Friday, August 15, 2008

This is Leadership?

During the primary campaign, when Clinton and McCain were both pandering with the “gas tax holiday,” Obama stayed the course with a principled position that it was a bad idea which sounded like it would help taxpayers but which would actually harm them while enriching oil companies. That was leadership, and it resonated with voters and won him a couple of states.

Since the campaign has entered a general mode I’m seeing a different candidate; a candidate who seems unable to stand on any kind of principle at all. First he caved on the FISA bill, with stated reasons for doing so that were transparently bogus. Then he decided than he could support offshore drilling. Then he proposed a “windfall tax” on oil companies and justified singling them out by claiming that they are uniquely able to raise prices by limiting supply, something that in fact any manufacturer can do. Then he first made a statement about the Russian invasion of Georgia to the effect that we need to exercise some caution and promptly changed tack in response to McCain’s belligerence to echo George Bush and show that he (Obama) could be just as belligerent as anybody else. Now he’s pretty much surrenduring the Democratic Convention to the Clintons with a bunch of hooah about how that’s going to “unify the party.” He looks to me like someone who lacks the courage to stand up to the Clinton collective ego.

I don’t expect that I will be in harmony with every single stance that a candidate takes. During the primary I was in agreement with Obama far more often than I disagreed. Since the primary ended, I have not agreed with one single thing that Obama or his campaign has come out with in their frantic dash to the center of the political spectrum and their cynical attempts to attract Republican-lite voters.

Conventional wisdom is that he’s showing that he can be “bipartisan,” but bipartisanship is a method of governing, not a campaign strategy. Save that for after the election. I favor compromise that leads to effective governance, but not compromise for the purpose of getting elected. In a campaign I want to know that the candidate is going to stand up for the causes and principles that are important to me, if not all of them then at least for some, and I’m not seeing that Obama is going to stand up for anything other than the advancement of his own political career.

I have not donated money to any political campaign in more than twenty years because I have not seen any politician who been dedicated to any principle other than his own election. I toyed with donating to Obama, and am grateful now that I did not do so. The only money contribution I have made has been to The Accountability Now PAC, an organization dedicated to ousting incumbents without regard to party affiliation.

Obama as President will probably do no great harm to this country, while McCain will most likely be an utter disaster, so I will certainly hold my nose and vote for Obama. I will do so wishing, as I have wished with virtually all of my votes, that I had better choices.

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