The Seventh Sense Gives Its Coveted Endorsement: It’s Barack Obama

Ken AshfordElection 2008Leave a Comment

CariobamaWe, the editors of The Seventh Sense*, believe it is time to get off the fence.

We are endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic ticket and next President of the United States.

Why Obama, you may ask?  And what’s wrong with the woman?

The reasons are wide and varying, but let us touch up on the main points:

1.  Obama possesses superior leadership and judgment on matters of foreign policy and national security.

Sure, he makes some people nervous because he supposedly lacks experience on the international stage.  But we don’t buy into notion that there is anything that any person can do in order to be fully prepared to be leader of the free world.  Americans apparently don’t either — our current President was merely governor of Texas before coming onto the national scene (he didn’t know the names of many world leaders).  Prior to that, our President of eight years was another governor. 

The point is that being a Congressperson, or even a former president’s wife, simply does not give one insight into making the right decisions.  In fact, it may be hampering.  Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq War.  All her supposed "experience" didn’t help her at all in seeing what we, Obama, and thousands of others saw: an administration hell-bent on waging war, despite strong evidence, and without clearly-defined goals and without a exit strategy.

Obama, the man with supposedly less "experience", saw this, and cast what was (at the time) considered an "unwise" and "unpatriotic" vote.  He was against the war before it was the popular thing (from a poll standpoint) to oppose.  In short, he had better judgment.  Period.

As he said in the recent debate, it’s more important to be "right from day one" than to be "ready from day one".  This is, to me, undeniably true.

2.  We like what he says (and we believe him) about a new direction for government.

Every candidate talks about changing government.  For Obama, these are not merely words.  He’s really got an agenda about changing how government operates.   For instance, consider these proposals:

* Centralize Ethics and Lobbying Information for Voters: Obama will create a centralized Internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records, and campaign finance filings in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format.

* Create a Public “Contracts and Influence” Database: As president, Obama will create a "contracts and influence" database that will disclose how much federal contractors spend on lobbying, and what contracts they are getting and how well they complete them.

* Expose Special Interest Tax Breaks to Public Scrutiny: Barack Obama will ensure that any tax breaks for corporate recipients — or tax earmarks — are also publicly available on the Internet in an easily searchable format.

* End Abuse of No-Bid Contracts: Barack Obama will end abuse of no-bid contracts by requiring that nearly all contract orders over $25,000 be competitively awarded.

* Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

* Make White House Communications Public: Obama will amend executive orders to ensure that communications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White House staff are disclosed to the public.

* Conduct Regulatory Agency Business in Public: Obama will require his appointees who lead the executive branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet these debates.

Openness in government is central to a functioning democracy.  Obama will restore what has been lost in the Bush Administration, and take the country further along down the path of an open government.

3.  Obama can win against McCain.

We want a Democratic president in November.  And to me, Obama will fare better against McCain (or Romney for that matter) than Mrs. Clinton.

HillaryevitaHillary Clinton carries a lot of baggage.  Admittedly, a lot of it is unfair, and she gets hated because her husband (known in some circles as "the philanderer") is so hated.  We wouldn’t say that she’s polarizing; but we think it is true that, for one reason or other (some good, some bad), people are polarized by her. 

Besides, we don’t like dynasties. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton?  As a country, we’re having an entire generation of Americans coming who will be unaware of any other president.

Even though the word is overused, we think Americans are ready for change.  Clinton, being a Clinton, is the embodiment of non-change.  And McCain, well, he ain’t change either.

Juan Cole nails the Clinton fatigue that I feel:

Over the past few weeks I have grown weary of the Clintons, and weary really is the right term. They are tiring to the bone. Everything is calculated, nothing is what it seems to be, and they are just too cynical for even me (despite my cardinal sin the past few years being a resounding lack of cynicism and skepticism). Every time I hear her name, every time I hear her voice, I think to myself- “God, I am so sick of the fucking Clintons.” It may be unfair to vote against Hillary because of the din created by her opposition, but I would be lying if I did not admit the role that has played in my decision making. I am just tired of the fuss, the noise, the animosity- I have no doubt the right wing will manage to make Obama public enemy #1 if he wins the nomination, but at least it will be something new. Everything with the Clintons is so recycled, so old, so tawdry. Yes, Hillary, I do need a change.

Obama is a fresh face, and a qualified face.  He’s the closest to Bobby Kennedy since Bobby Kennedy ran forty years ago.  McCain is a dinosaur, not only of his party, but of America.  Imagine the two of them — Obama and McCain — standing side-by-side in a debate.  Clearly only one of them is the face of a better tomorrow.  And that’s Obama.

We’re not optimistic about Obama’s ability to create bipartisanship.  Not that he won’t try.  But the other side will not let him.  But this too is an Obama strength, because unlike with the Clintons, the attempts for nastiness by the political opposition will actually end up hurting the attackers.

But wouldn’t it be great to have a woman president?  Well, sure.  But this, for me, is not about gender.  Or race.  It’s a bout the best person.

With Hillary Clinton as the nominee, you can expect the general election to have the bitter nastiness of the 1990’s campaigns.  And that’s because it is for all intents and purposes a slate of "1990s" candidates.  This will turn off moderates and disillusion yet another generation about politics.  Obama, on the other hand, excites people.

4.  He’s done stuff.  Substantive stuff.

We’re deferring to Hilzoy on this:

There he was, working for nuclear non-proliferation and securing loose stockpiles of conventional weapons, like shoulder-fired missiles. There he was again, passing what the Washington Post called "the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet" — though not as strong as Obama would have liked. Look — he’s over there, passing a bill that created a searchable database of recipients of federal contracts and grants, proposing legislation on avian flu back when most people hadn’t even heard of it, working to make sure that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were screened for traumatic brain injury and to prevent homelessness among veterans, successfully fighting a proposal by the VA to reexamine all PTSD cases in which full benefits had been awarded, working to ban no-bid contracts in Katrina reconstruction, and introducing legislation to criminalize deceptive political tactics and voter intimidation. And there he was again, introducing a tech plan of which Lawrence Lessig wrote:

"Obama has committed himself to a technology policy for government that could radically change how government works. The small part of that is simple efficiency — the appointment with broad power of a CTO for the government, making the insanely backwards technology systems of government actually work."

He’s not a perfect candidate.  His call for cleaner coal technology is almost laughable.  And I think that Hillary’s health care plan is marginally better than Obama’s plan.

But on the whole, Obama simply has better policies.  Moreover, he’s got an impressive array of advisers on his side already.

And that’s it.  He’s smarter.  He’s got better judgment.  He’s inspiring.  He offering things new and different.  He’s capable.  He’s got a track record of fighting hard for issues that are important to us.

So we’re going to cast our vote for that Obama dude.

* We, the editors of The Seventh Sense, realize that we have an annoying, deceptive, and grandiose habit of writing about ourselves in the plural form, but don’t worry: it’s all tongue-in-cheek tongues-in-cheeks.

UPDATE:  Standford U. Law Professor Larry Lessing on why he’s for Obama.  A little long, but he makes good points: