As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

January 5, 2008

My Problems with Obama

He's bad on Universal Healthcare

Obama is afraid to push true universal healthcare because he's worried that the Republicans won't go along with it -- that they'll run ads saying "The Democrats want to force you to get healthcare" -- and that this will doom a universal healthcare plan. He's so worried about this that he's runnning around saying "Edwards and Hillary want to force you to get healthcare."

But this has two problems. 1) The Republicans are going to fight healthcare reform *no matter what*. Even Obama's watered-down plan is dead on arrival as far as they're concerned, so why make concessions with them before the fight has even begun? and 2) If you have universal healthcare, then everyone has to pay for it -- you can't just start paying when you get sick. This so-called "adverse selection" would make it impossible to actually fund universal healthcare. When Paul Krugman pointed this out in a column, the Obama folks starting doing opposition research on him. Yes, really, opposition research on Paul Krugman.

He's bad on Social Security

Obama has embraced the Republican talking point that there is a Social Security Crisis and that only he is "brave enough" to confront Democratic orthodoxy to fix it. This plays well with the press, but it is a lie, and a republican one at that. There is no social security crisis. The republicans say this because they think that a safetey net is a bad idea and that everyone one should invest their money in the stock market (and pay fees to wall street) instead.

He's bad on gay rights

Barack Obama thinks Democrats don't respect religion and that it is OK to embrace bigots if they're anti-gay because of their deeply held faith. But seriously, have you ever heard of a democratic candidate who wasn't religious? Repeating the right-wing talking point that gays and Democrats are "hermetically sealed" from religious people is deeply stupid because it reinforces the false notions that 1) religious people have to be conservative, otherwise they're nor really religious and 2) Democrats (except Obama, of course) aren't religious.

He's just as bad on the war as everyone else.

Like Clinton and Edwards, he won't commit to fully leaving Iraq. Like Clinton and Edwards, he wouldn't concede the notion that going to war with Iran would be a bad idea.

He's gotten a lot of mileage out of the fact that he didn't vote for the war in Iraq, but that's because he wasn't in the Senate at the time. I have no doubt, given his need to be perceived as a serious, bipartisan person, that he would have caved to media pressure to vote for the war, just like Clinton and Edwards.

Obama, did, after all, campaign for Joe Lieberman (ex-Democrat, war supporter extraordinare and McCain endorser) in the 2006 election instead of supporting Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee who ran on what was basically a single-issue anti-war platform.

There's nothing to suggest that Obama has a spine on this issue at all -- he's just very lucky he wasn't around when it came up.

His bipartisan fetish is naive.

His craving for the respect of the establishment. His bizarre need to be seen as a serious person (he *is* a serious person, so why does he need the talking heads to realize it?). His constant embracement of right-wing frames on the most important issues our time. It makes me wonder why anyone, outside of the punditocracy, supports him.

So What's Obama good on?

He's good at running against Democrats. Has Obama *ever* had a serious Republican opponent? No. This is why he's so good at adopting republican talking points -- his real opponents have always been other Democrats. I have my doubts about how well he can run a general election campaign with his problem of embracing the other side's talking points.

Some have said that maybe he's really not so bad on healthcare, social security, gay rights, etc. and that he's just lying to win the media primary. This may be true (although I doubt it) -- but suppose it is: then, what else is he lying about and what does this say about his "new kind of politics" schtick?

And that's what *really* pisses me off. What about all his supporters, who actually think that you can get things done in politics by not engaging in politics. Anyone who thinks electing Obama will overthrow the system is deluding themselves (this is shades of Nader, I think, in the giddy naivity I see in people who really should know better). If Obama gets elected, we'll be up to our ears in bipartisan commissions on X, Y, and Z and we won't actually get anything done.

I worry about the backlash when people realize that Obama is just another politician who's scared of his shadow.

Posted by coughlin at 10:27 AM