For the first time in its history, the Chicago Tribune has endorsed a Democrat for President. Barack Obama has overcome yet another hurdle by demonstrating intelligence and leadership. More importantly perhaps, he has done so by overturning many contemporary tropes of political campaigns — borderline corrupt if not immoral fundraising practices, lies and deceit from the stump, pandering on platform positions, dramatic demonstrations of outraged honor. For that, he deserves respect.
My concern is that his supporters will not see past all that to think through his clearly-stated positions and consider how they verge from what we’ve come to expect from Democrats. Obama’s appeal to the consensus and to avoiding the stock in trade Democratic Party positions means he’ll have some enemies not just on the right but on the left.
He is against abortion on demand. He favors a complete ban on third term abortions except for health and life of the mother. Surveys show among most Americans concerns about abortions grow as the fetus grows. Obama seems to be with them on this one, but perhaps not with NARAL and NOW.
As we have heard, Obama’s plan will not provide universal health care coverage. It will however provide coverage to all children. But where does that leave us adults? Somewhere in the middle. I can’t figure out why he has taken this odd position but I suspect it has to do with cost.
Middle East Wars
Obama understands he cannot withdraw the US from Iraq if it means images of more casualties. Bush effectively kept media cameramen far from caskets and cemeteries, one reason perhaps why an impassioned public antiwar outcry never materialized. Such images would create big problems for him as would the disloyal opposition, Ralph Nadar, and the anti-war groups. Obama has talked about defocusing on Iraq and doubling down on Afghanistan, but he’ll have trouble doing so. That would mean the savings from easing down the war would not be available to pay for health care and other programs he has campaigned on.
And then there is Afghanistan. Obama is famous, as the Chicago Tribune states, for listening. Recently there have been Middle East experts cited in media articles saying not only that the Taliban are stronger than ever but that Afghanistan is “unwinnable.” So, what should be the strategy for stabilizing the area and removing the threat posed by Islamist extremists?
While Obama has clearly identified with the African-American populace, more than with his Caucasion heritage, early polls showed poor traction among those voters. That has now changed. But Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton could very well criticize Obama if his Administration does not champion many of the causes close to African-Americans. He will receive support for social programs that extend to African-Americans and other minority groups, such as health care. But what is his position on affirmative action, for example?
Obama is opposed to gay marriage, while supporting civil unions. The gay rights movement says that is not enough.
Obama is not pro-gun control. He must have decided it was a no-win position. He does however draw the line somewhere. He opposes the right to own an arsenal. This may be a good middle ground for most Americans. That’s not enough for the gun control lobby (and by the way, it is anathema to the NRA).
With all the problems facing the next Administration — crumbling infrastructure, lack of health care, education reform, economic slowdown and unemployment to mention a few — any President could do a lot of harm by cutting spending. This time, the spending has got to do some good and be seen as a smart investment in the future. There will be many naysayers.
No American politician today can survive without support for Israel. But what’s an intelligent person like Obama to do about the fact that Palestinians have been schnitzeled? My guess is that he will work hard on Middle East peace talks and in the process make pro-Israel Jews very nervous.