Why Doesn’t Michael van der Galien Support Obama?

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If you’ve been following my discussion with Michael about Obama and Hillary, then you’re all caught up. If not, you can click here and here.

Initially we were talking about identity politics, but the discussion quickly moved onto the experience issue and what being “moderate” means. Basically, I’ve been taking Michael to task for railing Obama over his lack of experience and centrism, while offering nothing but vague opinions as to why Hillary’s experience and centrism are that much more impressive.

This incongruity, at least in terms of experience, was especially evident when Michael thought that the grossly underqualified Michael Steele would make a good GOP VP nominee. Quick background on Steele, he served one term as a Lieutenant Governor and lost his campaign for the Senate. That’s the sum total of his legislative experience. A heartbeat away from the top spot? No thank you. And frankly, I was quite disappointed that Michael seemed to approve of Steele because he could provide insulation for the GOP from potential identity political attacks.

In any event, yesterday I read more of why Michael doesn’t like Obama, and he’s still only offering one vague opinion after another…

It seems to me that there isn’t enough evidence that Obama will compromise with conservatives or govern in a more moderate way, unlike what some believe. Moreover, most of the evidence points in the opposite direction (because his relatively short voting record shows a liberal slant).

Michael is right when he says that Obama has had a relatively short voting record and it is fairly liberal. But guess what? Obama has never promised to govern in any other way than being open to ideas and trying to find common ground when it’s possible.

However, in Obama’s time in office he has helped pass bipartisan bills on fuel efficiency standards, emergency energy funding for low income homes, a searchable database to increase government transparency and nuclear antiproliferation. Is this not seen as being moderate in Michael’s definition?

Let me flip the question on Michael for a moment and ask, “Where’s the evidence that Hillary will work with conservatives?” Both Hill and Obama have nearly identical party loyalty ratings when voting, that being around 90%. I’m sure Hillary has cosponsored bipartisan legislation too, but with a voting record like that, it can’t be that much more. She’s no Blue Dog Democrat, so I think the evidence proves that it’s pretty much a dead heat when it comes to their records. And yet Michael doesn’t trust Obama. Why?

Michael also has a problem with Obama’s foreign policy philosophy…

I especially feel strongly about this because I think it will happen foreign policy wise. In my opinion, a liberal foreign policy will prove disastrous. Especially when we talk about Iran, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, andsoforth
(I’m admittedly hawkish on these issues), but also with regards to Iraq […]

I’m not sure what Michael means by liberal foreign policy. Apparently it means being “hawkish.” However, Obama is far from being a Kucinich or a Gravel (or even a Ron Paul for that matter) on this issue. In fact, he talks in very hawkish terms about protecting America at all costs. He’s also in favor of strengthening the military by increasing the number of troops, making sure they have the training they need and the equipment that will save their lives, as well as giving them longer breaks between combat so our men and women are the best they can be when the time comes to act. That seems like a good start to rebuilding the type of hammer we need in order to put diplomatic pressure on foreign powers.

Let’s also not forget that Obama said he would go into Pakistan and capture Bin Laden without the country’s permission. If I remember correctly, Michael thinks this a stupid move, but I think many Americans think a new approach to Pakistan is long overdue since we now know that Musharraf and friends have been squandering our billions and making no progress in fighting al Qaeda.

And what about Hillary? What makes her that much more hawkish? Honestly, I don’t know besides the fact that she said she wouldn’t talk to our enemies. And let’s not forget that Hillary has done some pretty significant gymnastics trying to explain her vote on the war. But here’s her position on it: she was never for it. Again, how this makes her more hawkish than Obama is beyond me. Michael’s vague opinions continue to not stand up to close scrutiny.

Ultimately, though, I don’t think this has anything to do with Barack or Hillary. I think what this all boils down to is the fact that Michael and I have a difference of opinion about what “moderate” means. I think it’s about having an open mind to new ideas, while not compromising your core beliefs. And in my view, when you do disagree (which is inevitable), it’s the way you disagree that’s important. Michael seems to think that being moderate means consistently compromising on legislation, and sure, there’s inevitably going to be some of that, but I don’t think that’s the important part. In fact, I’d argue that’s the weakest part of it because compromise as a rule of thumb is shaky ground to stand on fully. Respect, however, is very solid and if you have a respectful debate with your adversary, instead of trying to paint them as a coward or a thief or any number of epithets, odds are that the voters will take notice. And maybe if your bill doesn’t get passed this time around because you didn’t have enough, well, maybe the voters will give you the majority you need because you’re trying to inspire instead of instigate.

Here’s more from Michael on why he doesn’t trust Obama…

The problem is that Obama could be using rhetoric to mislead people into thinking he’s more moderate than he really is. That doesn’t mean that people who take him at his word(s) are stupid, it just means that he could very well be doing what most politicians do- telling people what they want to hear.

This is why I don’t buy it without proof- if others choose to believe it, that doesn’t make them dumb but it does indicate a higher amount of trust than I’m willing to give… especially to a politician and especially to a politician with the ambition to become the most powerful person in the world (save God).

First, the charges being leveled at people who support Barack Obama could easily be said about Hillary supporters too. It’s not like she has this amazingly longer resume than Barack. What’s more, Hillary hasn’t run a very high-minded, policy-rich campaign as of late. She’s been attacking Barack at every turn and knowingly mischaracterizing his statements to score political points AND to paint him as some sort of Republican lover. And perhaps that’s what’s so odd about Michael’s opinion about being “moderate” while still supporting Hillary…because she tried to turn Dems against Barack by saying that Barack liked Republican ideas!

Also, if Michael is really worried about a politician telling him what he wants to hear because of an ambition to get into the White House…I’m sorry, but has he been following Hillary’s career? And her win-at-all-costs drive has been especially apparent in recent weeks. So I agree with Michael about being afraid of overly ambitious candidates, but I’m so much more afraid of Hillary than Obama. Her dirty tricks have turned me against her candidacy once and for all and it’s because it hints at a mindset that IS NOT moderate and will continue to poison our national dialogue with partisan backbiting for years to come.

And to that point, here’s one last bit…Michael’s opinion about Obama’s moderate potential…and probably the most revealing peek into why he’s really for Hillary.

This is an issue I feel quite strongly about and, sadly, that sometimes causes me to be a bit ’short’ (with that I mean very dismissive of a person). I realize that, it’s one of my major (blogging) flaws.

Yep, I think it’s pretty obvious now why Michael doesn’t support Obama. Because he ultimately doesn’t buy into a more moderate “approach” to politics. He’s more in favor of a candidate who displays the very same flaws that he himself freely (and nobly) admits. That’s fine, but I wish he would recognize that for what it is, instead of painting supporters of Obama as naive and uninformed.