Shush, don't tell anyone, but Obama...he's a politician.
One of the things I hate the most as an Obama supporter are other Obama supporters. You know who I mean, the real fanatical ones who think that when Obama comes into office water is going to turn into petrol, people are going to fart nuggets of gold, and the Starship Enterprise will begin a 10 year mission to explore strange new worlds and all that other nonsense. That shit is just annoying.
But even more annoying is that those fanatical perceptions have become, to some, the foundation of Obama's candidacy. The criticism I most often hear from Obama detractors is that, "I don't trust him." Now excluding some of the racism in that statement (no white folks, he's not going to enslave you), I can see how if you have that perception that Obama's going to create this magical 'change' then yeah, you wouldn't trust him, nor should you trust him. I wouldn't trust the guy offering me the magic beans for my car either.
But the fact is, Obama is a politician. He's not an average politician, and he's not the worse of the pack by any stretch of the imagination, but he's a politician, and thus he does things that will enable him to win elections.
Example: As Cros notes on his blog Obama has broken his promise to accept public financing if McCain followed suit. McCain is and Obama's backing out. Obama's reasons are pretty obvious:
"But hey, at least he was honest about why, right? He said something like - "Look, I think I'm going to be able to raise a boatload more money than John McCain, which would make that whole "level playing field" idea contemplated by the public financing system kind of stupid, from my end."
"Well, he either said that or some weasel comment about how the evil Republicans made him do it. "
Yeah, that's a bit disappointing, just like that this is disappointing, but that's politics.
It sounds obvious, but its not. A while back I did a write up for AllHipHop.com on Presidential Underdogs, candidates that for whatever reason just couldn't cut it. In my discussion I discovered that, for the most part, those who showed the most conviction, honesty, and integrity don't do well on a national scale. Why? I wrote:
"Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time, and this sentiment is illuminated through the failures of the above men. We love them precisely because they lack the Machiavellian traits that make people successful in politics. They don’t pander, they are forthright, and unable (sometimes through their own arrogance) to equivocate. Unfortunately it takes all of the above to become the President of the United States. But don’t take my word for it, just ask Bill Clinton."
I suppose what I'm saying is that while character is important in deciding who's going to be president, we should also couple that with a dose of pragmatism. If you're voting for Obama on the intangible premise of 'change' you need to sit down and create some concrete metrics for the type of change you're looking for. And if you're voting for McCain because...well for whatever your reasons are, you need concrete metrics as well. But if you're voting for a candidate because they're 'honest' or 'men of integrity' or 'patriotic' expect to get let down. Because if they really are impeccable examples of those traits, they're probably not politicians.
PS: And in case you're wondering, my metric for voting for Obama? A) He's making withdrawing troops from Iraq a priority. Will it be in his first year, or two? Not sure, and I don't think he's sure, but at least I believe he'll make that US policy. B) I think he's the best option to stabilize and rein in executive power and restore at least a modicum of law on a national level. C) I think he's the best option to address the crimes of torture which has been encouraged by our executive. D) I believe he will appoint moderate liberal judges to the Supreme Court.
You'd be correct to ask, "well he opted out of public financing, why do you think he'll live up to those other promises?" A) I can't put his decision about financing on the same level as his policy commitments, especially since if he doesn't get into office he can't install the policies I want and B) Because I have no other choice. At the end of the day he's the only viable candidate who is offering me what I want.
Of course if you're voting for the fart nuggets and Starship Enterprise, I'm not going to stop you, just don't call my house.