Probably My Only Post Ever On “Obamacon-ism”

October 31, 2008

They wrote more, and they’re both more nuanced and thoughtful than the excerpts might make them seem, but it’s worth looking at these two quotations:

Joe Carter:

“If people want to vote for Obama, for whatever reason, that is their decision to make. But let’s not play along with the delusion that their reasons for doing so are because they are attempting to be consistent with their conservative principles.”

Daniel Larison:

“As I said yesterday, the most credible pro-Obama argument that can be made is that the GOP must be held accountable and Obama is not McCain, but I still don’t think that is a persuasive case for casting a vote for Obama, much less urging others to do likewise.”

I don’t really know where I fall on this spectrum, because even before 2006, I wanted Obama to run even if there was no chance he would win—the refresher would be worthwhile. And since it wasn’t until the middle of the primaries that I came to terms with my changing political self-labelling—and since I have some sort of weird republican (note the little-R) principle against Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton, it wasn’t that hard to keep preferring him to her—I was kind of an Obamacon by default.

I also have the ease of being registered in Kentucky, which isn’t going to be within ten points unless the polls are wrong or McCain announces that he preferred Hanoi to Washington, so my vote for Barr put no strain on my conscience. But I’m still technically an Obama supporter, because I’d prefer his victory to McCain’s. This is partly because I trust him more on foreign policy, partly because of other reasons Larison and Carter rattle off, but it does have quite a bit to do with what Andrew, Esquire, and Garry Wills all had to say lately.

I don’t totally trust either candidate on Executive power issues. Let’s be frank—neither candidate is going to shrink the federal government any. The power it claims is probably going to remain about the same in total, just centered in different areas. But I trust McCain less—ever since his vote against banning waterboarding, I’ve been increasingly skeptical of his willingness to take on those parts of the GOP that believe in the acceptability of a “Unitary Executive.”

It’s not that I think McCain favors the Bush-Cheney policy on this. I just don’t think he’s going to be willing to do battle with his own party in such a way to clear it out. Before this election, I thought he could and would; but his actions since have made me skeptical. As much as I may be wary of Obama’s plans for health care, those two words scare me more. And if you ask me, he’s the one more likely to clear it out.  He’s certainly the one more likely to appoint justices who don’t buy into the Yoo’s and Cheney’s and Addington’s reasoning.

(I’ll let it be known, though, that if I had it my way, Ron Paul would be on the GOP line and I’d be voting for him; and that if McCain had done things differently—if he’d voted against the Military Commissions Act, or hadn’t come out against amending the CIA Field Manual to ban torture—my thoughts would probably be much different than they are.)

This might all be on my mind because I’m neurotic and my favorite period of history is the collapse of the Roman Republic. Honestly, I hope so, but I just can’t bring myself to act like that’s the case.


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