It’s All About Me (Not)

I was curious as to what is going on in one of the hot beds of Hillaryland now that the primary race is over so I did something I have not done in quite a while. I read a post from Taylor Marsh. She does concede that Obama is the nominee and, unlike some Clinton supporters on line, she doesn’t say she plans to protest by staying home or voting for McCain. The final paragraph is illuminating:

On another note, I’ve received zero reach out from the Obama team, which is their prerogative to do or not, but it’s a mistake. I can only hope this isn’t a signal of the way Obama and his team will treat Clinton’s supporters on the whole. It would be a disaster of election shifting proportions; one that the country can ill afford.

Whether or not the campaign reaches out to Taylor Marsh or any other blogger is hardly the major issue of 2008. Some campaigns tend to reach out more to individual bloggers than others. I had a lot of contact with the Kerry campaign in 2004. I even had a fair bit of contact from the Clinton campaign until I started responding to all their emails with their latest talking points and invitations conference calls with the same warning that “this attack will only backfire against Clinton and get more people to back Obama.” I was right every time, but they stopped emailing me. Imagine that!

Obama’s campaign doesn’t operate the same way. They have been fortunate to have a tremendous number of people work for Obama without organization from the campaign. Whether they are right or wrong, they do not appear to be interested in the same type of mass outreach to supportive bloggers as many other candidates have been. Most likely their lack of outreach to Taylor Marsh has nothing to do with her having been a Clinton supporter.

It was great when other candidates have been in contact with me, but that is not why I supported any particular candidates. The election is about what we do about Iraq, restoring civil liberties, restoring the checks and balances on the executive branch, improving access to health care, and many other issues. It is not about whether a candidate reaches out to me or Taylor Marsh.

Stopping Another Untrue Smear on Obama

Yesterday I reported that the Obama campaign was going to stop all those internet smears. They mean business. Those internet rumors that Obama is a Martian have been nipped in the bud.

A Libertarian View of Obama on The Value of Markets

Some libertarians have a knee jerk opposition to Obama because of he is a liberal Democrat, with much of the libertarian echo chamber repeatedly equating liberal Democrat with socialist regardless of how absurd this is. I’ve quoted many statements from more open minded libertarians who understand the more libertarian traits of Obama compared to most mainstream politicians of either party. Libertarian Megan McArdle and liberal Matthew Yglesias discussed the choices of Obama and McCain for The Los Angeles Times. While I try not to be biased by my lowered opinion of Yglesias over the past several days due to an atrocious blog post on Saturday, I believe McArgle made the most significant point of this exchange:

Obama is the right man for his party, and McCain is the wrong one. Obama is not only personally inspiring, but he also seems to have a deep understanding of the value of markets and transparency; he aims to fix outcomes, not tinker with the process. McCain, on the other hand, shows little respect for spontaneous free order or suspicion of expanded state power; he seems to think that the main problem with the government is that the wrong people are pulling the strings.

This Type of Attack Is Unnecessary


John McCain is coming under attack for another comment today when he said it is, “not too important” when American troops can come home from Iraq (video above). It doesn’t take much imagination to see the ways in which McCain can be attacked when only this fragment of what he said is repeated.

McCain is still wrong, but he sounds far less evil and out of touch when the full statement is read. I’ll take the text from a blog defending McCain:

Q: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

McCAIN: “No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq, Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw; we will be able to withdraw. General [David] Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are.

“But the key to it is that we don’t want any more Americans in harm’s way. That way, they will be safe, and serve our country and come home with honor and victory, not in defeat, which is what Senator Obama’s proposal would have done. I’m proud of them. And they’re doing a great job. And we are succeeding and it’s fascinating that Senator Obama still doesn’t realize that.”

Some Democrats are criticizing McCain based upon his entire statement and I certainly agree with that. Unfortunately others are sticking to the limited quote from the first paragraph of this post. As Marc Ambinder writes:

The context makes it clear that McCain is reiterating his position that the presence of troops isn’t the issue; instead, it’s the casualties they receive. The differences between McCain and Obama are clear enough; Obama wants a bare-bones U.S. presence in Iraq, and McCain is willing to tolerate a much larger one; Obama believes that the presence of U.S. troops exacerbates the tension and gives Iraqis a crutch to delay political reconcilliation. McCain does not. One would think that those differences are a sufficient basis upon which to launch a political attack.

McCain is wrong overall in his views on the Iraq war. He is wrong in not understanding that our very presence there as an occupying foreign power drives much of the conflict. It is important when our troops return as getting them out of there will most likely be necessary for any regional political settlement, with a military settlement unlikely to be achieved.

I’m all for Democrats criticizing McCain for the fundamental errors in his foreign policy views. I do not like to see him attacked based upon a portion of a statement taken out of context any more than I like the frequency with which Republicans use this tactic. I think that many Democrats are tired of losing to Republicans and see this as justification for imitating their tactics, but resorting to such such tactics is still wrong.

There are real differences between Barack Obama and John McCain. I hope we can see a campaign where each side concentrates on the real differences. When one side desires to contrast their views with the other, it is far more meaningful to do so based upon representative quotations which best represent the views of the opponent, not based upon searching for which comments can do the most harm when taken out of context.

Campaigning in Missouri Foreshadows Obama Advantages

A report out of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contains a couple of important points which might foreshadow the course of the campaign. Barack Obama discussed campaigning in the rural parts of Missouri where he has little chance of winning:

“In the rural parts of the state, showing up makes a big difference,” Obama said. “My general view is, even if I don’t win those areas, we can narrow the gap and that may make a significant difference in how we do statewide.”

While he said this in Missouri, the same applies to several other battleground and weakly red states which could be tipped.

Obama was campaigning on health care:

Obama told reporters that millions of Americans in similar straits could be helped by his proposals for a voluntary national health insurance plan for the uninsured, self-employed and small businesses.

No one would be rejected because of illness or pre-existing conditions, he said, and premiums would be kept affordable. Companies that don’t provide health coverage to employees would kick in money to help pay for the national plan.

There response from the McCain camp illustrates how unrealistic their plans are:

Frank Donatelli, deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a conference call Tuesday that Obama’s plans would create an unwieldy and costly program that forces unfair mandates on businesses.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is proposing to end tax breaks on businesses that offer employee health insurance and give benefits to individuals so they can purchase insurance.

McCain offers “more of a free-market approach,” Donatelli said, leading to more choices for consumers. He predicted that competition would prompt some insurers to ease their restrictions on pre-existing conditions.

The last paragraph demonstrates how weak McCain’s health care plan really is. It is all based upon the hope that the insurance industry will spontaneously change their ways after he gives them everything they want. In theory it is possible that some day the insurance industry will decide to go after the market of those with preexisting conditions and ease their current restrictions in order to attract this market. While possible in theory, it is highly unlikely as it goes in the opposite direction of everything else the insurance industry has been doing for years.

The insurance industry makes its money by finding ways to take in premiums while minimizing what they have to pay out. This includes making it difficult for people to purchase coverage at a time when insurance companies have to make payments on them. At present restrictions on preexisting conditions would be even more severe than they now are if not for government regulations. For example, some states limit the period that an insurance company can restrict coverage for preexisting conditions to six months.

As long as we have our current situation of many people being uninsured, the insurance company will realize that people are  holding off on treatment of medical problems until they can get insurance. McCain’s approach would not make this situation any better. His plans would shift the cost of health care more towards individuals, even if they have health care coverage. The only way that insurance companies could realistically offer comprehensive coverage without limitations on preexisting conditions would be as part of a plan which offers universal coverage.

Just as Obama’s plan to campaign in areas where Democrats have avoided campaigning in the past will help him win, Obama will have the edge whenever healthcare is debated if the McCain campaign continues to make such weak arguments for their non-plan.