Your Lying Eyes

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29 August 2008

The Speech

For awhile there, I thought Barack might screw up big time - with all the huge buildup of expectations, he was doing little more than presenting a litany of standard Democrat whines (followed shortly with an attack on Phil Gramm's "nation of whiners" faux-pas - I wondered if anyone else heard the irony in that). He seemed to be stumbling a bit reading the text and on the verge of almost breaking down at some points as he struggled with the words. But then he got past the sob-story section and lit into the loss of American jobs overseas and the erosion of our manufacturing base with a powerful call for reversing that trend, and the speech started to turn around.

There were a few standard Democrat horror-shows, like "equal pay for equal work" and mandatory sick leave for waitresses, like small-businesses need anymore administrative overhead and government audits of their operations. And of course the education nonsense - how in God's name does anyone think it's possible to make college more affordable while having more students attend college? It's like saying we're going to make gasoline more affordable, then call for a doubling of the number of miles we drive. We can make college more affordable, but that would require us to admit that college is often a complete waste of money - but no politician will ever admit that.

Speaking of energy, here was a good example of Obama doing the Clinton triangulation thing. He didn't say we shouldn't drill for more oil, just that that's a "short-term" fix. He included nuclear energy among his alternative energy sources, and painted the issue in terms of a vast business opportunity for America. Very centrist.

I was most disappointed when he discussed foreign policy. This is where change is most needed, but his approach is very timid. Essentially, he's promoting a Bush-lite approach: a "responsible" exit from Iraq, more hawkish on Afghanistan, but otherwise business as usual, except that he'll be nicer about it.
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.
So now we have both nominees being very confrontational with Russia. I would classify McCain's foreign policy as insane. Obama's may not be certifiable, but it sounds awfully wrong-headed. The last thing this country needs is a protracted power struggle with Russia. Hopefully, Obama is just trying to deflect some nasty attacks and fears being labeled weak and naive. It appears some of his advisers have much more sensible views on the subject. But I didn't find it very reassuring.

His peroration was truly thrilling. Pat Buchanan, the only adult voice on MSNBC and a professional speech writer himself, was overwhelmed. (Here's video of Buchanan's reaction.) He has a gift for oratory - a great ear for the cadence and words that can inspire. I'm guessing that policy-wise he's still learning. He's not really sure where he wants to go. Events will probably dictate his presidency, and I feel confident that his intelligence and ambition (to be great) will lead him away from doing stupid things and will keep him attentive to the day-to-day job of managing the executive branch - a part of the job that's been neglected the last 8 years.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will the Republican party ditch neoconservative\AEI foreign policy? What will make them do it?

If Obama wins, will they? My impression is that Republicans are just attacking Obama for not being militant enough.

If McCain loses the race and then retires, would that allow for a newer generation of younger, more isolationist Republicans to take charge?

Or will Christian dispensationalists and evangelics never allow it?

I am a conservative, and I really really want McCain to lose.

August 29, 2008 4:19 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I think the same thing, but not sure. One big problem with Republicans is that because the basic philosophy is limited government and tight money (which has limited appeal these days), they require lots of corporate money, which ultimately corrupts them.

August 29, 2008 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prior to the speech...Bill Richardson spoke. And towards the end of the speech, he just busted out a couple of lines in Spanish. Ugh. Has anyone commented on this? (Not knocking Spanish speakers, but should American be a country in which we have political speeches delivered in Spanish?)

I wonder if the Republicans will pull a similar stunt.

August 30, 2008 5:03 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I wonder if the Republicans will pull a similar stunt.

Oh, no doubt - unless Palin puts her foot down:)

August 30, 2008 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know McCain is not a strong candidate for president but I can't look at this race with the same dispassionate attitude that you have and thus I can't possibly root for Obama to win in November.

Part of me says Obama is constantly learning and adjusting and will eventually turn out to be a reasonably good president; but another part of me looks upon his personal and political record as being undeniably dubious, if not marginally sinister, and the fact that he is a shamelessly extreme liberal does not exactly offer great comfort as well.

I fully expect he'll win in November and hopefully the optimistic side of me will turn out to be accurate.

August 31, 2008 1:06 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well I'm being optimistic too. I'm basing my optimism on how easily he seems to have dumped all his old cronies. Ok - so Rev. Wright it took some scandal to get him to dump him, but that appears to me due to Obama's tactic of not publicly acknowledging any flaws. He seems to prefer to let them surface then deal with them with his charm and the lap-dog press treatment that follows him.

He's a bit like Henry V with Falstaff - these Chicago cronies who helped him make himself into The One will be on the outside looking in come January.

August 31, 2008 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like the Republican party and conservatices are really hurting from the fact that the elite (including the media elite) is part of the left.

Our base is satisfied with people like the nutcase John McCain and are overjoyed with a woman like Sarah Palin.

September 02, 2008 1:05 AM  

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