Bob Herbert Not Jumping on the Obama Bandwagon

Everyone else is writing about Obama, so today is Bob Herbert’s turn. Herbert is not thrilled by Obama’s statement today that he is considering running in 2008:

With all due respect to Senator Obama, this is disturbing. He may be capable of being a great president. Someday. But one quick look around at the state of the nation and the world tells us that we need to be more careful than we have been in selecting our leaders. There shouldn’t be anything precipitous about the way we pick our presidents.

That said, the Barack Obama boom may well have legs. During the forum, every reference to the possibility of him running drew a roar from the audience. He’s thoughtful, funny and charismatic. And there is not the slightest ripple of a doubt that he wants to run for president.

The reason he went into politics, he said, was to be able to influence events, to make a difference. “Obviously,” he added, “the president has the most influence.”


Paul Krugman: Don’t Make Nice

Paul Krugman doesn’t think the Democrats should try to be nice if they win, or should avoid investigating the crimes which occured under Republican rule:

What the make-nice crowd wants most of all is for the Democrats to forswear any investigations into the origins of the Iraq war and the cronyism and corruption that undermined it. But it’s very much in the national interest to find out what led to the greatest strategic blunder in American history, so that it won’t happen again.

What’s more, the public wants to know. A large majority of Americans believe both that invading Iraq was a mistake, and that the Bush administration deliberately misled us into war. And according to the Newsweek poll, 58 percent of Americans believe that investigating contracting in Iraq isn’t just a good idea, but a high priority; 52 percent believe the same about investigating the origins of the war.

Why, then, should the Democrats hold back? Because, we’re told, the country needs less divisiveness. And I, too, would like to see a return to kinder, gentler politics. But that’s not something Democrats can achieve with a group hug and a chorus of “Kumbaya.”


Obamamania Continues–Barack Considering Running in 2008

I just got home from Barnes and Nobel where I picked up his book, The Audacity of Hope. The book certainly isn’t the typical ghost-written book by a politician. It easily passed the skim test in the book store, where glancing through the book I found items which caught my interest, convincing me it is worth reading more from him.

The skim test is certainly sufficient for deciding whether to read a book, but is not sufficient to take the author seriously as a Presidential candidate. It is no surprise after the past week of Obamamania that he is now saying he is considering running in 2008. He’s made the cover of Time and in the past week I’ve had excerpts here from op-eds from three of the New York Times columnists, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Frank Rich.

Not surprisingly, Obama dismisses questions as to whether he is too inexperienced:

On Sunday, Obama dismissed notions that he might not be ready to run for president because of his limited experience in national politics. He agreed the job requires a “certain soberness and seriousness” and “can’t be something you pursue on the basis of vanity and ambition.”

“I’m not sure anyone is ready to be president before they’re president,” Obama said. “I trust the judgment of the American people.

There certainly are characteristics of the individual which must be considered beyond experience. George W. Bush showed the problems with making someone lacking in experience president, but it is doubtful that no amount of time in government would change the fact that he was both morally and intellectually unfit for the job.

It will be interesting to read through Obama’s book to help decide whether he is the type of person who would make a good President. In 2004 I read through a large number of John Kerry’s public statements before deciding he had a unique grasp of the issues which made him by far the most qualified of those running. Perhaps I’ll find that wisdom of Obama’s book, but even if it is there the fact remains that having the experience on top of the wisdom as Kerry has would be preferable.

Kiplinger Letter Predicts Democratic Gains

While many pundits have a variety of reasons to spin their political predictions, The Kiplinger Letter attempts to give investors and businessmen their honest predictions. The October 20 issue leads with the midterm elections, and they do not see the Republicans as doing very well. They believe Democrats may pick up twice the fifteen House seats needed to take control and warn that Democratic prospects to control the Senate are looking better. (The Washington Post today also notes that the Democrats have strengthened thier chances for taking control of the Senate).

The Kiplinger Letter leans Republican but they do not share the total paranoia of Democrats as is seen in most of the right wing media. Rather than perpetuating the right wing claims that Democrats are practically socialists who will be hostile to business, they consider Harry Reid, as well as Chris Dodd and Max Baucus who would likey chair the Banking and Finance Committees, to be pro-business.

Perhaps they should also point out to their subscribers who are more nervous of Democratic control of Congress how the stock market typically performs better under Democrats, and the deficit would certainly be lower than under the current government.

Air America’s Bankruptcy and the Subsidization of Conservative Media

When the first reports that Air America was going to declare bankruptcy came out I wrote:

I’m not terribly surprised that Air America is having financial problems. Liberals don’t have the people with deep pockets willing to subsidize them as conservatives do. Liberals are also much less likely to listen to one-sided talk radio, while conservatives appear to thrive on having their thoughts fed to them.

This led to a number of attacks from right wing bloggers, such as here, who are ignorant of the amount of subsidization the right wing noise machine received to reach the point where it is today.

Thom Hartmann made the same argument about the subsidization of the right wing media which allowed them to get to where they are today, citing a few examples such as this 1999 interview with Brit Hume on NewsHour:

TERENCE SMITH: Does this operation make money?

BRIT HUME: No. This operation loses money. It doesn’t lose nearly as much as it did at first, and it’s — well, it’s hit all its projections in terms of, you know, turning a profit, but it’s – it will lose money now, and we expect for a couple more years.

TERENCE SMITH: What does it lose in a year?

BRIT HUME: I think it’s losing about $80 million to $90 million a year. Even for Rupert Murdoch, that’s not pocket change.

Reaction in the liberal blogoshere to the actual news of the bankruptcy also showed that my view was typical in preferring NPR over Air America. While conservatives need to be repeatedly spoon-fed what to think, liberals tend to prefer nonbiased sources which present a wide variety of views. Of course many conservatives consider NPR to be liberal since it does provide objective information and views from the entire political spectrum rather than reinforcing their fantasies about the world.

David Brooks on The Fight for Suburbia

David Brooks is not very popular among liberals, but even when he is on the wrong side he often has more to say than the typical right wing writer. While we are each rooting for the other side, today I find that we have a similar analysis of where the political game is being played.

Brooks differs from many other conservatives in realizing that Repubicans have made a mistake by driving out their moderates:

“Tell us, why, again, Republicans need 55 senators?” Rush Limbaugh asked not long ago. “Why do we need 55 senators when we have so many malcontents and traitors in the bunch? And they all happen to be from the Northeast, and they all happen to be moderates, they all happen to be liberals.”

In that spirit, the National Federation of Republican Assemblies set out to rid the party of this threat. It set up a “RINO Hunters Club” to “root out and hunt down” the squishy centrists who are Republicans in Name Only. The Club for Growth ran candidates to defeat them. Last week on his radio show, Sean Hannity blasted the RINO’s again, saying they were costing good conservatives their jobs.

Well, this is one problem the Republican Party is solving. When the next Congress convenes, there will be many fewer RINO’s in town. You look at the vulnerable Republicans and it’s like a moderate Republican graveyard: Deborah Pryce, a bright and effective member from Ohio; Christopher Shays from Connecticut; Sweeney from New York; Gerlach from Pennsylvania; Reichert from Washington; DeWine from Ohio.

Why have 55 Republican senators? Why not 25? Why not 15 brave and true? Throw in a few dozen pure-minded Republican House members and you could hold the next Republican convention in a living room.


Frank Rich: Obama Not a Miracle Elixer

Obama week continues on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Today is Frank Rich’s turn:

Enter Barack Obama. To understand the hysteria about a Democratic senator who has not yet served two years and is mainly known for a single speech at the 2004 convention, you have to appreciate just how desperate the Democrats are for a panacea for all their ills. In the many glossy cover articles about Obamamania, the only real suspense is whether a Jack or Bobby Kennedy analogy will be made in the second paragraph or the fifth. Men’s Vogue (cover by Annie Leibovitz) went so far as to say that the Illinois senator “alone has the potential to one day be mentioned in the same breath” as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. Why not throw in Mark Twain and Sammy Davis Jr.?

This is a lot to put on the shoulders of anyone, even someone as impressive as Mr. Obama. Though he remains a modest and self-effacing guy from all appearances, he is encouraging the speculation about seeking higher office — and not as a coy Colin Powell-style maneuver to sell his new book, “The Audacity of Hope.” Mr. Obama hasn’t been turning up in Iowa for the corn dogs. He consistently concedes he’s entertaining the prospect of a presidential run.

There’s no reason to rush that decision now, but it’s a no-brainer. Of course he should run, assuming his family is on the same page. He’s 45, not 30, and his slender résumé in public office (which also includes seven years as a state senator) should be no more of an impediment to him than it was to the White House’s current occupant. As his Illinois colleague Dick Durbin told The Chicago Tribune last week, “I said to him, ‘Do you really think sticking around the Senate for four more years and casting a thousand more votes will make you more qualified for president?’ ” Instead, such added experience is more likely to transform an unusually eloquent writer, speaker and public servant into another windbag like Joe Biden.