Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Will Obama Really Appeal to Centrists?

Barak Obama fascinates me.

He can give speeches like no one else in a long time. As I've said before, he reminds me a of many a black preacher I heard growing up. He's a black man that seems to appeal beyond African Americans to persons from various walks of life and states that have low concentrations of African Americans.

But he also troubles me.

Not in some sinister way, but in the way Centrist, including a few Republicans are falling in love with him. He seems to be picking up independents in the same way that John McCain is. In fact, the Illinois Senator is looked at in the same way as the Senator from Arizona, someone that can attract people from the other party. However, as far as I can tell, and I repeat, as I far as I know, while Mr. Obama's cross party appeal is big on style and short on substance, while Mr. McCain is the opposite.

Obama has one of the more liberal records in the Senate. In some case, that's not a big deal. McCain is far more conservative than people assume. What is different is that McCain has reached out to the other side at the risk of offending the GOP base. He was part of the "Gang of 14." He reached out to Sen. Ted Kennedy, liberal icon/archenemy to craft an immigration deal that brought the wrath of many on the hard right. Many in the base don't like him because time and time again he has gone his own way.

Froma Harrop explains:

He had the fiscal discipline to vote against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and the decency to complain that they unfairly favored the rich. He's OK on the environment, concerned over global warming and against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He supported tighter fuel-economy standards and opposes torture. John McCain is not an embarrassment.

Then there is Obama. David Brooks offers his record:

Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

Now, McCain could back away from his maverick persona as he has done on some occasions and that could spell trouble come November. But the thing is, McCain at least has a record of making his party's base mad for not always being the loyal solider. Obama hasn't done that.

In recent blog entry, my fellow blogger, Jeremy Dibbell wrote about seeing Obama in Boston. He really like the candidate and he explains what it was like to see the Senator:

Was it worth it? You bet. It's not every day that one has the opportunity to hear (and spottily see) the governor, two senators, a presidential candidate and 10,000 friends, all ready for a new kind of politics, a new way of doing things, and a new vision for America.

Maybe Jeremy sees something I don't, but it's hard to see how Obama will do things differently. Don't get me wrong; even though I am a Republican, I would like to believe Obama could bring about a politics of unity instead of one of division. But I do wonder if Obama is the centrist hope. His actions don't seem to live up to his words.

1 comment:

Khaki Elephant (AKA, Paul) said...

You are spot on. Obama has an appeal that currently transcends what we have seen in his voting tendencies. As I cruise the web I'm amazed at how many "moderates" see him as the candidate for change when there is no indication of that from his legislative record. I have to admit that sometimes I get chills listening to the guy, but then I also get chills when I watch reruns of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" so perhaps I'm not the best judge.

I support McCain as a moderate and the man I believe can bring change through transforming domestic policy and the GOP. But change by it's nature leads us into untested ground so I guess I'll just cling to that opinion and trust we're right.