If Barack Obama were a doctor, he would get an A for diagnostic skill and a C for his ability to prescribe treatment. His acceptance speech last night was no different — a grand expression of each of those traits. Yes, he laid out a bunch of specifics, but did so as a laundry list of policy visions which even he admitted were going to cost a great deal of money — money which won’t come from the taxes he promised to cut, and surely can not come from his promised “fine tooth comb” analyses of the budget (“hey look, I found billions of dollars!?).
So either last night was pandering, which I do not believe, or it was a gentle pitch for the kind of class-warfare based redistributionist policy in which he genuinely believes. Senator Obama has said numerous times, including in the recent Obamanomics article in the New York Times, that he believes not in fairness, but in equity. There is a world of difference between the two and I think that he should be taken at his word.
On the other hand, his sense of what most Americans are experiencing, of his opponent’s out-of-touchness (however well meaning and sincere), and his desire to re-make the way we do politics, are all not only inspiring, but dead on. I challenge anyone to find a flaw in Obama’s assessment of the challenges we face or his ability to frame them in a way that invites more people to face up to them. You may not like his way of responding to those challenges, and I would join you in that dislike for some of those ways, but his diagnostic skill remains stellar.
I wonder this morning, in light of the challenges we face at home and abroad, if we can better afford a president who is out of touch with the nation but sometimes more responsible in his approach to a specific challenge, or one who appreciates what we are up against but may sometimes respond in ways we don’t like. What do you think?
I also wonder this morning about the flurry of e-mail I received yesterday about Barack Obama being a Muslim and the implication of that “fact” for Jews and for Israel. Actually I don’t wonder about it at all, it makes me angry, sad, and a little ashamed that I am part of a religious community that is still susceptible to such lies.
This has nothing to do with how I feel about Obama as president. It has to do with the underlying realities in this situation. And yes, there is an ongoing effort to respond with more accurate information, which people should certainly have before making any decisions in November. But again, the need for such a counter-campaign of accurate information only proves how serious the problem is.
The idea that Obama could be a Muslim is only politically problematic because lots of people hate Muslims. To be fair, polling consistently shows that Evangelical Christians, even more than Jews, believe this, but it’s ugly no matter what. Just imagine the response of the ADL if people started to question Joe Lieberman’s loyalty to America based on his Jewishness!
There is no question that Barack Obama’s record of support for, and statements about, Israel do not always reflect the passion and personal connection evidenced by John McCain, but his voting record does. So, we can have our differences, but perpetuating a situation in which being a Muslim, WHICH HE IS NOT, is a smear, lying about his being one, or confusing differences of opinion about foreign policy with the lack of a fundamental commitment to the centrality of the American-Israel relationship, is just wrong and it will serve none of us well in the long run.
Now bring on the Republicans!