Posted by Jack @ 9:49 pm on October 29th 2008

I endorse Barrack Obama for President. Someone here had to.

Previously, on TCP Endorsements:
Events have forced my hand: TCP’s original intent was that three of the blog founders would post endorsements that would reflect the roughly balanced divide amongst our group as a whole. Thus, we anticipated perfect symmetry with an endorsement each for McCain, Obama, and Barr. We all know how that turned out. Given James’ surprise endorsement of Obama and subsequent buyer’s remorse retraction, no sign of Brad’s highly anticipated opus, and Rojas’ implicit challenge that obviously no one at TCP supports Obama, I am stepping in. Also, Brad asked that I throw something up so we look less like idiots.

I endorse Barrack Obama for President of the United States. As a temporary and last minute substitute endorser, I simply refer you to my original Obama endorsement for the Democratic nomination, and provide the following as additions, updates, and reemphasized points.

Foreign Policy
This was the easiest area to mark on my presidential scorecard, with Obama’s reasoned diplomacy towards world affairs far outpacing McCain’s repeatedly emphasized bellicosity, interventionist preferences, and near constant saber rattling. I do not expect Obama to pull out of Iraq within a year, nor do I think such a rapid exit wise; but I do expect he will exercise a far more conservative approach to international relations. His mere election will serve as an immediate soft power generator, particularly among the developing nations and the Middle East, and will signal a changed America more willing to consider actions other than unilateral confrontation. I hope and expect that his actions in office will reflect a careful approach that, unlike his opponent, does not see armed conflict as merely a means of achieving your diplomatic goals, only faster. I am not ignorant of the possibility that Obama will involve us in peace keeping or peace making adventures in situations like those in Darfur, but I reject in the strongest terms comparing a willingness to participate in multinational operations of that nature with McCain’s reflexive tendency towards bombing runs and his personalization of every strategic opposition into a good versus evil narrative. As a former commanding officer told me: not every problem has a kinetic solution. Unless you are John McCain.

Judicial Appointments & the Supreme Court
My second easiest area to score. With Bush having appointed Alito and Roberts, thus shifting the court balance from a very loose 5-4 left lean to a 5-4 right stance, and given the ages of the remaining members in the minority, I see potential Supreme Court nominations alone as nearly enough of a reason to vote for Obama. Conventional wisdom and the considered opinions of avid court watchers suggests that the next three vacancies will most likely come from the liberal side of the court divide, and I tremble to think of the lasting damage that three more Republican appointees would do. Given that Bush’s appointees were clearly selected for their extraordinary deference to government authority, rather than the any clear social conservative positions preferred by the religious right sector of the GOP base, any further move along this line would seriously hamper efforts to roll back our surveillance state and reestablish ante Bush civil liberties. In light of Obama’s recently popularized 2001 interview discussion of constitutional law, I would expect that his court nominations will be far from the radical left candidates that occupy the nightmares of conservatives, but rather standard, if left leaning, appointments that will merely maintain the current status quo. I leave for another paragraph the economic and fiscal implications of this interview.

Personality & Temperament
I contrast Obama’s clearly evident intellectual curiosity, well-considered opinions, and preference for challenging advice to both the insulated bubble environment occupied by our current executive of the last eight years, and to the reactionary temper and personalization of conflict that define McCain. Personality and temperament only take you so far, but they enhance the likelihood of hearing contrary advice and improve the chances for reasoned discussion. I believe Obama has demonstrated far better judgment than his opponent, and in the choice between experience and judgment, I’ll take the latter every time. Exhibit A in the Obama-McCain judgment death match: Vice Presidential choice.

No single action or choice more clearly demonstrates the abject failure of imagination, narrow-mindedness, and ineptitude of the modern GOP and McCain campaign than the selection of Governor Palin as his running mate. An extraordinary failure to properly vet the Alaskan governor precluded McCain from realizing the nature and extent of her retrograde social views, anti-intellectual populism, and breathtaking ignorance regarding national and international issues. While the early hysteria and rumor mongering from the left proved well overblown, the candidate herself has proven so inadequate and unsuitable that conservatives have ended their support for McCain in droves, frequently citing Palin as either their primary motivation, or at least as a final nail in the coffin. I am entirely sympathetic.

Civil Liberties
By all rights, this should have been McCain’s category; it was his to lose, and lose he did. As measured by any civil liberties organizations I could find, Obama outscores McCain. And yet McCain’s early opposition to and statements against torture, delivered with the weight of one who had actually experienced it, and standing as he did against an overwhelming Republican tide in favor of it, earned him my respect and gratitude. Then he caved, and the equation shifted back to standard measures. Additionally, the McCain of 2000 aggressively distanced himself from the social conservative culture warriors among the religious right. The McCain of 2008 kowtowed to them at every turn, and I have no reason to believe that he will cease such deference. I am accused of overemphasizing “social issues” and a certain brand of civil liberties at the expense of property rights and free market purity: guilty. I make no excuses; I come to my libertarian ideology, loose as it may be, from a much more solid civil libertarian perspective. I do not think that Obama is a civil libertarian dream candidate: far from it, but he is significantly superior to McCain in this regard.

Republican Party Ideology, Platform, and Control
I, like nearly every libertarian or small government conservative giving even tepid support to Obama, hope that continued repudiation of the GOP at the polls will result in a reexamination of the party’s principles, platforms, areas of emphasis, and agents of control. While I don’t expect the GOP to rise from the ashes entirely devoid of the neo-conservative interventionism, theocratic influences, massive government movement conservatives, and unitary executive fantasies; I do hope for a return in principle to Goldwater-style government, resurgent libertarian influences, a more tolerant view of the full range of individual rights, and noticeably less emphasis on social conservative cultural warfare. Perhaps we are all projecting, and the GOP base will entrench even further, nominating Palin in 2012. But the disasters of the last eight years have come home to roost, and continued rejection at the polls will force, perhaps later rather than sooner, a change. Adapt or die, cause what you are doing right now ain’t workin’, you betcha.

A Few Words About Redistribution and Socialism
I take it as given that Obama will pursue an increase in federal government spending in support of, among other things, entitlement programs, and that these policy initiatives, backed by a Democratic dominated Congress, will result in less efficient government, tax increases, and fiscal burdens. I reject in the strongest terms the suggestion, echoed by our James, some libertarians, and many conservatives, that Obama will radically alter the existing redistributive nature of our government system into European style socialism, or even a new New Deal. I can add nothing substantial to the extraordinary comment thread discussing this likelihood in light of Obama’s statements about redistribution in the 2001 NPR interview. I concur with the wide array of conservatives and libertarians that see Obama’s “redistribution” comments as rather mundane and mainstream. I am willing to accept an incremental increase in tax, entitlement programs, and the size of the federal government in exchange for the other advantages delineated in paragraphs above. I encourage you to read the comment thread linked, including the numerous sources Brad and James provide. If you still believe that Obama will institute radical socialism, then I can provide nothing further. I will join your opposition if he moves in that direction. Until then, the evidence supporting this fear seems, at very best, highly imaginative distortions.

Finally, my entering argument for any national political contest is that we are better off with split government and the resulting legislative gridlock. My support for Obama is despite this belief. His superiority over McCain and the need to undue the damage wrought by the last eight years are so great that Obama has dragged me from my natural inclination.

Admittedly Illogical Coda
I view all of the above as my logical argument for Obama, but confess to an illogical, emotion-based motivation as well. I appreciate that the election of Obama would say something positive about the rational growth of our national conscience in the area of race relations and equality, but this is of minor import. Such sensitivities, in light of the extraordinary cult of personality around Obama, lead too easily to the inappropriate projection of one’s own beliefs onto the candidate, and a reactionary attitude too willing to defend his faults. What I refer to instead is the pleasure I will take from this election acting as an unadulterated rebuke to the irrational fear mongering among the far right edge of the blogosphere; those who willingly and aggressively trumpet every ridiculous lie or gross distortion that enters their email box. So too, I look forward to calling the bluff of what passes for mainstream conservatism’s “party uber alles” mentality as they lay the groundwork for yet another dolschtosslegende. Witness’s front page story that not only castigates all those conservatives who rejected McCain, or even criticized aspects of the campaign, but states unequivocally that “we will never again trust their judgment” while laughably, in the same post, trying to maintain the illusion of a big tent party and ideology. The list of traitors is a who’s who of conservative pundits and commentators. Because what’s needed now, after two disastrous elections and the lowest Presidential approval rating in history is more of the same, more perceived enemies, and more purging. Jesus wept.


  1. For the record, my endorsement is still coming.

    Comment by Brad — 10/29/2008 @ 10:10 pm

  2. I don’t think there was ever any real doubt about that. I consider this a temporary stop-gap, a second string effort.

    Comment by Jack — 10/29/2008 @ 10:18 pm

  3. For the record, I’m glad one of you two put something up.

    My reasons for supporting Obama are very much in line with yours, Jack, with economy taking a back seat to civil liberties and foreign policy.

    Comment by Liz — 10/29/2008 @ 10:24 pm

  4. Perhaps Brad is simply aiming to stall until after the election. Adam too.

    Comment by Cameron — 10/29/2008 @ 10:28 pm

  5. Have some compassion for Adam. That can’t be an easy post to write.

    Comment by tessellated — 10/29/2008 @ 10:49 pm

  6. Stop gap. Heh.

    Comment by James — 10/30/2008 @ 2:48 am

  7. Jack, I wouldn’t have expected anything other than an Obama endorsement from a left-libertarian. Your support of Ron Paul was definitely tepid.
    One question, do you know if Obama ever answered the question given to Sarah Palin regarding the “Bush Doctrine”? And if you do, what was his answer? Your answer may sway me as I remain undecided though in view of Obama’s associations and “spread the wealth” ideology I am increasingly tempted to vote McCain as the lesser of two evils.

    Comment by Coogan — 11/2/2008 @ 4:58 pm

  8. Coogan, keeping in mind that I think the Bush Doctrine is subject to a signficant amount of projection on the part of whomever is referring to it, I suspect we could generally agree on a definition that includes: “signficant departure from Clintonian foreign policy,” emphasis on strategic primacy, unilateralism to include military action, pre-emptive warfare, and regime change seeking democratization. Given that, there is this:

    and then there is his answer during a debate, when Charlie Gibson challenged him on his aggressiveness with regard to Pakistan:

    GIBSON: I’m going to go the others in a moment, but what you just outlined is essentially the Bush doctrine. We can attack if we want to, no matter the sovereignty of the Pakistanis.

    OBAMA: No, that is not the same thing, because here we have a situation where Al Qaida, a sworn enemy of the United States, that killed 3,000 Americans and is currently plotting to do the same, is in the territory of Pakistan. We know that. . . .

    Let me just pick up on a couple of things that have been said. And I think people are in broad agreement here. But I think one of the things that’s been left out is Iraq. And part of the reason that we neglected Afghanistan, part of the reason that we didn’t go after bin Laden as aggressively as we should have is we were distracted by a war of choice. And that’s the flaw of the Bush doctrine. It wasn’t that he went after those who attacked America. It was that he went after those who didn’t.

    That last quote via Glenn Greewald

    Comment by Jack — 11/2/2008 @ 6:01 pm

  9. Much obliged.

    Comment by Coogan — 11/3/2008 @ 11:15 am

  10. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the comments that led to that block quote were about strikes into Pakistan, which I think is also indicative of a difference, in that they were about going after Al Qaida in Pakistan, rather than going after Pakistan, though arguably it would result in the same because Pakistan could possibly take those strikes as an act of war.
    Not sure that it matters all that much, but it does to me.

    Comment by Mortexai — 11/3/2008 @ 2:42 pm

  11. Mort, that is correct. Attacking AQ in Pakistan territory was the point of the discussion.

    Comment by Jack — 11/3/2008 @ 7:10 pm

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