Obamarama

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The Democratic party's superstar has beaten Hillary to the punch; he's entering the race for president. Rather cleverly, he announces in a video (perfect for 24/7 cable news!) that he'll open an exploratory committee and spend four weeks being hounded by reporters and screaming teenage girls before he makes another announcement on February 10.

Pre-emptive answer to charges of "shilling for Democrats": Obama is probably going to be the only Democratic presidential candidate who's co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Tom Coburn. Compare that to Hillary Clinton's anti-video game alliance with the Connecticut for Lieberman Party and you've got a pretty clear case of white hat versus black hat.

A couple weeks back I assessed whether Obama's campaign was a creation of "white guilt"; in 2004, in the American Spectator, I welcomed the break Obama represented for black politics.

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  1. When you look at the field of presidential candidates, Obama is far and away the best choice for libertarians (unless Bob Barr runs).

  2. You have to admit that Obama speaks well and has a certain “presence”. He is the most charismatic democrat in the presidential mix that I can think of. It will be interesting to watch the frumpy, hag Clinton deal with him. Talk about amusing; you have an almost black guy running against the wife of the first black president. The only one of the three is Bill, who actually did grow up without a silver spoon in his mouth.

    Politics is endlessly amusing.

  3. Obama thinks health care is a “right.” That scares me. The good news for him is the person he runs against will probably scare me more.

  4. I’ve already stated that I’m warming up to Obama, particularly in his willingness to stand up against jackasses in his own party like Harry Reid.

    Let’s see what he actually proposes to do as president before we coronate him, though. I can’t seem to remember the last serious Democratic candidate who didn’t have some big new government program that was going to make everything sunshine and happiness.

  5. I’ve been sceptical that a black guy whose name sounds like Osama could get elected, but given who he’s going to run against, it’s just crazy enough to work.

    Plus the Osama/Obama yuck will be stale and played out in a year or so. (It’s a good bit, should have saved it for later Rush and Fox and them).

  6. Obama vs Hagel would be interesting. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the McCain Train derails somewhere in the early primaries and someone else gets the Republican nomination.

  7. Obama transcends race the way Ophrah does. He has a real chance.

    Cab, health care as a right is scary scary. Our life expectancy might get as high as Italy’s or Canada’s. Think of all those old people running around. Makes me shudder, too.

  8. “Let’s see what he actually proposes to do as president before we coronate him, though. I can’t seem to remember the last serious Democratic candidate who didn’t have some big new government program that was going to make everything sunshine and happiness.”

    Like invading and occupying Iraq?

  9. Obama thinks health care is a “right.” That scares me.

    Go and find a politician at the national level who will go on record saying health care is not a right. I’ll wait here.

  10. I think the best race and good for our country would be Obama vs. Huckabee. Both are authentic and pragmatic.

    Mike Huckabee is the dark horse for the Republicans. Saw him on the Daily Show and he was great.

  11. When you look at the field of presidential candidates, Obama is far and away the best choice for libertarians

    How so? From what I can tell, he is a party-line, plain vanilla lefty Dem. Not historically a place on the ideological spectrum that is devoted to shrinking the regulatory or the redistributionist state.

    I’m asking seriously: Has he proposed cutting taxes? Cutting spending? Rolling back regulations? Devolving power? Anything to suggest that at the end of 4 or 8 years under his rule we won’t have a bigger and more intrusive state?

  12. He opposed the Iraq War, the presidentn’s FICA violations, much of the Patriot Act, and the Military Commissions Act.

    Some people consider the government’s power to snoop on you, throw you in a hole, and deny you your day in court to be relevant to libertarians.

  13. Obama is still in everything-to-everyone mode, folks.

    Rain. Parade. All that.

  14. joe,

    I don’t think the president’s FICA violations were really his fault. Unless he claimed Barney as a dependent, I think someone in payroll or HR is probably responsible for that.

  15. LOL, de stijl.

    FISA, not FICA.

  16. Obama is anti-free trade. He voted against the free trade zone with central America. He is for socialized medicine. He grandstands a lot on the Patriot Act, but I don’t believe anything Democratic politicians say about the Patriot Act. They like to grandstand a lot when out of power, but I seriously doubt they would ever do anything to weaken it when they have some responsibility. Obama is reasonable good on things like minimum mandatories.

    Obama is terrible on gun rights. The NRA and the gun owners of America gave him a F and a0% rating respectively on his voting record. That alone should disqualify him from getting the libertarian vote.

    Basically Obama is a mainline liberal who happens to be one half black. Granted he is not a nutcase like Conyers or Rangel or some of the other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but there is nothing middle of the road or transendent about the substance of his views.

  17. Obama is still in everything-to-everyone mode, folks.

    AMEN. And yes, Obama obviously does benefit from white guilt, when libertarians on REASON’s blog start trumpeting him as being as ideologically virtuous as Ron Paul, when he’s really just a chocolate coated John Edwards.

    I also like “transcends race” bit. That basically means he’s so detached from everyday African-American realities and debates, that white voters can support him, while ignoring the rest of the black community and its problems exist.

  18. Yes, joe, those stances are preferable to libertarians. Hooray for Obama. But I don’t see how those stances distinguish him from other Democrats running or likely to run. Therefore, what you said doesn’t very much tell us what makes him “far and away the best choice for libertarians” in the field. So count me among those still scratching his head over that one.

  19. Oh, yeah… almost forgot:

    Rather cleverly, he announces in a video (perfect for 24/7 cable news!)

    That’s not for the benefit of cable! Think YouTube!

  20. AMEN. And yes, Obama obviously does benefit from white guilt, when libertarians on REASON’s blog start trumpeting him as being as ideologically virtuous as Ron Paul, when he’s really just a chocolate coated John Edwards.

    Nobody is saying that he’s going to lead us into a libertarian utopia. We’re just saying that he’ll do more to advance the cause of liberty than any of the other candidates.

    fyodor,

    I don’t remember John Edwards or Hillary Clinton opposing the Iraq war.

  21. Obana is great, as long as you are willing to throw gun rights, objections to socialized medicine and free trade over the side. I would hope libertarians would not be willing to compromise on those issues, but perhaps I am wrong.

  22. Franklin Harris – The clever part isn’t the video, which is to be expected. The clever part is the promise of a February 10 announcment. Reporters love that stuff, and he can expect lots of free advertising until that day, speculation on the size of the rally, on the location, etc etc ect.

  23. I think guns are for dems like birth control is for republicans. They really, really want to ban its, but they know it’s political suicide. So it’s an unlikely scenario.

  24. To say that Obama transcends race is to recognize that he has a certain charisma that makes his race irrelevant to all but hardened racists.

  25. From Sen. Obama’s own website:

    Fighting the Spread of Methamphetamines

    Senator Obama cosponsored the Combat Meth Act (S. 103) which provides more money for fighting methamphetamines, tightens up control on the sale of meth ingredients, and provides assistance to children of meth abusers. The legislation would limit access to cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient used to make methamphetamine. This bill passed the Senate on September 15, 2005, and was signed into law.

    Senator Obama has supported greater funding to fight meth through the use of Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. The Byrne Grant program provides important funding to many local Illinois law enforcement groups. For example, the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group (SIEG), a meth taskforce that polices 31 Illinois counties, pays for 5 of its 12 agents through Byrne grants. During Senate consideration of the Department of Justice funding bill, Senator Obama cosponsored an amendment to raise Byrne funding to $900 million in 2006; the amendment passed the Senate.

    *My italics

    I also remember Tim Russert interviewing Obama (not on Meet the Press, but the other one that runs on CNBC) and Obama said he thinks that worker’s wages should follow the worker (sorry, I can not find the transcript right now). That scared the living hell of me, also the health care is a right comment.

    I also think that he won’t do anything to roll back the Patriot Act.

    As of right now, Obama is not getting my vote.

  26. “I think guns are for dems like birth control is for republicans. They really, really want to ban its, but they know it’s political suicide. So it’s an unlikely scenario.”

    Yeah but the President has a lot of power in how the ATF and the FBI are run. A President who is anti-gun can do a lot to ban guns through his control over the judiciary.

    More importantly, do issues matter or do they not? If the issue is important, the fact that you like the guy shouldn’t excuse it. Lastly, Obama got an F and a 0%. It is not like he is a moderate or anything. You have to be a pretty big anti-gun fanatic to get those ratings.

    Moreover, while the Democrats may never do anything about gun control, they certainly will do something about free trade and socialized medicine. Obama fails in those areas as miserably as he fails with gun control.

  27. Not judiciary, but excutive. The President can do a lot through his control over the exectutive.

  28. When it comes to costly statist projects, what can equal military adventures like the one in Iraq? Surely nobody who supported the war should get a libertarian’s vote. Strategically, somebody like Obama (or Hagel) is the best choice. Purists should vote for the Libertarian candidate.

  29. Edward,

    Do you think that there will be the same commitment to Iraq regardless of who is President? I am an optimist and even I admit that no way does the U.S. stay in Iraq in large numbers after the 2008 election regardless of who wins. Why vote for a guy like Obama who is anything but a liberatarian? More importantly, is being anti-war all that there is to being a libertarian anymore? That is it? A guy can be anti-free market, anti-free trade, anti-gun rights, and still get the libertarian vote on the basis of the war? If that is the case, why not just tell the truth and stop calling yourselves libertarians and just call yourselves the anti-war movement.

  30. Cab, health care as a right is scary scary. Our life expectancy might get as high as Italy’s or Canada’s. Think of all those old people running around. Makes me shudder, too.

    If “we” want a live expectancy as high as Canada, then we should pre-screen all immigrants for health defects (like Canada does), and reduce auto accidents. The higher life expectancy doesn’t have anything to do with health care.

    Also, health care isn’t a right in Canada. The government can totally refuse to give you the healthcare you need, for any reason, and you have no recourse! “Universal Health Care” means government monopoly, not that everyone actually gets the healthcare they need.

    Before people start rushing to adopt foriegn models of health care, perhaps they should bother living in the country and actually see what it is like?

    I think guns are for dems like birth control is for republicans. They really, really want to ban its, but they know it’s political suicide. So it’s an unlikely scenario.

    And it isn’t like Republicans aren’t for gun control either. Here is the parties stances on gun control:

    Democrats: Guns should be illegal for everyone but the ruling class.

    Republicans: Guns should be illegal for everyone but the ruling class and property owning upper-middle class white males.

    I mean, lets face it, there is no way the Republicans are going to stand up for gun ownership by young black males in the inner city. There is no way the Republicans are going to stand up for gun rights if Gay people start to use guns to defend against gay-bashers. You aren’t going to have Republicans telling people the purpose of gun ownership is for revolution against the state (guns rights are about “protecting our traditions” and “standing up for sportsmen”!).

    Gun control would be non-existant if it wasn’t for Republicans.

  31. Obama may not be any good, but he’s still the best who’s thrown his hat into the ring. Obama>Hillary, Obama>McCain, Obama>Giuliani.

    Hopefully other, better, candidates will enter the field, but for the moment Obama is indeed the best of an absolutely terrible slate of choices.

  32. Obama is not even remotely as “black” as Bill Clinton. Obama has more in common with George Bush than he does with the brothers from the hood. He is a child of privilige. He is a democrat in the mold of Gore, except he has some personality.

  33. More importantly, is being anti-war all that there is to being a libertarian anymore?

    Opposing the Iraq War does not neccessarily mean one is anti-war. Often it means that one is simply against counterproductive wars started based on lies.

    If there is another 9/11, then I expect to see another war. I just prefer to see that war fought against an opponent with a stronger nexus to the terrorist attack, and with an honest explanation about why the war is being started.

    I also think Obama would get to the bottom of something like the anthrax attacks better than Bush did. I mean, we all would have enjoyed bombing the heck out of the nation that funded the anthrax thing, but Bush’s feeble investigation never allowed us that opportunity.

    It is not pro-war versus anti-war. rather the relevant dialectic is smart-war versus dumb-war.

  34. “There is no way the Republicans are going to stand up for gun rights if Gay people start to use guns to defend against gay-bashers.”

    Where do any of the numorous conceal and carry laws passed in this country primarily do to Republicans, say that you can only get one if you are not gay or black? What a bunch of horsehit that is. Republicans support things like make my day laws that allow people to defend themselves and conceal and carry permits for people without criminal records. How does any of that prevent black males or poor people or gays from having guns?

  35. John

    You should vote for the Libertarian candidate.

  36. I also think Obama would get to the bottom of something like the anthrax attacks better than Bush did.

    What has ever done that would make you think that? Make a good speech? Obama has never held an executive position. Truth is we have no idea what kind of an exectitive he would make.

  37. “John

    You should vote for the Libertarian candidate.”

    Depends on who they run. If they run anyone close to the Reason staff, I might as well just vote Democrat and at least have a chance of voting for the winning side. I think it will be interesting if a Democrat wins in 2008. I don’t think you will see that many changes in policy absent scaling back Iraq, which is going to happen anyway. The difference will be that once a Democrat is in power, Reason will be a lot less interested in subjects like FISA and the Geneva Conventions just like Congressional curruption has fallen off the radar screen since November.

  38. “The higher life expectancy doesn’t have anything to do with health care.”

    Yeah, medical science is a crock.

  39. What has ever done that would make you think that?

    Because there was no way to pursue the culprits less vigorously than the Bush administration did.

    Bush Administration member Dick Cheney feeding his staff Cipro prior to the attacks does not exactly bolster the ol’ confidence in this regard either.

  40. John,

    If you vote for the Libertarian candidate, you have zero chance of being on the winning side no matter who they run. Am I missing something?

  41. Because there was no way to pursue the culprits less vigorously than the Bush administration did.

    Possibly true, but how is this a recommedation for Obama *in particular*?

  42. “Also, health care isn’t a right in Canada. The government can totally refuse to give you the healthcare you need, for any reason, and you have no recourse! “Universal Health Care” means government monopoly, not that everyone actually gets the healthcare they need.”

    Yep.

    That’s why bunches of Canadians cross the border into the U.S.A. to get the medical treatment on a timely basis that they can’t get at home.

  43. Many Americans don’t get health care simply because they can’t afford it. By any measure, Canadians (and Italians, Germans, and French, for that matter) are healthier and live longer than we Americans do. I’m not saying that socialized medicine is the answer, but facts are facts.

  44. In Health, Canada Tops US
    Our neighbors to the north live longer and pay less for care. The reasons why are being debated, but some cite the gap between rich and poor in the US

    by Judy Foreman

    Want a health tip? Move to Canada.

    An impressive array of data shows that Canadians live longer, healthier lives than we do. What’s more, they pay roughly half as much per capita as we do ($2,163 versus $4,887 in 2001) for the privilege.

    The summary of the evidence has to be that national health insurance has improved the health of Canadians and is responsible for some of the longer life expectancy.

    Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School
    Exactly why Canadians fare better is the subject of considerable academic debate. Some policy experts say it’s Canada’s single-payer, universal health coverage system. Some think it’s because our neighbors to the north use fewer illegal drugs and shoot each other less often with guns (though they smoke and drink with gusto, albeit somewhat less than Americans).

    Still others think Canadians are healthier because their medical system is tilted more toward primary care doctors and less toward specialists. And some believe it’s something more fundamental: a smaller gap between rich and poor.

    Perhaps it’s all of the above. But there’s no arguing the basics.

    “By all measures, Canadians’ health is better,” says Dr. Barbara Starfield, a university distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Canadians “do better on a whole variety of health outcomes,” she says, including life expectancy at various ages.

    According to a World Health Organization report published in 2003, life expectancy at birth in Canada is 79.8 years, versus 77.3 in the U.S. (Japan’s is 81.9.)

    “There isn’t a single measure in which the U.S. excels in the health arena,” says Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, a senior lecturer in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We spend half of the world’s healthcare bill and we are less healthy than all the other rich countries.”

    “Fifty-five years ago, we were one of the healthiest countries in the world,” Bezruchka continues. “What changed? We have increased the gap between rich and poor. Nothing determines the health of a population [more] than the gap between rich and poor.”

    Gerald Kominski, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, puts the Canadian comparison this way: “Are they richer? No. Are they doing a better job at the lower end of the income distribution? For lower-income individuals, they are doing a better job.”

    At a meeting last fall of the American Public Health Assn., Dr. Clyde Hertzman, associate director of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, analyzed data showing that Canadian women outlive American women by two years and men, by 2 1/2 years.

    During the last quarter-century, he says, all income groups in Canada also showed gains in life expectancy. During much the same period in the U.S., death rates widened between America’s rich and poor, according to a 2002 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology by American and Australian researchers.

    Infant mortality rates also show striking differences between the U.S. and Canada.

    To counter the argument that racial differences play a major role, Hertzman compared infant mortality for all Canadians with that for white Americans between 1970 and 1998. The white U.S. infant mortality rate was roughly six deaths per 1,000 babies, compared with slightly more than five for Canadians.

    Maternal mortality shows a substantial gap as well. According to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a 30-nation think tank, there were 3.4 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births among Canadians, compared with 9.8 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

    And more than half of Canadians with severe mental disorders received treatment, compared with little more than a third of Americans, according to the May-June 2003 issue of Health Affairs.

    “The summary of the evidence has to be that national health insurance has improved the health of Canadians and is responsible for some of the longer life expectancy,” says Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and staunch advocate of a single-payer system.

  45. “Many Americans don’t get health care simply because they can’t afford it. By any measure, Canadians (and Italians, Germans, and French, for that matter) are healthier and live longer than we Americans do. I’m not saying that socialized medicine is the answer, but facts are facts.”

    The fact is that those who DO have good private health insurance in the US have access to better care, more choices of health care providers and faster care than do those who have to rely on government-run single payer systems in other countries.

  46. The white U.S. infant mortality rate was roughly six deaths per 1,000 babies, compared with slightly more than five for Canadians.

    Wow. Could those figures be any more vague? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to say (and I’m making up numbers here):

    The white U.S. infant mortality rate was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 babies, compared with 5.2 for Canadians.

  47. jf,

    Sure, but if both numbers were 5.5, it just wouldn’t have the same impact.

  48. Pretty creepy, I have a picture just like that (with me in place of Obama), assuming he’s standing in front of the Metropolis, IL Superman statue.

  49. “The summary of the evidence has to be that national health insurance has improved the health of Canadians and is responsible for some of the longer life expectancy,” says Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and staunch advocate of a single-payer system.

    Coincidence? Correlation? Cause?
    Yes, I’ll choose…cause. I think that will bolster my argument the best, thank you.

  50. kohlrabi,

    I considered that possibility, but didn’t want to come off as too paranoid. 5.5 could very well work for both numbers, but even 5.4 and 5.6 could qualify. Ah well, it’s not like anyone really thinks they are “massaging” the numbers to make them look worse than they are, right?

  51. United States birthrate: 14.14 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

    United Stated infant mortality rate: 6.43 deaths/1,000 live births

    Canada birthrate: 10.78 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

    Canada infant mortality rate: 4.69 deaths/1,000 live births

    All numbers are from CIA 2006 estimates, so apparently Canada has gotten way better than us at delivering live babies.

    Unless there is more to the equation. Note the huge difference in birthrate. I think I’ve seen it argued somewhere that a big part of the difference in infant mortality rates between the US and other countries is that we allow babies to come to term that would be aborted due to health risks in other countries.

    Anyone have a source for a rate on “pregnancies brought to term”?

  52. Obama is still in everything-to-everyone mode, folks.

    Aren’t you supposed to wait until you win your party’s primary before going into everything-to-everyone mode?

  53. There the abortion rate is higher in the US than in Canada / France / Germany / UK /etc.

    Of course that doesn’t tell us what percentage was due to genetic screening. It is possible that (reletively fewer) abortions are targetted to children that will die anyway in Canada, but you have to ask yourself which way that cuts as far as optimal delivery of medical svcs goes.

    Another interesting question is whether US women abort because of fear that they will not be able to afford medicine. Ayn Rand would find that cool, I am sure, but would you?

    If only one of the posters on this thd had lived under both the US and Canada systems and could compare . . .

  54. I’m for Hillary who says we need more troops in Afghanistan.

  55. Obama is terrible on gun rights. The NRA and the gun owners of America gave him a F and a0% rating respectively on his voting record. That alone should disqualify him from getting the libertarian vote.

    How many gun control votes have come up since he’s been elected?

  56. How many gun control votes have come up since he’s been elected?

    Doesn’t matter.

  57. Wow, I can’t believe what I’m reading. Obama is acceptable? He’s to the left of Ted Kennedy!!! Whose blog is this? Reason’s or The Nation’s?

  58. When you look at the field of presidential candidates, Obama is far and away the best choice for libertarians

    Hold me back. Oh wait, I’m at the Daily Kos, sorry.

  59. “He is what we thought he was. You wanna crown his ass? Then crown it!”

  60. My dream would be an Obama-Feingold ticket vs. Ron Paul. Obama would win, but Dr. Paul would out argue him in the debates – in the same way Alan Keyes supposedly did, after which Obama was man enough to admit Keyes had stumped him and forced him to reanalyze his stance on abortion. That honesty is refreshing, certainly moreso than Bush’s “I don’t listen to anybody but myself” mentality. I think he’s also generally an honest, open guy all around, which is a part of his appeal. The question is whether he’s too open to develop firm stances that make the “meat” of a campaign.

    Obama’s right on Iraq, government reform and civil liberties, but wrong on a lot of other things – which is why I think Dr. Paul would be a good test for Obama to meet, while understanding that Paul will probably not get the GOP nod…

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