Monday, June 30, 2008

Defending Obama

Serving as Barack Obama's apologist isn't my job, but a couple of recent criticisms are off base. One was an indirect criticism aimed at an alleged surrogate, Wesley Clark, who said this (according to the Republican National Committee) on Sunday on "Face the Nation":

Gen. Clark: "But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded? It wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not, do you want to take the risk, what about your reputation, how do we handle this publicly?' He hasn't made those points Bob."

CBS' Bob Schieffer: "Well, General, could I just interrupt you. I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down."

Gen. Clark: "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President."


The RNC called this an attack. Is it? Not to me. I served three years in the Army as a linguist and radio operator. Does that qualify me to be president? Not in the least. Would I be offended by someone who pointed this out? Not at all. Sen. McCain obviously does have qualifications to be president, and the fortitude he showed as a prisoner may be one of them, but flying an airplane is not.

The other criticism is the sense that Obama is changing his positions on issues, shifting to the right and failing to adhere to his promise to bring a new kind of politics to the American system.

Promises to change politics are always open to interpretation. But I never imagined that changing politics would mean rewriting its fundamental principles. Politics has always been about compromise, negotiation and finding mutual ground. It always will be. Obama's shift toward the middle encourages people like me, who worry that he might really be too liberal, especially if elected along with a sizable Democratic majority, as seems likely.

Instead, he comes across as pragmatic, realistic, bright and flexible. After eight years of Bush, those traits sound awfully appealing.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your service and for shining a little reason onto this talking point.

Mark T said...

Obama's reversal on NAFTA and acquiescence on FISA were not pragmatic change, but knives in the back. You're doing the good Democrat thing, internalizing the contradiction.

That's a good boy, that's a good Democrat. Here's a bone. pats head).

Todd said...

David, why do you hate freedom?

David said...

Todd,
I like freedom. Just not necessarily for other people.

Mark,
I'm a free trader from way back, so the stance of Obama -- or anybody -- on NAFTA is small potatoes to me. And I don't really care too much about prosecuting telecoms. I agree that it sets a bad precedent, but electing good presidents is the best way to avoid damage from bad precedents.

Anonymous said...

Clark raved about Kerry having served in the Navy and said that his leadership on his swift boat was the kind of expience that would make him a good president. Given that, I would think McCains experience would be even better. Clark is a blatant liar and an Obama lap dog that will say anything he's told.

David said...

"Clark is a blatant liar."

Evidence for that claim?