Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Kool-Aid Is Ready

This is perhaps the best summing-up of the case for Barack Obama that I've seen. It is rational to the core. It is written by someone so much more liberal than I am that I came away absolutely terrified--Huckabee terrified.

I have to admit that I too have been swept up in the tide of Obamania. The man is so eloquent that you just don't care about his agenda. You care--and believe--that he can unite the country to do great things. I believe that. And I believe that he may easily have a mandate to institute sweeping reforms. In short, I am sorely tempted to drink the Kool-Aid.


Obama wants us to believe that he'll evacuate Iraq as quickly as is practicable. And, once again, I do believe him. That's a big problem, because we can still screw up on Iraq by leaving too soon. Conversely, if Obama were willing to drag his feet on Iraq for only nine months or so, I'm pretty confident that we can soft-land that puppy. To fail to do so would be a tragedy.

Obama wants us to believe that he'll be vastly more dovish than any of the other candidates, resorting to negotiation at all costs. Again, I believe him. That's less of a problem but there's a reason why refusal to negotiate is part of the diplomat's arsenal. To deny that tool places the US at a significant disadvantage.

Naivete in foreign affairs is lethal. If Obama were to turn out to be like Jimmy Carter, we'd have a problem. (I don't think we have to worry about naivete in the opposite direction, as typified by George Bush.)

Obama wants us to believe that the time has come for domestic policy change. And I believe him, to an extent. A coherent energy policy is essential. Some health care reform is desirable, if it can be done cautiously and conservatively (I'm using the other definition of "conservative"). But the temptation to overreach, to go hog wild, to enact changes for change's sake, may be almost overwhelming to a Democratic Congress if they've also got the White House. Will Obama be judicious and slow things down? I suspect not.

I am genuinely torn. While I only have a couple of major disagreements with John McCain, I continue to believe that there is simply no way that he will withstand the pressures of a national campaign without spectacularly self-destructing. I suppose that Romney could find his voice and put up a decent campaign. (After all, he only needs to reinvent himself one more time...) But I'm afraid that there is simply no way that either of them can stand up to Obama, short of something unforeseen.

On the other hand, either of them could defeat Hillary Clinton. It's not a sure thing, but the odds are 50-50. Ultimately, much though I yearn for civility and an end to this incessant partisanship, I think I yearn for a check on the Democrats even more. The Kool-Aid sits there in all its lush, seductive, purple color. I will not drink. Yet.

If Obama becomes President, I will wish him well, nervous though I may be. If everybody does the same, that's a change that may be worth taking a few sips, just to be sociable.

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