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I'm voting for Obama in Texas' March 4 open primary

Why? There are two reasons: (1) I want to cooperate in the defeat of Hillary Clinton; (2) I think Barack Obama will be a weaker general election candidate in a race against John McCain, who I am supporting. The second reason may appear at the present counterintuitive, for Obama's rock star status seems almost transcendent. But I don't believe it will last. Obama's weaknesses will be isolated and amplified in a general election campaign in which his opponent will not be restrained or intimidated by the identity-politics land mines that permeate the road to the Democratic nomination.

So, I encourage all Texas independents and Republicans to cross-over and vote for Senator Obama.

Comments (27)

Frank,
I think you are quite right that Obama is a more beatable candidate in the general election.

He is a half-term senator who spent half of his half-term running for a different office. Add to his lack of national experience the fact that he has no military experience, no executive experience, and no foreign policy experience. He is to some the poster boy for empty suits. That he also is the most liberal senator in Washington, and that left wingers like Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Diane Feinstein are all to his RIGHT hurts him enormously in the general election. America simply is not that liberal.

Nor does it help his cause at all that he is a member of an alarming fringe church, whose beliefs set him at odds with those inside mainstream religion in America (as well as with some of the non-religious). If being a Mormon proved to be a liability for Mitt Romney (and I think it did), then religion will likely prove an even bigger liability for Obama. That he also appears to some folks to be Islamic both by name and by background will also hurt his chances in the general election, should he get the nomination.

Further, there still exists sufficient racial bigotry in America that some folks will vote against him solely on the basis of race (just as, it seems to me, some folks vote FOR him solely on the basis of race, which is an interesting exhibition of racial bigotry as well).

Finally, I have heard repeated rumblings lately that there will be a stunning March surprise concerning Obama's background and actions. Perhaps there are skeletons in the closet that will sink his chances. I do not know. If they exist, I doubt that Hillary Clinton can abstain from bringing them to light if her political future requires it. If she does bring them to light, she succeeds in doing the Republicans' job for them.

Should Obama lose the nomination, the prospects for Hillary Clinton winning the general election are significantly injured because for her to win the nomination would likely require seating the Michigan and Florida delegations, which will deeply disaffect black Democrats, who, I suspect, will see the system as corrupt and oppressive. They will not fight hard for Hillary Clinton in that case. If those delegates are not seated,and she loses because they are not, the very influential Clinton wing of the party will be disaffected.

In short, I suspect that McCain will win both the nomination and the presidency. I also think that, given his age and his history, he might not survive his entire first term, which means the most important political event in the next several months is likely to be the nomination of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

Of course, none of this might come to pass. I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.

Michael Bauman

A vote for McCain will mean war in Iran, and the death of thousands of women and children. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for...Barack Obama.

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2008/02/mccain_adviser_cannot_campaign.html

One of McCain's top advisors won't work for McCain if Obama is his opponent. And will not tell why, even though he disagrees with him on very fundamental issues. I assume that means he thinks McCain's policies are bad for the country, and Obama's are good?? Then why wouldn't he work for Obama?


Are all these "beat Hillary!" crossover votes helping the Democrats avoid a close, divisive contest within their own party?

Russ:

If you're putting the death of thousands of women and children on Francis' and my conscience, as supporters of McCain, are you thereby taking upon your conscience the consequences of allowing Iran to become a nuclear power?

Francis and Michael:

I wish I were so confident that the Obamenon can be stopped. I do agree that a divisive battle for the nomination, especially of the sort that a wounded Clinton will likely wage, would do much to blunt the current enthusiasm gap between the parties. But I still think that having the battle end with Clinton victorious -- especially if it's by the only means that now seem plausibly sufficient -- would do the most damage to the Democrats' prospects.

So if I voted in Texas, I'd be voting strategically for Hillary!

I doubt that strategic voting has much effect, though, in part because we would cancel each other out. What might have more impact, at least in open or quasi-open primaries, is that the Republican race is now decided. But I wonder if there are good data about these effects. Anyone have Michael Barone's number?

Dan,

Good points all.

Strategic voting can be overrated -- as well as misunderstood and misapplied. On strategic voting, I agree with Bill Buckley's idea that (assuming one is a conservative) one ought to vote for the rightmost viable candidate, as opposed to voting for the candidate closest to you but who has no real chance of winning.

If you vote for the more conservative candidate, one that might agree more fully with you but who has no real chance to win, then the candidate FARTHEST from you will more likely win because you failed to vote for candidate best able to to defeat them. By voting for the one who has no real chance of winning, you waste conservative votes by dividing the conservative votes among the multiple right wing candidates doomed to failure, which means that the leftmost candidate will more likely succeed.

In other words, if one is a conservative Republican opposed to McCain, then one ought not to vote for Ron Paul, for Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter or Mike Huckabee. They seemed to have no real chance of getting the nomination, let alone the White House, To vote for any one of them is to divide the more conservative votes up among all those right wing contenders means that McCain will be more likely to succeed.

If you like McCain, then you hope that more and more folks vote for Paul and the others. If they do, they divide and conquer themselves.

Michael Bauman

As an Obama supporter (at this point, anyway), I urge all of you Republicans to vote for Democrats in open primaries. Huckabee continues to run and rack up significant vote totals, with the result of unimpressive victory totals, or even losses, for McCain. As long as that continues, the less viable McCain looks in the national election. That can only encourage the Democrats and demoralize the Republican electorate. Maybe they'll stay home in November. The Democratic candidate will be strong, whichever candidate prevails.

Daniel,

A real threat from Iran in the way of nuclear weapons would be just cause. A preemptive type attack in the same mode of the Iraq war, though, would not be.
McCain is trigger happy and Neocons haven't learned anything except maybe "more ruble, less trouble,' attitude. Remember McCain has Boots on is advisory staff and William ' we didn't try hard enough in Iraq' Kristol.

Michael, if you take even that type of pragmatic approach, what do you think of "pure" strategic voting in a primary, such as Frank advocates in the main post, for a candidate you would _never_ want to have in office? Voting done purely so that X candidate will win the primary and then (you hope) get pounded in the general as the weakest of your political opponents' options? That seems to me to be going rather farther, or perhaps in a different direction altogether, from Buckley's advice--it divorces voting for a candidate altogether from any desire to see him in office or any intent to "stand with" him, even as a compromise.

I don't actually agree with Frank's strategic assessments here, either. I think McCain is going to get pounded no matter whether Clinton or Obama wins the Dem primary. (Much as I hate to agree with Rodak about anything.) But that takes us away from the more, er, primary question about voting for a candidate you hate (politically speaking), because you hate him, in the hopes that he will be his party's candidate and lose.

You think McCain will not be restrained by the strictures of American identity politics? Really? I find that idea absolutely fantastical, but only time will tell.

Lydia,
I do think Frank is right, both regarding McCain and Obama in the general election, and in voting to get the weakest opponent nominated. If I were a Democrat and could vote in the Republican primary, I'd vote for Ron Paul -- as often as possible (wink).

I think Obama loses the general election for the several reasons I articulated in the first post. To those reasons I might also add that the surge in Iraq is working, making me think that the outcome ultimately will be positive. Obama's consistent opposition to the entire enterprise will be made to work against him.

Michael Bauman

"You think McCain will not be restrained by the strictures of American identity politics." Not entirely. But he will not be running in a Democratic primary, which is presently the case with Senator Clinton.

I am convinced that Obama is toast in the general election. His record and views will then take center stage. The Evangelicals who have a pastor-crush on him will eventually fall away. There are only so many times you can walk the altar call before you realize that you're not really saved. Partial-birth abortion, his pastor's racialist theology, his political and ideological connections to far left causes and concerns will slowly chip away at Obama and tarnish his "beyondism" (i.e., "beyond left and right," yadda, yadda, yadda). And when he's away from the teleprompter, the default Obama will kick in, and it will hit many, like an epiphany, "My God, he's just Teddy Kennedy in an Obama suit."

This option, of course, is not available to Senator Clinton. Why? She needs to court her party's left. Also, if she's too tough on Obama, many blacks will resent her for unfairly going after the first black man who has a legitimate chance at the presidency. She's in a pickle.

Think Ned Lamont. Right now Hillary is Joe Lieberman. In November, McCain is Joe Lieberman. Obama is Ned Lamont.

We were having some fun with identity politics at work just yesterday.

Worker1: You know, Obama is a Muslim. There is no way I can vote for him.
Worker2: Really? I heard somebody say that he was Baptist.
Worker1: So he's a Baptist Muslim. Now I could never vote for him.
Worker3: Isn't his mom Irish?
Worker1: So he's an Irish Catholic Baptist Muslim. I wouldn't vote for him for a million dollars.

We don't have open primaries (you can be challenged given past participation) here in Ohio... To prevent just this.

Of course if you were to give the Obama campaign speech to the election referees - you may be able to slide through...

"I want to vote for Obama because he is for the future... and for hope... and for America... and for tomorrow!"

"Well say no more, works for me!"

I also tend to agree with Rodak as far as the general election - either Dem candidate will present a formidable challenge for (presumptive nominee) McCain.

Here's my take on electability issues:

There are obvious trends that favor Dems generically: two terms of an unpopular -- indeed, in some circles hyperbolically unpopular -- Rep president, an unpopular war, and a sketchy economy. And there is independent evidence of greater Dem enthusiasm, as measured by fund raising and primary vote turnout (though I'm led to believe by people who know about these things that the latter is a bit over-hyped).

None of these things, however, show either Democratic candidate to be particularly strong. Whether they will present a formidable challenge is another issue, and I'm inclined to think that true for the structural reasons mentioned.

Nevertheless there are obvious and significant flaws, politically speaking, in both leading Dem candidates. Their flaws are mostly reciprocal, as it happens.

Hillary has high-certainty moderate risk, because she has consistently high negatives in polling, not only with Independents and Reps but with some Dems as well. Not to mention her baggage named Bill. She has an opaque ceiling of support. However, her risks are well known; it's all out there by now. (I think one of her staffers just expressed this delicately by saying that her negatives were "already factored in.") Factored in, for instance, in her running behind McCain in national polls. One shouldn't take such early polling too seriously, but that's an obvious data point.

Obama has low-certainty high risk, because nobody knows much about him yet. This is especially true due to the media swoon. To some extent he'll be buffered by his race, as his critics will be labeled racist quite quickly. But this won't survive our still vital tradition of political speech, as 527s don't have to worry about their reputation. There are some obvious potential weaknesses in Obama, most obviously a patriotism gap with McCain (or even Clinton, though she can't exploit it without further alienating her base). Michelle Obama just said something outrageous about her husbands campaign being the first time in her life that she'd felt proud of her country.

Putting aside any editorializing about the content, that's just terrible politics: a huge blunder.

In short, there's no telling what Obama or his wife might say or do, or turn out to have said or done.

And then there's the structural point that all the Dems generic advantages would be trumped by a modestly successful terrorist attack on American soil, or a really successful attack on American interests (embassies, tourists, etc).

I still fear the Obamanon, but the situation is very delicate. I welcome overconfidence from the Democrats.


Daniel,

patriotism gap

I think many conservatives may be underestimating this guy. Here from a great speech he once gave.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain.

I still have some residual, irrational attachment to the GOP, but can't say that I really care who wins in November. With that out of the way, I strongly suspect that McCain will lose regardless of the opponent because he is simply a lousy candidate, a meaner and less-accomplished Bob Dole, picked because it was his turn and his opponents were weak. Against Obama's "I have understood you" happy talk, his grim, clenched-jaw, militarism and his vindictive sarcasm will go over like a lead balloon. Nor will he be able to depend on fawning media attention the way he could when he was stabbing Republicans in the back. On the off chance that he was elected, he would be better able to open the borders than a Democrat, and I can assure other, more involved pro-lifers that, were he elected, he would not appoint the judge who would overturn Roe, except by mistake. But, against Clinton, he might have a chance, because as unappealing as McCain is, Clinton is pretty off-putting, too.

Russ,
It sounds like Obama had a patriotic grandfather. His own patriotism is a different question. What do you point to in that regard?

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not being sarcastic or cynical. I honestly do want to know what you point to in that regard. To date, I, as a conservative, am more convinced of his commitment to leftism, but less convinced of his commitment to his country. So, on that point I might well be in need of enlightenment. I am sincerely asking.

Best
Michael Bauman

Showing patriotism in a person isn't so easy. I guess I'd need a guideline. He crosses his heart when saying the pledge. Caring for our country seems to be pretty patriotic. I gave the example of his grandfather as evidence of him showing pride in his part in our history.

"The endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office."John Piper

Read:
Disqualified from Public Office


One-Issue Politics, One-Issue Marriage, and the Humane Society
By John Piper

Ignatius Insight: What do think are the chances that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned in, say, the next generation?

Dr. Beckwith: I think that with one or two more appointments to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade will be overturned. If Justices Ginsberg, Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and/or Kennedy retire and are replaced by more conservative justices, then Roe will likely fall if the right sort of case hits the Court. This is why the presidential election of 2008 may be the most important one for the pro-life movement since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. This is also why pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals have to respectfully resist being swayed by well-meaning members of their traditions who want to play down the importance of the abortion question in comparison to other issues. I see a disturbing trend among some Evangelical leaders in that regard. We have to remember that the central question behind the abortion issue—Who and what are we and can we know it?—is the question that informs every other moral and social issue on which human life, dignity, and community hang in the balance.

Recently, for example, I watched a video in which Emergent Church leader, Brian McLaren, implied that the pro-life position on abortion is a "single issue" by which Catholics, in particular, are exploited by others as a "one-issue voting bloc." I sat through this video with my mouth hanging open in utter amazement that this pastor would present the profundity of the sanctity of life by disguising it (calling it "one issue") and then dismissing it by characterizing in an uncharitable way fellow Christians who are deeply committed to human life's intrinsic dignity from conception to natural death.

The view that human beings are made in the image of God and ought to be protected by our laws and the wider community is not "one issue." It is the principle that is the point of justice itself: to love our neighbors as ourselves; to exercise charity; to help the vulnerable and the weak.

Fredi D'Alessio: Let's be sincere. All unborn children, including embryos, are human beings and have a right to life, which must be defended by each and every citizen. We must come to their defense in honest and straightforward ways: meaning what we say and saying what we mean. Honesty and integrity are the best strategies. "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Gal. 6:7)

Pass that on to McCain, Clinton and Obama.

I think Barack Obama will be a weaker general election candidate in a race against John McCain, who I am supporting.

Do you think that's ethical? To vote for a candidate to position them to lose?

Obviously, it's not a legal issue. But is it a "lie," an effort to manipulate an election in bad faith?

Fred,

Philosophically, isn't taking one sin, when there's plenty more, and using it as a voting guideline unbiblical? There are more than enough reasons, on moral grounds, to reject McCain. His name is synonymous with war.

I apologize if his comment is duplicated. I posted a longer version, which failed to post (perhaps because it was too long). I have replaced the bulk of the text with a link.

Russ,

The most horrendous and unjust war that has ever been waged is the war in the womb. As a Catholic Christian I approach my civic duty informed by a hierarchy of values and recognize that the right to life is first on that hierarchy.

We all must come to recognize the human person in everyone who is victimized, rejected, abandoned, and defenseless in the worldwide community. This cannot be accomplished if we do not firstly recognize and protect the most defenseless among us, the unborn. Not until we have done all in our power to end the abomination of abortion (and embryo destruction) worldwide by peaceful measures, can we hope to see a measure of peace in the world.

I do not believe we will never see an end to war in this world until we end the war in the womb. Perhaps our loving and merciful God will help us end poverty and war if we help Him end the war in the womb.

I ask that you reflect on these words of wisdom: Abortion - An obstacle to peace.

Sorry for the typo; that should be "I do not believe we will ever see an end to war in this world until we end the war in the womb."

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