I don't want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.
That's the kind of leadership I'm going to provide as president of the United States.
This statement by Barack Obama in the Democratic debate last night came closer than anything to moving me towards possibly voting for him in the general.
Being able to speak at length benefited both candidates, but obviously more so Obama in regard to Iraq and national security. His statement (of which the above is only a portion) on Iraq, which is, of course, no longer just about Iraq, was about as succinct a formulation as he has given of what he hopes to bring to American foreign policy. It's not just dealing with the crisis of the moment, it's understanding the mistakes that got us here, the flawed theoretical presuppositions which created the conditions for this crisis, and which promise more to come. It's not just challenging the politicians, experts, and activists who supported this disastrous war, but challenging the dominant elite foreign policy consensus that made this disastrous war possible, a consensus that values American global hegemony for its own sake, that equates “seriousness” with a priapic predilection toward the use of military force in furtherance of that hegemony, and in which being consistently wrong on the most important national security questions of the day is no barrier to influence and advancement, provided one is always careful to err on the side of war.
Given the demonstrable, empirical failure of conservative policy and ideology in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, this is a uniquely opportune moment for this kind of fundamental critique to be made. And Obama is uniquely positioned to make it.
I am not caught up in the supposed magnetism of Obama's charm and message that seems to be attracting so many in this country, including folks I admire. I find most of his language vague and, frankly, unsettling. I don't trust the kind of hero worship that seems to have developed about the guy.
Unless something freakish happens, either Clinton or Obama will be the Democratic nominee. I simply cannot vote for Clinton; I'll leave the ballot blank first (and it won't be the first time). But I'm now more inclined to vote for Obama in November. If he keeps talking like he did last night about war, then I will. Just no more odes to Reagan, please.
Oh, and I don't like his health care proposal; I think Hillary's is better. But I think he's capable of being moved to a more radical (i.e., going to the root of the problem) approach by 1/2009, by the increasing force of public demand for universal coverage.
While I'm on the race, I also agree with some pundit I heard on tv this morning, who said it is not likely that Hillary would pick Barack for VP, but more likely that Barack could be comfortable picking Hillary. Hillary has enough trouble being eclipsed by Bill, she won't want another political superstar around.