Thursday, March 29, 2007

Barack Obama

Republican Politics, American Style (Barack Obama Part I)

Published on March 8th 2007 in Metro Eireann

By Charles Laffiteau

Today I would like to begin discussing my opinions regarding one of the recently announced Democratic Party contenders for the 2008 Presidential contest, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. I was going to use just a couple of lines to summarize my assessment of this candidate in my previous column, where I discussed all of the other Democratic and Republican potential or announced Presidential candidates.

However, doing so would have been a cowardly way out of my current dilemma. I am in a dilemma because, of all the announced or potential candidates, Republicans and Democrats, I honestly believe that Senator Obama is the best man for the job as our next President.

As a life long Republican, it pains me greatly to say this. Many Republicans will now dismiss me and my opinions as never having been representative of the Republican Party. They will accuse me of turning my back on the Republican Party and of being a “turncoat” or “traitor” if you will. Some will even say “He never really was a Republican anyway.”

I can understand such sentiments and will offer the following as my only defence: “I am an American citizen first and a member of the Republican Party second.” As such, my duty as an American citizen and as a voter is to support and vote for the man or woman I believe will do the best job as President of our country. Those who disagree with me are well within their rights to do so and I will respect their opinions even though they are contrary to mine.

Having stated this justification for my position, as well as my belief that Barack Obama is the best man for the job, I would also like to say that I truly hope he decides against running for President in 2008. Before I elaborate on why I hope Senator Obama decides not to run in 2008, let me first explain why I believe he is the best person for the job of President of the United States.

I believe that Barack Obama possesses that unique combination of leadership skills, political acumen, strongly held principles and possession of a sense of personal responsibility needed by anyone chosen to lead the worlds’ oldest democratic government. The Presidency of the United States (US) is unlike any other national leadership position in the rest of the world, because the US is the world’s only true global superpower. The greater the power at one’s disposal, the more judicious one must be in terms of using or exercising such power.

Unfortunately, President Bush and his Republican supporters fell victim to that intoxicating elixir of power which is best exemplified by that old adage “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. They were seduced by the power at their disposal, as have so many other national leaders (throughout the world) over the centuries. These misguided souls deceived themselves into believing they could do no wrong and that they were “men of destiny” rather than simply mere mortals.

Like so many others who have come before them, Bush and Company weren’t very good students of history, thus they were doomed to repeat those same mistakes rather than learning from them. Was the US invasion of Iraq and our justifications for doing so really much different than Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979? Afghanistan was Russia’s next door neighbour instead of halfway around the world, but couldn’t we still learn some lessons from their failures there? What about the US experience in Vietnam? How could the Bush administration ignore the historical warning signs?

I truly believe that Barack Obama would not have made many of the same disastrous decisions that the Bush administration has made, because he is very much aware of the limitations of US power. He is well aware that it is not as overwhelming as Bush believed and Senator Obama knows it should still be exercised sparingly.

Alone among all Presidential contenders, be they Republicans or Democrats, Barack Obama took a politically unpopular stand and opposed the US invasion of Iraq. In 2002 he spoke at an anti-war rally in Chicago and said; "I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and with a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings."

This is an excellent demonstration of Senator Obama’s leadership skills and strongly held principles. Barack Obama will undoubtedly make some mistakes while he is in office, but he isn’t likely to repeat the same mistakes he or others have made. Next week I will elaborate further on why I believe Senator Obama is deserving of both mine and other Americans support, in his run for the US Presidency and why I hoped he would not run in 2008 but rather wait until some later date.

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