Is Barack Obama Better for America Than John McCain?
By Mick Youther
You may never have even heard some of the best lines at the Democratic National Convention, so I’ll fill you in here:
• “One thing you can say of George Bush: Mr. President, we will always be in your debt.” —Raum Emmanuel (D-Ill.), 8/26
• “If [McCain’s] the answer, the question must be ridiculous”
—NewYork governor David Patterson, Aug. 26, 2008
• “Republicans talk about putting ‘country first,’ but tell that to Marion, Ind. They sent my job overseas. America can’t afford more of the same. We need a president who puts the Barney Smiths before the Smith Barneys.” —Barney Smith, a once-proud Republican who lost his job at the RCA factory in Marion after 31 years, when his job was shipped overseas, Aug. 28, 2008.
The best line not heard at the convention:
• “(The Republicans are) asking for another four years—in a just world, they’d get 10 to 20.” —Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), left out of his prepared speech at the request of the Obama campaign. If we had more people like Kucinich in Washington, we wouldn’t be wondering how to get out of Iraq. We wouldn’t be there.
The climax of the convention was Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. Here are some highlights:
• “Sen. McCain likes to talk about judgment, [but] what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?
• “For over two decades, (John McCain has) subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy—give more and more to those with the
most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the ownership society, but what it really means is—you’re on your own.
• “Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.
• “Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
• “I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
• “I will cut taxes—cut taxes—for 95 percent of all working families.
• “I will set a clear goal as president: in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
• “Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Sen. McCain took office.”
* * *
[Now is the time] to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American, to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent, to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses, to protect Social Security for future generations, and now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.
You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result.
You have shown what history teaches us—that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it—because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.
Obama’s speech was inspirational. If you watched it, you know what I mean. If you didn’t, you can find the complete speech on the Internet.
Won’t it be nice to have an articulate president, admired and respected around the world, instead of an inarticulate boob, who is an embarrassment every time he goes out in public?
* * *
The morning after Obama’s speech, there were rave reviews, but they were cut short by John McCain’s stunning announcement that he had picked Alaska Gov. Sara Palin to be his running mate. To say that the political analysts and pundits were stunned is an understatement. If McCain’s plan was to bring more media attention to his campaign, he succeeded (maybe too well).
The media is abuzz with theories on why McCain picked this little-known governor over much more likely choices, such as former governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, or even turn-coat Democrat Joe Lieberman. Here are my reasons McCain chose Gov. Palin:
• She blew away all the other vice-presidential contenders in the swimsuit competition, has extensive foreign policy experience, having actually visited three foreign countries (if you count a refueling stop in Ireland on her trip to military installations in Germany and Kuwait) and she was the only candidate shorter than McCain.
A search committee comprised of stand-up comedians and late-night talk show hosts picked her. She has years of executive experience: Six years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 7,000)—during which she racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt, or $3,000 per resident. She has also served 20 months as governor of Alaska, population 670,000—the same as Memphis, Tenn. or about a quarter the size of Obama’s home town of Chicago.
Is it possible McCain’s staff did not realize that “vetting” meant investigating everything about a candidate, so you don’t end up with a candidate like Sara Palin? Has McCain has had a secret crush on her since 1984, when she was chosen Miss Wasilla and then was first runner-up in the Miss Alaska Contest? Will she help McCain solidify the elusive right-wing lunatic fringe vote? Do the McCain campaign strategists believe that disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters are so incredibly stupid that they will vote for Palin—just because she is a woman, even though she is diametrically opposed to almost everything Hillary stands for?
* * *
The week after the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the Republicans held theirs in St. Paul, Minn. Even though I believe Republicans have been willing accomplices to the wreck and ruin perpetrated on the United States by the Bush administration during the past seven-plus years, I decided to hold my nose and watch as much of the Republican National Convention as I could stomach.
It was the worst five minutes of my life.
Mick Youther is a retired researcher from Southern Illinois University.
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(Issue # 43, October 27, 2008)