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.