Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama and McCain: Weighing the Merits

The dispute between Barack Obama and John McCain about campaign funding is replete with delicious irony. Not very long ago, John McCain was prominent in his support of campaign finance reform. Now that he is running for office, a web of useless regulations is hamstringing his ability to raise funds.
Barack Obama, formerly a supporter of public funding of presidential campaigns now realises that there is more money to be had from private campaign funding. As always, Obama changes positions like some people change neckties. A man who can publicly ditch his pastor in search of a few votes can hardly be expected to remain loyal to any core principles. Under Bill Clinton, we had "I smoked weed but didn't inhale." Obama's variant on this is "I went to church but I wasn't listening." I want a candidate who is serious and passionate about his manner of worship, not someone who needs a photo op in the pews.
There is a disturbing tendency in the Republican party towards apologetics. Many Republicans try to prove that they are as kind and gentle as the Democrats. Rather than staking out ideological turf and duking it out, they let the Democrats define the terms of engagement. McCain shows such weakness on the issue of legal and illegal immigration. He was already stung by campaign finance reform. He should learn from that mistake. Campaign contributions should be labeled. If some oil billionaire wants to bankroll a candidate, that should be public information, but it should not be prohibited.
One thing that bothers me about both candidates is that neither has been a governor or mayor. The government of a state has many structural parallels to federal government. Gubernatorial experience is unfortunately not a choice in this election. McCain beats out Obama on the issue of naivete. His statements on foreign policy show a lot more experience and thought than those of Senator Obama. Fidel Castro, Jimmy Carter and Hamas all see something in Obama . This alone should sound a note of caution to voters in November.
A critical issue that will face our next President is appointments to the Supreme Court. Such appointments cast a shadow across the country that can stretch for generations. McCain seems far more trustworthy to appoint judges who interpret the constitution instead of legislating from the judicial bench.
Both candidates are far from perfect. There are risks we will be taking with a McCain presidency, particularly on immigration. But Obama's eternal flip flopping is indicative of one of two possible faults. One is that his positions are poorly thought out , necessitating their frequent correction. The other possibility is that Obama will say anything to get elected. It seems far more likely that both expediency and lack of thought are driving Obama's frequent position changes.
The results of the voter's choice in November will be with us for many years to come. Although I strongly favour John McCain, the voting public will need to remain involved in the political process after the election no matter who wins.
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1 comment:

Findalis said...

Shades of Richard Nixon and his slush funds.

Obama is everything to everybody.