Barack Obama for President
Well, the Virginia primary is coming up this week (Tuesday, Feb. 12, to be exact), and it looks like this year it might actually mean something, at least on the Democratic side. So I figured I should go ahead and decide who I am going to be voting for. And then I figured that I should share my decision here, in case it’s helpful for any of you who are still trying to make up your own minds.
The answer is: my vote will be going to Barack Obama.
Unlike a lot of people, I have not been swept away by Obamamania. Sen. Obama has a compelling personal story, and he is undoubtedly a great public speaker. But I do find his speeches a little light on substance (“change” can be good, but it can also be bad — what kind of change, and how he will effect it, are the key questions), and I wish he had some kind of executive experience; he has had a good career as a legislator, but being President is a lot different than being one legislator among many.
That being said, though, I believe he has a lot to recommend him. He has been smart in choosing his advisors, from which he will presumably be drawing the core of his Cabinet, should he win. By all accounts he has a first-class mind, which would be a refreshing change after eight years of Presidential ignorance. And he seems willing to reconsider failed policies, rather than sticking to them out of sheer inertia, which is going to be a requirement for any successful president in the years to come.
And there’s also the small matter that he was 100% right on Iraq when it mattered — and wasn’t afraid to defend that opinion in public. Since most Democrats at the time were displaying even more cowardice than usual, I give him credit for having the moral courage to say what he believed, rather than what he thought would best position him for the future.
Obama’s opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, has a lot to recommend her as well. She is a strong candidate, and I wouldn’t necessarily see it as the end of the world if she were to win the nomination. But in the end, I want — and I think a lot of people want — a new direction for America, rather than just a recapitulation of past successes. Obama offers that new direction, which is a big part of why he will be getting my vote on Tuesday.
Is Obama the perfect candidate? Far from it; and he faces a tough opponent in November in the person of John McCain. But there are no perfect candidates in this field, and Obama’s positives outweigh his negatives, at least for me. So I’m willing to give him a chance to show us all what he can do.
And if you disagree? Well, this election is going down to the wire — so if your state’s primary is still coming up, get out and vote!
(Note: Credit for the excellent bumper-sticker that leads this post goes to the Edge of the American West blog.)
UPDATE (February 12):
So what’s your excuse?