04 January 2008


Ezra Klein reminds me today why Obama might not be so bad. It all goes back to the idea that liberals want to be inspired, conservatives led. And Obama can inspire. From Klein:
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.... a call to create something better, bigger, grander, and more just than the world we have. When that happens, as it did with Robert F. Kennedy, the inspired remember those moments for the rest of their lives.
It's about an Obamass.

Ezra's beautiful writing makes me wonder why I can't hear it — and maybe this is a facile answer, but it's the first that came and it won't leave. It's his wife.

To backtrack a bit, I am concerned about his lack of experience, what Paul Krugman today described as the idea that "among at least some of Barack Obama’s supporters there seems to be a belief that if their candidate is elected, the world’s problems will melt away in the face of his multicultural charisma."

This seems like a mirror image of why people voted for Bush. Sure, at an Obamass you get a chalice with communion wine rather than a spit-flecked plastic cup of beer, but it's the same idea that character and image are more important than competence and experience.

But that's not fair. A look at Obama's record and achievements show him to be competent and a man of good judgment. The folks who saw that in Bush were willfully ignorant.

Obama is the only one of the three front-running Dems who doesn't include mandates in his healthcare plan. That should be enough to have me supporting him right there — but then there's Michelle.

She's vice-president for external affairs for a hospital, making $275,000 a year. Hospitals should be on the side on single-payer and reform, but in my experience they're not. This is a strong woman who has made it in cut-throat capitalism, and may well buy into the idea that she deserves to stand on her side of the chasm that divides rich and poor in America — and that the poor deserve to be where they are.

Let's hear what Michelle has to say about healthcare reform.

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