Thursday, June 19, 2008

Disagreeing with the Messiah?

There have been critics of Obama who say his supporters blindly follow him because of his great oration and charisma only. I find this an insulting premise - it suggests Obama supporters, like me, are getting behind his candidacy because we are swept up in some emotional high, not because we believe his policies and governing style are the best for America.

As I try not to ascribe feelings to others which I wouldn't be willing to put on myself, I would never call someone a "blind follower". While I often disagree with people's reasons for decisions they make, I give them credit for having reasons.

No, I, and most of the Obama supporters I know, agree with Obama on the issues and will vote for him because his values and working style align with ours.

And since I am not a blind follower, and make reasoned decisions on where I put my support, it means that I don't always agree with every issue and every decision made by Obama. Any person, any decision, has pros and cons, goods and bads, and I try to weigh all those factors.

For the most part, I agree with Obama on the issues and I think he has made solid, values based decisions throughout this campaign.

He handled the Reverend Wright controversy splendidly and showed us his values and intelligence with his address on race in Philadelphia. He wrapped up the nomination in an amicable and respectful manner when it came to Clinton. He has stayed steady on refusing to embrace the pandering of a gas tax holiday and off-shore drilling, both of which have been thoroughly discounted as actually providing relief at the pump. And, he continues to hold McCain and Bush accountable for the reckless and costly war in Iraq, which distracted us from capturing Osama Bin Laden.

So, what is it I do disagree with? Two things actually.

The first is Obama's decision today to not accept public financing and instead finance his campaign through private donations only. He is doing so because he thinks his internet campaign is really grass-roots fundraising and because he believes if he doesn't, privately financed right-wing 527-groups will outspend him and beat him up in the general election.

I will leave the point about 527s to this analysis by a WaPo blogger (it's a great read about the pros and cons of this decision).

My beef starts with the first point, about grassroots fundraising. See, right now, Obama only has about a million donors. While that is a whole heck of a lot, it certainly isn't like accepting funding from the entire US population who checks the little box to give the public campaign financing system $3 when they file their taxes - if I did the math correctly (($84MM x2)/$3), it's about 56 million Americans who give $3 for public financing of the campaigns.

So sure, 1 million donors is grassroots representation, it's just not grassroots enough for me when I compare it to 56 million.

Politically, I also worry this gives McCain an opening when he is on the ropes early in this election. No matter how the Obama camp spins this, it looks a lot like he is going back on his word in order to have more money available to campaign. McCain is going to hammer Obama for this, and in some ways, I agree. I guess I had hoped for more from Obama.


So, the other area I think Obama needs to rethink is how much access he gives of himself to the daily "pool" reporter traveling with the campaign. This has been a common complaint about Obama and his campaign from the beginning. After 8 years of the "Bush Bubble" I want Obama to be as open and transparent as possible and I think he could do a much better job.

So there you go, just one DRB's objections to some of Obama's decisions. Still love the guy. I think he will be a wonderful President, because I believe the Pros still strongly outweigh the Cons. But, there are Cons and I think we only give ammunition to those who would accuse Obama supporters of being kool-aid drinkers if we don't admit we don't agree with every decision he makes.

All that said, GOBAMA!

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