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Clinton attacks Obama, sounds like a Republican

With Obama as the frontrunner now, Clinton went on the attack yesterday in New Hampshire. But from my perspective, she's highlighting things as bad, or "attackable" by the right, that I like about Obama:

Hillary's aides point to Obama's extremely progressive record as a community organizer, state senator and candidate for Congress, his alliances with "left-wing" intellectuals in Chicago's Hyde Park community, and his liberal voting record on criminal defendants' rights as subjects for examination.

The piece also says Obama supports getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing, too. Which is the right thing to do. So the Hilary camp has only made Obama more attractive to me as a candidate.



Obama seriously undermined his claim to be a progressive or liberal by voting in favor of the bankruptcy reform bill (maybe he had a drink with Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein afterwards to celebrate?).

What good is it if he opposed the war in iraq if he supported the war by the corporate moneyed interests upon the American people?

His work as a community organizer, after being editor in chief of the harvard law review, strikes me more as the same insincere resume buffing by that annoying kid from high school who volunteered at the old folks home for two hours per week. I'd love to see him go back and explain that vote to the same people he worked with as a community organizer. I'm not holding my breath. I really believe that it was a calculated decision, a la Clinton's Sister Souljah public takedown in 1992. He did it to show his independence from the move on crowd.

Well, it is disappointing he voted for that bill. But that doesn't mean I'm going to abandon him as a candidate. Have you taken a look at his plan for addressing global warming? Joe Romm thinks it's top notch. It's my number one issue, and I think Obama can convince the American people, like FDR did in the early days of his presidency and after Pearl Harbor, that there's hope, but it requires sacrifice from all Americans. Not just on global warming, but on universal health care, progressive tax policy, and any number of other issues. Hilary Clinton simply can't do that, and I don't think Edwards can, either.

Final point: One of the things that made FDR great wasn't that he had all the answers, but that he built a brain trust around him of brilliant people, people who he was willing to listen to and lean on for ideas, which he ultimately made his own. If you look at the people Obama has surrounded himself with, his hungry intellect, and willingness to tackle issues and get solutions in place (as he did in the Illinois legislature), I think you see many of the same building blocks that made FDR's presidency so great.

Final, final note: Have you noticed that Edwards seems to be running for Obama's vice president? Edwards - and the media - are saying he's trying to edge out Clinton and make it a two person race, but I think he knows he can't win, but wants that consolation price - the vice president's office.

Andrew appears to be eager to point out instances of Obama's flip-floppery. Sure, he's done a few things I'm not happy about, but one of the simultaneous pros and cons of representative democracy is that the representatives must each compromise at some point or nothing would ever get done. If Obama simply clung unwaveringly to a stated agenda, he would probably be very ineffective and eventually be voted out of office.

So Obama worked as a community organizer after college. He wasn't born into old east coast money the way half of Harvard's students were, so he had to start from the bottom. Are you really taking him to task for setting higher goals for himself? If you read his first book, you wouldn't dismiss his community work as insincere.

Obama must take very careful steps. The Repubs will spare no effort in painting him as a left-wing commie/socialist, should he win the nomination. Americans are almost as afraid of the word "liberal" as they are of "socialized." To win, he needs the moderates' vote, which means he will have to downplay his more idealistic and liberal positions. To that end, he might very well have made a "calculated decision," and that might not be a negative given the larger picture.

My criticism of Obama is not flipfloppery because it's hard to flip flop when you start out in the wrong and don't change. It's because I see him as another Bill Clinton who tries to appeal to the "center" by appropriating right-wing soundbites while trying to appeal to everyone. He fear mongers about Social Security, he attacks unions and trial lawyers, and promises to get out of Iraq yet also defeat Al-Qaida in Iraq.

Fundamentally, I think Obama operates from the wrong premise, as does the Beltway establishment, that the political center is made up of low grade republican economics. In truth, the political center in American is solidly in favor of various liberal economic proposals, like universal heath care and raising the minimum wage.

The way to win the moderates' votes is not taking small steps but to stand up and advocate vigorously for liberal economic policies (for social liberal policies, we just need to wait for the magic of changing demographics). This is why progressive political activists put popular initiatives that jack up the minimum wage on the ballot. Those initiatives generate large turnout which provide coattails for democratic candidates and other similar initiatives.

When Edwards says he won't negotiate or compromise with special interests, sure that's hyperbole but I don't see it as any different from Reagan building up the military so he could negotiate from a position of strength. There will be a progressive majority in the coming years and when we realize it has arrived, we will need someone who will know what to do with it. And that person, at least this time around, is John Edwards.

If I want calculated decisions, I'll vote for Hillary. Thanks, but no thanks.

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