Obama Knows His Stuff

Back in the early days of the campaign I was frustrated by the fact that the three top tier candidates were all relatively inexperienced and that the more far more experienced candidates in the second tier were being ignored. As the year went on it became increasingly clear that this situation was not going to change and that the top tier presented the only viable choices for the nomination.

During this period I evaluated the candidates further, including reading Obama’s books and speeches, as well as some of the occasional in depth interviews which could be found among all the usual meaningless media clutter. From doing this I found two important things about Obama. Ideologically I found him preferable to the conservative populism of Clinton and Edwards, and I was impressed by his intelligence and grasp of the issues. It certainly should not come as a surprise that a professor of Constitutional law has been impressive when speaking or writing topics such as civil liberties and separation of church and state. His grasp of foreign policy was also impressive, including but not limited to his initial opposition to the Iraq war.

M.J. Rosenberg noted that Obama “knows his stuff” in a post on the success of his overseas trip:

I worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years and I can tell the difference between a staff driven politician and one who knows what he’s talking about. The staff driven pol (McCain is an example) is always capable of the big blunder. He does not mix up Shiites and Sunnis because he “misspoke;” he really doesn’t know the difference. Same on the economy, he studies a memo and works to assimilate it. But there is no depth.

The sad fact is that most of our politicians are like that. On the Arab-Israeli issue, all they know is that they need to sound pro-Israel. So they end up mouthing the most superficial pieties. They are afraid to talk about the Palestinians because they might say the wrong thing.

They pander and pander, knowing that they won’t get into trouble by just sucking up.

Not Obama.

He is pro-Israel and he supports the two-state solution. He is for keeping Jerusalem undivided but supports resolving Jerusalem’s status in negotiations. He acknowledges the Iranian threat to Israel but does not endorse a military response to deal with it.

So what’s Obama’s secret. He’s smart. He reads. He knows his sh*t. And that is why the Republicans who are counting on him to lose this election through some verbal blunder are going to be disappointed.

I’m not saying that McCain cannot win. He can. But he’ll have to win it. Obama is not going to hand this election to him by stumbling.

I just talked to a friend who saw Obama in Israel. I asked him what his friends in the Israeli media are saying. “What are they saying? They are saying that he’s the next President. And they think he’s the smartest American politician they have seen yet.”

Me too.

More experience might be of value, but in a situation where we needed a change from the status quo a relative Washington outsider such as Obama might have been the best choice.  I would sure rather have someone like Obama who knows his stuff, and who even reads, as opposed to someone like John McCain who has far more experience but is totally lacking in substance.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    inthewoods says:

    Is it just me, or did the McCain campaign go on holiday while Obama was on his foreign trip?  It looks to me like they were expecting him to screw up and that they would have to do little in the way appearances during the trip.  Instead, Obama looks great, and McCain looks like a Walmart greeter working the cheese area of the local supermarket.  If they weren’t counting on this, then why would they have put together such a lame group of appearances for him?

  2. 2
    beep52 says:

    Based solely on the way these two campaigns are being run, it’s clear one of them isn’t remotely qualified to run the largest bureaucracy man never really intended to devise. (Hint: he didn’t do real well at the Naval Academy, either.)

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