Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why I have questions about Obama

I support Hillary Clinton. It's not that I don't like Obama, nor the energy and excitement he has been able to instill in people around him. I do. Obama is a strong speaker. He is inspirational. He seems able to unify. I like him for all those reasons.

Yet when I watch him speak in town hall style meetings. Watch the debates. Look at his record. I end up with a big unanswered question: What makes us believe this man can get stuff done on the national and international stage AFTER he's become president? Does he have what it takes to sit down with the real wolves in Washington, China, Russia, Iran... not the ones we see on TV, but the ones that eat their own young for breakfast if they become a tad too hungry? Does he have the gravitas and the real behind-closed-doors leadership to bully the bullies? Overpower the powerbrokers? Outmaneuver the politicos? Can he surround himself with an A-team and then lead that team to through the biggest obstacle course imaginable to achieve successes? Does he know when to make the tough calls, understanding that many won't like it and that people will be hurt regardless of his decision?

Will the "change" he is promising backfire? What if things are more complicated than they sound on the stump? What if change happens slowly? If powerful people have it as their agenda to stop "change", and they surely do, is he setting himself up for failure? If so will people become disillusioned leaving him "stranded" without the popular support that is the very centerpiece of his strategy for change.

Analogies have been made to John F. Kennedy by many, including some prominent Kennedys. So what would Obama do in today's version of the Bay of Pigs? Kennedy was no superhero. He screwed that one up pretty bad. The consequences today could be much worse. We recall Kennedy's presidency based on being too young to remember it (I'm one of those) or with a lens that has been colored by historical rose-colored-glasses. Kennedy was an inspirational man, but he it is not clear to me that he was a great president.

This country needs a great president.


allegra said...

I'd be interested to know if and how your views have changed since the original post.

Unknown said...

I'm gradually changing my view of Obama and at this point support him. I think he will be a strong PR asset in the international / foreign policy arena.

I now worry that he seems to be pandering to too many different interests. Is he loosing his focus? Is he trying to appeal to everybody and thereby loosing his ability to affect "change". Does he dilute his message by watering down and compromising too much?

A strong president should come out and say: "our energy policy is WRONG. I will fix it. I will change the way this country is dependent on oil and move us to 20% renewable / clean (non bio-fuel) energy in the next 10 years." THAT's leadership. That's bold. Does he have the guts to put the equivalent on of a "man on the moon" in the energy space? Because that's what this country needs.... among other things, to get back on track and lead the world and the global economy.