Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Trouble with the Internet

Micah, thanks for posting. I was beginning to wonder if anyone had been keeping up with these blogs. I guess we will walk the fine, tender line of your moratorium with Susanna on political debate/discussion. ATTENTION ALL READERS! Here is an attempt at "public-discourse" with charity in reaction to my bro in law. Let love abound! (Oh, and Micah feel free to take your time to respond since you are slaving away prepping for your comps).

First, I am concerned not so much about how Obama is seemingly shifting his time table on pulling troops as I am about how he is re-directing his attention to Al-Qaeda. I fear he might be digging himself into a hole while trying to gain some sort of credibility as a moderate. Is he trying to appeal to conservatives who have been sitting on the fence regarding Iraq? Is he appealing to those who feel that we still need to draw blood for 9/11? President Bush used the language of "the war on terror" to argue for our presence in Iraq. Now I'm a little burned out and tired of interest in any war on terror anywhere. I'd much rather talk about working on social security, health care, the present mortgage/real estate crisis, the environment or education. I really do believe that Obama is going to be our next president. How is he going to continue to fight terrorism when we've already sunk a trillion dollars into the war in Iraq? How can we continue to spend so much on military campaigns and still address so many other pressing concerns? What is his plan?

In regards to the list you posted on Obama flip-flops: I'm not so sure about the confusion regarding Obama's commitment to 16 months. His latest published in the NY Times seems to still be sticking optimistically to the 16 month plan. We'll see if he can pull it off. I personally doubt it. It seems like he came up with hard number just to set in motion the mechanisms needed to get the withdrawal of troops started sooner than later.

I don't know about the accuracy of all these so-called 61 McCain flip flops. There are so many to sort through. I found them while I was searching for this blog post that I read last week that troubled me. I do feel like Obama gets pounced on because he is a freshman senator and the media finds his foibles entertaining. Have you considered the attack on his wife's lack of patriotism? All the sound bites leave out the fact that she said it was the first time she "really" was proud to be an American. That is a bit softer of a statement than how she is portrayed. Of course McCain, on the other hand, gets pounced on because he is old. He keeps talking about Czechoslovakia even though it hasn't existed since 1993, and McCain also had trouble recently with a tough question about his voting record on health coverage for Viagra but not birth control. His comment was, "I've cast thousands of votes in the Senate," then continued: "I will respond to--it's a, it's a...." Is he senile or just a human stumbling under the constant onslaught of media speculation?

One area where Obama and McCain do agree however, is on their frustration with the media. McCain is quoted on CNN for saying, “We are in a situation today where all words are parsed, all comments are diagnosed and looked at for whatever effect they might have.” This is a vital issue for democracy. How can we see these candidates for who they are and not what all the pundits have assembled out of the myriad of bits and pieces of internet info? The "symbolic machinery" of our society is broken. Obama has built much of his appeal around this issue of the limitations of the media. The fact that he writes his own speeches and seems able to intelligently consider the complexity of an issue is impressive--its inspirational and makes him seem trustworthy possessing the kind of character I want in a public leader. Not many of the "pundits and politicos" seem able to communicate complexity or navigate complexity with the kind of frank and honest care that Obama demonstrates. This is the problem with the list of 61 McCain flip-flops I posted above. Such a limited explanation of so much information does not take into account the complexities of each issue. I offer it as another example of what is out there from the other side.

It is definitely possible that Obama might get elected and turn out to be something other than I'd hoped for. That happened when I voted for Bush the first time around. I imagine many of us are surprised by who the politicians we vote for turn out to be. My concern right now is to make sure we do the best we can to learn about these candidates so that our votes in November are as earnest and properly informed as they can be. I thank you for posting some concerns about Obama. He does already have an disconcerting track record. I'm not ready to pull my support for him though.


Micah Childress said...

i'll try to keep this brief:

1) mccain is not my first choice for president. i think he's been a finger-in-the-wind politican for a long time and i would never prop him up as a measure against obama. i have no doubt he's changed his mind plenty of times over the past 3+ decades. my point is that obama was mr. liberal during the primaries and then all of the sudden he's mr. moderate. additionally, i think the campaign financing shows that he is no different than any other politician--including mccain--in that he'll throw out his "convictions" for money and/or votes. a few years i thought obama would stand by his convictions (no matter how wrong i thought they were), but clearly that's not the case.

2) if you love obama's ability to sound good in front of a camera, i sure hope you were a fan of reagan (the originator). "tear down this wall" and the "evil empire" speech are historical gems, no matter how you feel/felt about him then. just look at the outpouring after his funeral from both sides of the aisle. additionally, regan had the "regan democrats" as obama is trying to amass bi-partisan appeal. i think, personally, that if 1976 reagan could be put up against 2006 obama, the former would win... but that's just one historian's opinion.

3. obama's inexperience and naivete with foreign matters scare me a bit. and the fact that he trumpets his efforts to talk with iran only make that more obvious. what is he going to tell them that they haven't already heard. are his pleas that they abandon nuclear technology going to be heard simply because he's not bush?

4. i agree with you about the media. however, if you look at the coverage, obama is getting MUCH more than mccain, almost as if obama is running unopposed. i've seen numerous obama fluff pieces in a number of different magazines and it's kind of disheartening (one piece in Time really annoyed me). but we've become a soundbite society, and i don't know how to change that.

5. if you want obama to be the next president, i hope you're ready for a tax increase! woot! i love giving more money to the government. no matter what spin he tries to put on it (with the "middle class exception"), it's going to happen. bloated bureaucracies are the mating call of the Left. and i blame bush for the current bloated spending. you're right, he's definitely not what i thought we were getting. there is a distinction between "conservative" and "republican" (former = john thune & mike pence; latter = mccain & lugar). although democrats preach balanced budget now, it's probably the first time in the last 100 years that they have (see: the 1960s). and i excuse reagan for his spending b/c it was one of the main reasons for the destruction of the united soviet socialist republic... defeating one of history's most heinous and bloodthirsty regimes will get you off the hook for an unbalanced budget.

i didn't address everything ... sorry.

Banner said...

1. Funny, I used to like McCain and would have preferred him over Bush. Now he seems kinda crazy, a space case. Of course this could again be media spin.
2. I might have liked Regan in front of the camera too, but I was pretty young then and have only really been following politics closely for the last two elections. I def need to learn more about why there are so many Regan lovers out there. I honestly don't know much about him other than "trickle down economics."
3. Obama's inexperience: well, we'll just see how he fares on this "world tour." He is low on public opinion polls in regards to foreign policy. I find that kinda weird since so many do believe that the alternative is "McBush" whose predecessor has done so poorly. It seems that Obama wants to become an international rock star of sorts in order to pump up international hype about his candidacy. Maybe if Europeans and Middle Easterners like him, the swing voters will too.
4. yes, Obama gets better press but considering what I said in #1...? Sex sells. Most of the time I hate this soft spot our culture has for sexiness, but Obama is sexy and McCain is...well he is old and he tells bad jokes.
5. I'm not worried about tax increases personally. The question is how they will affect overall spending. Bush has been doing these economic stimulus tax breaks that kinda work, but they seem like band-aids. I think we are going to need to increase taxes in order to dig ourselves out of the trillion dollar hole we've dug in Iraq...that goes without thinking about Social Security and the deficit. It'll be painful for many to have higher taxes but its inevitable...like a young family that has gone on a spending spree with credit cards and finally buckles down to get out of the red.

Micah Childress said...

here's a side of obama the media doesn't dwell on:

thomas riffey said...

hmmmmm... interesting dialogue. good reading in a lot of ways. i'm not crazy about paying more taxes, though if we're bailing ourselves out of war debt, and we're spending less on the whole war thing in general, then i think the increase won't be as bad as we think it would be. at least i hope so...

Anonymous said...

great discussion. I currently live in california, therefore we get a crazy spin on both candidates. It was really strange to go back to Oklahoma for a week and see the difference in the News coverage of both candidates. Thank you both for your thoughts!