Saturday, December 02, 2006

How 'Bout That Obama?

He's suddenly embraced by evangelicals, even when speaking about that nasty "c-word" (From OC Register):

Obama spoke extensively about the debate of abstinence vs. condoms.

"I don't think we can deny that there is a moral and spiritual component to prevention," Obama said. During recent travels through Africa, he said, "again and again I heard stories of men and women contracting HIV because sex was no longer part of a sacred covenant, but a mechanical physical act."

"Having said that, I also believe that we cannot ignore that abstinence and fidelity may too often be the ideal and not the reality. If condoms and potentially microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, they should be made more widely available."

The standing ovation given Obama was longer and louder than that received by either Warren or Brownback. The message clearly resonated.

He's suddenly receiving criticism from some in the progressive blogosphere (From David Sirota's recent post on Daily Kos):

Think about it. The national media is swooning over Obama, begging him to run for president. Yet, at the same time, they are implicitly acknowledging that he has actually not "developed significant legislative initiatives." In other words, we are to simply accept that the the Obama for President wave has absolutely nothing to do with anything that the man HAS DONE and further, that whenever he does decide to use his enormous political capital to do something, it is all in pursuit of the White House - not any actual sense of DOING SOMETHING for the people who elected him to the Senate.

I don't blame Obama for not having accomplished much - he's been in the Senate for two years. As I wrote in the Nation, the main concern about him is that he doesn't actually seem to ASPIRE to anything outside of the Washington power structure (other than maybe running for another higher office), and doesn't seem to be interested in challenging the status quo in any fundamental way. Using his senate career as a guide, it suggests that any presidential run by him is about him, his speaking ability and his fawned over talent for "connecting" (whatever the hell that means).

So what's wrong with Obama? What's right with Obama? What is it with Obama that's attracting all this attention? Is it because of that mesmerizing speech he gave to the Democratic Convention in 2004? Is it because he's a wildly successful African-American politician? Or is it because he's a youthful and energetic leader, ala JFK and/or RFK?

Personally, I'm really conflicted over Obama!
I like the style, but where's the substance?
Oh wait, now I like the substance, but the style unsettles me...
He seemed to hold so much promise as a new progressive leader, until he started flirting with the DLC/establishment crowd...
But it doesn't look like he's committed to them...
Yet he's not committed to us, the progressives, either!

He opposed the Iraq War from the beginning...
But what has he done since then to end the war?

He has a progressive voting record...
But what progressive legislation has he written and/or sponsored?
(OK, so he has been behind some good legislation... Yes, I appreciate his work on nuclear proliferation, Katrina relief, and fuel efficiency... Now why can't he do the same on issues like Iraq, the illegal NSA wiretaps, and restoring habeas corpus?)

He speaks so well...
But he also speaks so ill of his fellow Dems at times, even when the criticism isn't warranted.

What am I to do?
I'm flirting with Obama, but should I date?
Should I commit with him for '08...
Or should I shut him out?

It's too bad that I couldn't see him in Lake Forest yesterday...
We, as progressives, should try to get to know the Junior Senator from Illinois a little better. He may be just the Presidential Candidate that we're looking for, or he may just be another overly ambitious Senator who really should stay in Congress.

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