Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What, me worry?

A second post-election piece I didn't post at the time I wrote it (Nov. 5):

I've explained why I voted for Obama and I don't regret it today. But I am feeling a bit defensive because I've seen some emails from McCain voters that make important points and I hope I can provide some reassurance to my conservative friends.

First, I've been thinking about the political shortcomings of the Baby Boom generation for some time (well before Obama was on the scene). And perhaps more than anything I felt we needed a President who wasn't defined by the Vietnam War. I saw a documentary the other night about the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and I can see how each side thought the other was out to destroy the fabric of America. But it's not like that anymore and I'm tired of the silliness of it. Negative ads are fine if they help define the issues, and yes, I believe character still matters. But Elizabeth Dole's ads claiming her Sunday school teacher opponent was a closet atheist probably helped tip my vote. It was manipulative, irresponsible and personally and spiritually hateful. You know, for years Republicans have tried to convince minority voters that if they only vote for one party all the time they'll be (and have been) taken for granted. Well, the same holds true for Christian conservatives.

Second, I'm honestly not sure if I would have voted for Obama if I hadn't actually met the guy and, as President Bush famously said of Vladmir Putin, "gained a sense of his soul." Obama was a professor at my law school and I took a seminar from him. I got no sense that he's a radical, that's he's not pro-America, or that he's a socialist. If I'm right about Obama, the far left blogosphere is going to be deeply disappointed in his presidency. If I'm wrong about him (and look how well this looking-into-his-soul thing worked out for GW Bush w/r/t Putin) then I'll be very disappointed. In fact, a couple of my old law school professors recently had a debate on "whether conservatives should vote for Obama." Prof. Cass Sunstein, who is very liberal, made the case that conservatives should vote for Obama because, well, because he doesn't think Obama is really as liberal as his voting record and his anti-NAFTA campaigning in the primary would suggest. My best sense is that Sunstein is right. Imagine Clinton without the the sex and the lies and things don't seem too bad.

Third, look, I have to say that the top of the Republican ticket, John McCain is not a conservative except on a few social issues. McCain wasn't a conservative in 2000 and that's why he lost the primary. He pretended to be one this year but I didn't buy it. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts. He came around on those because he knew he had to. But his economic instincts are not conservative and on any other issue I didn't trust him to govern as a conservative (his response to the foreclosure crisis and financial meltdown - a housing rescue plan of some $300 billion and blaming "greed on Wall Street"- sounded a lot like Chuck Schumer to me). If we're going to have socialism in this country I'd rather come by it honestly.

My last line of defense is this: Ronald Reagan started out as a Democrat. And he always said that he didn't leave the Democratic Party, but that the party left him. The Republicans are in the wilderness because of Tom Delay, Ted Stevens, No Child Left Behind, "You're doing a heck of job Brownie" cronyism, etc.

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