Friday, June 10, 2005

Obama Gets It Too

After noting Mark Warner's "gets it" way of thinking last night, I was delighted to read this morning's post from Marshall Wittman at Bull Moose, which features some excellent comments from Illinois' Barack Obama. I've been meaning to do a post on Obama for a while now, and the Moose's thoughts provide a handy springboard.

I first heard of Obama when I read this profile of him in the New Yorker just over a year ago. His thoughts on the nasty nature of politics today appealed strongly to me: anyone who says things like "If you make political discourse sufficiently negative, more people will become cynical and stop paying attention. That leaves more space for special interests to pursue their agendas, and that’s how we end up with drug companies making drug policy, energy companies making energy policy, and multinationals making trade policy" gets an automatic second look, regardless of what letter they put after their name.

When I heard his speech from Boston at the Democrats' convention last July, I was absolutely hooked. By the time he finished, I had goosebumps. It was, by far, the highlight of the convention as far as I was concerned, and I had no doubt even then that he was going places. The next morning when I got into work, I made everyone watch the speech ... and they were just as taken as I had been (If you haven't watched it, you can do so here).

Of course Obama went on to crushing victory over the kooky Alan Keyes last November, and has acquitted himself tremendously in the Senate thus far. I have been impressed with his conduct during the Foreign Relations Committee's hearings on Bolton, and for his willingness to go toe-to-toe with members much senior than himself to get his point across. He does it graciously and honestly, and watching him work and speak is a treat compared with most of his colleagues.

Obama featured recently in a story in The Hill, when he happened to be talking with his colleague John McCain near some elevators with reporters nearby. The reporters starting asking McCain (for the six trillionth time) whether he's running for president, and McCain clutched Obama's arm "and ducked into the elevator, introducing Obama as 'my new campaign manager.'"

Yesterday, before receiving an award (along with McCain) from the MTV youth-voting advocacy group Rock the Vote, Obama commented on Howard Dean's recent remarks:

"'As somebody who is a Christian myself, I don't like it when people use religion to divide, whether that is Republican or Democrat,' Obama said. 'I think in terms of his role as party spokesman, [Dean] probably needs to be a little more careful and I suspect that is a message he is going to be getting from a number of us,' Obama explained."

I hope Dean listens. And I hope Obama keeps his nose to the grindstone and doesn't do anything to tarnish his bright future on the American political scene.


At 10:01 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

What's interesting is that Obama is pretty liberal, but he talks like a centrist. It'll be interesting to see how he grows as a politician. I've always said, I like liberal ideals but I dislike liberal policies. If Obama can find new ways to address liberalism, he has the temperment and speaking power to go far.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Charles said...

Osama is a centrist if you read his papers and look into his background. The problem is that there aren't enough Osama's in either party. More and more of us are trying to stake out the centrist position and draw the extremes back from the brink of disaster. Dean is extreme in his language in my view. I am not sure how extreme he is in policy. I lived in Vermont for 20 years and in Burlington, VT, the major college town, he is seen as somewhat conservative. Probably more conservative on the fiscal side and more liberal on the social side.

Visit my centrist blog at:

Stay involved Jeremy. One of my recent posts was on the question, "Where are the Student Protests today?" You might find it interesting.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger ikerus said...

I like your article. I'm going to bookmark you. I'm too ignorant about politics to be one of those people who respond with good comments and such, but I will just be a passive observer. The most I have studied politics is in the book Interface. LOL.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Heiuan said...

Charles, and therein lies the dichotomy that is Dean.

He's fire and brimstone in his speeches; but his actual policies as Governor were very Centrist.

Jeremy, as you might know, many of the more "fiery" leftist blogs are full of people pilloring Biden, Lieberman and suddenly, Obama, because of their remarks about Dean's latest speech.

::sigh:: Three weeks ago, two of these three Senators were "heroes of the cause" because of the Bolton hearing. How fast people forget, or should I say...ignore.

Stupid, stupid, stupid...IMO, only. Both parties' extremist fringes need to understand that NOT EVERYONE IN YOUR PARTY IS A WINGER!

There, that's my vitriol for the day.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Cincy Diva said...

Obama is amazing. He definitely has my vote if/when he runs for president.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Tom - doubts and all said...

My shades are on because I'll be watching. Obama's is a voice that can inspire, and right now we have too many that just inflame.

At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Possible campaign slogan for Barack Obama
The Great Believer

Possible campaign song for Barack Obama
Have A Little Faith in Me
By John Hiatt

At 7:42 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Alan - I agree, I think that's one of the most interesting things about Obama. His politics are much more liberal than my own, but unlike most, he's certainly got a chance to sell me on them!

Charles - You're right, Dean governed generally as a centrist-to-conservative Democrat (fiscal conservative and so forth) - somehow that fell along the wayside all the way! I will certainly check out the blog.

ct cfn - Glad you like the site. Feel free to contribute whenever you like, any comments and viewpoints are welcome.

heiuan - I have noticed the nastiness from the left-wingers toward those criticizing Dean. It's unfortunate. Just like the conservatives whacking Voinovich for opposing Bolton, etc. Anyone not toeing the party line gets smacked down, and sooner or later those getting smacked might not take it any more. What happens then's going to be very interesting.

cincy, tom, anon - keep watching!

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous NH Dem said...

Dean governed generally as a centrist-to-conservative Democrat (fiscal conservative and so forth)


- somehow that fell along the wayside all the way!

False. He never changed his positions, but, as his opposition changed from Vermont Republicans (AND Democrats) to George W. Bush, the tone of his rhetoric shifted to outrage.

heiuan - I have noticed the nastiness from the left-wingers toward those criticizing Dean. It's unfortunate. Just like the conservatives whacking Voinovich for opposing Bolton, etc.

I don't like and don't deny the tendency for party loyalists of every stripe to blindly attack those who fail to show sufficient deference to the ordained party line. But I don't see this as being the current case with Dean. Voinovich is being pilloried by conservatives and his party's Central Committee for giving voice to the obvious apolitical truth that Bolton is a disaster. Biden et al ARE the party Central Committee, and are being pilloried by liberals and the party membership for their destructive incompetence in yielding to, repeating, and not even feebly contesting the GOP/talk radio spin on Howard Dean's comments, which any competent partisan could have defended (correctly, in my view) as essentially true, but out of context and wilfully distorted.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"which any competent partisan could have defended (correctly, in my view) as essentially true, but out of context and wilfully distorted "

I disagree. Deans comments are offensive and should be denounced for what thay are, statements that divide Americans.

I for one was delighted to hear Obama, Edwards, Biden, ....Deans statements should not be defended.

Here is the logic being used now against the Democrats, The Leader of the Democratic party says that Republicans are all pretty much the same, white and Christian, and he says he hates Republicans therefore he hates Christians. It will sell and it will hurt the Democrats.


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