pageok
pageok
pageok
Why I'll Be Voting for Obama:

As those of you who followed the dust-ups here on the VC after some of my earlier postings critical of Sarah Palin will not be surprised to hear, I'll be pulling the Obama lever on Tuesday -- and quite enthusiastically, too. I consider myself a "pragmatic libertarian" -- I'm not a big fan of the state, I believe that power inevitably corrupts, that individuals, when left to their own devices, are capable of remarkable feats of self-organization and problem-solving, and that the freedoms of speech, conscience, and association are, by far, our most precious ones and need to be zealously protected from the folks with the monopoly on coercive force. I haven't voted for a Democratic candidate for President since 1980 (and I came to regret that one pretty soon thereafter). My personal list of great Presidents is a short one: Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan.

So that's where I'm coming from, and in my eyes the choice couldn't be easier. My reasons:

Reason 1 is John McCain. During the two months since he was nominated -- the two months during which he (and Obama) got to act "shadow presidents," and in which we all got to ask ourselves, more seriously than we had been able to before: "If this guy were the president right now, would we like what he's doing?" -- McCain has, time and time again, shown himself to be a panicky, impulsive, shoot-from-the-hip decision-maker, and we don't need panicky, impulsive, shoot-from-the-hip decision-makers at the moment. I really used to like John McCain a lot. In his role as "maverick Senator," McCain was a real asset -- I think he showed enormous political courage in taking on the culture of earmarks, and in standing up to the more xenophobic elements of the Republican party on immigration, and even on political financing, and I trusted his instincts on the important questions about national security, war, and peace. I also think he's an immensely likable guy. But with each decision he's made -- his choice of Gov. Palin as his running mate, his almost pathetic reaction(s) to the financial crisis (from his initial "Fire Chris Cox!" to his belated discovery that there's actually greed on Wall Street -- who knew! -- to his suspension, and un-suspension, of his campaign), to the choices he made about the overall tone and tenor of his campaign -- each one made him less and less credible, in my eyes, as president.

Reason 2 is Barack Obama. The country, and the world, are in a precarious state at the moment, and the prospects for a very dark and gloomy future are very real; it took three years for the effects of the 1929 stock market crash to be felt throughout the global economy, and I can't help but worry that something similar is on the horizon today. We have, as a nation, become demoralized and pessimistic and cynical about our ability to solve our problems. It's not just that our "infrastructure" is crumbling, it's that nobody seems to give a shit. Our belief that we are, in fact, the greatest nation on earth has always been one of our most precious assets -- something of a self-fulfilling prophecy that has made us the engine for economic growth, and for freedom, for two centuries. It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to believe that, these days, and when people stop believing it, it will no longer be true. Countries can descend into the ranks of the second-rate in the blink of an eye (historically speaking): it happened to Spain, and to Portugal, and to Argentina, it is now happening to Italy, and it can happen to us.

We need a truly great president right now -- and for me, a great president isn't one who magically solves all our problems, but one who inspires us to solve our problems. No president can get us out of the mess we have made unless he or she can inspire us to do great things, and there is at least some real chance that Obama has it in him; that's no guarantee that he'll be a great president, but given the alternative (see Reason 1) that's plenty good enough for me. I think he grasps the significance of the moment, and I think he understands that ideology is not policy and policy is not ideology. His gift for oratory, far from being the sideshow that some of his detractors claim, is in fact central to the prospects and the possibilities of an Obama presidency. The Great Ones -- Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan -- have had one thing (and maybe only one thing) in common: the ability to stir us to great deeds with their words. It is, I think, a necessary (though not sufficient) condition for greatness, and Obama's got it; McCain does not. Obama's astonishing capacity to connect with young voters is also part of why he might be a great president; like it or not, the young have a bigger stake in the future than the old because they'll see more of it, and if they are energized to take the reins of power they deserve the chance to do so.

Nor is Obama's obvious, and profound, appeal to the people of the world irrelevant to my choice. Whatever you, personally, think of Obama or his policies, it is simply an indisputable fact that hundreds of millions, or possibly billions, of people across the globe are damn near infatuated with him, and that the world will, almost instantaneously, become much better-disposed to the United States when he is elected. It's quite astonishing, when you think about it; he's the first global candidate for office. There are many good reasons, to be sure, why a (rational) voter in the United States should ignore the views of the French, the Indians, and the Kenyans etc. when deciding for whom to vote in this (or any) election; presidential elections are and should be about our "self-interest," and there are plenty of good reasons why we don't give French, Indian, or Kenyan citizens a vote in our elections. But a world in which hundreds of millions of people are far, far better-disposed to the US is a world in which we are more likely to get a handle of serious global problems, from terrorism to the banking collapse to global warming and the energy crisis. It's just easier for me to imagine, say, the people of Pakistan actually helping us out in our efforts to protect ourselves from the madmen who are taking refuge in their country if they think we stand for something important and that we deserve protection, rather than because Pervez Musharraf orders them to do so. I know that it's not all about "hearts and minds" and all that, but it won't hurt.

Reason 3 is Bush. George W. Bush has, almost single-handedly, destroyed (a) the Republican party, (b) our standing among the nations of the world, and (c) our pride in being Americans. His "compassionate conservatism" turned out to be mean-spirited and exclusionary, his attitude towards the people he was elected to serve contemptuous, and his capacity to lead virtually non-existent. His approval ratings are an accurate indicator of how miserably he has performed. I'm not enough of a historian to know whether he's the worst president we've ever had, but he's on the short list, and he is certainly the worst I have encountered in the 40-some years I've been paying attention to this stuff. The Republicans needs to be punished for allowing it to happen.

Reason 4 is energy policy. For my money, this is the big domestic issue for the next several decades, because pretty much all other important domestic issues will turn on whether or not we can solve it. The sight of 10,000 oil-addicted junkies shouting "Drill, Baby, Drill!!" at the Republican convention (repeated over and over again at campaign rallies this Fall) was chilling. The idea that we can drill ourselves out of the economic and ecological hole in which we find ourselves is as wrong as an idea can be (as McCain, before he began pandering, understood quite well).

So I hope he wins. Ultimately, in a democracy, you take what your fellow-citizens give you, and you accept that whatever answer the democratic process has produced is the "right" one. If a majority of the people in this country think McCain is the man to lead them, then so be it; they must view things very differently than I do. But I'm pretty confident that we're going to be taking the other course, and that we'll be better off for having done so.

Mark Field (mail):
Excellent post. You really expressed the issues and the reasoning very well.
11.2.2008 10:49am
Franklin Drackman:
No Offense, Mr. Post if that really is your name, but this is America, and we make up our own minds. Even if you were a Celebrity like Brad Pitt of Howard Stern, no one gives a F***. I can still enjoy "Private Parts" or "Fight Club" and vote for Ron Paul. Hows that, more salient points in 1 short paragraph than your 10,
Frank Drackman
11.2.2008 10:49am
Curt Fischer:

10,000 oil-addicted junkies shouting "Drill, Baby, Drill!!"


I am unsure why shouting this slogan indicates a belief that "we can drill ourselves out of the economic and ecological hole in which we find ourselves". Why did you infer that it did? Because it is so unsupported, I think the final reason you list is by far the weakest.
11.2.2008 10:51am
TyWebb:
Prof. Post,

This post was a breath of fresh air. Cheers to you.

Frank Drackman--I think you're a troll. If so, well done.
11.2.2008 10:52am
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
it took three years for the effects of the 1929 stock market crash to be felt throughout the global economy, and I can't help but worry that something similar is on the horizon today.

The stock market crash only became the Great Depression because of piss-poor government policy, especially protectionist policies. For all of FDR's greatness in World War II and cheerful rhetoric during the Depression, his policies went on to extend the Depression well beyond what would have been its horizon with more responsible government policies, and created a number of programs that did long-term damage to the American economy's growth. If you're worried about a longer Depression arising from our current recession, it seems like the guy who wants to erect barriers to trade is not the best choice regardless of his rhetorical abilities.
11.2.2008 10:52am
Norman Bates (mail):
I can understand perfectly why someone who thinks George Washington wasn't a great president and the hypocrite Thomas Jefferson was might vote for Obama. And please do me and my fellow bloggers the service of not making my post irrelevant or incomprehensible by altering your original post as the man you plan on voting for has lied about his true positions.
11.2.2008 10:54am
Mike Keenan:
Very good post.

But, I am surprised not to see Washington on the list of great presidents.
11.2.2008 10:55am
John Jenkins (mail):
Sorry. It doesn't wash. I can respect not voting for McCain, but can't respect voting for Obama, if at the same time you claim to be a libertarian.

It may well be that Obama is inevitable, but voting for him is a little "l" stamp of approval on what will probably be the grossest expansion of the state since the 1930's, and certainly the grossest expansion of my lifetime.

Your reason 2 isn't actually a reason: that is you give no reason to prefer Obama over anyone else in that regard. The President whom Obama resembles most is none of the ones you mention, but Lyndon Johnson. The policies are the same, the prescriptions the same, and the outcome will probably be the same, but Lyndon Johnson with charisma doesn't sell the point I guess.

Your reason 3 says more about you than it does anyone else (destroyed your pride in being Americans? Why should we who are born here have any pride in that at all? If we should have pride in it, shouldn't we have pride in it irrespective of which disgusting, power-hungry politician is in office? If not, why not?) This is pure silliness, unworthy of anyone who is a scholar of anything, really. Two points you might be interested to know are that: George W. Bush is not running for president and not wanting to vote for the Republicans is not a positive reason in favor of voting for Obama.

Energy policy? Are you sure you're a libertarian? Oil is still the most economically efficient source of energy. Until it isn't, alternative power is a pipe dream because it will be uneconomical without subsidies and handouts, which someone who claims to be a libertarian should (must?) oppose.

You could have saved yourself a LOT of time by simply saying: I am a statist liberal who is infatuated with Obama therefore I will vote for him. It has the twin features of truth and brevity to recommend it, and doesn't require several paragraphs of (non) reasons to get there.
11.2.2008 10:55am
byomtov (mail):
Excellent summary, David.

I personally would add that, even aside from Palin, McCain's choices for advisors are dubious. Phil Gramm? Carly Fiorina? If these are the kinds of people he thinks are going to help solve our economic problems he is showing a serious lack of judgment.
11.2.2008 10:56am
JB:
Regarding reason 1,
the comments so far bear you out. The pro-Obama comments have been cogent and polite, the pro-McCain ones brimming with vitriol.

Whoever wins is going to have to get the whole country behind him, and it's simply easier to do that if you are gracious and respectful than if you call your opponents names.
11.2.2008 11:01am
Micah Smith:
Well, an interesting posting, Mr Post. What intrigues me, however, is that it shows an odd phenomenon...that even those who are fundamentally conservative can be overcome by personality. Obama, after all, is a man whose views are absolutely inimical to the views Mr Post has professed here. Yet this matters nothing compared to Obama's personality... for that is largely what Mr Post discussed. Apparently, he inspires Mr Post... And this overwhelms the fact that he is obviously a socialist (and I say this not as disparagement but simply as a fact), and is equally obviously sympathetic to people who can reasonably be called America's enemies. And the idea that we can somehow mollify the hatred (and, yes, that word is accurate) of America just by electing someone the outside world likes seems like a remarkable act of naivety. They'll find other reasons to dislike us even if Obama is elected -- after a shortish honeymoon -- for it's America itself they dislike.

So really, I'm fascinated. I've reached in this post an understanding, which previously I lacked, of how people like Adolf Hitler could get elected despite the fact that it was obvious to anyone that his policies were likely to be very bad indeed by the standards of a civilized country.
11.2.2008 11:05am
FantasiaWHT:

No president can get us out of the mess we have made unless he or she can inspire us to do great things, and there is at least some real chance that Obama has it in him;


Yes, likely by creating such a massive train wreck that we will have no choice but to dig out of the mess ourselves.
11.2.2008 11:06am
AndrewK (mail):
The only policy reason you gave was that you do not like oil-addiction. That's fair enough, but it hardly sways an issue-voter like myself.
11.2.2008 11:08am
therut (mail):
Well good that you are not running his campaign as everything you put down as a reason to vote for him just makes me more sure he will ruin this country. Sorry not buying. There is a new video out today of him again saying things in San Fran that he lies to the country about. He plans on bankrupting the coal industry. Yea, I can not wait. Guess he will get us to hire all those put out of jobs as .gov employees as goons going around to check and see if YOU are using to much engery. Along with stopping tax deductions on interest payed on mortgages on houses 3,000 sq. foot or greater as Dingel wants I see a not so bright but dark future. Good luck.
11.2.2008 11:09am
mums (mail):

The Republicans needs to be punished for allowing it to happen.


What a joke of a "Reason." You sound like a baby.
11.2.2008 11:10am
TMK (mail):
Professor Post,

I have spoken with you at school. (yes for all you trolls, he is a genuine law professor). As someone with an academic background as a history/poli-sci major and work experience in the financial sector my perspective is quite different from yours.

While soaring rhetoric and a cult of personality can lift a population, it can also enable the government to accomplish horrible, horrible things, particularly when the dominant media buys into it as well. What you cite as Obama's greatest strength is what perhaps frightens me the most. FDR's economic and social programs made the Great Depression both longer and deeper, as more recent objective research has shown (by the Manhattan Institute among others). We are still burdened by many of his programs.

Libertarians share a committment to free markets and limited government. SarbOx, Elliot Spitzer, Fannie Mae... much of what has gone wrong is the result of government involvement and regulation, not deregulation. We all know that once put in place, government programs are virtually impossible to dismantle and tend to grow rapidly.

It is undeniable that Barack Obama believes in government playing a central role in directing and regulating most aspects of our lives. How can anyone claiming to be a libertarian actually support his candidacy? IMHO the only argument a libertarian can honestly make in favor of Obama is as a protest vote against wayward Republicans, and for me the stakes are too high to do so.
11.2.2008 11:10am
RepublicansForObama (mail):
Fantastic post. Most reasonable Republicans are beginning to see that competence trumps ideological affiliation in hard times. The Presidency is an executive position, not a legislative one. Judgment and a sound temperament is more important in an executive than rigid ideology. I, and many other Republicans, would rather have a competent person, with sound judgment, than another impulsive decision maker who is willing to risk our country on his "gut feelings."

I suspect that there are many more Obama Republicans and that they will come out on election day.
11.2.2008 11:11am
Dave N (mail):
JB,

Perhaps it is the message. Compare, for example, the reaction on David Bernstein's posts regarding Obama. With some exceptions, the pro-Obama responses are hardly "cogent and polite."
11.2.2008 11:12am
Bandon:
Excellent post! Thanks for taking the time to summarize your reasons for voting for Obama. (I have already voted for Obama through early voting, so those of you voting for other candidates — or not voting at all — can dismiss my comments if you like.)

Whenever we vote for anyone, we are expressing our hope for the future. There has never been and never will be a perfect candidate, but some candidates are better able inspire Americans to work together for the common good. You were able to convey this hope in your support of Obama. Thanks!
11.2.2008 11:25am
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
The pro-Obama comments have been cogent and polite, the pro-McCain ones brimming with vitriol

I didn't realize that calling someone protectionist constituted "brimming with vitriol." If I disagree with an increase on income taxes for top earners, does that constitute the politics of personal destruction?
11.2.2008 11:27am
loki13 (mail):
Dave N,

I think using DB's comment threads to prove anything is a wasted of time. As are, for that matter, DB's comment threads. The vitriol is hardly one-sided, and between the "Husseins" and the "birth certificates" and the "Madrassas" and the "statist/socialist/ Marxist/leftist/lib" I rearely find a cogent point made.

Anyway, I think these are good points, and I think the first is perhaps the best. McCain has shown time and again he lacks the temperament to be President; since he chose to campaign not on policies (which may have been wise, given the last eight years) but on character, that becomes an increasingly large hurdle for him to overcome. Simply view the difference in the reactions of McCain and Obama to the economic crisis and you see vastly different futures in terms of fitness for CiC.

Finally, the whole 'cult of personality' thing is overdone- but it is true that Obama tries to make us look forward, to see the best parts of America as a shining city upon a hill, and not to exploit the Rovian tactics of divisiveness and hate that have got us to where we are today. I think it is a good thing for people to be excited to participate in the ongoing glorious experiment that is America.

Yes, we can.
11.2.2008 11:28am
Calculated Risk:
George Washington was a great general and a true American hero.

Was he a great president? Well, his policy of neutrality with respect to the affairs of Europe was right on and good policy. You also have to give him credit for the things he did not do. He did not continue to serve after 8 years, even though he probably could have been President for life. That set an important tradition that has limited the power of the executive branch.

Nonetheless, I think that Washington is too easily put into the list of great Presidents. He assembled a cabinet that did not work well together. On the other hand, perhaps this could be praised for bringing different political factions together and making them work together. I don't know. It seems that the Federalists and Jefferson-Republicans ended up being pretty vicious towards each other anyway. So, did it really work? Or did it make it even worse? Furthermore, while giving Jefferson an important place at the table, Washington tended to and consistently sided with Hamilton. So, that could have been potentially alienating.

Anyway, for those of you who think that George Washington should be on the list of great Presidents, I would be interested in your reasons -- something that goes beyond giving him credit for merely being the first President and thus setting a lot of important precedents. Wouldn't nearly any first President set a lot of important precedents? This does not seem to me to be something that we should give George Washington credit for in particular.

I am not saying that George Washington was not a great President. But, I would like the concrete reasons. Everyone seems to want to list him there, but most don't actually talk about his accomplishments as President when they do so. It seems as though a lot of people are putting him there merely because he was first.

For what it is worth, I do not particularly think that Thomas Jefferson was a great President. Although, he should be praised for relaxing his rigid understanding of the power of the Federal government and making the Louisiana Purchase.
11.2.2008 11:29am
Oren:

I can still enjoy "Private Parts" or "Fight Club" and vote for Ron Paul.

Ironically, Ron Paul supports a theory of government in which your locality or state can ban those dirty films (cue J. Alridge to defend non-incorporation of the 1A or non-protection of obscene speech or whatever -- the exact legal basis for the protection doesn't concern me atm). If you are voting for him on the basis of protecting your freedom to watch films as you see fit, you are sorely uninformed.

The tension between voting to protect the freedoms Obama would threaten (RKBA, economic freedoms, secret union ballots) and the freedoms McCain would threaten (civil liberties, sexual liberties, defendant's rights) is not exactly an easy call for libertarians like myself who (in contrast with many others on this site) place a high weight on those "social" aspects.
11.2.2008 11:30am
Erick:
How can you think that Obama is better on energy policy? The democrats have no energy policy. All they have is platitudes. They want cheaper gas, less foreign oil, and for it all to be cleaner. Too bad these ideas are totally in conflict and pulling off all three is basically impossible. American energy is either dirty (coal) or expensive.

There is one exception. Nuclear power. Clean, domestic, and significantly less expensive than solar and wind, more available than geothermal or hydroelectric. And who is the only candidate talking about nuclear power?

And that's not even getting into the other dumb crap like putting caps on "gouging" or punishing random energy companies with windfall taxes. And Obama's promise to open up the SPR is irresponsible and won't accomplish anything anyway. I'm sure we'll be so happy its empty when we get into a real emergency and not just people whining about having to pay so much to fill up their Suburbans.
11.2.2008 11:30am
TA:
"We need a truly great president right now ..."

Well, sure, don't we always? And, Obama is that potentially great president? Just like Lincoln, FDR, Reagan?

This is what Obama thinks:

"People of the world, look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one," Obama said in a speech at Berlin's Victory Column in the Tiergarten park.

Actually, no. The Berlin wall fell because of the courage of a very small group of people, who were willing to face intense ridicule (in the West), and much worse (in the East). Obama has done nothing that tells us he is willing to join that company, or that he is even aware of their existence.
11.2.2008 11:30am
TMK (mail):
Because it bears repeating...

Tyrants throughout history have inspired people. They have abused their popularity to oppress their people and lead their nations to ruin.

A cult of personality and empty hope are not reasons to vote for the next leader of the free world.

Is there any SUBSTANCE behind your votes for Obama? What has the empty suit accomplished in his life since law school? Community organizing failures he refuses to talk about? Winning elections on technicalities and against weak opponents? Lots of present votes? Voting with his party 97% of the time and sponsoring few if any noteworthy pieces of legislation? Writing (supposedly) 2 books about himself?

I am still waiting for answers on that question... Where's the beef?
11.2.2008 11:32am
Calculated Risk:

So really, I'm fascinated. I've reached in this post an understanding, which previously I lacked, of how people like Adolf Hitler could get elected despite the fact that it was obvious to anyone that his policies were likely to be very bad indeed by the standards of a civilized country.


Are you comparing Obama's policies to Hitler's policies??
11.2.2008 11:32am
RepublicansForObama (mail):
I didn't realize that calling someone protectionist constituted "brimming with vitriol."

No, but analogizing Obama to Hitler, as Micah Smith does, in the following passage, seems to be in rather poor taste:

I've reached in this post an understanding, which previously I lacked, of how people like Adolf Hitler could get elected.
11.2.2008 11:33am
Anonperson (mail):
Even though I may overall identify more with Republican economic policies, Obama just seems much more competent than McCain. So far, McCain seems to think that cutting earmarks is the solution the financial crisis. That's scary.
11.2.2008 11:34am
EPluribusMoney (mail):
No one who likes FDR or supports Obama is a libertarian. You need to sit down and redefine yourself.
11.2.2008 11:35am
Snooper (mail) (www):
That is one of the most idiotic decisions I have heard in quite some time. Voting for a known inexperienced fool that may not even be a US citizen is the very epitome of dumb.

Sometimes I wonder why I served this nation to protect the vast amount of complete fools in this nation.

I lost a body part in the war so idiots can hand the country over to the Marxists.

Good job.
11.2.2008 11:36am
Cornellian (mail):
I completely agree with Reason 1. McCain's off-the-cuff, unvetted decision to pick Palin for the VP slot was as disaster and, I fear, a precursor of the style of a McCain presidency. Obama has a much more presidential temperament, is far more calm and far more willing to listen to a range of arguments and think things through rather than just instantly looking for a villain ("Wall St. Greed!") and viewing a complex issue as nothing more than playing tough guy with the designated villains.

I also completely agree with Reason 3, though in destroying the Republican party George W. Bush had plenty of help from Tom Delay and Dick Cheney.

Reason 4 isn't a big issue for me. America is addicted to oil and that isn't going to change regardless of who win's the next election. It's going to take some striking new technology or the Middle East running out of oil to really change the game on that issue.

Reason 2 is the difficult one. I do think it is important to pay attention to what other countries think, more so for democracies than dictatorships and of course, "pay attention to" isn't the same thing as "agree with." But if we want things from other countries (and we regularly do) then we can't ignore what they think. Obama's ability to connect with young voters is a good thing, though some of that is probably just a function of him being quite young for a presidential candidate and McCain being very old. It would be even better if those young voters got worked up about the mountain of debt that their parents are going to be dumping on them but I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen. I don't think anyone other than the hard core Obama haters would dispute that Obama is better at making speeches than McCain even if they don't agree with the content of the speech but how important is that? It counts for something but it's one of those intangibles that's hard to quantify.
11.2.2008 11:37am
Syd Henderson (mail):
Both candidates have mentioned nuclear power. I'm wondering where Obama's planning to put the nuclear waste. Alaska?
11.2.2008 11:38am
first history:
Micah sez:

So really, I'm fascinated. I've reached in this post an understanding, which previously I lacked, of how people like Adolf Hitler could get elected despite the fact that it was obvious to anyone that his policies were likely to be very bad indeed by the standards of a civilized country.

Well, it took only 11 posts for a Hitler reference, this must be new record.
11.2.2008 11:39am
TMK (mail):
Straw Man arguments 101:

Nobody is comparing Obama's policies to Hitler, or making any comparisons as to their values or character.

The valid comparison being made is that both have the ability to inspire people who would normally be opposed to most if not everything that they stand for on the basis of a strong personality and soaring rhetoric.

Even the most ardent Obama supporter will admit that.


Based on a lot of your arguments in favor of Obama, I hereby throw my support behind Rick Warren for President! He is the most successful motivational speaker of all time!!!
11.2.2008 11:40am
Cornellian (mail):
And as an additional reason, let me offer this:

The disturbingly high percentage of McCain supporters who talk like Snooper by offering paranoid slurs about Obama ("may not even be a U.S. Citizen") rather than offer any positive reason to vote for McCain/Palin.
11.2.2008 11:40am
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
"His "compassionate conservatism" turned out to be mean-spirited and exclusionary, his attitude towards the people he was elected to serve contemptuous, and his capacity to lead virtually non-existent. His approval ratings are an accurate indicator of how miserably he has performed."

I wish this was fleshed out a little with links or examples. Sometimes its a little hard to read people's minds about why they think GWB was a disaster. If nothing else, the 2004 seemed to be a referendum on staying in Iraq or withdrawing. On this, the most important issue of his second presidential term, Bush may have been right. The jury's still out, I guess, but I've seen Bush get little credit for this decision thus far.
11.2.2008 11:41am
DiversityHire:
Obama's astonishing capacity to connect with young voters...

Is due in no small part to the demonized incumbent President. Obama has done a magnificent job of identifying and highlighting the short comings of the status quo. In the primaries, he did a great job of identifying the negative space around Hillary &Bill Clinton, leaving Hillary to the task of filling-in the foreground in increasingly desperate, inauthentic detail.

Once he wins the election, however, he's got to turn his attention to the details of the foreground. He won't be able to rely on his brand of positive-negativism to seek support, since "not that way" doesn't clearly identify a common path forward. Only once he starts to make decisions will we know if he can connect with people as a positive, executive leader.

His coalition is held together by a common loathing of "the other" wrapped in a positive blanket of "hope" and "change". Once the man that has single-handedly destroyed everything good and wonderful in the world (to paraphrase David Post) is off the stage, when supporters' interests are at odds, when real decisions need to be made, when the animosity that has animated their participation turns inward, then we'll see if Obama is a transcendent or opportunistic politician. I'm guessing the "change we can believe in" is "just more of the same" repackaged, organizaed, and brilliantly stage-managed. Or put more charitably, President Obama will disappoint his supporters by exposing himself as a gifted human being.
11.2.2008 11:45am
Roger Schlafly (www):
In other words, David is voting for image over substance. Like millions of others.
11.2.2008 11:45am
Sarcastro (www):
I just thought I'd mention that Obama has vowels in his last name, and that Hitler has vowels in his last name as well. It's not really relevant, but I thought I'd bring it up all the same.

What, it's true isn't it? It's not like I'm comparing them or anything, I just thought I'd mention Obama and Hitler in the same sentence a number of times.

It's a strawman argument to say anyone thinks Obama is the next Hitler.

Also no one owes Orin a beer.
11.2.2008 11:46am
Calculated Risk:
Snooper,

First of all, thank you for your service to our country.

But, I must say, if when you decided to wear our uniform, you were not aware that there were fools in this country, that to me proves that at the time you put on that uniform, you were a fool.

You serve the country because you love it, not because you think it is perfect.

Finally, before gravitating towards extreme rhetoric about "handing over the country to socialists" I think you need to calm down. Both Republicans and Democrats support a progressive income tax system. Both political support allowing people who do not pay taxes to use public goods and services like roads, schools, police, etc. Basically, both sides support redistribution and "spreading the wealth" even if they do not use those words.

I would say this. Calm down and look at the actual policies that are being proposed at a concrete level and don't be scared by demagogues that use scare words like "socialist."

And thank you for serving the country. But guess what. It really was your duty, not your choice, the second you chose to enlist. If you were so naive and uninformed that you thought the country was perfect when you enlisted, that is your bad.
11.2.2008 11:47am
BChurch:


I am amazed by the support for John McCain, given his age. I am finally able to understand how Joseph Stalin stayed in power so long.

What? I'm just saying they're both politicians of advancing years. Jeeze.
11.2.2008 11:48am
LN (mail):
The good people of America show their great wisdom when they elect George W. Bush, when they approve of Sarah Palin, when they reject out-of-touch elitist liberals who don't respect their good sense, excellent judgment, and beautiful small-town plumbing values. But when they support Barack Obama, they reveal themselves to be easily led sheep much like the Germans who supported Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. Democracy is so scary!!!
11.2.2008 11:49am
Jim Hu:
I'm sure one can find plenty of vitriol on all sides, especially in comment threads. Despite the poor choice of a loaded analogy, though, Micah Smith has a point about cults of personality and how intelligence does not immunize one from the appeal of a cult of personality.

What I fear is that the Reason 2 is the main reason for Prof. Post, and everything else is rationalization of Reason 2. And I find the general sentiment behind Reason 2, that "we need a great President", even as defined, strikes me as fundamentally unlibertarian.
11.2.2008 11:50am
Calculated Risk:
Roger Schafly,

Was the fact that he was a great communicator an advantage of Ronald Reagan, or was that ability to communicate only "image over substance"?

Give me a break. The ability of a President to communicate and inspire is substance. Look at Bush. His inability to communicate has driven up his high disapproval numbers and lead to a massive lack of confidence in him and his policies and limited his ability to lead. He couldn't even get Republican votes for many of his policies.
11.2.2008 11:51am
PC:
The valid comparison being made is that both have the ability to inspire people who would normally be opposed to most if not everything that they stand for on the basis of a strong personality and soaring rhetoric.

You have to also look at the type of inspiration being offered. Some people inspire others by feeding the more base and disgusting aspects of human beings. They scare people and stir up feelings of hate. Usually this is directed at some "other" that is to blame for all of societies ills (Jews, foreigners, ...liberals).

Other leaders can inspire by appealing to the good in people. They ask people to set aside their differences and work together for a common good.

Going back over campaign speeches there is a stark difference in that respect. One campaign is saying "ooga booga" and the other campaign is saying "yes we can."
11.2.2008 11:52am
Sarcastro (www):
A president who inspires is not libertarian! The people shouldn't have to rely on the government for inspiration, the market should inspire!
11.2.2008 11:52am
Crimso:

McCain's off-the-cuff, unvetted decision to pick Palin for the VP slot was as disaster

Because Biden is so much better than Palin? What planet are you living on?
11.2.2008 11:52am
TA:
"... that the world will, almost instantaneously, become much better-disposed to the United States when he is elected."

Has anyone noticed, recently, the election of parties most favorably inclined towards current American foreign policy (Canada, France, Germany, Italy)? If Obama is elected, he'll actually be quite out of place at the next G7 meeting. What problem would that solve?
11.2.2008 11:53am
Talkosaurus:
This post is an absolute beauty of the current 'Pretending to be a noble, concerned Righty' sham that's all the rage these days among the upper middle/upper class urban set. I lean Conservative and may vote for Obama, so I understand the Republican ticket isn't exactly impressive, but the reasons Mr. Post outlines are cocktail party mantra's that are designed to make sense only to other Obama supporters.

1. John McCain is John McCain. Nothing has changed this election cycle. Senators breeze in for a quick news cycle then flutter out, that's one of the generic reasons senators usually look much worse on the ever-watched Presidential campaign trail. More to the point, McCain has always been a prima donna blow-hard; his whole build-up as a 'Maverick' is largely a media-given mantel owing to the fact McCain was always willing to stick his finger in other Republicans eye. Running against Obama, McCain is obviously no longer going to get the soft-touch from the media. And just like that McCain is no longer a 'Maverick', funny that. There are a lot of good reasons to dislike McCain, but anyone who trots out the canard 'McCain changed!!' is someone who has no clue what their talking about.

2. Obama is a lackluster, over-hyped politician that's stumbled into the right place at the right time. He's Peter Sellers in 'Being There'. What 'oratory skills'? He's been a complete snooze at the debates. He's testy when pushed, and avoids the limelight like no other Presidential candidate in recent memory. He did look good in a several early, heavily pre-packaged events, but that does not a 'legendary oratory' make. In a year where a pet rock could win on a Democratic ticket, the 'Brilliant, bi-partisan, master orator' Obama is ahead by a few lousy points. He may be the darling of the chattering classes, but for all intensive purposes he's been a bland candidate taking advantage of historic pro-Democrat headwinds while staying out of the coverage as much as possible.

3. GWB has been a lousy President. GWB is also not up for re-election. GWB was not well-liked by conservatives to say the least, he found his support from K-street Republicans and 'social conservatives'. The group paying the heaviest price this elections cycle is---conservatives. The group whose future looks the brightest is (in GOP terms)---the Huckabee/Palin 'social conservative' axis. I hear a thousand times, a thousand ways a day, how folks yearn for old-fashioned fiscal conservatives and dislike Palin-styled 'social conservatives', yet that's exactly who's coming out on top this election cycle. Brilliant stuff GOP critics. Folks bemoan we elected a sensitive, arrogant, insular, loyalty-first candidate who didn't have strong experience. All signs point to Obama potentially being more of the exact recipe, except now from the Left side of things. And that Libertarians are making the case for the man who embodies 60's/70's style Government liberalism (whose campaign already shows a troubling fondness for threating Government action against political opponents/critics)? Okey-dokey.

I don't like McCain, never have, and there a reasons I may not vote for him. However, don't pass off lazy, populist cocktail party talking points as serious intellectual consideration. Like Chris Buckley and a hoard of others, you're setting yourself for moving as a 'proper person' in upper middle/upper class social circles. I can understand that, but don't sell such under-argued pap as serious intellectual deliberation.
11.2.2008 11:55am
Syd Henderson (mail):
I agree with a lot of Post's post. I was opposed to McCain from the start because he seems to look first for military solutions to problems where we should start off with negotiation. Electing Obama would dramatically improve our foreign relations.

Just about everything McCain has done since September 14 (the start of the stock market crash) has shown to me he doesn't have the temperament to be President. Obama does seem to have the temperament. McCain tends to look for magic solutions to problems, of which Palin was the first symptom.
11.2.2008 11:55am
Norman Bates (mail):
Calculated Risk asks why Washington should be regarded as a great president (I personally think the greatest). Perhaps the single most important reason is that he preserved constitutional government through the first eight years of the republic. No other revolutionary leader in any other American country did that: These leaders all, with the exception of Washington, made or tried o make themselves dictators. It's worth remembering this when we appear headed towards leadership based on nothing more than a personality cult.
11.2.2008 11:57am
Micah Smith:
Calculated Risk:

Are you comparing Obama's policies to Hitler's policies??

RepublicansForObama:

No, but analogizing Obama to Hitler, as Micah Smith does, in the following passage, seems to be in rather poor taste:

What I find truly tiring about modern times is how easily people discover insult. For the record: I am not likening Obama's policies to Adolf Hitler, even if both were at bottom socialists (yes, really: check it out...). And I am analogizing Obama to Hitler only in the sense that both were charismatic individuals who got people to vote for them despite their record and their policies.

So if it's poor taste to even mention the name Adolf Hitler in the same breath as Obama, when I am saying that both benefitted from a cult of personality, I plead "guilty but accurate."
11.2.2008 11:58am
Calculated Risk:
Micah Smith,


even if both were at bottom socialists


What is your definition of socialism? And, under this definition, why is McCain not a socialist and Obama is?
11.2.2008 12:01pm
Sarcastro (www):
Micah Smith really couldn't have used any other charismatic leader except for Hitler, so lay off the guy!
11.2.2008 12:02pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
I agree with the other poster that this is how a dangerous evil person can gain power through naive well-meaning people.
11.2.2008 12:02pm
Light Hearted (mail):
I recommend that around the end of January 2010 (after about 1 year in office, overwhelmingly likely for President Obama), Professors Post, Bernstein, other VC posters who have spoken out so strongly on the election, offer us their "Reflections at Year 1".

Granted, one can always explain away why one's predictions did not come true. If Obama does not do as well as expected (and I confess I don't see how it is humanly possible for anyone to do as well as Obama is expected to do by his supporters), one can always blame the Bush legacy or external forces not under Obama's control. One can claim it would have been "even worse" with McCain.

And if Obama does better than those on the right now predict--if the country is not yet fully socialized; if the Dow is not under 5000--this might simply mean that markets are resilient things, that a Democratic Congress is concerned that moving too quickly might get them thrown out in 2010.

Nonetheless, the extreme predictions both for and against Obama justify each participants revisiting the issue after a year or so.

Assuming, of course, the Republic still exists...
11.2.2008 12:03pm
loki13 (mail):
Sarcastro-

Actually, I think Obama is for inspiration.

The market is for perspiration.


(Aside to Micah- as pointed out supra, you would have no trouble with my comparison of Reagan to Hitler. I am not saying Ronald Reagan is Hitler, I am just analogizing Reagan to Hitler in the sense that both were charismatic individuals who got people to vote for them despite their record and their policies. Also, Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler Reagan Hitler.)
11.2.2008 12:06pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
David, the notion that you are voting for Obama for libertarian reasons simply convinces me you haven't the faintest notion what "libertarian" means. It's not the same as "contrarian", honest.
11.2.2008 12:06pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with the posters above who read in this the triumph of personality over logic. You want to believe, so you do believe.

I may be willing to concede #1, but the rest I think is closer to delusional than wishful thinking.

- You are supporting what is likely to be the least experienced president of the last almost 100 years at a time when experience is important.

- At an economic time when huge government outlays and massive government intervention is just going to make a slight recession into a major one.

What is really scary here is that Obama is blaming many of the problems on Bush deregulation, when the reality is that many, including Freddie, Fannie, but also Sarbanes Oxley and even AIG have the heavy print of Democrats in government all over them. And your choice is apparently that more of the medicine that got us here is going to help.

- On to energy. Apparently, Obama's position of no drilling, nuclear, or coal is going to solve all of our energy problems over night with affordable cost. Never mind that east of the Mississippi, there is insufficient sun, wind, and land for alternate power generation, and transmission capacity to move it east has been maxed out for years. Can we really afford the trillion dollars this is going to cost, esp. given that he is also going to solve the health care problem and world hunger without raising taxes, except on those who (used to before tax increases) earn over $250k.
11.2.2008 12:08pm
Crimso:

What is your definition of socialism?

Considering that a few commenters have claimed Obama is more competent than McCain, I'd like a definition of competence.
11.2.2008 12:09pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
McCain worries me a lot. Obama worries me more. Barr is a non-starter. This is at least the fourth election I've been involved in that offers, at best, a really lame choice versus a choice I suspect will turn out to be totally unacceptable in retrospect (Gore in 2000 and Dole in 1996.)

The best I can say is that, for the first time since I was eleven years old, we will have a President who isn't named Bush or Clinton. There's been one of them in either the Presidency or Vice Presidency since I was four months old. Sadly, this brings me less comfort than I thought it would a year ago.

And is anyone else even the slightest bit depressed that, no matter what else happens, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, and yes, Sarah Palin will all still have high-level jobs in February 2009? It's almost like a game of musical chairs... except none of the chairs get taken away until someone decides to drop out of the game on his own accord.

(and count me amongst those who find it suspicious that someone can say they want people to pull themselves up and do work for themselves, and then says their short list of favorite presidents includes FDR.)
11.2.2008 12:10pm
Hans Bader:
Sadly, Obama is advocating the same disastrous economic policies that deepened the Great Depression and destroyed American jobs, like protectionism and opposition to trade treaties that actually favor the U.S. and allow our industries to compete on a level playing field.

The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have both said that Obama is being dishonest in giving pretextual reasons for opposing the Colombia trade deal, which would create good-paying jobs in our manufacturing sector by eliminating restrictions on our exports to Colombia (by contrast, imports to the U.S. from Colombia are already largely duty-free and would be largely unaffected by the trade deal).

Thus, David Post's allusion to 1929 was very off the mark --in fact it is Obama, not John McCain (who for all his faults understands international trade issues very well) who threatens a return to the depression and economic stagnation that followed the 1929 stock market crash.

If people want to punish the Republicans for George Bush's mismanagement and big government policies, they should vote for libertarian Bob Barr, not Obama. A vote for Obama will be buried in a sea of liberal votes that endorse big government. But a Barr vote will be more readily interpreted as a protest vote against big government.

The Democrats will have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (59 or 60 votes, plus a couple of liberal Republicans like Specter to help them get over the 60 vote threshold) on almost any issue.

Thus, there will be an avalance of new big-government welfare programs and regulations, unless there is some check on the Congress -- which a vote for McCain would make possible.
11.2.2008 12:12pm
Micah Smith:
Calculated Risk:

What is your definition of socialism? And, under this definition, why is McCain not a socialist and Obama is?

People are so used to thinking of Nazism as right wing that they never stop to consider why the full name of Hitler's party was, translated: "National Socialist German Workers' Party". There are books written on the socialist origins of Nazism. Try reading this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism

And if you really need me to tell you why Obama's a socialist, and McCain isn't, you haven't been reading the news, and the stories describing Obama's background. Or his own book, for that matter.
11.2.2008 12:15pm
first history:
Micah sez:

I am not likening Obama's policies to Adolf Hitler, even if both were at bottom socialists (yes, really: check it out...).

Micah obviously doesn't know the difference between "democratic socialism" (or social democracy, as practiced in Western Europe) and "national socialism." "National Socialism" (or Nazism) was a racialist, militarist, corporatist totallitarian philosophy. "Democratic socialism" is exists in democratic societies throughout the West, and is compatible with private property and capitalism, and is not totalitarian. Democratic socialist governments served as allies during the Cold War and have included Germany, Britain, France, and other leading allies.

Irrspective of this, Obama is not a socialist. If he is, so is McCain and certainly Palin, who takes money earned by corporations and redistributes it to all Alaskans, whether they work or not.
11.2.2008 12:18pm
Calculated Risk:

Considering that a few commenters have claimed Obama is more competent than McCain, I'd like a definition of competence.


Here is a partial definition for you. Not making impulsive emotional decisions. (i.e. in the case of John McCain, competent would include NOT choosing Sarah Palin, NOT suspending his campaign, and controlling his spending during the primaries, NOOT making impulsive personnel decisions, etc.)

In general, someone who is competent keeps his cool under pressure. Like Obama.
11.2.2008 12:18pm
Humble Law Student (mail) (www):
Posts's inspiration argument is laughable. Post says we need a President who inspires us to solve our problems instead of trying to magically fix our problems. He claims that Obama is (or can be) that President.

But, Post, what policies does Obama pursue that encourage us to fix our problems, rather than using the arm of the state to try to fix them for us? Almost all of Obama's calls to action are specifically predicated on government action to solve them. Obama calls on individuals to act, but to act by either paying higher taxes or working with some government program. I can understand the inspiration argument from the liberal perspective, because they want our problems solved through government action. But, from a your self-professed perspective, its a joke. And, I'm sorry, but it is easily one of the worst arguments I've ever heard.
11.2.2008 12:19pm
loki13 (mail):

Considering that a few commenters have claimed Obama is more competent than McCain, I'd like a definition of competence.


Definition of incompetence:

1. Announce you're immediately suspending your campaign so you can fly to Washington to solve the financial crisis. Cancel the debate.

2. Um, ignore that immediately flying thing. Hang out in NYC, do some press, take your time.

3. Oh yeah, remember that phone call from Obama about privately solving the problem? Ignore it- you have a press coup on your hands!

4. Okay, you're in Washington. Tell the House Republicans privately you'll help them sabotage the deal.

5. Go to a meeting with President and other VIPs. Sent in the back, say nothing. Watch the deal go down in flames.

6. Remember that suspending the campaign thing? No, not really. Keep sending the surrogates out. Negative ads full speed ahead!

7. The polls are looking bad, people are seeing through your maverick maneuver. Better go to the debate.

8. During the debate, throw the House Republicans under the bus. That's a maverick!

9. After the debate, fly back to Washington. But not to individual meetings- you can do it all be phone from your condo! So, uh, why are you in Washington again?

10. Watch as others expend their political capital to get the deal done. You offer neither political cover for allies nor an alternative plan.

11. Attempt to take credit for, uh, what exactly?

See also Palin, Sarah.
11.2.2008 12:19pm
Calculated Risk:

And if you really need me to tell you why Obama's a socialist, and McCain isn't, you haven't been reading the news, and the stories describing Obama's background. Or his own book, for that matter.


I am sorry that the question is too hard for you to answer.
11.2.2008 12:19pm
Sagar:
"pragmatic libertarian"?

more like "democratic libertarian"!

someone at Reason mag described Kos as one:) There might have been a libertarian case for voting obama when Iraq was the big issue. Now that it is not (and obama is not pulling out immediately) and both candidates are "for" more troops to Afghanistan, there is not much of a libertarian case for obama.

support obama, by all means, but please don't redefine libertarianism to make you feel good about your decision.
11.2.2008 12:21pm
seadrive:

Libertarians share a committment to free markets and limited government. SarbOx, Elliot Spitzer, Fannie Mae... much of what has gone wrong is the result of government involvement and regulation, not deregulation.


If you think this, you need to think again. You might start with the NY Times piece "Fair Game - Was there a loan it didn't like?" by GRETCHEN MORGENSON.

Over and over again the corporate scandals in the last 15 years, a theme has been that corporations did not heed the lessons of the past. The corporate leaders were too young, and/or thought history was bunk, and that what happened in the past could not happen again. Until it did. One of the purposes of government regulation is to have a cultural memory that is longer than individual memory.
11.2.2008 12:21pm
Oren:

People are so used to thinking of Nazism as right wing that they never stop to consider why the full name of Hitler's party was, translated: "National Socialist German Workers' Party"

And did you know that East Germany was known as the German Democratic Republic?! That makes them much more democratic than their Western counterpart that didn't even put any conjugate of democracy in their name!
11.2.2008 12:22pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
Talkosaurus, excellent post. You tear apart Mr. Post's "reasoning" quite well.
11.2.2008 12:22pm
MLS:
In my view Mr. Post's post would be far more informative if he would simply fess up that he likes Obama and dislikes Bush, and then leave it at that.
11.2.2008 12:22pm
Nathan_M (mail):

Has anyone noticed, recently, the election of parties most favorably inclined towards current American foreign policy (Canada, France, Germany, Italy)? If Obama is elected, he'll actually be quite out of place at the next G7 meeting. What problem would that solve?

I can only speak to Canada, but our Prime Minister recently said that it was "absolutely an error" for the US to invade Iraq, and he is going to completely withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan by 2011. So by my count he (retrospectively) agrees with Obama on Iraq, and he is to the left of Obama on Afghanistan. I wouldn't suggest American voters should care much about the attitudes of foreign leaders, but I don't think you have to worry too much about disappointing them because they're favourably inclined towards current US foreign policy.
11.2.2008 12:24pm
Zartan78:
I usually enjoy reading this blog because of the fresh, unique commentary by its commentators. However, this post by David Post is nothing more than parroting the talking points of MSNBC and the Obama campaign. Quite frankly, there wasn't an original thought in the entire post, except for maybe the claim about Bush being the worst president of the last 40 years. Really? Worse than Carter? Has Bush been a disappointment? Absolutely, particularly for fiscal conservatives. Is he the worst president of the last 40 years? With the Carter Administration's vice grip hold on that title, that suggestion is laughable, as was the entirety Mr. Post's pathetic attempt at commentary.
11.2.2008 12:26pm
second history:
It sure seems people think Obama is the only one on the ballot. Last time I checked he will be governing with a cabinet and contending with a Congress. Before people get bent out out of shape about the future, they should perhaps consider that Congress may have its own ideaa.

Obama's cabinet will probably be dominated by ex-Clinton appointees, as suggested by this Politico article; hardly a radical bunch.

For those who fear domination by a radical liberal Congress, remember the Democrats have never been as disciplined as Republicans. Getting all the Democrats to agree on anything is like herding cats. For example, the Blue Dogs, 49 fiscally conservative and socially moderate Democrats, are nearly a quarter of the current Democratic caucus now and may see their ranks grow to 60 this cycle, according to the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal. From the WSJ:


A second faction of more-conservative Democrats is focusing on fiscal discipline. With this fiscal year's deficit potentially approaching $1 trillion, these Democrats say the money for Sen. Obama's ambitious agenda simply isn't there. One of the first acts of the next Congress should be approving a bipartisan commission to tackle the deficit and the growth of entitlements, such as Medicare and Medicaid, argue the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, who say they will have the numbers to make the demands.

"We've got 49 Blue Dogs, maybe 61 after the election," said Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas. "We don't need much persuasion. We've got the votes."

Earlier this month, Sen. Obama called three prominent Blue Dogs, including Rep. Ross, to reassure them of his commitment to pay-as-you-go rules, which hold that any spending increases or tax cuts must be offset by equivalent spending cuts or tax increases. . . .


So the litany of Democratic horrors paraded out by posters and commenters are not slam dunk. Charlie Rangel and Heath Shuler are both Democrats, but that's the only thing they have in common.
11.2.2008 12:27pm
Micah Smith:
first history:

Micah obviously doesn't know the difference between "democratic socialism" (or social democracy, as practiced in Western Europe) and "national socialism."

And first history obviously can't read. I didn't say that Hitler was a "democratic socialist," which Obama clearly is. I said that both were socialists, which is true. But I sympathize: I know how painful it is for those on the left to acknowledge that both "National" and "Democratic" socialism have the origins in the same ideological well.
11.2.2008 12:27pm
DPro (mail):
TMK has it right I think. Many people are just not willing to admit the influence that charisma has on their voting decisions.

It would be different if posts such as the one above would actually express some enthusiasm for Obama's policy positions or track record. But typically, DP knows full well what he doesn't like about McCain and somehow feels that Obama just has to be the oppositr.
11.2.2008 12:28pm
Calculated Risk:

In my view Mr. Post's post would be far more informative if he would simply fess up that he likes Obama and dislikes Bush, and then leave it at that.


First, I don't think one needs to "confess" that they like Obama and dislike Bush. Is there something strange about that such that it should be a secret?

Second, I dislike Bush. When I say that, I mean that I dislike his actions as President. But, I think he would be a pretty awesome guy to have a drink with at a bar. I think on a personal level, he is a pretty cool and admirable guy. He just wasn't a great President.

Third, your response seems highly emotional. What makes you think that for Post, this is all about his personal likes and dislikes of particular people, as opposed to policy. I mean, disliking a person and disliking their policies are not mutually exclusive categories. Similarly, liking a person and liking their policies are also not mutually exclusive.
11.2.2008 12:29pm
Cornellian (mail):

McCain's off-the-cuff, unvetted decision to pick Palin for the VP slot was as disaster

Because Biden is so much better than Palin? What planet are you living on?


Um, yes, here on earth the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a better pick than the VP who can't name any newspapers or magazines she reads, but can see Russia from her house, even if said Chairman sometimes has a mouth that runs ahead of his brain. What planet are you on?
11.2.2008 12:30pm
Hans Bader:
Obama's policies would destroy many American jobs and delay economic recovery, as I explained above.

David Frum, who shares some of David Post's concerns (like about the Palin V.P. pick), nonetheless endorses McCain in a thought-provoking post:

"10) No elected official in American life has contributed more to the security of the nation than John McCain. Latterly, McCain was the most senior and most forceful advocate of the strategy that has saved the day in Iraq. For that reason alone, he deserves your vote.

9) Over a quarter-century in public life, John McCain has defended the interests of the taxpayer, not only speaking for lower taxes (that's easy) but fighting for the essential precondition of lower taxes, less government spending.

8) McCain's healthcare plan is the first and essential step toward a market-based approach. If competition is to work, individuals must buy their own care. Barack Obama praises the employer-based system. But Obama knows full well that the employer-based system is dying -- he's just propping up its carcass until the time is ripe to insert full government control in its place.

7) As a man, McCain is more pragmatic and more open to compromise in substance (and not just in verbal formulas) than Barack Obama. It's a bad reflection on the McCain campaign that it has allowed the less ideological candidate to be depicted as the hot-head -- and the more ideological Obama to position himself as the moderate. But the failures of the campaign are reasons to punish the campaign managers, not the country.

6) The combination of a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and federal control of the nation's financial system is dangerous to prosperity and freedom. Even if I weren't a conservative, I'd believe that this government bailout makes balanced government indispensable.

5) To borrow an argument from Mona Charen: The best thing about a president with a military background is that he has learned not to show too much deference to generals. Let's not forget: The brass hats were against the surge!

4) This country hungers for moderate answers on social questions from abortion to stem cells to same-sex marriage. McCain's split-the-difference instincts offer the hope of social peace. Obama's 100% down-the-line social liberalism will provoke reactions that will aggravate and sustain these social controveries, when we need to find compromises that can allay them.

3) McCain's victory would be the most surprising come-from-behind victory in American political history. It would prove that money and endorsements are not everything. That is healthy for American democracy.

2) McCain has never compromised on free trade. Never. Not to win a primary, not to win a vote. Never.

1) John McCain is the son and grandson of admirals, married to a wealthy heiress -- and yet he has experienced degrees of suffering, despair, and defeat that not one in a million of us can imagine. Barack Obama wears a black skin and carries an exotic name. In the United States, people of darker color have faced oppression and discrimination for centuries. But in Barack Obama's own life, he has known nothing but an easy and welcoming path to success since he was 18 years old. Privileged John McCain has known more absolute degradation than any man ever to contest the presidency. Obama was born in adversity, but he has smoothly risen to a place where he is most comfortable with those for whom things are most easy.

I do not fear Barack Obama. I even rather like him. I certainly feel I have much more in common with him than I do with John McCain. To lead this country, though, I prefer the man who has seen more and suffered more and felt more. For all his faults, it is John McCain who is the more universal man.

I vote for John McCain."
11.2.2008 12:30pm
Crimso:

In general, someone who is competent keeps his cool under pressure. Like Obama.

An example would be nice.


See also Palin, Sarah.

Then Obama is most certainly less competent. Unless you want to try to make the case for Biden. Good luck with that. And since I have suggested that examples would be nice, isn't he the guy that was picked for his foreign policy cred? The guy who evidently doesn't know that Iranians aren't (generally) Arabs.
11.2.2008 12:31pm
just me (mail):
While soaring rhetoric and a cult of personality can lift a population, it can also enable the government to accomplish horrible, horrible things, particularly when the dominant media buys into it as well. What you cite as Obama's greatest strength is what perhaps frightens me the most.

This is exactly what scares me most as well. Obama does have a huge cult of personality type following-one just needs to do a search on youtube for all the creepy anthems to Obama to see this.

I think somebody with that kind of following, and who is fairly arrogant (sorry but when I see Obama in action what I mostly see is somebody who is very arrogant and puffed up with pride) and realize they could do a heck of a lot of damage in the next 2-4 years with the democratic congress.

I can totally understand McCain not inspiring anyone, and I can understand concerns about McCain. He is not a perfect candidate by any means. I can understand a conservative "anti McCain" vote, but I really don't get a "pro Obama" vote from a conservative, unless they are projecting some kind of belief in fiscal conservatism or any kind of centrism that Obama has never really demonstrated in any office he has held.
11.2.2008 12:32pm
Calculated Risk:

Many people are just not willing to admit the influence that charisma has on their voting decisions.


Charisma is an important quality for an effective leader to have. Ronald Reagan was charismatic. It helped him govern.

Do I think that Obama is charismatic? Yes. Do I think that is a plus? Yes. Does that mean that I would vote for him if I did not also agree with many of his policies? No.

I think the fact that Obama is charismatic is exactly what has many Republicans worried. They know he is likely to be effective and successful at implementing policies they disagree with.
11.2.2008 12:33pm
just me (mail):
Um, yes, here on earth the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a better pick than the VP who can't name any newspapers or magazines she reads, but can see Russia from her house, even if said Chairman sometimes has a mouth that runs ahead of his brain.

I would swallow this except that Mr. Chairman of he Foreign Relations committee thinks the US and France kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.

I can give Palin a lot more room given her inexperience with the national media and the fact that she is a state governor, but what really is Biden's excuse. Not to mention Biden has been on the wrong side of a lot of big foreign policy ideas since he joined the senate. A foreign policy expert he is not.
11.2.2008 12:35pm
Calculated Risk:

An example would be nice.


Obama in the third debate when McCain was resorting to nasty attacks while Obama kept his cool and talked more about substantive policy.

In general, when Republicans try to slime Obama with their ridiculous and thin "guilt by association" politics, Obama keeps his cool.

A lot of people would not keep their cool when subjected to unfair attacks. I don't think McCain, with his famous temper, would keep his cool in a similar situation.
11.2.2008 12:36pm
Crimso:

What planet are you on?

The planet where being on the SFRC doesn't mean dick about whether you know anything about foreign relations. See my last comment. The basic qualifications for being on that committee are...that you're a Senator. It clearly hasn't raised his IQ (which, I'm told, is pretty high).
11.2.2008 12:37pm
Nebuchanezzar (mail):
Calculated Risk, you've listed some of the reasons that George Washington is our greatest President and then proceeded to ignore them.

As Norman Bates said, Washington steered the United States through its first eight years and maintained its system of constitutional government. The various forms of "Presidente for Life" that cropped up in the South American banana republics show just how rare this kind of behavior is. Washington did not use his position to create a permanent power base or groom hand-picked figurehead "successors" (compare to Russia's Mr. Putin for yet another example of how rare this behavior is in an executive).

As for making different political factions work together, Washington despised the very idea of "faction". He brought together capable men and expected them to make decisions that were right for the country, not for "faction". That idea is of course long dead in American politics, but Washington and the other Founding Fathers kept it alive for quite some time.

Like his hero Cincinnatus, Washington successfully guided his (new) nation through troubled waters, then resigned and returned to his farm when the task was done. This makes him our greatest President or at the very least makes it a toss-up between him and Lincoln. I'm surprised that he doesn't make the list of a "libertarian" like David Post.
11.2.2008 12:37pm
Random Commenter:
"I think the fact that Obama is charismatic is exactly what has many Republicans worried. They know he is likely to be effective and successful at implementing policies they disagree with."

On the contrary, I hope Obama succeeds in implementing his policies in a big way, and quickly. He's announced an unwillingness to approve new nuclear power generation until a disposal solution other than Yucca Mtn is available; he's announced that he'll implement carbon taxes as severe or more severe than those proposed "by anyone else"; he's announced quite specifically that anybody who wants to build a new coal-fired generating plant will be bankrupted by doing so.

Apparently the Obama Revolution is to be conducted by candle-light. Please, bring it on. Let's see how durable a revolution animated by unconstrained left-wing principles ends up being.
11.2.2008 12:42pm
Talkosaurus:
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think some of you have the 'cult of personality' point backwards. People don't seem to be reflecting Obama's beliefs on them, their reflecting their own (often class/social based) ego on him. Obama isn't the FDR strong-man with an ego big enough for everyone to come along for the ride, he's an aloof 'magic mirror' that a portion of the voting class reflects their own out-sized ego's in.

In fact, I'm pretty sure Obama knows this as well. Beyond all the hype, Obama has been practically invisible for quite some time. What specific policies has he endorsed/prescribed that get anyones blood flowing? What specifics (not 'see what you want' populist generalities) of any of his 'masterful speeches' does anyone remember/talk about? Obama in fact has run an entirely bland campaign, and essentially played 'Prevent Defense' the whole time. He's not capitalizing on his own ego, his banking on the ego of the chattering classes.

*-Note, I'm not prescribing this aspect as Obama's sole appeal, just addressing the applicable 'cult of personality' segment.
11.2.2008 12:44pm
Crimso:

A lot of people would not keep their cool when subjected to unfair attacks.

I'll bet I could keep cool under the same circumstances. What I am not (and freely admit to not being), is competent to be POTUS. What accomplishments can Obama point to that indicates he is competent to be POTUS? And I will save some of you the time and effort and readily admit that McCain doesn't exactly have a huge history of executive experience. As a general rule, I think that electing Presidents from Congress is a much bigger gamble than from a governorship. Guess we don't have much choice this time around. Have to run. Will check back later to see what's been offered (so you know I'm not merely trolling).
11.2.2008 12:45pm
Mike Friedman (mail):
Your reasoning really doesn't make sense to me.

You claim to be a small "L" libertarian.

You claim Obama may be a "great president". Great is a value judgment. I do agree, however, that he may be an extremely effective president - one who is able to get is policy preferences enacted.

However, Obama clearly has strong statist preferences. He wants increased regulation, results oriented jurisprudence, etc.

As far as I am concerned, the more effective he was as a president the worse a president he would be. I don't understand how you cannot feel the same way if you do actually prefer libertarian policies.

As far as energy goes, if you are libertarian then you should support allowing drilling and relying on private industry to develop alternative energy approaches. The longer we have to do that the cheaper it will be. So what's wrong with "Drill baby drill"?
11.2.2008 12:47pm
LN (mail):

I think he would be a pretty awesome guy to have a drink with at a bar.


Why do you think this? Didn't he quit drinking several years ago? That would be so lame.

On a more serious note, party identification is the strongest predictor of voting patterns, and so probably the main "reason" I am voting for Obama is because I am a Democrat. As I try to offer additional reasons for my support, there is a danger that I am simply rationalizing my already-made choice. Nevertheless, there are a few things about Obama that make me prefer him over other Democrats.

I like the fact that he is an intelligent man who shows the ability to understand and articulate viewpoints that he doesn't agree with. Now of course by itself this is no magic bullet; it's just evidence of some political skill. For people who disagree with him, it may make him even less appealing, because it gives him the appearance of seeming even-handed (for example, his "We may disagree about whether X or Y is true, but surely we can agree that Z is true" lines, where Z is simply X re-stated in a very reasonable-sounding way). But, I think it is a reassuring quality for a politician to have.

On the flip side, a successful President is not just responsive to different viewpoints; he has to be able to throw his weight around at exactly the right moments to get things done. If he acts too aggressively or too passively at the wrong time, he looks weak and will miss opportunities. Like most Presidential candidates, Obama is an unknown quantity when it comes to that.

This might be the basis for the McCain "is he ready to lead" charge. But while Obama has proven to be a skilled politician at least, McCain seems like a reckless and impulsive gambler. Just to name two high-profile examples, the selection of Palin as his running mate and his posturing on the bailout bill -- absolutely ridiculous stunts.
11.2.2008 12:48pm
DPro (mail):
People don't seem to be reflecting Obama's beliefs on them, they're reflecting their own (often class/social based) ego on him.

Indeed.

It's probably demonstrable that people who get most of their news from websites (and youtube clips) have a very different perception of Obama than TV viewers.
11.2.2008 12:48pm
Micah Smith:
Calculated Risk

In general, when Republicans try to slime Obama with their ridiculous and thin "guilt by association" politics, Obama keeps his cool.

"Ridiculous and thin" to say it's a problem to have spent 20 years in an America-hating, racist church, to have become such a close friend of unrepentant terrorist William Ayres that his political career was launched in his living room, to have been close enough to the Hamas-supporting Rashid Khalidi to exchange baby-sitters and go to a dinner for him where Jews were attacked? Good Lord.
11.2.2008 12:52pm
ewannama (mail):
I might have voted for Obama if his record backed his words. Palin is a strike against McCain, but McCain and Palin both have records of taking the difficult path and challenging their own party, with life experience beyond politics. Obama seems to have done a great job of remaining a cypher. Brilliant and smooth is not enough. And the words I do see support for show that Obama favors vastly expanded entitlements and empathetic judges who see more leeway in the Constitution than Brennan.
11.2.2008 12:53pm
DPro (mail):

I like the fact that he is an intelligent man who shows the ability to understand and articulate viewpoints that he doesn't agree with. Now of course by itself this is no magic bullet; it's just evidence of some political skill. For people who disagree with him, it may make him even less appealing, because it gives him the appearance of seeming even-handed (for example, his "We may disagree about whether X or Y is true, but surely we can agree that Z is true" lines, where Z is simply X re-stated in a very reasonable-sounding way).


That's a perfect example that shows how Obama's superficial charm can get certain kinds of people convinced he's going to be some wonderful post-partisan when in reality it indicates the opposite.
11.2.2008 12:55pm
Calculated Risk:
Nebuchanezzar,

Well, that you list resigning the Presidency as George Washington's greatest accomplishment is telling.

Look, I have deep admiration for the man. His self-restraint was admirable. But, is that enough, by itself, to make him one of our greatest Presidents? I am not sure. Maybe.


As for making different political factions work together, Washington despised the very idea of "faction". He brought together capable men and expected them to make decisions that were right for the country, not for "faction". That idea is of course long dead in American politics, but Washington and the other Founding Fathers kept it alive for quite some time.


Well, I am going to play Monday morning quarterback here. Washington's views on factions were unrealistic from the very beginning. Contrary to what you say, the idea that you should appoint men from the another "faction" to the most important posts in government ended with the Washington administration. And, I don't think it was necessarily a great idea. Thomas Jefferson was not very loyal to the Washington administration, and did little to enhance the effectiveness of the new government. If anything, he undermined it somewhat. I do not recall anything that Thomas Jefferson accomplished that was particularly notable as the first Secretary of State, in contrast to the energetic Hamilton, who accomplished much as the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Anyway, George Washington simply did not handle faction very well. He assembled a team incapable of working together, and eventually found himself consistently siding with one part of his team (lead by Hamilton) over the other (lead by Jefferson).

Now, I think that you have to give George Washington credit. He chose Jefferson not because he was most qualified, but rather because he was the most prominent member of the then fledgling opposition. He chose him to unite the country. Rather than deny "faction" Washington realized that you had to accommodate it.

However, Washington probably did not accommodate it in the best way possible. Appointing Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State was a mistake that divided his administration and limited its effectiveness. He should have found another way to accommodate faction that did not involve undermining his own administration.
11.2.2008 12:55pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
I think that Mr Post's Point no. 4 is exceptionally weak. The Republicans are the ones who are willing to consider ALL the options. Yes, that includes drilling, but to make it seem like they're oil-obsessed is intellectually dishonest. Considering it's the only real policy issue Mr. Post cares to discuss at any length, his weak analysis there is pretty damning overall.

On a side note, my lover (yes, lover; I'm gay and proudly voting for McCain) who has been a Democrat all his life is voting for McCain primarily because he is so open to all options on the energy issue. McCain will support nuclear power, oil, alternative energy, or whatever it takes to get the job done. The idea that Obama is as open-minded on the issue is laughable.
11.2.2008 12:56pm
LN (mail):

The Republicans are the ones who are willing to consider ALL the options.


What were open-minded Republicans doing about energy policy back when they held the White House and both houses of Congress?
11.2.2008 1:01pm
Calculated Risk:

"Ridiculous and thin" to say it's a problem to have spent 20 years in an America-hating, racist church, to have become such a close friend of unrepentant terrorist William Ayres that his political career was launched in his living room, to have been close enough to the Hamas-supporting Rashid Khalidi to exchange baby-sitters and go to a dinner for him where Jews were attacked? Good Lord.


All I have to say to this is: *eyeroll*

There you go again. You Republicans are throwing tantrums.

Yes, Obama secretly wants to destroy the state of Israel, wants to set off bombs, and is a racist. You can infer this based on this guilt by association.

Not only that, he is a Muslim. Oh, and his middle name is Hussein. Don't forget, he also eats puppies.

It is actually kind of pathetic that this is the best your side has got in this election cycle. You know, if Republicans actually had any substantive accomplishments from when they controlled both Congress and the Presidency, maybe they would have something to talk about that actually matters.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten. You have still failed to answer my previous, extremely simple question. I think the reason you have failed to do so is because its a lot harder than you thought it would be.
11.2.2008 1:03pm
PC:
"Ridiculous and thin" to say it's a problem to have spent 20 years in an America-hating, racist church, to have become such a close friend of unrepentant terrorist William Ayres that his political career was launched in his living room, to have been close enough to the Hamas-supporting Rashid Khalidi to exchange baby-sitters and go to a dinner for him where Jews were attacked?

Don't forget the mandatory gay, Muslim abortions.
11.2.2008 1:05pm
DangerMouse:
On the contrary, I hope Obama succeeds in implementing his policies in a big way, and quickly. He's announced an unwillingness to approve new nuclear power generation until a disposal solution other than Yucca Mtn is available; he's announced that he'll implement carbon taxes as severe or more severe than those proposed "by anyone else"; he's announced quite specifically that anybody who wants to build a new coal-fired generating plant will be bankrupted by doing so.

I agree. If Obama is elected, I hope he gets everything he's asking for. A 500 billion dollar civilian national security force. The Freedom of Choice Act, nationalizing abortion policy (oh, how that will go down....). The Nationalization of the Banks and the New Deal II. The raising of taxes on people making $120,000 or more, (or perhaps it'll be $70,000 or more, the number keeps getting lower). The elimination of 401ks. The bankruptcy of the entire coal industry. The end on Nuclear innovation and prevention of pebble-based nuclear reactors. The increasing of spending, the addition of government liabilities, and the cooking of the books so that America's 100 trillion unfunded pension liability becomes a problem impossible to ignore. Imposition of ownership controls on radio stations. Negotiations with terrorists without preconditions. Etc.

The Presidency of Looting has begun.
11.2.2008 1:07pm
Hans Bader:
I agree with Post that Palin is inexperienced -- just like Obama. But Obama is seeking the most powerful position in the world, while Palin is merely seeking the largely ceremonial office of Vice President.

Moreover, Obama's proposed policies would destroy many American jobs, as I explained above. And his likely picks for some key administration posts are politically extreme, like a law professor who blames America for 9/11 and says America is a racist country (these extremists will nonetheless likely be confirmed because the Democrats will likely have a filibuster-proof majority in the upcoming Senate).

McCain's judgment in picking Palin was not nearly as bad as Obama's judgment in picking kooks as his advisors and future cabinet picks -- kooks like Jeremiah Wright (his mentor and minister for 20 years, despite being an outspoken racist, race-baiter, and anti-American demagogue), the race-baiting priest and bully Michael Pfleger, the unrepentant Weather Undeground terrorist William Ayers (with whom he worked to divert millions of dollars in charity money meant for education by the late Walter Annenberg to left-wing political causes and race-baiters) and the ethically-challenged law professor Charles Ogletree.

Charles Ogletree, Obama's top adviser on race, says that America is to blame for 9/11 and that Americans are stupid. He also says that America is a racist country, and that Americans will only vote for Obama because he is half-white.

Ogletree, a Harvard law professor, will likely be the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division during the upcoming Obama Administration, according to the ABA Journal. He is a member of Obama's inner circle, according to the National Journal.

Ogletree has attracted controversy in the past for plagiarism and his association with Al Sharpton. (The Washington Examiner declared him a "dim bulb"). He is a leading proponent of race-based reparations. See legal commentator Walter Olson's posts at Overlawyered and Point of Law for details. Rush Limbaugh cites more disturbing statements by Ogletree.
11.2.2008 1:09pm
Calculated Risk:

The Presidency of Looting has begun.


Does the following occur to you people?

The more over the top you are, the less seriously you are taken.
11.2.2008 1:10pm
LN (mail):
Obama's connection to Yale- and Oxford-educated Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi is absolutely terrifying.

Marty Peretz -- are you familiar with Marty Peretz, Micah? -- had this to say about Khalidi:

I assume that my Zionist credentials are not in dispute. And I have written more appreciative words about Khalidi than Obama ever uttered. In fact, I even invited Khalidi to speak for a Jewish organization with which I work.

Meanwhile John McCain was the chairman of the International Republican Institute, which gave half a million dollars to Khalidi's Center for Palestinian Research and Studies.

Oooga boooga woooga!
11.2.2008 1:11pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
"That's a perfect example that shows how Obama's superficial charm can get certain kinds of people convinced he's going to be some wonderful post-partisan when in reality it indicates the opposite."

Exactly. This is why I don't understand how a true libertarian could vote for Obama. He's going to be very effective in promoting big government. Our current President, thank God, was too incompetent to have his own kind of big government have any lasting effect. A McCain presidency would result in gridlock and give this country a cooling off period that it so desperately needs. McCain is a good "in the meantime" choice for libertarians.
11.2.2008 1:11pm
DangerMouse:
The more over the top you are, the less seriously you are taken.

CR: Did Obama say he wants to bankrupt coal producers? Why, yes, he did.

Why do you want to elect a president who wants to bankrupt an entire industry?
11.2.2008 1:12pm
DangerMouse:
Why would you want to elect a president who acknowledges that "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."
11.2.2008 1:14pm
DPro (mail):

All I have to say to this is: *eyeroll*


This is Obama's greatest success. His followers plug their ears and shut their brains off.
11.2.2008 1:14pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I already voted and, as in the past two elections, could not find anybody on the presidential line worth pulling the lever for -- not even in 'lesser of evils' mode.

However, what fascinates me most about this election is not Obama's soaring (but empty) oratory but the refusal of Republioans and Libertarian fellow travelers to accept that 1. They've collapsed the financial structure; and 2. Elected Obama, while 3. Blaming FDR.

The idea that Roosevelt, talking over when the stock market had been deflated by 90%, unemployment was about 25%, the banks were collapsed, and primary producers were frozen, somehow 'extended and deepened' the Depression is, to put it in a single word, insane.

It certainly didn't get any deeper tban it was when he took over, and the recovery period (six years) was no longer than previous panics in which Republican governments had made no effort to manipulate the economy -- 1873-79, for example.

The resolute refusal of Bush leaguers to accept responsibility is -- considering their stump rhetoric -- both ironic and alarming.
11.2.2008 1:14pm
Calculated Risk:

Palin is merely seeking the largely ceremonial office of Vice President


Theodore Roosevelt's opponents in New York state thought they were so smart when they moved Roosevelt from the Governorship of New York to the "largely ceremonial" office of Vice President of the United States. Then President McKinley was assassinated, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Needless to say, Theodore Roosevelt's opponents deeply regretted having this very same attitude towards the Vice Presidency that you are expressing now.
11.2.2008 1:15pm
Micah Smith:
Calulated Risk:

There you go again. You Republicans are throwing tantrums.


You mean, you know these are real problems, and can't think of a way to counter them logically? Okay, I understand.

Oh, and I haven't forgotten. You have still failed to answer my previous, extremely simple question. I think the reason you have failed to do so is because its a lot harder than you thought it would be.

No, I never answered it because it's a silly question.
11.2.2008 1:15pm
Hecataeus (mail):
Jefferson? What great deeds, pray tell, did Jefferson inspire the American people to?

Infrastructure? What will Obama do on that score? He voted for the Bridge to Nowhere, even as our infrsatructure crumbles. Then again, he voted with Pelosi and Reid 96% of the time.

Obama wants to dispense with secret ballots on unionization votes. Say hello to union thuggery, and anti-union thuggery. He wants a federal mandate for equal pay for equivalent work -- 'equivalent' to be defined by a composite of four measures, none of them market-determined.

Vote for Obama, if you must, but please don't fool yourself that the nations of the world will go one inch beyond their own interests, even with Obama in charge.

And McCain as a fighter of xenophobia? I guess that explains the pass his bill would have given to businesses that hired illegal aliens. Let us praise business sock-puppets.

One thing you've proven. You can adduce good reasons for your vote.

BTW, when it comes to the worst President, you should be old enough to remember Carter, even if Buchanan might be a little before your time.
11.2.2008 1:16pm
Calculated Risk:

This is Obama's greatest success. His followers plug their ears and shut their brains off.


I am sorry. I guess I should take these lunatic fringe rantings more seriously. I mean, we don't want to talk about anything substantive. You know, like public policy. Because substantive public policy is not really relevant compared to these lunatic fringe witch hunts and conspiracy theories.
11.2.2008 1:17pm
DPro (mail):

Marty Peretz -- are you familiar with Marty Peretz, Micah? -- had this to say about Khalidi:


So then why not release a full transcript?

The LA Times said doing so would "endanger" the person who provided the video.

Someone is hiding something.
11.2.2008 1:17pm
LN (mail):
Yeah it's all a giant conspiracy. Read more here.

Also, did you know that Ayers wrote Obama's book?
11.2.2008 1:19pm
DiversityHire:
DangerMouse, its hard to say whether Obama really wants to bankrupt the coal industry or is just telling the Bay Aryans what they want to hear. Either way that's change we can believe in!℠ since we're free to fill the blank slate with the happy thoughts of "libertarians for Obama."

In fact now that I re-read it, it sounds like he says I'm getting a new puppy. And that my old puppy isn't going to die... ever! Kumbayah!
11.2.2008 1:22pm
PC:
Did Obama say he wants to bankrupt coal producers?

Without hearing the entire interview it's hard to tell exactly what he was saying. Since he mentioned clean coal, it seems like Obama wants some system in place to make sure emissions are controlled, instead of having China style coal plants.
11.2.2008 1:23pm
DPro (mail):

I am sorry. I guess I should take these lunatic fringe rantings more seriously. I mean, we don't want to talk about anything substantive. You know, like public policy.


Obama does not have much of a track record on public policy. So what he has said and who he has associated with before running for president says quite a bit about his core beliefs and attitudes.

After Obama started his primary campaign you would really expect the MSM to have run articles like "Obama's 2001 public radio interviews provide clues as to his judicial philosophy". But the blogs are the ones who had to do the footwork.
11.2.2008 1:25pm
Micah Smith:
LN:

Marty Peretz -- are you familiar with Marty Peretz, Micah? -- had this to say about Khalidi:


I assume that my Zionist credentials are not in dispute. And I have written more appreciative words about Khalidi than Obama ever uttered. In fact, I even invited Khalidi to speak for a Jewish organization with which I work.


Oh yes, I am very familiar with Marty Peretz. And I am also well aware that he is a leftist, and a strong supporter of Obama. The fact that he is a Zionist hardly matters in the face of that, for he was trying hard to minimize a very damaging revelation. But then -- and I am Jewish myself -- I am constantly astonished at how many Jews support people -- and the Democratic party -- all of whom are more and more sympathetic to people who at best dislike us and at worst hate us. Ideology trumping self-interest, I suppose.
11.2.2008 1:26pm
Nebuchanezzar (mail):
Well, that you list resigning the Presidency as George Washington's greatest accomplishment is telling.

Indeed it is, especially in the context that the man was not a do-nothing President or a figurehead and he could easily have stayed in power for as long as he wanted.

Look, I have deep admiration for the man. His self-restraint was admirable. But, is that enough, by itself, to make him one of our greatest Presidents?

That's a bit of a straw man, isn't it? Of course it's not enough "by itself". But in context, yes -- it most certainly is what makes him our greatest President. It's why the Constitution still means something today, rather than being long discarded in the waste bin of history -- or a document with three thousand amendments each dictated by various "Presidentes for Life".
11.2.2008 1:26pm
DPro (mail):

Without hearing the entire interview it's hard to tell exactly what he was saying. Since he mentioned clean coal, it seems like Obama wants some system in place to make sure emissions are controlled, instead of having China style coal plants.


You sure drank the koolaid. For you the One must always be right, hence if he said something disturbing it must be reinterpreted.
11.2.2008 1:27pm
DangerMouse:
PC: Without hearing the entire interview it's hard to tell exactly what he was saying.

You want the full transcript? Think that will help you? Think that "in context" it's any better? HA! Here it is:


Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It's just that it will bankrupt them.



Obama wants to destroy the coal industry. It's in his own words.
11.2.2008 1:27pm
EH (mail):
TMK:
While soaring rhetoric and a cult of personality can lift a population, it can also enable the government to accomplish horrible, horrible things, particularly when the dominant media buys into it as well. What you cite as Obama's greatest strength is what perhaps frightens me the most. FDR's economic and social programs made the Great Depression both longer and deeper, as more recent objective research has shown (by the Manhattan Institute among others). We are still burdened by many of his programs.


You say you're a law student, so I'm curious how you get that far without a concept of ahistoricity. The disastrous programs you use as examples were reactions to something.

You compare with derision an imaginary future with programs (and Presidents) of the past, never once accounting for what led our history to that point. That's fine, I guess, as long as you're honest about choosing your starting points for comparison.

However, history tells us that charismatic tyrants have always risen (really, been produced by the population) in response to dire circumstances. The solution to that is complicated, but as easily as people can compare Obama to Hitler without batting a lash we can require that our government not destroy the economy in the first place. Get it? Tyrannical regimes have always resulted from desperate times, so if you're saying that we are in danger of the charismatic Obama becoming a fascistic leader, then you'll have to admit that the country he will be leading has been put into the dumpster. Can't have one without the other, though I'm hungry for counterexamples. If you're serious about your point, then you have to ask yourself why the country is at risk of being consumed by tyranny, fascism, FDR, or any of the other Cheneyist bugbears, since countries that are doing well do not have this problem.

So many have a bug up their butt about FDR, but what led to FDR's policies? By my count, mismanagement of The Federal Reserve looms large. Tellingly or not, very few are calling for a revamp in that department.

As far as charisma and Presidential choice goes, McCain just looks a little too much like those old Soviet leaders like Andropov and Chernenko (not to mention Cheney). I remember seeing images as a kid of those Politburo tables of gruff dudes with white hair all the way down the line. You may not like my aesthetic assessment, but it beats your comparisons that rely on predicting the future. Which, if you think about it, are aesthetic as well.
11.2.2008 1:29pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Needless to say, Theodore Roosevelt's opponents deeply regretted having this very same attitude towards the Vice Presidency that you are expressing now.
Yes, but T.R. was a smart guy. Joe Biden is going to be dumbest VP in my lifetime, by far.
11.2.2008 1:30pm
DangerMouse:
PC, if you actually want to hear THE ONE himself in his own words: here's a link to the audio on youtube:

Obama wants to bankrupt the coal industry.
11.2.2008 1:30pm
PC:
DPro, let me guess. You voted for Bush twice.

What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

Right. So instead of pursuing dirty coal plants, we should pursue clean coal. What a radical, Marxist, Hitleresque, Nazi idea.
11.2.2008 1:32pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
Calculated Risk:
I agree with Norman Bates.
I thing GW is on the list of great presidents for declining to be a monarch and refusing to serve more than two terms. By uniquely refusing to accept perpetual power at a time where this was the global standard in the world, he demonstrated to me a greatness and a humility that cannot overestimated. I also agree with those who say that he was great for doing as well as he did with no precedence to guide him. While your comment that "any first president" could have done the same is valid, to me it is immaterial. Any president faced with the American Civil War might have been able to keep the Union together (and possible ended the war sooner by picking better generals) but Lincoln is the one who did it, so he makes my list, as well.
11.2.2008 1:32pm
DangerMouse:
PC:

It's one thing to subsidize clean coal. It's another thing to call for the bankruptcy of coal producers.

Do you realize how big an industry coal is? Do you have any idea at all? Or doesn't that matter to you?
11.2.2008 1:33pm
DangerMouse:
And PC, what about that video link of Obama saying that under his plan, electricity prices will skyrocket?
11.2.2008 1:35pm
Perseus (mail):
His gift for oratory, far from being the sideshow that some of his detractors claim, is in fact central to the prospects and the possibilities of an Obama presidency.

Charismatic demagogues like Senator Obama were precisely the sort of character that the Framers did not want elected to the presidency (and for good reasons).
11.2.2008 1:35pm
EH (mail):
DangerMouse: That reeks of selective editing, why do you think the leading context has been cut off? Do you have a version with the previous minute or two (at least) included?
11.2.2008 1:36pm
DPro (mail):

Yeah it's all a giant conspiracy. Read more here.

Also, did you know that Ayers wrote Obama's book?


As I said, no matter what Obama does or says, his supporters will fire back snark.
11.2.2008 1:39pm
DangerMouse:
From the electricity prices will skyrocket clip:


The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, "This is really important," and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I'm capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

They — you — you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, "Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they're going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars," or whatever their number is. Um, if you can't persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.

If we can't make that argument persuasively enough, you — you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You're not going to get that done.


So Obama is willing to bankrupt the coal industry, and see electricity prices skyrocket, so he can invest in efficient appliances and changing lightbulbs.
11.2.2008 1:40pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
"Tyrannical regimes have always resulted from desperate times, so if you're saying that we are in danger of the charismatic Obama becoming a fascistic leader, then you'll have to admit that the country he will be leading has been put into the dumpster. "

Nice try, EH, but was the answer to the problems facing Germany Hitler? That's the real point. The fact that dire times can lead to tyranny gives us every more reason to be skeptical of someone who can "save us". It's not either/or. You don't have to continue with the same man or switch to some new radical to solve those problems. That's what history really teaches us.

McCain is the smart choice for these troubled times. He is NOT Bush despite what you and others would try to fool people into believing. McCain offers a third path, a middle path, a reasonable path.
11.2.2008 1:42pm
PC:
And PC, what about that video link of Obama saying that under his plan, electricity prices will skyrocket?

What about it? Obama thinks climate change is a real problem and in order to combat it we may need to make some up front sacrifices for long term benefits. Did you listen to the entire thing or did you start foaming at the mouth as soon as you heard the skyrocketing electricity part?
11.2.2008 1:42pm
DPro (mail):

It's one thing to subsidize clean coal. It's another thing to call for the bankruptcy of coal producers.


He didn't call from bankruptcy of coal producers. He called for a regulatory regime that would make anyone who built a new coal-burning facility go bankrupt. Essentially the same idea.
11.2.2008 1:42pm
LN (mail):
What's the point of this debate? If a politician you oppose is unpopular, it's because the American people have great wisdom and character. If he is popular, it's because he's a charismatic demagogue who has tricked the stupid sheeple. How can there be a productive discussion coming out of this?
11.2.2008 1:45pm
PC:
As I said, no matter what Obama does or says, his supporters will fire back snark.

Sometimes the "arguments" only deserve snark. Go read The Corner if you want to see how far off the deep end the conservative movement has gone. Alex Jones could pen some of the screeds I've seen over there in the past month.
11.2.2008 1:47pm
pcharles (mail):
Regarding the choice for VP, Obama's pick of Biden doesn't inspire confidence. Biden isn't terribly bright (regardless of his 30 years experience in the greatest deliberative body on earth) and if you really examine his much vaunted foreign policy judgment, it ain't so great.
11.2.2008 1:48pm
DangerMouse:
He didn't call from bankruptcy of coal producers. He called for a regulatory regime that would make anyone who built a new coal-burning facility go bankrupt. Essentially the same idea.


Bwhahaha! That's why if Obama is elected, I hope all of his policies are passed. The American people deserve to see what a Looter president is like.
11.2.2008 1:48pm
DPro (mail):

McCain is the smart choice for these troubled times. He is NOT Bush despite what you and others would try to fool people into believing. McCain offers a third path, a middle path, a reasonable path.


There's only 2 choices and McCain is the least bad.
11.2.2008 1:50pm
PC:
The American people deserve to see what a Looter president is like.

I think we already have. To the tune of $10 trillion (probably 11 or 12 by the time the Looter in Chief gets out of office). But you know what would solve all of our financial problems? Lower taxes!
11.2.2008 1:51pm
Mike Keenan:
"Wouldn't nearly any first President set a lot of important precedents?"

Are there no bad precedents? Washington on the whole set vey good precendents. He made it possible for the country to survive presidents like Coolidge and Carter.
11.2.2008 1:52pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Post writes:

"I think he [McCain] showed enormous political courage in taking on the culture of earmarks, and in standing up to the more xenophobic elements of the Republican party on immigration,..."

Is it xenophobic to want to control immigration? If it is, then virtually the entire world is xenophobic and the term "loses all meaning. Evidently you think there's no optimum population for the US-- in short the more the merrier. If you worry about carbon emissions, then you are in collision with your position on immigration. There is no cheaper and more effective way to limit the grown in carbon emission than to curtail immigration.

"My personal list of great Presidents is a short one: Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan."


Your list is much too short. It misses Washington and TR. Moreover Obama lacks the executive experience of a Washington, Jefferson, FDR, TR and Reagan. Lincoln was a long shot that paid off. One does not make vital decision on the hope that lightening will strike twice in the same place. We can hope that someone who reads the teleprompter well be a great leader, but that's a pretty weak reason. This essay by Sowell brings these ideas together.

"Nor is Obama's obvious, and profound, appeal to the people of the world irrelevant to my choice."

This essay-- Duly Noted: The State Can Save a Firm But No Firm Can Save the State by a Hungarian explores the problems Obama will have with Europe.
One of the unspoken promises of candidate Obama to his peacenik followers and to his fans abroad has been the end of American unilateralism. The intent: to restore American credibility and leadership. As President, Obama will be haunted by this. When he will need to lead, he will find empty spaces backing him up. This becomes understandable if we consider the past. US unilateralism was a product of the discovery during the Cold War that, for the hard going, America has few allies.
"... his [George Bush] attitude towards the people he was elected to serve contemptuous...

Bush exhibited contempt for the people when he tried (twice) to shove an amnesty bill down their throats. But I suppose in this case, you think he showed leadership because the American people are xenophobic. I fear Obama too, will try to shove this down our throat.
11.2.2008 1:52pm
DangerMouse:
PC: What of it?

I see. Well, the next time there's a blizzard and the poor are freezing to death, you won't mind if we blame Obama then? Good.
11.2.2008 1:53pm
Random Commenter:
"Charismatic demagogues like Senator Obama were precisely the sort of character that the Framers did not want elected to the presidency (and for good reasons)."

Republican stupidity and incompetence are the main reasons someone as far left-of-center as Sen. Obama is about to be elected. I am not sure which the Framers would have found more odious: the charismatic left-wing demagogue about to win the presidency, or the buffoons being thrown out. I can't really decide myself, which is why I'm declining to pull the lever for either major party this year.
11.2.2008 1:54pm
DangerMouse:
But you know what would solve all of our financial problems? Lower taxes!

100 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities won't be solved by taxing the productive up to 62.5% of their income, which would happen if the cap on SS taxes is lifted and Obama's tax hike is implemented. The way to solve that is to cut government, cut spending, get rid of useless agencies, end government unions, etc - all things that Obama is opposed to.

If you want to hike taxes on the productive because of "fairness", then move to Caracas.
11.2.2008 1:56pm
PC:
Well, the next time there's a blizzard and the poor are freezing to death, you won't mind if we blame Obama then?

Drill baby drill! If we only open up every last bit of land to the oil companies then all of our problems will go away! Or maybe we could build coal plants all across the country. Then every place in the US could have the same air quality as Beijing. It will be a capitalist paradise!
11.2.2008 1:56pm
DangerMouse:
Drill baby drill! If we only open up every last bit of land to the oil companies then all of our problems will go away! Or maybe we could build coal plants all across the country. Then every place in the US could have the same air quality as Beijing. It will be a capitalist paradise!

Is that supposed to be an argument? Snark is all you have. But your snark won't help the freezing poor. They WILL be hurt by Obama's energy plan, and if your snark is all you can say, then that's damning.
11.2.2008 2:01pm
PC:
But your snark won't help the freezing poor.

Helping the poor is socialism. Redistributing wealth and all of that.
11.2.2008 2:04pm
EH (mail):
MisterBigTop:
Nice try, EH, but was the answer to the problems facing Germany Hitler? That's the real point.


I know what my point was and I don't need you to try to change the subject by lecturing me on what "the" point is. Try to have a conversation instead of browbeating, you're not the definer of discourse here.

As to your question above, I have two responses. One, the people who elected Hitler thought he was the answer to their problems, and their problems were large. Secondly, what were the large problems that Hitler was elected to solve? How did it get so bad that the people (literally) hungered for Hitler as a leader? Desperation is correlated to tyranny. This means that if you fear a certain level of despotism from a particular candidate, you also have to acknowledge the depths to which the country has sunk. I have not read any of the latter in the above comments (nor anywhere else).

The fact that dire times can lead to tyranny gives us every more reason to be skeptical of someone who can "save us".

I wasn't an Obama fan during the primaries, but your quotation of "Save Us" appears to be imaginary. I don't think the Left's (and "Obamacan" I suppose) rhetoric that you connect to "save us" is at all proportional to the discourse used during zillion% inflationary times. Furthermore, I don't recall hearing about "Save Us" being used as a campaign slogan or incidental by anybody anywhere in this cycle at all. Again, counterexamples are welcome.

It's not either/or. You don't have to continue with the same man or switch to some new radical to solve those problems. That's what history really teaches us.

I don't understand this part.
11.2.2008 2:05pm
DangerMouse:
Helping the poor is socialism. Redistributing wealth and all of that.

If you really believe that, then you're completely deluded. Socialism hasn't helped the poor, ever.
11.2.2008 2:06pm
PC:
you're completely deluded

I've been told that before. In 2000 I thought Bush would be an incompetent, one term president. In 2004 I thought his reelection would be a disaster. Good thing my delusions were unfounded!
11.2.2008 2:13pm
DangerMouse:
Helping the poor is socialism. Redistributing wealth and all of that.

I guess, also, by saying this that you admit that Obama's a socialist. I guess we agree on that.
11.2.2008 2:17pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
"In 2000 I thought Bush would be an incompetent, one term president."

You were wrong.
11.2.2008 2:17pm
PC:
You were wrong.

Half wrong :)
11.2.2008 2:19pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
first history-

Micah obviously doesn't know the difference between "democratic socialism" (or social democracy, as practiced in Western Europe) and "national socialism." "National Socialism" (or Nazism) was a racialist, militarist, corporatist totallitarian philosophy. "Democratic socialism" is exists in democratic societies throughout the West, and is compatible with private property and capitalism, and is not totalitarian. Democratic socialist governments served as allies during the Cold War and have included Germany, Britain, France, and other leading allies.

Most, if not all of the Austrian School of economics does not consider the "social democrat" countries of europe socialist. Mises referred to them as "hampered market" economies. They are market economies, but they are hampered by high levels of taxation and regulation.

The Nazis took away most of the rights of business owners, basically leaving them "owners" in name only. They instituted price controls and wage controls and even dictated how much business owners could pay themselves. They dictated what was produced, how much was produced, and what the price would be. In these respects the Nazi economy was so centrally planned that it was essentially socialism. It was certainly more socialized than the modern "social democrat" countries. See here for a more detailed analysis.

Irrspective of this, Obama is not a socialist. If he is, so is McCain...

From a libertarian perspective both major parties are considered pretty statist or socialist at this point, although the republicans claim to support better economic policies.
11.2.2008 2:21pm
Steve P. (mail):
Excellent post. And keep feeding DangerMouse. (protect our trolls!)
11.2.2008 2:29pm
anon100:
Professor Post,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
11.2.2008 2:29pm
EricPWJohnson (mail):
Professor Post is a long time associate of Ruth Ginsberg - hence the illogical and emotional themeatic tome
11.2.2008 2:38pm
ravenshrike:
Yes, Obama certainly urges people to greater aspirations and effort.
Massive effort!
11.2.2008 2:40pm
Nathan_M (mail):
EricPWJohnson - Your mind seems to have been poisoned through excess reading of the New York Times.
11.2.2008 2:49pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Socialism hasn't helped the poor, ever.'

Sure it has. Peter Medawar, who was both in an excellent position to judge and smart enough to judge, considered thaet the National Health was the greatest achievement of the British government and society of his lifetime.
11.2.2008 2:50pm
Cenrand:

Bwhahaha! That's why if Obama is elected, I hope all of his policies are passed. The American people deserve to see what a Looter president is like.


The American people have been seeing what a looter president looks like for the past month.
11.2.2008 2:56pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
Harry Eagar-

However, what fascinates me most about this election is not Obama's soaring (but empty) oratory but the refusal of Republioans and Libertarian fellow travelers to accept that 1. They've collapsed the financial structure; and 2. Elected Obama, while 3. Blaming FDR.

Claiming that Republicans and libertarians are "fellow travellers" is pretty inaccurate. Many libertarians realize it was Federal Reserve policies, along with other government policies like those encouraging hyper-risky mortgage loans, that are the main causes of the financial problems. Those are bipartisan efforts, with Republicans heavily involved. So claiming that libertarians are responsible for "collapsing the financial structure" seems a little wacky. Many libertarians oppose the policies that caused these problems and also oppose the policies that are going to make the problems worse.

As far as FDR is concerned, here is a link to a recent study concluding that his policies prolonged the Great Depression for seven years.
11.2.2008 3:06pm
Waldensian (mail):

David, the notion that you are voting for Obama for libertarian reasons simply convinces me you haven't the faintest notion what "libertarian" means.

There is a very good chance that somewhere tomorrow the sun will come up.

But even more favorable odds can be attached to the idea that somewhere, at this moment, some libertarian is claiming that someone else isn't a libertarian. Or isn't sufficiently libertarian. Or doesn't really understand libertarianism.

And of course it's worse than that. Because if you aren't really a libertarian the way [insert name of random ranting libertarian] thinks you should be, then you are AGAINST FREEDOM and are therefore PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE for the inevitable coming of a [Pick one: Hitler, Stalin]-esque regime in the U.S.

Is it any wonder that libertarianism remains an ideology that appeals to one person in a thousand? Or maybe one in 10,000? Or maybe just a percentage equal to the number of bitter loners in our society?

We need better PR.

And if you don't believe that, then you aren't a real libertarian.
11.2.2008 3:08pm
John Thacker (mail):
McCain was a real asset -- I think he showed enormous political courage ... in standing up to the more xenophobic elements of the Republican party on immigration,...
George W. Bush has, almost single-handedly, destroyed (a) the Republican party, (b) our standing among the nations of the world, and (c) our pride in being Americans. His "compassionate conservatism" turned out to be mean-spirited and exclusionary,


An amusing thing is that a strong reason why George W. Bush "destroyed the Republican Party" has to do with standing up to the party on immigration. I agree with him and McCain, but sadly it is unpopular.

President Bush's immigration policy, like his African policy, is compassionate and anything but mean-spirited and exclusionary. He would be more popular in polls and not have helped tear his party apart were his immigration policy more mean-spirited.

I can't vote for Obama thanks to his agricultural policy votes and rhetoric, his trade policy votes and rhetoric, and his anti-secret ballot position and votes on "card check."
11.2.2008 3:26pm
tired of blogs:
This is Obama's greatest success. His followers plug their ears and shut their brains off.

And this is Obama's greatest failure. His opponents plug their ears and shut their brains off.

And the same can be said -- in both directions -- for McCain's followers and opponents.

In fact...I daresay that perhaps 5 messages in this thread that contain some actual insight. The rest are just calling names.
11.2.2008 3:43pm
Bama 1L:
The valid comparison being made is that both [Hitler and Obama] have the ability to inspire people who would normally be opposed to most if not everything that they stand for on the basis of a strong personality and soaring rhetoric.

This is not particularly true of Hitler. He did not win over philosemites, social democrats, etc.--those who disagreed with his policies, in other words--through his sweeps of rhetoric. He didn't convince people of anything, except possibly that communism and the Jews formed a greater threat than they had appreciated and Hitler would form a bulwark against the threat. In fact if the original poster were more knowledgeable about Hitler he could probably form a stronger argument.

Hitler's domestic support came from:
1. The nationalist right, which supported nearly everything Hitler stood for. That Hitler actually implemented his policies was the fulfillment of their dream.
2. The aristocracy (including the military leadership), which thought it could eventually control Hitler or that the civilian government was irrelevant.
3. The panicky anti-communist center, which preferred Hitler, however bad, to a leftist seizure of power. Hitler did manage to enlarge this group somewhat by playing up the threat domestic communists posed to Germany.

Foreign powers tolerated Hitler because he seemed like a mere demagogue rather than the actual leader of Germany. The British, French, and Soviets thus underestimated him. They weren't inspired by his rhetoric or fooled into thinking that he actually intended other policies; rather, they believed someone so bombastic did not have to be taken seriously. They were wrong.
11.2.2008 3:48pm
Arkady:
@ John Jenkins:


I can respect not voting for McCain, but can't respect voting for Obama, if at the same time you claim to be a libertarian.



Yikes! Civil war in the leper colony. Fun!
11.2.2008 3:52pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Talkosaurus:

This post is an absolute beauty of the current 'Pretending to be a noble, concerned Righty' sham that's all the rage these days among the upper middle/upper class urban set. I lean Conservative and may vote for Obama, so I understand the Republican ticket isn't exactly impressive, but the reasons Mr. Post outlines are cocktail party mantra's that are designed to make sense only to other Obama supporters.

1. John McCain is John McCain. Nothing has changed this election cycle. Senators breeze in for a quick news cycle then flutter out, that's one of the generic reasons senators usually look much worse on the ever-watched Presidential campaign trail. More to the point, McCain has always been a prima donna blow-hard; his whole build-up as a 'Maverick' is largely a media-given mantel owing to the fact McCain was always willing to stick his finger in other Republicans eye. Running against Obama, McCain is obviously no longer going to get the soft-touch from the media. And just like that McCain is no longer a 'Maverick', funny that. There are a lot of good reasons to dislike McCain, but anyone who trots out the canard 'McCain changed!!' is someone who has no clue what their talking about.

2. Obama is a lackluster, over-hyped politician that's stumbled into the right place at the right time. He's Peter Sellers in 'Being There'. What 'oratory skills'? He's been a complete snooze at the debates. He's testy when pushed, and avoids the limelight like no other Presidential candidate in recent memory. He did look good in a several early, heavily pre-packaged events, but that does not a 'legendary oratory' make. In a year where a pet rock could win on a Democratic ticket, the 'Brilliant, bi-partisan, master orator' Obama is ahead by a few lousy points. He may be the darling of the chattering classes, but for all intensive purposes he's been a bland candidate taking advantage of historic pro-Democrat headwinds while staying out of the coverage as much as possible.

3. GWB has been a lousy President. GWB is also not up for re-election. GWB was not well-liked by conservatives to say the least, he found his support from K-street Republicans and 'social conservatives'. The group paying the heaviest price this elections cycle is---conservatives. The group whose future looks the brightest is (in GOP terms)---the Huckabee/Palin 'social conservative' axis. I hear a thousand times, a thousand ways a day, how folks yearn for old-fashioned fiscal conservatives and dislike Palin-styled 'social conservatives', yet that's exactly who's coming out on top this election cycle. Brilliant stuff GOP critics. Folks bemoan we elected a sensitive, arrogant, insular, loyalty-first candidate who didn't have strong experience. All signs point to Obama potentially being more of the exact recipe, except now from the Left side of things. And that Libertarians are making the case for the man who embodies 60's/70's style Government liberalism (whose campaign already shows a troubling fondness for threating Government action against political opponents/critics)? Okey-dokey.

I don't like McCain, never have, and there a reasons I may not vote for him. However, don't pass off lazy, populist cocktail party talking points as serious intellectual consideration. Like Chris Buckley and a hoard of others, you're setting yourself for moving as a 'proper person' in upper middle/upper class social circles. I can understand that, but don't sell such under-argued pap as serious intellectual deliberation.

Quoted in full, with thanks for saving me the trouble of typing an essentially indistinguishable rant.

I believe this election will be closer than the polls suggest, but not because of the so-called Bradley effect. I predict a Bush/McCain/congressional Republicans (pick one or more) effect. Many people will vote Republican but are too demoralized and/or embarrassed about it to say so out loud. They/we (I) are hanging up on pollsters.
11.2.2008 3:56pm
just me (mail):
I think anyone who thinks the only energy policy McCain is proposing is "drill baby drill" is somebody who hasn't taken the time to actually look at what he is proposing.

Obama's energy policy is simply to "look at" options for drilling, and frankly drilling is and should be a part of the solution. I really think we need to promote nuclear power-something a huge faction on the liberal side of the aisle isn't going to go for. I would love to see Obama actually buck his party on this and go for both drilling and nuclear, but I am willing to bet the only energy policy we see out of Obama and the democratic congress is more taxes and more regulation of the industries that already exist-to the point that the consumer will find heating their home and using their lights cost prohibitive. The winter heat bill already consumes a major portion of our winter income-and our budget can't afford for it to go any higher.

Yes, but T.R. was a smart guy. Joe Biden is going to be dumbest VP in my lifetime, by far.

I have to agree with this. Not only does he come across as much dumber than Palin, but he also doesn't seem to have an instinctive smarts, and I think Palin has proven herself capable of actually running a government-Biden just appears to be an idiot, but one who gets a pass from the media, because he has been an idiot for so long.

At least we will have a lot to laugh at the next four years as Biden commits gaffe after gaffe. I think SNL, The Daily Show and similar can't wait until Biden. In the long run I suspect he will give them far more material than Palin.
11.2.2008 4:00pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Good post, although I disagree strongly. I'm with Roger and Hans.
11.2.2008 4:00pm
just me (mail):
Many people will vote Republican but are too demoralized and/or embarrassed about it to say so out loud. They/we (I) are hanging up on pollsters.

I agree. Although i only go for a "closer than expected" not a "McCain win" argument. Shoot I am not embarrassed to say I am a republican or voting for McCain, but I hang up on pollsters, because I just do.
11.2.2008 4:01pm
Wolvergreen:
Claiming to support smaller government and voting for Obama wouldn't even pass muster under a rational basis test!
11.2.2008 4:02pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I'll be pulling the Obama lever on Tuesday - and quite enthusiastically, too. I consider myself a "pragmatic libertarian" - I'm not a big fan of the state --
.
I'll be writing in Ron Paul - and quite enthusiastically, too. I consider myself a "pragmatic one-worlder" - I'm a big fan of the state.
11.2.2008 4:10pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
Waldensian-

Is it any wonder that libertarianism remains an ideology that appeals to one person in a thousand? Or maybe one in 10,000? Or maybe just a percentage equal to the number of bitter loners in our society?

It's a matter of education. I would appreciate, adopt, and promote libertarian principles even if I wasn't bitter and alone.

To an extent it's because the propaganda of the competing ideologies is so effective at emotional manipulation, even though it is factually and economically incorrect. You know: "It's 'for the children'.", "This will help the poor.", "This will make you safer.", "This will improve the economy.", etc.

Another problem is that a lot of sound economic principles are counterintuitive. If you don't understand the capital stock and why it is crucial to economic health and economic growth you will think that someone that doesn't want to "tax the rich" is stupid, rich, being paid off, doesn't care about the poor, etc.

So there are a lot of obstacles out there, enough to make one a bitter loner.
11.2.2008 4:11pm
EH (mail):
I would appreciate, adopt, and promote libertarian principles even if I wasn't bitter and alone.

How do you know?
11.2.2008 4:31pm
Cornellian (mail):
On a side note, my lover (yes, lover; I'm gay and proudly voting for McCain) who has been a Democrat all his life is voting for McCain primarily because he is so open to all options on the energy issue.

Presumably you know what the party of James Dobson thinks about people like you. Do you really rank "open to all options" on energy policy higher than your own self-respect?
11.2.2008 4:46pm
Sam H (mail):

The Great Ones -- Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan -- have had one thing (and maybe only one thing) in common: the ability to stir us to great deeds with their words.

Not at all. They beleived in America and in its people. They didn't think it was broke, it just needed to return to the ideas of the Founders.


Whatever you, personally, think of Obama or his policies, it is simply an indisputable fact that hundreds of millions, or possibly billions, of people across the globe are damn near infatuated with him, and that the world will, almost instantaneously, become much better-disposed to the United States when he is elected.

Who cares what the world thinks? I certainly don't.
They like him because they know that his policies will weaken American and drag us down to their level.


Reason 3 is Bush. George W. Bush has, almost single-handedly, destroyed (a) the Republican party, (b) our standing among the nations of the world, and (c) our pride in being Americans.

I hope you live fifty more years so you can see Bush rated in the history books as one of our greatest Presidents.


Reason 4 is energy policy.
And you are going to vote for someone who is opposed to nuclear power. Real smart move there.
11.2.2008 4:57pm
chicana:
you are correct that in a democracy you take what your fellow citizens give you. too bad that democrats didn't have that belief re elections of 2000 and 2004. their behavior, from the top downward re the "illegitimate" bush presidency, will make it easier to put the impeach obama bumper sticker on my car as soon as he tries to institute his civilian security force.
11.2.2008 5:07pm
notaclue (mail):
Prof. Post, I may have missed a remark similar to mine in the comments above, but it seems to me you ignore the threat of militant Islam. Many of us, though not in love with McCain by any means, worry about a world in which Obama is Commander in Chief, charged with the responsibility of securing the country.

I haven't followed your work enough to know how you view the so-called War on Terror, but if you're one of those who consider it a mirage, your comments make sense. Otherwise, we take a big chance by electing someone without the credentials or the temperament to fight.
11.2.2008 5:54pm
b:
anyone who can say this:
"I'll be pulling the Obama lever on Tuesday -- and quite enthusiastically, too. "

and then say this:
"I consider myself a "pragmatic libertarian" -- I'm not a big fan of the state, I believe that power inevitably corrupts, that individuals, when left to their own devices, are capable of remarkable feats of self-organization and problem-solving, and that the freedoms of speech, conscience, and association are, by far, our most precious ones and need to be zealously protected from the folks with the monopoly on coercive force."

is suffering from a wicked case of cognitive dissonance. you'd be a lot better off just saying "he's a charismatic guy and i'm gonna vote for him, reason be damned!" at least then you'd save some small bit of face.
11.2.2008 6:02pm
glangston (mail):
Streamlining the budget busting process by electing Obama seems crazy.

Anything over one sentence (and a short sentence at that) on why'd you vote for (or against Obama) is simply the blather we'll be glad to get behind us this Tues.

One reason is enough.
11.2.2008 6:29pm
Pauldom:

And you are going to vote for someone who is opposed to nuclear power. Real smart move there.

What is it with the "Obama opposes nuclear power" refrain? Factcheck.org and politifact.com both debunked that claim months ago.

[from the link above] "What I don't want is for the best to be the enemy of the good," Obama said. "If we can come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise, in which I have to accept some things I don't like and the Democrats have to accept some things they don't like, when it's actually moving us in the direction of energy independence, I'm open to that."

That Obama is so closed-minded when it comes to energy.
11.2.2008 6:30pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):
I <i>love</i> the fear mongering, guys. Keep it up.

But what happens when Obama is elected and he turns out to be less of an authoritarian W?

Nah. NEVER!
11.2.2008 6:34pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):

American Psikhushka (mail):

Another problem is that a lot of sound economic principles are counterintuitive. If you don't understand the capital stock and why it is crucial to economic health and economic growth you will think that someone that doesn't want to "tax the rich" is stupid, rich, being paid off, doesn't care about the poor, etc.


Maybe everyone else is ignorant. Or maybe they disagree. Or maybe you're wrong in taking a narrow, absolutist view of an almost irreducibly complex problem?
11.2.2008 6:42pm
Waldensian (mail):

It's a matter of education. I would appreciate, adopt, and promote libertarian principles even if I wasn't bitter and alone.

Okay, I can respect that.
11.2.2008 7:05pm
Oren:

Prof. Post, I may have missed a remark similar to mine in the comments above, but it seems to me you ignore the threat of militant Islam.

He also pretty blase about the impending attack of the aliens from planet Neptune!
11.2.2008 7:26pm
EH (mail):
Prof. Post, I may have missed a remark similar to mine in the comments above, but it seems to me you ignore the threat of militant Islam.

This may be because the average American and/or non-terrorist visitor has much less to fear from "militant Islam" than they do from Bush-Cheney policies against it.
11.2.2008 7:35pm
Oren:
EH, I prefer naked sarcasm to reasoning with these anti-American types that think terrorists can harm us.
11.2.2008 7:38pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
American Psikhushka, I know there's a study that claims FDR extended the Depression. Lord knows, it's been referenced often enough at VC.

The study is nonsense. I have said that before, but I'm willing to keep saying it as long as the nonsense is being whipped up.

Let me put it very simply, so that even a fellow traveling Libertarian-Republican can understand: FDR took office in 1933. The Depression was over by 1940.

That is no longer than the recovery from the Panic of '73, when, as Libertarians would have wanted, government did absolutely nothing.

All you have to figure out is: 1. where to read some US economic history (I suggest the Journal of Economic History) and 2. count to 6.
11.2.2008 7:50pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
Dr. Post--it seems that you have been swayed primarily by the campaigns of the two candidates in making the choice to vote for Obama. To elaborate:

Reason #1: Essentially, your dislike of McCain boils down to a poorly-run campaign which concocted hasty gimmicks rather than taking the time to think things through. But all this means is that McCain has a poor campaign manager. It is not a reflection on the sort of policies McCain would enact as President, nor on the quality of McCain's decision-making, not when we have 24 years of history to draw on in observing his judgment - and you say you quite liked McCain the Senator. Finally, even if you don't like McCain, that's only a reason to not vote for McCain - what reason, then, to vote for Obama? Well, that leads to...

Reason #2: You seem to like Obama because he's "inspirational". But all that means, in truth, is that he's more effective in getting what he wants. Rather than considering Obama's oratory or his world appeal, you might want to look at what he actually wants done: higher taxes, massive expansion of government programs, judges who will rule based on "empathy" rather than law, and more. And thanks to those oratorical skills you mentioned, plus a Democratic majority in the Senate, it will be that much easier for Obama to get what he wants. Do you want that? Now, at least I understand here why you focus on Obama's charismatic campaign - there's not much else to look at. But why make charisma ("the potential" to be a great president) your only hurdle for Obama to clear?

Reason #3: The only reason why this could be relevant to you in this election is some sort of sense of revenge: Republicans screwed you, so don't vote for them. I understand that. But that's no reason to vote for someone who is TELLING you he will screw your libertarian principles, right? But again, there's been a lot of campaign rhetoric about making this election an election between Democrats and Republicans, not between Obama and McCain, and you fell into that here. We're not electing a party as President, but a man. Don't forget that.

Reason #4: Energy policy. You don't like the mantra "drill, baby, drill." Again, a campaign-focused criticism, rather than a policy-focused one - you suggest that McCain's only solution is drilling, when he has advocated for alternative energy, including nuclear, in various ways.

In conclusion: From this post, I find no political or ideological reason for you to vote for Barack Obama. Instead, your vote seems to be a vote against McCain's campaign and for Obama's rhetorical skills. Is that really enough to disregard everything that makes a libertarian?
11.2.2008 7:57pm
postmodernprimate (mail):
Micah Smith:

But then -- and I am Jewish myself -- I am constantly astonished at how many Jews support people -- and the Democratic party -- all of whom are more and more sympathetic to people who at best dislike us and at worst hate us. Ideology trumping self-interest, I suppose.


What's next, embracing people whose fervent wish is to bring about a day when every Jew is slaughtered then forced to spend eternity in a fiery lake of damnation?
11.2.2008 8:57pm
Smokey:
Harry Eagar:
FDR took office in 1933. The Depression was over by 1940.
No, the Depression wasn't 'over' by 1940. But ramping up U.S. industrial capacity to assist England was the central reason that the U.S. began to finally emerge from the Depression, not FDR's policies.

And FDR never espoused anything like this. That sort of Big Government meddling was left to Josef Stalin and his ilk. Stalin, of course, was worse. But Obama is heading in the same socialist direction, and directly away from American capitalism -- which has given us our great standard of living.

Ever hear the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Well, America ain't broke -- but Obama's gonna "fix" it, all right.
11.2.2008 9:03pm
Mark Rockwell (mail):

Smokey:

But Obama is heading in the same socialist direction, and directly away from American capitalism -- which has given us our great standard of living.


That's like saying I'm "on my way to China" every time I step out my front door, just because it faces East.
11.2.2008 9:55pm
Ken Arromdee:
What's next, embracing people whose fervent wish is to bring about a day when every Jew is slaughtered then forced to spend eternity in a fiery lake of damnation?

This is said a lot, but generally there isn't much evidence that anyone believes it. Can you name a few adherents specifically?
11.2.2008 9:56pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
For the record, here's part of Obama's energy policy:
"What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there...

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches."

Yes, bankrupting an industry is going to generate billions of dollars in tax revenue.

But I'm sure the libertarian Dr. Post can support this plan, because it's presented by such a charismatic character as Barack Obama, who has the potential to be a truly great President.
11.2.2008 9:57pm
LM (mail):

Ever hear the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Well, America ain't broke -- but Obama's gonna "fix" it, all right.

Smokey, a pretty important piece of America is broken or we wouldn't have just forked almost a trillion dollars over to a Republican administration to fix it. If that's not what the money was for, it ought to be enough to buy about a billion of these (check out this one's name), so make mine a Shetland.

Look, obviously both sides agree there's so much worth saving that it's worth a lot of our money and effort to fix what isn't. The disagreements are at the margin of what is or isn't broken, and how to go about repairing it without doing more harm than good. Describing either side's plan in scare terms like "socialist" or "Marxist," much less "communist," is designed to make voters react to the terms, not the plans. This may be politics as usual, but that doesn't make it honest or constructive.

To be clear, scare-mongering is a bi-partisan practice. Though I'd argue the Republicans have been the more egregious offenders in recent election cycles, the Democrats certainly have their own pet Republican bogey-men, scaring the elderly over Social Security and Medicaire being a perennial favorite.
11.2.2008 10:08pm
Adina (mail) (www):
Why didn't Calvin Coolidge make your list?
11.2.2008 10:13pm
Ken Arromdee:
Yes, Obama secretly wants to destroy the state of Israel, wants to set off bombs, and is a racist. You can infer this based on this guilt by association.

Associating with radicals doesn't mean that he believes everything they do. But what it does mean is that he thinks of their positions as tolerable--it means that he's far enough to the left that these guys actually seem like reasonable people to him.
11.2.2008 10:20pm
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
LM: That's not what Smokey's talking about when he mentions Obama and socialism in the same breath. He's talking about what I also linked to, which is Obama's comment about bankrupting oil plants with a cap-and-trade scheme. Granted, those comments were made in January, and he may have abandoned this plan in the wake of the economic crisis. But the mere fact that he thinks that kind of statism is acceptable firmly establishes what sort of ideology he espouses - and it ain't libertarian.
11.2.2008 10:20pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Smokey, I'll have to agree that FDR's policies did not end the Depression, since the Republican-nutcase free market US Supreme Court refused to allow the New Deal to function.

The sickest parts of the economy were reflating a bit during the few months that the New Deal did operate. When the New Deal was strangled in its cradle by the Republicans, deflation resumed.

The second-best expedients that Roosevelt and the Congress had to resort were not very effective, that's true.

Studies that claim that Roosevelt's policies prolonged the Depression are, in a word, insane.

I understand why libertarians and other species of free-marketeers are desperate to find bogeymen other than themselves to blame, but only the historically illiterate will fall for it.
11.2.2008 10:59pm
ManBearPig:
We need a truly great president right now -- and for me, a great president isn't one who magically solves all our problems, but one who inspires us to solve our problems.

yeah and that's what Barack wants to do. Get out of your way and let you solve your own problems. oh--wait--no that's not what he wants to do. He wants to solve them for you, except he doesn't know how. And in lieu of really trying to solve problems, he's just going to push ahead with the items on his ideological check-list, come what may. Economy going to hell? We'll raise taxes. Social Security solvency problems? We'll change it from a social insurance program to a welfare program. Iraq is going better than we could have ever dreamed? We'll keep our eyes closed and plow on the way we planned prior to our dreams being proved to be too limited. BHO is a joke, well delivered speaches and all.
11.2.2008 11:05pm
ManBearPig:
Also, Harry, re: Roosevelt's Depression era policy, don't let facts get in the way of your ideology. I love it, you essentially said "yeah facts disprove my belief, but that'll never stop you. oh and if you're not foolish like me, you're historically illiterate."

The success of Roosevelt's depression policies aren't judged "historically" they're judged economically and empirically. What historians say is inconsequential as it's doubtful they have the necessary economic competence to truly judge the policies. All they can do is judge personal reactions to the policies. It seems you're confusing economics with personal reactions (specifically your own ideological reaction to Roosevelt's policies).
11.2.2008 11:10pm
matt (mail):
you know, when I read malarkey like this it breaks my heart. I travel overseas 1 week out of 4 to Asia and Europe. We will never win Europe, nor should we try. It is a bankrupt culture. Asia, on the other hand, is the future, and our reputation there is surprisingly strong.

We're in for hard times, regardless of the candidate. Obama will push the country Left as FDR did. But does the country want to go there? I think the results will be fairly close, so regardless of the outcome, 50% of the populace will disagree from the outset with whomever is elected. And most Americans do no want to move very far to the left.

The motivation with many of the supporters of Obama this year is anger with Bush. Some of it a deep visceral anger that goes back to 2000. Much of it goes to the economy, Iraq, and pork. But the reality is that the democrats are just as much a part of the problem as the republicans.

Obama is a deeply flawed candidate, and my gut feeling is that 6 months into his administration, should he win, we are going to regret it. It may feel good pulling that lever now, but the reality is that this guy is way out of his league. And some of the reports now are very disturbing. How can a candidate draw $600 Million in funding (after he said he would abide by the Federal limits), and then purposely not account for perhaps $400 Million thereof? The man is a liar nonpareil. And there lies the nub. If he lies to me once, shame on him. If he lies to me twice, shame on me.
11.2.2008 11:11pm
MarkJ (mail):
Harry Eagar,


Let me put it very simply, so that even a fellow traveling Libertarian-Republican can understand: FDR took office in 1933. The Depression was over by 1940.


Ummm, no. Take a look at the aggregate unemployment rate for 1940: it was 14%. Needless to say, it was way higher for what we today call "underrepresented minorities." That's not exactly a figure reflective of a recovered economy, is it? Hell, the Democrats were already claiming we were in a depression when unemployment hit 10.8%, in September 1982, at the height of the "Reagan recession." Or have you forgotten that?

Think about this and tremble: people have much less patience than they did in the 1930's and 40's. If we hit 14% unemployment under either McCain or Obama, we're going to see citizens marching in the streets, manning the barricades, and loudly muttering, "Toss all of the bastards out." It's gonna get really ugly, really quick.
11.2.2008 11:12pm
MarkJ (mail):
Math_Mage:


Yes, bankrupting an industry is going to generate billions of dollars in tax revenue.


Precisely. The question Obama can't, or won't, ask himself is:

How exactly does one collect higher taxes from bankrupt firms and unemployed people?
11.2.2008 11:16pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"George W. Bush has, almost single-handedly, destroyed (a) the Republican party, (b) our standing among the nations of the world, and (c) our pride in being Americans."

Whose pride in being an American? Yours? Michelle Obama's? Can you tell us who you speak for, and what qualifies you to do so?
11.2.2008 11:28pm
Eli (mail):
Are we supposed to give a shit who you vote for, nitwit?
11.2.2008 11:32pm
Metoo:
Dear Mr. Post:

You are a fool. Good Luck
11.2.2008 11:35pm
Ken Mitchell (mail):
As a pretty "pragmatic libertarian" myself, I respect your decision, but I think you're making a mistake. No matter; no matter who wins this election, I fear that America has some tough times ahead. But I'd like to address an important and overlooked side point.

You write "I believe that power inevitably corrupts,..." Lord Acton famously said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

I disagree; I believe that you and he are putting the cart before the horse. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal some 20 or more years ago, the author wrote that power doesn't corrupt in itself; the problem is that it attracts corruptible people, who will do ANYTHING to attain and keep that power. There are things that honorable men will not to in order to gain power, but for the corruptible, no moral scruples stand in the way of the quest for power.

In this race, I fear, all of the honorable candidates have ALREADY withdrawn or been defeated. Of those two flawed men who remain, I respect John McCain's integrity, but not his judgment. Obama remains tabula rasa, or perhaps the Mirror of Erised, for all of his supporters to see what they each most desire. Can Obama rein in the already-corrupt Democrats who see in Obama the fruition of their goal of utterly destroying the Republican party?

I see no sign of it. He has no track record, a tissue-paper thin resume and contradictory statements on EVERY topic. Surely, an Obama presidency would not be as horrid as Charles Johnson might fear? But we have no guarantees, and EVERY revelation of the past few weeks tells me that whatever Obama himself might be, his supporters are not particularly honorable.
11.2.2008 11:39pm
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
Positive proof that being a university professor does not insure one cannot see the forest for the trees.

So a pragmatic libertarian finds himself able to support a candidate who caused Michael Barone to pen an article regarding the coming Thugocracy of Obama. Barone felt the need to write this article because of all the efforts made by the Obama campaign to silence its critics. Brilliant stuff there Prof. I certainly hope that your blindness does not extend to your students.
11.2.2008 11:49pm
Nifonged:
So have you figured out the plot of "To Catch a Mockingbird? yet
11.2.2008 11:49pm
SukieTawdry (mail):
Whatever you, personally, think of Obama or his policies, it is simply an indisputable fact that hundreds of millions, or possibly billions, of people across the globe are damn near infatuated with him, and that the world will, almost instantaneously, become much better-disposed to the United States when he is elected. It's quite astonishing, when you think about it; he's the first global candidate for office.

This is kinda scary coming from a self-professed libertarian (especially the bit of credulity about Pakistan given his candidate's not-so-veiled threats aimed in that direction). Is "pragmatic" some new brand of libertarianism? Is it anything like "compassionate" conservatism?

Oh, and you know what, Obama doesn't believe that we are, in fact, the greatest nation on earth. Far from it. He believes that we could be great if we allow him to remake us in an image of his own design. He will heal our broken souls by taking us in a direction that would make three-quarters of your greatest presidents positively puke in their graves.

Of late, Obama has been telling us that we are ..days way from fundamentally transforming the United States of America. Fundamentally transforming the USofA. Not fundamentally transforming Washington DC or the federal government or the way in which government does its business, but fundamentally transforming America. Is that really what you want?
11.2.2008 11:50pm
hanoi paris hilton (mail):
"Oil addicted junkies screaming Drill Baby Drill".

So then Mr. Post, we can reliably assume that you've irretrievably disposed of your car, that you heat your house with wood, that you never fly anywhere, and that somehow you avoid buying anything that's made out of plastic, eat anything that was produced by mechanized agriculture, or in either case, was shipped by truck, rail, or air? Good.

I thought we could have such confidence in you.
11.2.2008 11:54pm
Trashhauler:
The author may call himself a pragmatic libertarian, but there was precious little in either his post or a quick scan of his other published works to indicate any tendency towards libertarianism. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Nothing in his post indicated any preference for smaller, less intrusive government. Actually, his argument seems to be that we need a stronger leader than George Bush, but one who will somehow be somehow more deferential to the rest of the world. Good luck to the President who can pull off that combination, but if that tracks with any version of libertarianism, it isn't one I'm familiar with.

Of course, we'd always like to have the best President we can muster. But the author's statement that we especially need a great President now seems the belief of someone too entirely comfortable with statist solutions to be much of a libertarian.

Oh well, a person can call himself anything he wants to, I suppose. And nowher is is written that a law professor need be very knowledgeable about political theory, anyway.
11.2.2008 11:54pm
SukieTawdry (mail):
PS. My pride in being an American is quite intact, thank you. Odd that yours would hinge on who's in the White House.
11.2.2008 11:57pm
LM (mail):
Was this post just linked on Hot Air or Free Republic?
11.3.2008 12:01am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ken:

What's next, embracing people whose fervent wish is to bring about a day when every Jew is slaughtered then forced to spend eternity in a fiery lake of damnation?


This is said a lot, but generally there isn't much evidence that anyone believes it. Can you name a few adherents specifically?


There are many Christians who reject dispensationalism, but unfortunately there are also many who do not.

Dispensationalism says that when Christ reappears, Jews will convert or die (and burn in hell). There's an idea that exactly 144,000 will be saved. Dispensationalism also supports Zionism, because dispensationalists believe that Christ will return after the Jews are gathered in Israel.

A good example of a Christian who rejects dispensationalism is Gary DeMar. He makes clear that it's far from marginalized:

Sid Roth, host of "Messianic Vision," on the September 18, 1991, edition of the "700 Club," stated that "two-thirds of the Jewish people [living in Israel] will be exterminated."


This goes back to Walvoord, who said this:

The purge of Israel in their time of trouble is described by Zechariah in these words: "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith Jehovah, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried" (Zechariah 13:8, 9). According to Zechariah's prophecy, two thirds of the children of Israel in the land will perish, but the one third that are left will be refined and be awaiting the deliverance of God at the second coming of Christ which is described in the next chapter of Zechariah.


Walvoord was president of the Dallas Theological Seminary for over 30 years. To a certain group of Christians, he's a great hero.

A measure of the popularity of these beliefs is the success of the Left Behind series, which has sold 63 million copies. LaHaye references the idea of 144,000 Jews being saved (Tribulation Force, p. 21):

the Bible talks about 144,000 Jews springing up and traveling throughout the world. There is to be a great soul harvest, maybe a billion or more people, coming to Christ


With friends like this, Jews don't need enemies.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin. There's a bit of a problem with her accepting a blessing from the witch-hunter shortly after he spoke of "the wealth of the wicked," and about "the Israelites, that's how they work. And that's how they are, even today."
11.3.2008 12:09am
JohnJ (mail):
This word "Libertarian", I do not think it means what you seem to think it means: someone who believes that government is the solution to society's problems.

"We have, as a nation, become demoralized and pessimistic and cynical about our ability to solve our problems. It's not just that our "infrastructure" is crumbling, it's that nobody seems to give a shit."

Ya, because we all know that it's the government's job to make us moralized and optimistic.

You're confusing people by switching the definition of "libertarian" and "socialist".
11.3.2008 12:10am
ian (mail):

Vote for Obama, if you must, but please don't fool yourself that the nations of the world will go one inch beyond their own interests, even with Obama in charge.


Thank you Hecataeus, that was perfectly put. Of all the reasons I have seen posited to vote for Obama, this idea that somehow the rest of the world will 'like' us more is the lamest. I, for one, can't wait to hear the polite, hand-wringing excuses when he asks the european countries to send more troops to afghanistan.
11.3.2008 12:15am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Mark Rockwell-

Maybe everyone else is ignorant. Or maybe they disagree. Or maybe you're wrong in taking a narrow, absolutist view of an almost irreducibly complex problem?

Or maybe they just don't bother to learn about economics like you do and buy into whatever "sounds right", even if it is blatantly incorrect and even harmful. As even JFK said - no society has taxed its way to prosperity.

Just do a little reading about Austrian economics. You'll soon find out economics problems are not all "irreducibly complex".(although certain groups would like to make them seem that way) Got to "mises.org". Or even your relative's website - "lewrockwell.com".
11.3.2008 12:25am
slick (mail):
I have no problem with someone choosing to vote for Obama. But the contortions that some go through to justify their votes would impress Cirque de Soleil. You can tell yourself anything you want to, but you are NOT a libertarian. No libertarian could possibly reconcile Obama's background, education, past votes, and platform with that of libertarianism. He is the exact opposite of a libertarian.
11.3.2008 12:28am
Poulette:
That Harry Eager can believe his drivel about how the Depression would have been over if lunatic programs like the National Recovery Administration would have been allowed to work is simply mind-boggling. Artificially inflating wages and prices are what kept millions OUT of the job market---and if the collectivization of American farms under government control been allowed to continue, there would have been famine to boot. Yes, by all means, FDR should have been allowed to stuff the SCOTUS and move forward charismatically with his plans unhampered by that nasty little old-fashioned Constitution.

But where he really lost me was his assertion of the glories of British health care:
"Peter Medawar, who was both in an excellent position to judge and smart enough to judge, considered thaet the National Health was the greatest achievement of the British government and society of his lifetime."

British health care is an oxymoron. Oh sure, your broken leg may get put in a cast, but just hope you don't actually ever really get ill. You're not only more than twice as likely to die of breast cancer than in the US, but you will likely die waiting to be treated for a myriad of other illnesses. I live in quasi-socialist France, and our health care is relatively decent---because we (surprisingly) have far more of a market factor than GB through private insurance. British health tourism--those who come over wanting to use our health care--is massive (and just go ask South African dentists how happy they are to see all of their British clients). The British system is one of th absolute WORST health care systems out there, both in terms of quality and availability.
11.3.2008 12:32am
Argon:
I'm not terribly worried about either candidate becoming President but I would despair if Palin ever had to replace McCain. She might actually match Bush's negatives.

One other good reason for voting Obama is that he is more likely to scrub away the Bush hacks when he gets into office. In contrast, McCain has aligned himself during this run with many of the people and their proteges who've been part of the problem. I don't expect quite as thorough a "cleaning" if McCain gets elected.

In any case, I hope the good citizens of Connecticut finally toss out Mr. Lieberman at the next election.
11.3.2008 12:34am
ian (mail):

I can give Palin a lot more room given her inexperience with the national media and the fact that she is a state governor, but what really is Biden's excuse. Not to mention Biden has been on the wrong side of a lot of big foreign policy ideas since he joined the senate. A foreign policy expert he is not.

Yes, I caught the jaw dropper about hezbollah being kicked out of lebanon too. I am uneasy about Biden becoming president, even more than Palin. He is basically a stupid, unoriginal ( plagiarist, even ) man who has been re-elected from a safe seat for the last 35 years. For all his vaunted 'expertise', he has never been in a position where he has had to make decisions where peoples lives were on the line. He has posed as an expert by dropping lots of names and factoids and the media has given him a pass.
11.3.2008 12:37am
That sure was Professor-y (mail):
Agree with Slick, EPluribusMoney, and TMK, above: Obama's policies are mostly the opposite of libertarian policies; you need to rethink your orientation.

Or simply say "screw Libertarian principals, I really LIKE Obama and that's that". That seems to me a perfectly acceptable, and more honestly human thing to say. Rather than trying to make the "libertarians for Obama" contortions - which are just that.

Millions of people are voting for Obama not because of his polices (and certainly not because of his 'record of accomplishments' - which is an utter blank slate) but because they, like the MSM, like Hollywood, etc simply BELIEVE. The election of Obama might be the nation's first successful "faith-based initiative".

I don't have any problem with you or others voting for Obama for reasons that you needn't explain (or even understand), because that's the prerogative of freedom, of living in a democracy. One person / one vote - for all the best reasons in the world or no reasons at all.

But I have a feeling I know what the "libertarians for Obama" and "republicans for Obama" will say on Wednesday morning if McCain has taken 80% of the present undecided vote, plus lopped off another 3-4% of Obama's and is, lo and behold, the next president: "Racists"

And if Obama gets in, I look forward to you explaining away, in libertarian terms, whatever 'new deal' 'great society' type programs the Democrat supermajority pushes through.
11.3.2008 12:55am
American Psikhushka (mail):
Harry Eagar-

That is no longer than the recovery from the Panic of '73, when, as Libertarians would have wanted, government did absolutely nothing.

The problem is the government actually didn't "do nothing". They massively debased the currency using the Federal Reserve. Look at this graph to see what happened between the lines representing 1970 and 1980. That isn't what most libertarians "want". That's the exact opposite of what many libertarians want.

Smokey, I'll have to agree that FDR's policies did not end the Depression, since the Republican-nutcase free market US Supreme Court refused to allow the New Deal to function.

The authors of the study I linked above addressed that point:

"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."

Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years...

...Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate...

...By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high...


I guess those UCLA economists might be insane, but to me it looks like they make some good points. I think they're just misunderstood, some of it likely intentional.
11.3.2008 1:12am
David Warner:
Prof. Post,

Thanks for offering an affirmative case for Obama. Those have been disappointingly rare here, whether in the posts or in the comments where his supposed supporters live. I hope that once he takes office, they will recognize that hating Rove means being better men than he, not in offering undeserved flattery by way of imitation.

You express much of what I see in Obama, more cogently and movingly than I've managed, while establishing the connection with libertarian, and more importantly, American principles and aspirations.

Your negative points show that you're gifted at making positive ones. Not an uncommon trait among us liberals. I hope you stick to the latter in the future.
11.3.2008 1:13am
David Warner:
American P,

"The problem is the government actually didn't "do nothing". They massively debased the currency using the Federal Reserve. Look at this graph to see what happened between the lines representing 1970 and 1980. That isn't what most libertarians "want". That's the exact opposite of what many libertarians want."

Grant didn't even need the Fed to do that, although no doubt he would have been fascinated by the graph.
11.3.2008 1:20am
davod (mail):
How is Mccain threatening "civil liberties, sexual liberties, defendant's rights..."
11.3.2008 1:37am
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
Davod: It's because McCain = Boosh, doncha know. Patriot Act, statements against gay marriage, Guantanamo Bay: all Bush's stuff (some debatable), therefore all McCain's stuff. Simple, right? [/sarc]
11.3.2008 1:59am
davod (mail):
There is a Youtube video of an Obama suppporter at one of his rallies saying:

"I never thought this day would happen. I won't have to [work/worry] on puttin' gas in my car. I won't have to [work/worry] at payin' my mortgage.

You know. If I help him [Obama], he's gonna help me."

The video does not seem to be available.

I saw an article in a Singapore newspaper by a reporter who watched one of the Presidential debates (I think it was the second) in the company of some junior officers of the US Army, all Iraqi War vets. These guys were for Obama because he was going to give them the additional resources to fight the war in Iraq the way it needs to be fought.

I give you the above as examples of how amorphous Obama's words are.
11.3.2008 2:04am
David Warner:
Pierre,

"Michael Barone to pen an article regarding the coming Thugocracy of Obama"

I'm guessing that there's a significant chunk of the electorate for whom this is feature more than bug. After eight years of a President who couldn't defend himself, the Chicago Way takes on a certain appeal.
11.3.2008 2:07am
davod (mail):
"And did you know that East Germany was known as the German Democratic Republic?! That makes them much more democratic than their Western counterpart that didn't even put any conjugate of democracy in their name!"

A number of years ago I recall reading that some in the State Department counselled against being critical of the GDR specifically because of the Democratic in the country name.
11.3.2008 2:22am
American Psikhushka (mail):
David Warner-

Grant didn't even need the Fed to do that, although no doubt he would have been fascinated by the graph.

He was using the same mechanism - a fiat currency and inflation:

Link 1

After the war, the great question was: should the country return to hard money and correct at once the imbalances and malinvestments wrought by four years of inflation and war, or should it continue with soft money and attempt to perpetuate the wartime boom. The majority of Republicans again opted for inflation. Thus, the inflationary boom, inaugurated by the war and the Greenback, continued unabated until the panic of 1873 brought it to a close.


Link 2

In 1865, the financial question recurred. It was: "Shall we withdraw the paper, recover our specie [gold and silver coin], reduce prices, lessen imports, reduce debt, and live economically until we have made up the waste and loss of war, or shall we keep the paper as money, export all our specie which had hitherto been held in anticipation of resumption, buy foreign goods with it, and go on as if nothing had happened?"

The easy route was taken again (specie payments were not resumed until 1879, fourteen years later, and almost twenty years after the 1861 suspension) and the consequences were an inflation-driven stock market and railroad boom that culminated in the panic of 1873, the failure of the House of Cook, and the Great Railway Strike of 1877, the first outbreak of large-scale industrial violence in American history.
11.3.2008 2:27am
Kevin Murphy:
Problem is that Obama has shown utterly no evidence of political courage. Now maybe he'll man up once he gets in the White House, but up to now he's been a get-along, go-along pol with all the predictable knee-jerks.

We cannot stand a second failed Presidency. The only thing that he rally has going for him is the sycophancy of the press. Maybe that will be enough, but I dispair when I think of Social Security being papered over with PR fliers and tax hikes (which won't work).
11.3.2008 3:07am
rickl (mail):
Anyone who claims to be a libertarian and votes for Obama is delusional. Or else doesn't understand the definition of libertarian.
11.3.2008 4:05am
Brett:
A self-described "pragmatic libertarian" who is not a big fan of the state is going to enthusiastically pull the lever for the more statist-i-er of the two major party candidates because he seems like a swell dude and a gifted orator.

You can't make this stuff up.
11.3.2008 6:22am
Ten (mail):
This rambling opinion is wrong on each of the fundamental points it attempts to make. Congratulations: With all due respect, this is the single most poorly reasoned opinion all month. And I read a lot of them.
11.3.2008 6:58am
davod (mail):
"What about it? Obama thinks climate change is a real problem and in order to combat it we may need to make some up front sacrifices for long term benefits."

Even the Europeans are worried that the estimated 20 percent loss in productivity is too much.
11.3.2008 7:23am
EconReal:
Sir,

I have read your post about voting for Obama. I have not read any of the comments responding to your post, although I will. Simply, here is my response based on reading your post.

I do not begrudge your vote for Obama, in fact, I respect it. But after reading your post, it was obvious to this reader that you mis-characterize yourself as a libertarian. Your rationale for voting for Obama exhibits little based on libertarian principles, from what I can tell. Instead, your reasoning is similar to my daughter's reasoning for voting for Obama - her's is a combination of emotions, infatuation, wanting to be liked by friends, and negative impressions (McCain/Bush) solely derived from the MSM onslaught. Like hers, your vote is not pragmatic, reasoned, or even close to being libertarian-based.

My suggestion is that you do some self-analysis after the election and come to grips with who you are. There is nothing wrong with being a liberal, who favors a left leaning form of governance. What's wrong is an individual who claims to be something he/she is not, thus falsely representing their analysis or views to the public. FWIW, I'm sure the new administration's bureaucrats, will gladly investigate your personal and personnel records (without asking by the way) to determine if you're a viable, former libertarian citizen for the "re-education" program.
11.3.2008 7:39am
Errol Phillips (mail) (www):
The reason you are voting for Bambi is because you are a schmuck. No doubt about it.
11.3.2008 7:55am
C.B. (mail):
Bully for you. I am confident you will get the government you deserve.
11.3.2008 8:02am
Tregonsee:
The original posting is so extensive that there is no practical way to fully respond. Fortunately, it can be summed up thus: I always though the phrase "Dumb as a post" referred to an object. I was wrong, as it obviously referrers to a person named Post.

Treg
11.3.2008 9:01am
Erick:


What is it with the "Obama opposes nuclear power" refrain? Factcheck.org and politifact.com both debunked that claim months ago.

[from the link above] "What I don't want is for the best to be the enemy of the good," Obama said. "If we can come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise, in which I have to accept some things I don't like and the Democrats have to accept some things they don't like, when it's actually moving us in the direction of energy independence, I'm open to that."

That Obama is so closed-minded when it comes to energy.

Nothing was debunked. Nuclear power is currently safe and clean. If someone says they'll be for it when its safe and clean, that just means they're going to keep moving the goalposts on what clean and safe means so they never actually have to be for it.

He's also against Yucca Mountain. This provides another way for him to claim to have nuclear on the table but continue to deny that its currently workable even though it is. Yucca Mountain is a good site, we are not going to find a better one. If you claim to support nuclear only when we find a better site, you're not supporting nuclear power.
11.3.2008 9:37am
JEM:
I find Mr Post's reasoning to be quite counter to my own. He's basically choosing stylish incapacity over lumpy practicality.

The only rational reason for a 'pragmatic libertarian' to vote Obama is the prayer that he'll fall flat on his face and leave the country in a Carteresque (or worse) mess that a Palin can come along with promise of real reform in 2012.

And yes, I vote domestic energy. Both the present candidates are climate fraudsters, and it's something of a fear that one of McCain's efforts to be bipartisan will be carbon taxation, but there's at least more potential for delay and deferment if it has to be bipartisan.
11.3.2008 10:55am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Just a few quick points.....

I see Obama as far from a perfect candidate. I don't seem him as particularly socialist per se, but he is progressive and this is a cause for concern.

The major points I would make though are:

1) McCain has some very innovative proposals. Unfortunately, I am not one to think that innovations in society-building (which these effectively are) are good because societies are simply so complex that there will be big unforeseen consequence.

2) Civil rights are important. We need to see them defended. McCain's records on this area is not very good. Obama's for his faults is better, and this is a critical issue after the last two administrations have essentially declared war on our civil liberties. Obama's record here is pretty good.

JEM: Palin a libertarian? Three words "Windfall Profits Tax" sound like socialism to me.
11.3.2008 11:26am
JEM:
einhverfr - what windfall profits tax? Alaska has a severance tax. As do most other states. After all, the oil does belong to the state, and I see nothing wrong with that. She's been quite pragmatic in her carrot-and-stick approach to Big Oil.

And that's the key - pragmatism. She's what used to be pretty common in the western US before we were blanketed with coast-to-coast Starbucks - a populist-tinged libertarian, or a libertarian-tinged populist.
11.3.2008 12:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
A self-described "pragmatic libertarian" who is not a big fan of the state is going to enthusiastically pull the lever for the more statist-i-er of the two major party candidates because he seems like a swell dude and a gifted orator.


Brett pretty much nailed it in one. Well put.
11.3.2008 12:46pm
Tom952 (mail):
Professor Post:

As I post this there are 254 comments to your post. I think EV owes you a traffic-building bonus - dinner for two or something...
11.3.2008 1:02pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Thank you, David Warner.

I am amused by all the economic experts who never heard of the Panic of '73 until I brought it up, and in less than 12 hours they got it all sussed.

What did they do before wikipedia?

As for the complaint that FDR inflated the economy, that was the plan.
11.3.2008 1:04pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The idea that we can drill ourselves out of the economic and ecological hole in which we find ourselves is as wrong as an idea can be (as McCain, before he began pandering, understood quite well)"

Perhaps you can tell us exactly who holds that idea? Do you know?

Can we can windmill ourselves out of the hole? Is that as wrong as an idea can be?

Can we solar ourselves out of the hole. Is that as wrong as an idea can be?

Can we geothermal our way out of the hole? Is that as wrong as an idea can be?

Can we conserve our way out of the hole? Is that as wrong as an idea can be?

However, I'd suggest your ideas of energy production and consumption really are as wrong as an idea can be.
11.3.2008 1:51pm
David Warner:
Davod,

"You know. If I help him [Obama], he's gonna help me."

The video does not seem to be available."

For the first time in this campaign, I'll say this: that video is racist. We're largely post-racial. Not entirely.

"These guys were for Obama because he was going to give them the additional resources to fight the war in Iraq the way it needs to be fought. I give you the above as examples of how amorphous Obama's words are."

Yeah, most people under 30 I talk to say their voting for Obama because he's libertarian. Some even use the word.
11.3.2008 2:29pm
timd:
I too am casting a libertarian vote for Barack. I wish that I could say I'm as optimistic and enthusiastic as David. There seems to be a real chance that Barack will raise taxes, erect all sorts of barriers to trade, and rein in school choice.

But I do think he's smart and trustworthy...and that matters more to me right now.
11.3.2008 2:34pm
Smokey:
timd:
...I do think he's smart and trustworthy...
Tell us, timd, what color is the sky on your planet?

The rest of us have heard reams of Obama's outright lies, for instance his ridiculous claim that in twenty years of attending the "Rev." Wright's church, Obama has never once heard anything like Wright's hate-America rants -- which were corroborrated by numerous others as routine Wright sermons.

So, is Obama a liar? Or is he deaf? It's either one or the other.

Rational people know the answer.
11.3.2008 2:51pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
Harry Eagar-

As for the complaint that FDR inflated the economy, that was the plan.

Well as the linked study showed he was actually fixing wages and prices. This raised the cost of labor and goods in a lot of areas. As you know, when prices go up, demand goes down. So this increased unemployment and slowed down economic growth, extending the depression for seven years. Some "plan".
11.3.2008 3:07pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
In Iowa, they were shoveling No. 2 corn into boilers because there was no demand for it.

How could demand go lower than 0?

'As you know, when prices go up, demand goes down.'

Thanks for my laugh today. I suppose you have not examined the housing market of the past 5 years?

From what I read, prices of houses are way, way down this year, but demand is not up.
11.3.2008 3:43pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
Harry Eagar-

Thanks for my laugh today. I suppose you have not examined the housing market of the past 5 years?

From what I read, prices of houses are way, way down this year, but demand is not up.


For a number of reasons, mainly because these are the after-effects of malinvestment brought on by an inflation fueled asset bubble. More harmful effects from a fiat currency, inflation, and central bank interventionism.

I am amused by all the economic experts who never heard of the Panic of '73 until I brought it up, and in less than 12 hours they got it all sussed.

What did they do before wikipedia?


It was harder to research arguments before Wikipedia. But it's pretty funny that you sound like a Scooby-Doo villain: "I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those darn kids and their fancy web searchin'!"
11.3.2008 4:35pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Inflation-fueled asset bubble. Sounds like a market to me.

Sorry. markets don't work the way Adam Smith said they work, because people are not like Adam Smith thought they were.

Hard to figure out how hedge funds participate in 'bubbles' either, since they're a zero-sum game.

Now explain for me why the collapsing prices of farmland from '22 (that would be 1922, not 1822) did not bring in plutocrats to feast on the corpses of the American farm, thus driving prices back up.

When I was a boy in the South in the early '50s, there were abandoned farms that could be had for taxes -- and not much in taxes, either -- that had not been taken for over 30 years.

But keep telling yourself, markets work, markets work . . . really, someday they'll work just like in the textbooks.
11.3.2008 9:18pm
David Warner:
Eagar,

"But keep telling yourself, markets work, markets work . . . really, someday they'll work just like in the textbooks."

They work a damn sight better than the command and control my textbooks told me were all that and a bag of chips while my lying eyes told me no such thing.

What exactly is your proposed alternative to "markets"? Perhaps we should abolish to alphabet to prevent misspelling?
11.3.2008 10:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
A libertarian voting for Obama. That makes LOTS of sense. What next? There is NOTHING libertarian about Obama (where you can at least point to a couple of issues where McCain is at least aimed the right direction). Even on freedom of speech, progressives, with their enthusiasm for the Fairness Doctrine, demonstrate that they aren't liberals, but something closer to fascism.
11.4.2008 12:59am
Hans Bader (mail):
On reflection, I don't know who to support. Bob Barr? McCain? The choices are unpalatable.
11.4.2008 3:05pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I liked the New Deal. I like supervised (not commanded) financial markets. I liked Glass-Steagall.

I gather you like what we've got now.

Not me.
11.4.2008 9:13pm