Sunday, December 23, 2007

The logic of the Barack Obama candidacy in 2008

There is an interesting article in the December issue of The Atlantic Monthly by Andrew Sullivan entitled "Goodbye to All That" which makes the case for why Barack Obama is the right person to lead this country at this time. As Andrew tells us:

The logic behind the candidacy of Barack Obama is not, in the end, about Barack Obama. It has little to do with his policy proposals, which are very close to his Democratic rivals' and which, with a few exceptions, exist firmly within the conventions of our politics. It has little to do with Obama's considerable skills as a conciliator, legislator, or even thinker. It has even less to do with his ideological pedigree or legal background or rhetorical skills.

... the fundamental point of his candidacy is that it is happening now. In politics, timing matters. And the most persuasive case for Obama has less to do with him than with the moment he is meeting. The moment has been a long time coming, and it is the result of a confluence of events, from one traumatizing war in Southeast Asia to another in the most fractious country in the Middle East. The legacy is a cultural climate that stultifies our politics and corrupts our discourse.

... Obama's candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

... the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

Andrew makes a lot of good and interesting and even valid points, but taken as a whole, I end up standing back and saying, yes, okay, but so what?

Yes, Andrew has a reasoned case, a "logic" if you will, but honestly, if he finds it necessary to offer such a long-winded and elaborate "case" for Barack, what chance is there that average voters, who tend not to read The Atlantic Monthly, will grok the full depth of such "logic."

Who knows, maybe Andrew is simply making a last ditch attempt to sway independents and centrists such as myself.

In truth, I half-buy a lot of Andrew's arguments, but then I also find a lot of them to be fairly weak, lame, half-baked, and even irrelevant. I think he sells Hillary and her "generation" short and does Barack a net disservice by not making fair and realistic and deep comparisons. I am sure that Barack is able to stand up straight on his own two feet without the need for an "intellectual" in a lofty, elitist magazine to try to prop him up.

Ultimately, it matters not one iota who is "better" from some rarefied intellectual perspective, but is up to voters to decide who they feel is the person they want to be their leader.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting article and I do recommend it to any "thinking person" who really wants to cover all angles of the struggle for national leadership.

-- Jack Krupansky


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