T Nation

Barak Obama

In light of the recent T-Nation spate of racially oriented posts, I’d like hear some opinion on Barak Obama. And I include this topic as one in which race is a strong element because I think that Obama’s treatment by his party, the mainstream media and certain segments of the American public is motivated, primarily, by his race. As far as I know he’s done nothing that would distinguish himself to a degree approaching one in which he’s a favorite to be the next President of the United States. He is almost one year into his first term in the U.S. Senate. Before that he was an Illinois State Senator for two terms. To me that sounds like a good start to a career in politics.

I’m unaware of any legislation that he’s sponsored. I’m not even aware of his stance on any key issues (Iraq/terrorism, defense, social security, taxes, energy). I’m aware of his two books: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. My wife has read them and I’ve browsed a few chapters. They are both fairly ‘softball’ accounts of his life along with some safe reflections on a few issues. Both are more idealistic than portraying any real ideas about this country’s direction.

I guess my point is that he’s been thrown out there because of his race and background. A good story, to be sure. But requisite for the Presidency?

My main point is that I think that this kind of thing does a disservice to everyone. It does a disservice to the country because we could end up with someone not qualified or prepared to lead in the White House (insert George W. Bush comments here).

It does not serve Obama himself because it puts him a position he may not be prepared for, maybe even a position he doesn’t desire but feels obligated because his party is calling on him. It does a disservice to all those candidates who have paid their dues and have experience working on major issues. People with decades of service. Evan Bayh was a viable candidate. Until Obama started rolling. Here is a two term Governor of Indiana and a U.S. Senator since 1998. He’s dropped out of the '08 race because he can’t compete with Obama.

In my view, this does a disservice to blacks because it trivializes real accomplishment in favor of skin color. To me, this is the worst kind of racism. It’s a kind of racism that’s often disguised as recognition and support for someone, in this case Obama, that appears based on something other than race. But when you cut through it all it’s just an example of exploitation.

He will win the Democratic nomintion in 2008. He may well win the presidency. If he has a Dean type meltdown he will get derailed. It’s always a possibility for someone who is not as seasoned as others.

He does not have the experience to become president in my opinion. Many other presidents have been elected who were also not experienced.

He’s a young energetic guy who can communicate with the audience whether you like what he is saying or not. Kind of a younger Reagan.

His time is now and that is why he will run and should run. Four years later in 2012 he may not have the momentum.

I don’t like his idealogy and I can’t see voting for him. If he moves more to the center he’ll draw some swing voters. He’ll need them to win in 2008.

Hillary has got to be pissed.

There has been a fair amount of criticism lately regarding Obama, particularly in liberal quarters. The primary complaint is that he is about nothing except the fascinating tale of ‘being Obama’ - as in, he has no substance.

He seems very likable, but completely unqualified for the presidency. If people have to consistently ask what the hell you want to accomplish from a policy perspective, it means you haven’t seriously considered the job enough.

Obama is obsessed with his own story and really nothing more. He is not a policy wonk and he has no ideas.

[quote]DS 007 wrote:
In light of the recent T-Nation spate of racially oriented posts, I’d like hear some opinion on Barak Obama. And I include this topic as one in which race is a strong element because I think that Obama’s treatment by his party, the mainstream media and certain segments of the American public is motivated, primarily, by his race. [/quote]

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=622212&pageNo=1

There were a couple who used to post here who thought his attempt was laughable.

I personally think he has the potential. As far as your comments about this being a bad thing because we don’t know potential…I think the error in that line of thinking in relation to what we currently have in office is bright enough to not need a direct response.

I would rather have someone with less experience but stronger morals and values than the same political bullshit we’ve had for the last two decades. What exactly does “paying dues” mean in politics today? That you kiss the right asses?

I welcome something different if only for the sake of not doing the same dance again.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
There has been a fair amount of criticism lately regarding Obama, particularly in liberal quarters. The primary complaint is that he is about nothing except the fascinating tale of ‘being Obama’ - as in, he has no substance.

He seems very likable, but completely unqualified for the presidency. If people have to consistently ask what the hell you want to accomplish from a policy perspective, it means you haven’t seriously considered the job enough.

Obama is obsessed with his own story and really nothing more. He is not a policy wonk and he has no ideas. [/quote]

My personal opinion is that, if he can combine his likeable personality with a clearly defined, consistent platform, he has a solid chance of becoming the first POTUS.

Personally, I see Rudy vs Obama in '08.

[quote]bigflamer wrote:

My personal opinion is that, if he can combine his likeable personality with a clearly defined, consistent platform, he has a solid chance of becoming the first POTUS. [/quote]

Yeah, I think that is the problem though - the lack of the latter.

The old saying is that there are two kinds of horses in politics - show horses and work horses. Obama really has shown himself to be nothing more than a show horse.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
There has been a fair amount of criticism lately regarding Obama, particularly in liberal quarters. The primary complaint is that he is about nothing except the fascinating tale of ‘being Obama’ - as in, he has no substance.

He seems very likable, but completely unqualified for the presidency. If people have to consistently ask what the hell you want to accomplish from a policy perspective, it means you haven’t seriously considered the job enough.

Obama is obsessed with his own story and really nothing more. He is not a policy wonk and he has no ideas. [/quote]

Agreed! I haven’t heard anything about Obama other than he is somewhat of a minority and seems to be enjoying rock star treatment with Ophra.

What is this guy’s message–will someone please tell me? Why is he getting so much attention in the media–is it because he’s…gasp…half black and a senator and possibly gunning for the White House?

Okay, white people, pat yourself on the back. You’ve finally gotten over your fear of the black man–sort of.

I guess the up-side is we won’t have to put up with another Clinton campaign if he takes the primary–at least for a while. Until then we have another two years to figure this guy out.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
DS 007 wrote:
In light of the recent T-Nation spate of racially oriented posts, I’d like hear some opinion on Barak Obama. And I include this topic as one in which race is a strong element because I think that Obama’s treatment by his party, the mainstream media and certain segments of the American public is motivated, primarily, by his race.

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=622212&pageNo=1

There were a couple who used to post here who thought his attempt was laughable.

I personally think he has the potential. As far as your comments about this being a bad thing because we don’t know potential…I think the error in that line of thinking in relation to what we currently have in office is bright enough to not need a direct response.

I would rather have someone with less experience but stronger morals and values than the same political bullshit we’ve had for the last two decades. What exactly does “paying dues” mean in politics today? That you kiss the right asses?

I welcome something different if only for the sake of not doing the same dance again.[/quote]

No. For me ‘paying dues’ means that you serve on committees, sponsor legislation, engage in debate, expose yourself to ideas over the course of years of public service, gain experience in foreign policy and amass a distingished record of serving your constituents. That’s paying your dues.

[quote]DS 007 wrote:

No. For me ‘paying dues’ means that you serve on committees, sponsor legislation, engage in debate, expose yourself to ideas over the course of years of public service, gain experience in foreign policy and amass a distingished record of serving your constituents. That’s paying your dues.

[/quote]

Ten years ago, I would have agreed with you. After seeing the extremes mud slinging has escalated to when it comes to politics during the last election, I would say the BEST MOVE for any up an coming politician is to not give them much to work with aside from the positive until the last moment.

I would consider that the most intelligent move, not the weakest.

[quote]DS 007 wrote:
No. For me ‘paying dues’ means that you serve on committees, sponsor legislation, engage in debate, expose yourself to ideas over the course of years of public service, gain experience in foreign policy and amass a distingished record of serving your constituents. That’s paying your dues.

[/quote]
Just like GWB.

Link to a blog that does a fairly good review of Obama’s position on a number of issues.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Just like GWB.
[/quote]

Bush was a Senator?

[quote]hedo wrote:
Link to a blog that does a fairly good review of Obama’s position on a number of issues.

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2006/10/barack_obama.html[/quote]

awesome. I was looking for a site that summed up the bills he has co-sponsored, since I had read them all before, although not in as much detail.

But hey, he has no experience, or does nothing for his constituents, I mean how can he hold a candle to the experience of say, Ted Stevens, and his Bridge to Nowhere.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Just like GWB.

Bush was a Senator?

[/quote]

Just like GWB “paid his dues”…

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Just like GWB “paid his dues”…
[/quote]

You mean by serving as the governor of Texas for two consecutive terms?

A state that in 2005 had the second highest gross state product in the nation?

There is little better preparation for the Presidency than serving as a governor of a state - ask Bill Clinton.

Lifticus, think before you type. Seriously.

Well he is articulate. For a black guy, I mean.

Mickey Kaus had a good take here:

EXCERPT:

[i]I’m a “character” voter, not an “issues” voter. But the way you reveal your character is by grappling with issues, not by grappling with yourself. Anguish is easy. Isn’t it time for Obama to start being ostentatiously reflective about policies? That’s what you want from a Harvard Law Review type.

And on the issues, what’s Obama done that’s original or pathbreaking? I don’t know the answer. But compare his big speech on immigration reform ( http://obama.senate.gov/speech/060403-floor_statement_of_senator_barack_obama_on_immigration_reform/index.html ) with failed Dem Senate candidate Brad Carson’s article on immigration reform ( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/05/democrats_must_buck_the_overcl.html ). Carson says things Democrats (and Republicans) haven’t been saying; Obama’s speech offers an idiosyncratic veneer of reasonableness over a policy that is utterly party line and conventional, defended with arguments that are party line and conventional.

OK, that’s just one example. Maybe I’m an old-fashioned Joe Kleinish Clintonian self-hating Dem. But I’m not swooning until I hear Obama to tell Democrats something they maybe don’t want to hear. Did I miss it?[/i]

DS, you raise interesting points. But did you also ask similar question when Bush Jr. ran for president and was eclected twice? Bush Jr. is far from intelligent, far from well-spoken, and lacks the qualities that most intelligent and rational people expect from the leader of a great nation.

BUsh Jr. was elected on simple, stupid premises. He was positioned as an honest, ‘everyman’. He was positioned as principled and a man of integrity. He was psotioned as courageous. And he also was running under the name of his father.

At the end of the day, the office of the presidency has become a joke in the sense of what methods are use to seize it. Candidates do not win elections based on principles, accomplishments, or track records. They win based on simple ideas and successful undermining of their opponents (‘flip flopper’, etc).

So although I agree with you regarding Barak Obama, thise is nothing new. Presidents always win based on silly premises. Look at Reagan and Schwarzenegger. The campaigning process efffectively destroys real debates between political candidates vying for the same position.

[quote]disciplined wrote:
DS, you raise interesting points. But did you also ask similar question when Bush Jr. ran for president and was eclected twice? Bush Jr. is far from intelligent, far from well-spoken, and lacks the qualities that most intelligent and rational people expect from the leader of a great nation.

BUsh Jr. was elected on simple, stupid premises. He was positioned as an honest, ‘everyman’. He was positioned as principled and a man of integrity. He was psotioned as courageous. And he also was running under the name of his father.

At the end of the day, the office of the presidency has become a joke in the sense of what methods are use to seize it. Candidates do not win elections based on principles, accomplishments, or track records. They win based on simple ideas and successful undermining of their opponents (‘flip flopper’, etc).

So although I agree with you regarding Barak Obama, thise is nothing new. Presidents always win based on silly premises. Look at Reagan and Schwarzenegger. The campaigning process efffectively destroys real debates between political candidates vying for the same position.[/quote]

I couldn’t agree more.

Ok, wow… did I ever make a lot of spelling mistakes in my original post. I’ll pay attention to the screen this time and try to type without staring at my hands.

I’m not sure if I made this clear, but my point is that the office of the president isn’t reserved exclusively for people of great character, intelligence, integrity, or accomplishment. The stuff that wins elections does not include the qualities of an individual that I listed above. Rather, elections are one through one-liners and rhetoric. I do not blame the electorate for not being well-informed of candidates and their positions/opinions/accomplishments/controversies… I mean, we all have jobs, school, social lives, etc… we can’t be expected to keep up with all the details. Not to mention that most of the information presented to us is bullshit, anyways. We depend on the media to provide us accurate information regarding the candidates running for leadership, but what do we really get? We simply get partisan bickering and talking heads trying to tell us who to vote for. And don’t get me started on campaign ads.

So at the end of the day, I know what the OP is trying to say when he talks about Barak Obama being an overnight sensation, with his book and Oprah and media hype and him being half-black and not having a typical white American name… but so what? Bullshit of all flavors gets presidents and other politicians elected. Bush Jr. winning because of his name and his bullshit ‘everyman’ vibe, Reagan and Schwarzenegger and that professional wrestler dude (Jesse something?) winning because of their celebrity status, Colin Powell’s son chairing the FCC, etc… same bullshit year after year.

This whole Barak Obama shenanigan is the same bullshit, just a different flavor. This time the gag is that he’s a good-looking young guy, not (yet) surrounded in any type of controversy, and he’s black (or half-black, or whatever… he’s NOT white!). To his credit, though, he’s much more well-spoken than the current president.

My question to the OP is this: were you asking the same questions when Bush Jr. ran and won for the office of the presidency twice?