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Election 2008 Liberalism Obama Politics

The Opinionsphere Looks Under the Bus

Finally right-wingers and left-wingers are starting to agree about Obama.

In a testament to the attention paid to the kabuki theater of the presidential campaign, the new meme spreading around the opinionsphere is that Obama is running hard to the right and “throwing under the bus” anyone who gets in his way.  As Steve Marlsberg, the wingnut and idiot would say:

First Obama threw his grandmother under the bus;1
then his Reverend;2
and now General Wesley Clark!3

Kate Stone channeled David Brooks’s analogy, but replaced the people being thrown under the bus with policies:

First Obama gave up on public financing;4
then he gave up on the telecom fight;5
then, he came out in favor of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the individual right to bear arms;
what’s next – will he throw women under the bus and the right to choose?

Now – I’m all for challenging whatever leader we have and for pushing him or her to the positions we ourselves hold.  That’s politics.  That’s the only way that a republic can work. But the hysteria evidenced by Paul Krugman, David Brooks, Kate Stone, and many others in responding to the mild replies, long-expected decisions, and minor re-positioning of Obama demonstrates more about the fears and insecurities of these individuals than of Obama’s candidacy or potential presidency.

Also, let me try to correct the record on guns and Heller v. Washington D.C.  Kate, along with many others, mis-characterizes Obama as supporting “relaxing restrictions on gun control in Washington, D.C.” This with-us-or-against-us take on Obama’s nuanced position is exactly what Obama has described as the problem with partisanship.  The judicial philosophy that Obama has been consistent in supporting is one which judges each case on the merits, individually.  Which is why, as the Heller case was before the Court, Obama repeatedly said that as he hadn’t been able to take the time to fully investigate the case because he was busy running for president.  His comments in response to the Heller decision were about balance:

I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common sense, effective safety measures.

The line, though less elegant, reminds me of his famous line about Iraq:

I’m not opposed to all wars.  Just dumb wars.

In general, Obama has made two things clear: he supports an individual right to bear arms; and he supports gun control.  This has become the increasingly common liberal position.  Whether the Court should have struck down this particular gun ban or not, the Supreme Court’s decision was historic – and Obama, as a card-carrying civil libertarian, would recognize the decision as the boon for individual rights it is.

  1. A ridiculous take on his landmark racism speech. []
  2. How many chances does a guy get? []
  3. Those who call this “throwing someone under a bus” must have missed the Clinton years altogether.  All that’s there is a mild statement pointing out that General Clark was going off-message. []
  4. Although Kate didn’t mention this one, many others have. []
  5. Here, I disagree with Obama’s stand. []
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Catholicism Domestic issues Election 2008 Environmental Issues Foreign Policy Iraq Law Morality New York City Obama Politics The War on Terrorism

Pope Endorses Barack Obama in UN Speech

Pope Benedict @ the United Nations

[digg-me]Not quite. But close.

Addressing the United Nations on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of reducing income inequality; of increasing international cooperation; of respecting the law; of having solidarity with the poor and weak; of opposing (unnecessary)1 war; of “giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation;” of creating “structures capable of harmonizing the day-to-day unfolding of the lives of people;” of the “protection of the environment…and the climate.” And like Barack Obama, though many conservative Catholics are loathe to admit, the previous pope, Pope John Paul II even specifically opposed the invasion of Iraq.

In the past eight years, the Republican party has come to stand for the right of the president to torture prisoners; for rising inequality and acceptance of corporate fraud; for elevating the executive above the Rule of Law and the other constitutionally co-equal branches of government; for ignoring the climate crisis; for refusing to give aid to the poor and weak because of potential “moral hazards” while bailing out big corporations; for preventive war; for refusing to engage in dialogue with our enemies. Pope Benedict’s speech was a direct challenge to the worldview and policies of the Bush administration and an articulation of basic moral principles and basic responsibilities of the state.

Within these principles articulated by the pope, we can easily find the mainstream Democratic agenda, a rejection of the radical policies of George W. Bush, and more specifically, an endorsement of the school of politics that Barack Obama stands for: talking with our enemies; avoiding unnecessary wars and violence; respecting the Rule of Law; reducing income inequality; promoting access to health care; and protecting the environment.

This is the Democratic agenda.

The Pope explained that it is the responsibility of “every generation [to] engag[e] anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs…motivated by hope.” I would call that a pretty good encapsulation of Obama’s appeal – that he represents a new generation striving to find the best way to manage the world and our nation “motivated by hope”.

Jonah Goldberg may call it fascism; Steve Marlsberg may call such efforts to reduce inequality and allow citizens access to basic needs Communism; Rush Limbaugh may call efforts to focus on the real threat of Al Qaeda in the Pakistani/Afghani border “cut-and-run.” But those who listened to Pope Benedict’s address to the United Nations can see that he stands with those the so-called “conservatives” have labeled fascists, communists, and cowards – and the pope understood that the basic moral values he stood for are the essence of what he called “freedom.”

  1. I inserted unnecessary here although Pope Benedict did not. Although the pope spoke in this speech of avoiding war, I presume he speaks of this in the context of the “just war” theory that has been accepted by him and the rest of the Catholic Church in the past. []