10.29.2008

WHERE I'M MOST NERVOUS ABOUT OBAMA

As a follow-up to my post earlier this month in support of McCain on the issues, here are sound-bites from articles that crystallize four issues where I'm most nervous about Obama:

* Foreign policy. McCain may be too hawkish and old-school for most peoples' tastes, but is that necessarily worse than someone who is too young to fully grasp the complexities of global conflict? As Katherine Ernst puts it in her article, "The Audacity of Humility": "Already, he believes that the force of his own personality is strong enough to garner concessions from the world’s worst dictators—Ahmadinejad, Ch├ívez, Kim Jong Il—dictators with proud histories of playing international watchdogs and diplomats for fools. Gee, what could go wrong there?" Tellingly, during the one new flare-up that has occurred this campaign season - Georgia - McCain was right, right away, and Obama was wrong.

* Health care. It's funny how easily sensible plans can get twisted by populist pandering. I like Obama's coterie of economic advisors, and many of them would, absent their new loyalties to Obama, likely endorse McCain's ideas over Obama's: "Obama vs. His Advisers: On Health Care, They Once Liked McCain's Principles": "Mr. Obama's tactics are especially cynical because his own health-care advisers support plans much like Mr. McCain's. Or at least they did before joining up with Mr. Obama. Put simply, the McCain plan seeks to remedy a distortion in the health-care market that economists have spent decades begging politicians to fix: The tax code subsidizes insurance only if it is provided through employers. Individuals can't take the same tax deduction for buying insurance that businesses can. So Mr. McCain wants to 'spread the wealth' of these tax breaks to individuals of any income through a refundable tax credit, no matter where they get coverage." Meanwhile, Governing Magazine's blog notes that while McCain's plans resemble Minnesota's largely successful approach, the Massachusetts plan that Obama's plan is modeled after has increased coverage but at higher-than-expected costs.

* Trade. When the Times of India feels obligated to chime in on the McCain-Obama debate, you know there's a marked difference in where the two stand on the issues. Here's what they had to say in "Where McCain Scores Over Obama": "McCain is one of the few American politicians in either party with the courage and conviction to stand up to protectionist populism. By contrast, Obama embodies protectionism." Of course, protectionism is exactly the last thing we need in an ailing global economy, with the poorest countries suffering the worst.

* Government spending. Not one of the categories from my post earlier this month, but alluded to on a number of occasions. It warrants mentioning again: the D's will control both the House and the Senate, and Obama has no track record of going against his party, nor has he taken nearly as strong a stand against earmarks as McCain has. And note this quote from Politico: "Obama Donors Get Access to Top Advisers": "Much has been made of Obama’s canny mining of small-dollar donors . . . but his campaign also has an elaborate machine for courting big check-writers. Obama kept the checks flowing this month with a gold-plated schedule of headliners who would have new prominence in a Democratic Washington." That's a lot of donors, and a lot of high-profile people shilling for those donors, who may have their hand out after November 4. Speaking of spending, it's a shame that more hasn't been made of Obama - who has campaigned on the platform of getting big money out of the political process - talking big on public financing during the primaries when it was a way to distinguish himself from Hillary's campaign, and then backing off so that he could outspend McCain in the general election.

Barring a huge swing in momentum, or else really inaccurate polls, Barack Obama will be elected the 44th president of the United States. If that happens, here's hoping he doesn't follow through on his campaign promises, but rather moves sensibly towards the very ideas he's spent the last few months distorting and refuting.
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