Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama v. McCain: Un-Distinguished Senators?

While the parties try to distinguish the two Senators as sharply as possible, I see a blurring of lines.

The editors of the conservative news magazine THE WEEKLY STANDARD show grudging admiration for Barack Obama. They lauded Obama's memoir about his absentee father. For several weeks, they wrote of him as a stirring and credible speaker. They derided his campaign book for not measuring up to his memoir's standard, citing passages to show that he had diluted his prose and clear thinking to please the Left.

Even now, their attacks on Obama are mostly indirect, making fun of his followers for being (1) loony Lefty and (2) breathlessly worshipful. One cover caricatured Obama with a halo. The most recent ( by C. F. Payne, reproduced here from http://news.cincinnati.com) has him at a coffee house with recognizable Left types -- the butch Maoist, the earringed ex-hippy, the prim bow-tied profesor, the ersatz Black Panther with chi-chi Che tee -- with a Chomsky tome. The article, "Mr. Obama's Neighborhood," tells of the odd up-scale left-wing haven around the University of Chicago where Obama moved when his books made him wealthy. Another article, "Their Intended: Obama and his Fans" again attacks him indirectly. The quotes from Obama are all balanced -- we must stop Al Qaeda, but we must also end the war in Iraq -- but the article is about how his fans "go nuts for pretty much anything Obama says." He's okay, they're bonkers.

The two candidates' responses to the Supreme Court's ruling on prisoners' rights looks like a sharp contrast. Obama commented that the decision was an important step toward "reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus'' McCain said it was "the worst decision" and misguided. So far as those quotes go, I'm with Obama. For that matter, so is Libertarian Bob Barr. What could be more un-Conservative than to acquiesce to our own government's using an amorphous "war on terror" to claim authority to incarcerate anyone that they want to call an enemy? What human being should be subjected to prison without end, without charges, without questions allowed, without protection? One reason given for declaring independence in 1776 was that the King's agents could take anyone from the colonies to places "inconvenient" and far from witnesses and evidence to face military tribunals; we're smart enough to come up with a better plan, and that is indeed a false choice.

But it gets murkier as we dig deeper into what the two Senators have said. Two years ago, when an earlier Supreme Court decision overruled the Administration's policies with "enemy combatants," McCain was the one who led the charge for rule of law, against torture, against indefinite imprisonment (having experienced both). He argued then, as Obama argues now, that the US should be above such behavior. He co-authored legislation to cover those concerns while still allowing the Administration leeway to deal with dangerous detainees. Now, seeing that effort struck down as well, he draws this line: "we made it very clear that these are enemy combatants, these are people who are not citizens, they do not and never have been given the rights that citizens of this country." Those who may be released are a danger to us, he says.

Obama acknowledged as much when he commented that McCain's legislation was so "sloppily written" (a lawyer's comment about a lay senator's legislation) that it did not do what McCain claims, and therefore deserved to be struck down.

The real difference has to do with the candidates' personal qualities, as delineated in regards to one decision, subject of a substantive and respectful article from that same issue of WEEKLY STANDARD. It's an editorial, "Voting for Commander in Chief," by military historian Frederick Kagan. He quotes both Obama and McCain from speeches last year when the debate concerned this year's "surge" strategy. He reports on what reasons and sources Obama and McCain cited for their decisions. He also reports the two candidates' remarks recently, now that the surge is paying off with short-term successes and signs of long-term improvements. Kagan concludes:

For any voter trying to choose between the two candidates for commander in chief, there is no better test than this: When American strategy in a critical theater was up for grabs, John McCain proposed a highly unpopular and risky path, which he accurately predicted could lead to success. Barack Obama proposed a popular and politically safe route that would have led to an unnecessary and debilitating American defeat at the hands of al Qaeda.

So I disagreed when a friend said, "I don't think America is ready for Obama," by which she probably meant, "America isn't ready for a black President." My retort was. "Obama isn't ready for the Presidency... but he'd make a great talk show host." I've heard him think on his feet, keeping his balance and good humor. Like Bill Clinton, he excels at parsing complicated issues and respecting opposing views.

I appreciate that, but what I want in a President is a stronger core. That's what was speaking in McCain when his first response to a leading question about immigration -- in front of an anti-immigration audience -- was "First, they are God's children, too." Ditto, when he stood against the Administration on torture.


tapeboy said...

"I appreciate that, but what I want in a President is a stronger core. That's what was speaking in McCain when his first response to a leading question about immigration -- in front of an anti-immigration audience -- was 'First, they are God's children, too.'"

Interesting choice of words. Did you not mean "anti-ILLEGAL immigration audience?"

Below is an brief excerpt from an email I wrote not too long ago:

While it is true that my agnomen closely bands me to more than 106 million brethren south of the border, I would like to reiterate that never have I once advocated or defended “sealing off the border.” This is an issue on which the vast majority of Congress and the American public are completely ignorant.

For those that believe illegal immigration is a non-issue in regards to fiscal or social responsibility, they need to go back to school and take some classes in economics. Mississippi alone estimated a net loss of approximately $20 million due to illegal immigration in 2005 (that included taxes paid by illegals). Although Utah spends an average of $5,437 per pupil in elementary and secondary education, the state estimates that it spends between $11,000 and $17,000 to educate the undocumented children of illegal aliens—totaling somewhere between $63 and $98 million per year as of 2007. (Of course, this does NOT include the legal “anchor babies” of illegals.) And, this is not to mention the sixteen US states that provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens pursuing higher education despite the fact that even the out-of-state tuition charged by public institutions often does not cover a student’s education costs (e.g. University of Houston). Additionally, remittances from migrant workers to South American countries (and elsewhere) further increases the trade deficit--placing downward pressure on the value of the US dollar. (Mexico’s second largest source of national income is delivered by Western Union.) Again, I could “go on and on,” but I will try to make this short.

For those advocating “sealing off the border,” they are also desperately in need of an economics lesson. Many Republicans neglect to realize that approximately 40 to 50 percent of all unauthorized migrants in this country entered LEGALLY. A fence will not solve the US’s immigration problem while there still remains a demand for undocumented workers from the private sector and handouts from the public. The consummate dissolution to illegal immigration is simply a stifling of demand and reward for illegal immigrants. Government services should not be provided and all businesses in the private sector should be predictably and equitably fined per undocumented worker. If an employer believes that the cost benefit exceeds regularly imposed fines, then they should be allowed to keep them. Allow the illegals and business owners/shareholders, themselves, to decide what is best for them. There is no need to rip babies from their mother’s arms. (Of course, if illegal aliens request transport out of the country, the US should provide it in a timely and humane manner.)

And let us not forget that the United States of America has some of the most liberal immigration laws of any nation in the entire world—even if they were actually enforced.

I am assuming you are a Libertarian/Republican. For those that value the future success of the Republican party (and most of its core values), illegal immigration should be of the utmost importance, considering that naturalized Hispanics overwhelmingly vote Democrat--a trend which has been increasing over time. For example, CNN exit polls for the 2008 election showed that Hispanics supported Obama 67 to 31 percent.

For some reason, some Republicans believe that these Hispanics are malleable, that they will learn to love and depend on the GOP. Quantifiably not true. If that fact alone is not a case for Republicans to be against the amnesty of approximately 12 million illegal immigrants (and continued illegal immigration thereafter until the next immigration reform bill again clears the US's inventory--by definition--of illegals), then they are certifiably delusional.

Moreover, the immigration reform bill was partly crafted, and fully backed by both Bush and Kennedy (it was Kennedy's third time to author such legislation). Whenever those two idiots were simultaneously behind the same cause, you knew it had to be bad--pure guilt by association. (e.g. No Child Left Behind.)

tapeboy said...