Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Support Barack Obama for President by Don Jaycox

This is an outstanding statement from an individual who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. His thoughts are well-reasoned and insightful. Because he doesn't have a blog, I've posted his thoughts here to share with you....

"I truly believe this is the most important election of my lifetime, and that is why I strongly endorse Barack Obama for President. I have written this commentary to: (a) Express my strongly held view that the hopes and aspirations of our Nation will be best served by Obama's election, and (b) Persuade any who might still be undecided to vote for him. I write this for people who care what I think, but want to encourage all of you to really research the candidates from many angles. Don't take the easy way out and just digest what you are fed by CNN, NBC or Fox News. Democracy requires an informed and engaged electorate! So here goes...

John McCain
"It may seem odd to begin a declaration for Senator Obama with a statement about John McCain. First, I will say I respect John McCain's service to our country, as I do the other men and women who have served this nation in uniform. However, that service does not mean he will make the best President, or frankly even a good President. While I was a strong supporter of McCain in the 2000 election, I have followed him for the past 8 years with a growing sense of disappointment as I watch the steady erosion of the principles that once defined him: centrist politics, decency, bipartisanship, honesty, integrity, and little pandering to special interests. Unfortunately, his campaign this year has been shameful, and I am truly saddened given my prior admiration for him.

Leadership & Inspiration
"Leadership is my business. I try to practice it all the time, and I try to learn from great leaders. Leaders give you a sense of direction, purpose, inspiration, and confidence about the future. I see very few people who I view as truly gifted leaders, and Barack Obama is one of them. I think the number one thing America lacks today is confidence. Right behind that, hope. Right behind that, inspiration. Obama brings all of these things to America far better than any other candidate. That is why so many young people (and old ones like me) are so strongly behind him (see endorsements below). We need his leadership and inspiration very badly.

"Barack Obama is smart. Smarter than me and most of the people I know. He is a Constitutional scholar in an era when the Constitution and our civil liberties are under attack. He surrounds himself with smart, qualified advisors and then listens to them. No one is perfect, and no one knows everything. Smart, self aware people like Obama are keenly aware of both what they know, and more importantly what they don't know. That's why they try to surround themselves with other smart people to shore up their areas of weakness. In the last two elections, many Americans voted for a man they thought they'd like to share a beer with - a good old boy who can't pronounce nuclear and cuts brush for fun. That didn't work out so well for us. President of the United States may well be the hardest job in the world. I want the smartest person I can find for that job.

Judgment in General & The Iraq War in Specific
"McCain likes to slam Barack for not supporting the surge and for changing his economic / tax policy. He ignores the fact that Obama opposed this disastrous war from the start -- against the tide of American opinion at the time. He thought it would be a grave error, and his judgment proved to be dead on. As for the Surge, I agreed with it's purpose and tactics. The Iraq Study Group, (not McCain) made a compelling argument for the action, but keep in mind that the entire concept was to make the best of a bad situation. Obama disagreed. OK. It is understandable that he would be skeptical given the administration's track record up to that point. Look, we will never know how things would have gone without the Surge, but I do know that concurrent with the Surge was The Sunni Awakening movement, aimed at driving Al Qaeda out of Iraq. Many (including me) credit The Awakening with much of the reduction in violence. How much is anyone's guess. As for Obama changing his economic and tax policy on the fly -- I say BRAVO! Smart people with good judgment adapt to changing conditions. Ideologues do not. I have no time for ideologues - left or right leaning. Adaptability is one of the most important traits in good leaders. They watch, they listen, they learn, they adapt. That's a good thing! The "flip flop" attack used by Republicans is idiotic. A lack of adaptability contributed heavily to the gigantic mess we're in overseas.

Supreme Court
"The next President will appoint at least one and perhaps as many as three Supreme Court Justices. And they will serve for life! The Supreme Court is possibly the most important institution of government because they are the protectors of our Constitution and our civil liberties. When a President leaves office, their budget, tax and foreign policy legacy might endure for 2, 4, maybe 8 years, but their Supreme Court picks last a lifetime. The court must be balanced, and it's not right now. If it's too far left or right it's bad for the country. Bush has pushed the court from a centrist balance, with the likes of Sandra Day O'Connor casting tie-breaking votes (a Reagan appointee, btw) to a court that is now strongly leaning to the right. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the next most likely to retire, and if McCain replaces her, the court will be unacceptably far to the right for a long time. Obama appointees are much more likely to bring the court back into balance.

The Economy / Taxes
"The Obama tax plan will cost me more money but will help the vast majority of people reading this. That's OK. As Warren Buffett said "I don't need a tax break. Others do." Barack's economic policy makes much more sense to me than McCain's and it is likely to spur economic recovery much more quickly. While I will be personally disadvantaged by it -- as will lots of other high income people -- and that's OK for America. It's not wealth redistribution, it's economic fairness, pure and simple. What a lot of people don't realize is that today's tax brackets are a comparative bargain for wealthy people. After WWI, the top tax rate for the wealthy was 77%. During the Great Depression it rose to 92% and remained there until 1964! It plunged to 38% in 1987 and today it's just 35%. And Capital Gains tax at 15% is a huge gift to wealthy investors. They don't make their money through payroll checks. They make it on investments. A regular person making $50,000 taking a standard deduction will pay 22% to 30% federal tax (depending on how you choose to count payroll tax paid by employers.) An investor making $1,000,000 on investments will pay only 15%. That's insane. Oh, and "Joe the plumber" will absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably pay less tax under Obama. Don't believe me. Read their plans for yourself on each candidate's web site. For a quick non-partisan comparison, see:

"Note: I do not agree with Obama's plan to raise corporate taxes on large corporations because in a global economy it may drive those large companies overseas. However, I believe Obama will reconsider this part of his plan once in office. He has good advisors on that front. However, the myth of Small-business-owner-Joe-the-plumber-getting-hurt is just that -- a myth. A sham.

America's Place in the Global Community
"I was in Europe on 9/11 and I can tell you that the outpouring of support and solidarity from our European allies was astounding. Even countries like Russia supported us. I was overwhelmed. You had headlines in Le Monde of Paris that read "Today, we are all Americans." In the last seven years we have completely squandered that good will and our standing in the world. We went from the assaulted party to the assaulters. A blinded Cyclops lashing out at anything within our reach. Whether or not this feels like a fair view of the US, it is now pervasive around the world. We went from the most admired country in the world to one of the most reviled. Whether we like it or not, we are in a Global Community and we can't "go it alone" -- it won't work. We need to restore the world's faith that we are a fair and just society internally and externally. The faith that in the US - perhaps uniquely in the world - anyone can aspire to be anything. Interestingly, much of the world is amazed and astounded that just seven years after 9/11 America could possibly elect a man like Obama -- a black man with the middle name Hussein, with a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, raised partly in Indonesia by a single-parent struggling to make ends meet. Yet he can rise to the most powerful office in the world on the strength of his intellect, determination and unwavering sense of hope. It is the uniquely powerful story of America, and it makes everyone around the globe stop and rethink their view of our country. Maybe we've misjudged America. That opens the door to dialog, compromise, and global cooperation. Just what we need to fight global terrorism effectively. Obama will restore our ability to reassert leadership -- not by force of weapons -- but by the force of our ideals.

Readiness to be President
"Let's be honest: No one is qualified to be US president if they haven't already held the job. While the VP job comes close, there is no other job that is remotely close. Not even the Governor of California, (7th largest economy in the world) gains the experience needed to run the US. The job of Senator is vastly different from that of President, and being a Senator for 21 years is not appreciably more valuable than 4 years in my view. In the end you need to trust in intelligence, judgment, integrity and the ability to "learn on the job" as McCain derisively puts it. John F Kennedy entered the White House at age 43 after 6 years in the Senate -- a young upstart with nearly the same Senate experience as Obama. He certainly had no real experience to be President. But he was smart and surrounded himself with other smart people. Still, his first test was the Bay of Pigs and it didn't go well. (A huge mistake he inherited from Eisenhower). But he learned and adapted, and in doing so not only faced down Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but also gave us the vision and commitment to put a man on the moon. An extraordinary achievement.

"I view Obama as having the superior intelligence, demeanor, judgment and temperament to assume the role of President and be successful. Do I think McCain would be a better Commander in Chief of our Military? Maybe. But it worries me that his philosophy on leadership is to: (a) Hang tough - a noble if bullheaded view, (b) Don't talk to our enemies unless they first agree to play by our rules - insane, and (c) Provide Iraq with an indefinite commitment on US troops. Our country cannot tolerate another 4 years in Iraq -- financially, culturally, politically, or socially. I do think that Obama has all the qualities that will make him better at all other aspects of running this country, and he will put in place the right leadership at the Pentagon - as Clinton did with Secretary William Cohen - and will keep our country safe.

"Most laughable to me is the notion that should McCain expire in office, Sarah Palin, the 16-month governor of Alaska, whose total state population is 20% the size of the San Diego metro area and equal in size to the combined suburbs of Chula Vista, Escondido and Oceanside, is somehow qualified with the requisite "executive experience" to occupy the oval office. For me, that huge lapse in judgment by McCain completely sealed the deal. He placed the country's future at stake for a calculated political stunt aimed at placating the right wing of the Republican party and attracting the small group of disaffected Hillary supporters who could be tricked into voting for someone who is at odds with most of what Hillary stands for. Picking Joe Lieberman would have been a masterstroke, but Sarah Palin was a blunder of epic proportions.
Obama is Endorsed by Many Non-Partisan National Leaders
Obviously, the party faithful will always endorse their own candidate. They are a given on both sides. These are more interesting:

Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, richest man in the world, considered to be the most savvy investor in the world.
Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State under GW Bush, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (89–93)
Paul Volker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve under Reagan.
Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury under GW Bush
Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary under GW Bush
William H. Donaldson, former Chairman of the SEC under GW Bush
Christopher Buckley, conservative writer and satirist, son of William F. Buckley
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton, former Harvard Economics professor, incredibly smart.
Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury, former Chairman of Goldman Sachs. Incredibly smart.
Fareed Zakaria writer and columnist on World Affairs. Incredibly smart and insightful. Read his analysis of world events.
Wesley Clark, former General, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
71 Nobel Laureates.
70 current and former Foreign Policy experts.
218 Major newspapers & magazines (compared to McCain's 80).

Fallacies Directed Against Obama - from the merely Dubious to the Outright Absurd
(To be addressed in a later commentary)
· Obama is unknown, shady, can't be trusted.
· Guilt by Association - Ayers and Rev Wright.
· That he is a Muslim.
· That he hates America.
· That he strangles kittens for fun. (I'm pretty sure this one was intended as satire, but not the others.)

No comments: