Thursday, March 29, 2007

Barack Obama Part 2

Republican Politics, American Style (Barack Obama Part II)
Published on March 15th 2007 in Metro Eireann
By Charles Laffiteau

Today I will elaborate further on why Barack Obama is the best potential Presidential candidate. In my previous column, when I acknowledged Senator Obama’s political acumen, I was referring to his record as an Illinois legislator where he built a reputation as a man who could build coalitions and work effectively with Republicans and Democrats. This has continued in the US Senate where he has a record of working with Republicans to co-sponsor legislation dealing with Immigration reform and legislation providing US citizens with a transparent way to see which organizations around the country receive Federal funds, which Government agency gave them the money and what it was for.

Senator Obama, unlike our current and previous Presidents, has admitted using marijuana and cocaine regularly as a teenager. He has acknowledged experiencing some emotional problems coping with his multi-racial heritage and growing up in single parent home without his father present. He is an honest man who has acknowledged his own shortcomings and past mistakes. That’s’ the type of person I know I can trust. This is what I mean by possessing a sense of personal responsibility.

Senator Obama has also urged Democrats to reach out to evangelical Christians and engage in discussions with them and communicate what their own values are, stating that; “we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse.” Senator Barack Obama stands for unifying the American people, not dividing them so he can achieve his own political goals. That is the sign of a principled person and an “honest broker.”
This is the kind of person I must support if and when he does decide to run for the US Presidency. A person who seeks to unify rather than divide our country.

Having said all that, I must also express my concern about his run for President in 2008. I have a strong sense that it is too soon. Only once in American history have 3 consecutive presidents been re-elected to a second term, James Madison was the only one in 1821.

If history is prologue, then whoever wins the Presidency in 2008 is likely to serve only a single term. Conversely, history also favours the re-election of any President who is subsequently elected to succeed a one term President.

History also favours candidates running for office following the end of a divisive foreign war, when citizens long to have their country reunited again. Andrew Johnson failed in his attempt to hold onto the Presidency following the end of the Civil War. The Democrats lost the Presidency after the end of World War I and Winston Churchill was turned out of office as Great Britain’s Prime Minister following the end of World War II. While Harry Truman retained the Presidency following the end of World War II with a huge upset win over his Republican rival Thomas Dewey, he failed in his bid to win re-election after the end of the Korean War. Gerald Ford also failed to win re-election following the end of the Vietnam War.

Because I am certain the Iraq war will still be going on when President Bush leaves office, his successor, Republican or Democrat, will have to preside over the end of it. Victory in that war, as previously defined by President Bush, is highly unlikely. Whatever his successor does to extricate the US from this conflict is likely to be regarded unfavourably by a large percentage of the voters in the 2012 elections. Is past history is any kind of indicator, and I believe it is, then Bush’s successor isn’t likely to win re-election or even their own party’s nomination.

If Senator Obama had waited until 2012, he would have been more likely to be seen as a unifying force than he will be viewed in 2008. The Republican Party will make sure that 2008 is a nasty and negative Presidential campaign, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, because this is what has always worked best for them. Senator Obama could have avoided this desperate last ditch attempt by Republicans to hold onto the Presidency and regain some of their power in Congress, instead of confronting it. I believe the divisions caused by the Iraq war will still be very evident come November 2008 and for some time thereafter.

I believe the Senator’s lack of experience will also be used against him. Barack Obama has only been on the national stage as a Senator for two years and has never been in a national race. If he had decided to sit out 2008, he could have spent the next 4 years continuing to build a national base of support by campaigning and raising money on behalf of other political candidates.

The next round of redistricting following the 2010 census will probably weaken the Republican Party and reduce the number of safe seats they currently count on holding no matter what happens nationally. This should then result in a stronger slate of candidates for the Democratic Party in both state and Congressional elections, which will also help the Party’s 2012 Presidential nominee. But above all, I just have a strong indefinable sense that he should have waited, that it’s just not his time yet. I really do hope I’m wrong about this.

I just wish he would have waited until 2012. If elected in 2012, Barack Obama would begin his first term in office, January 20th 2013, 150 years after a Republican from another era, who was both a great leader and a true statesman, named Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. That’s just another bit of history for all of us to consider.

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