stifle growth, and oversight turns into a bureaucratic mess. Unfortunately, the Republicans forgot this particular rule when they came up with the stupid "No Child Left Behind" law. And third, we did not unilaterally go into Afghanistan or Iraq. No matter how many times you repeat this, it's simply not true. We went through the United Nations and brought with us a coalition of over 30 nations.
The Democrats have to seize this opportunity by showing people in very practical terms how a different set of policies can deliver solutions that will actually make a difference in their lives. I think the jury is still out right now.
Perhaps the jury is still out because the people are still waiting to hear the testimony. There has been a lot of talk about Universal Health Care. Some people definitely appear to want to see something like that happen. But even some of those people are wondering how a country such as ours, deeply in debt already, is going to pay for it. Others are considering the nightmare of government-run health care. I see government housing... and if my health care starts to look like that, I'd rather figure out what's wrong with me at home. (And in the interest of being completely honest and fair, I tend to lean that way already - I'm scared to death of doctors.)
According to the NYT, Obama "insists that while his core values are progressive, he himself is not ideological. His policy differences with Mrs. Clinton are limited and his proposals are solidly in the mainstream of Democratic thought." This says nothing. Well, it says something, but what it says is impossible. An ideology is: 1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group. 2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, along with the devices for putting it into operation. Given this definition, is it possible for a political figure to not be an ideologue?? Can you have a body of belief and not be guided by it? If you're a conservative, you're naturally a conservative ideologue. If progressive, a progressive ideologue. How did ideology become a bad word?
Last but not least: I'm interested in solving problems as opposed to imposing doctrine. I see a lot of convergence of interests among people who in traditional terms are considered to be divided politically.
Barack Obama is one of two things. He's either a master of double speak (or maybe just a sayer of it, not a master of it) or he's a complete fool. Either he knows exactly what he's doing, or he really cannot recognize that if he's imposing a "progressive" agenda he's still "solving problems" by imposing doctrine. The larger question is: will the problems truly be solved, or will we be creating new ones to go with the old?