Oh, Bama…


I want to continue to love Obama. And much of last night’s debate from Las Vegas gave me reason to. But–

1. That thing–where he was trying to draw a contrast between an inspiring President (him) and a wonkish, detail-oriented, micro-managing President (her)–when, probably thinking he was being charmingly self-effacing, he said words to this effect:

I don’t know where anything is in my office–and I never know what I’m doing until someone puts a piece of paper in my hand two minutes before I have to do it.

Um, excuse me, but I kind of want my President to be more organized than that. It reminded me of his response on Meet the Press on November 11, regarding some records from his time as an Illinois state legislator: that he didn’t have them, because he didn’t keep those kinds of records. Which I believed, and which gave me concerns. Frankly, his delineation last night of the kind of President he’d be reawakened those concerns. It also played (unnecessarily and stupidly) into Hillary’s characterization of him as long on inspiration but short on ability to execute.

2. When John Edwards asked Obama his excellent question,

Your campaign gets millions from drug companies and insurance companies. What do you think those companies expect for that money? Good government?

And Obama gave one of the lamest (and most transparently false) answers ever. “That money is from ordinary folks who just happen to work at drug and insurance companies and who believe in my campaign.” Awful! I’m still wondering what the real answer to John Edwards’ question is.

Added at 11:17 PM: I wondered if anyone else in the blogosphere was seeing Obama admission’s of organizational inadequacy as the potential disaster I did. Nobody I read this morning seemed to. But as of 2:53 this afternoon, Mickey Kaus at Slate did.

Added at 9:12 AM Thursday: Now The New York Times is on it. Can I claim to be the first person in the “media” to have commented on this with my post yesterday morning? Let’s put it this way: to my knowledge, the claim remains unchallenged!


One Comment on “Oh, Bama…”

  1. Neill says:

    You’re right on target. I get the feeling that Obama would be a president who delegates everything, while Clinton would be in command of the details (which can be a trap of its own). Meanwhile, although my views most closely align with those of Dennis Kucinich, I’m leaning more toward Edwards as the New York primary grows closer. There’s a certain insincerity to his sincerity, but I gravitate toward his focus on the poor, the middle class and the rapacity of corporations.

    I recommend Paul Krugman’s New York Times column of Jan. 14, “Responding to Recession” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/opinion/14krugman.html?scp=2&sq=krugman) where he compares what all the candidates are saying about how to respond to our apparent slide into recession. Krugman dismisses the Republicans swiftly, but has this to say about the Democrats–which depicts Obama as the least progressive of the frontrunners:

    “On the Democratic side, John Edwards, although never the front-runner, has been driving his party’s policy agenda. He’s done it again on economic stimulus: last month, before the economic consensus turned as negative as it now has, he proposed a stimulus package including aid to unemployed workers, aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, public investment in alternative energy, and other measures.

    “Last week Hillary Clinton offered a broadly similar but somewhat larger proposal. (It also includes aid to families having trouble paying heating bills, which seems like a clever way to put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it.) The Edwards and Clinton proposals both contain provisions for bigger stimulus if the economy worsens.

    “And you have to say that Mrs. Clinton seems comfortable with and knowledgeable about economic policy. I’m sure the Hillary-haters will find some reason that’s a bad thing, but there’s something to be said for presidents who know what they’re talking about.

    “The Obama campaign’s initial response to the latest wave of bad economic news was, I’m sorry to say, disreputable: Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser claimed that the long-term tax-cut plan the candidate announced months ago is just what we need to keep the slump from “morphing into a drastic decline in consumer spending.” Hmm: claiming that the candidate is all-seeing, and that a tax cut originally proposed for other reasons is also a recession-fighting measure — doesn’t that sound familiar?

    “Anyway, on Sunday Mr. Obama came out with a real stimulus plan. As was the case with his health care plan, which fell short of universal coverage, his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right.

    “For example, the Obama plan appears to contain none of the alternative energy initiatives that are in both the Edwards and Clinton proposals, and emphasizes across-the-board tax cuts over both aid to the hardest-hit families and help for state and local governments. I know that Mr. Obama’s supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy.

    “In short, the stimulus debate offers a pretty good portrait of the men and woman who would be president. And I haven’t said a word about their hairstyles.”

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