Friday, December 29, 2006

BlueOregon: Edwards and Obama Compared

Steve Novick:
Which leaves Edwards and Obama. Now, Obama started out with a big advantage over Edwards: Edwards voted for the war, and Obama, as a state senator, was opposed. But since then, Obama went to Connecticut and loudly endorsed Joe Lieberman in the primary against Lamont. Meanwhile, Edwards is, as far as I know, the only Senator who voted for the war to declare, simply, “I was wrong.” He was also the first to call Lamont after his primary win, and campaigned for him. So at this point, I call them even on the war.
Specific votes? Obama looks good on interest group ratings, at least. Probably more liberal than Edwards looked – but I do cut Edwards some slack for being from North Carolina.

I do enjoy Obama’s bemused attitude toward his own celebrity. That’s a big selling point. And I respect the fact that he didn’t use Harvard Law School as a springboard to just making money at a big firm; shows character.

But I am annoyed by his reflexive support of the environmentally meaningless domestic corn ethanol industry, to the point where he supports sugar tariffs, undermining the possibility of fighting global warming with more energy-efficient sugar-based ethanol. I’m glad Obama has stopped flying on Archer Daniels Midland corporate jets, but disturbed that he ever did accept such rides.

So what’s next? Since this is BlueOregon, I say, take a look at the Web sites.

If you look at the Web site for John Edwards’ One America Committee, it’s all about the working poor. There are links to articles on striking janitors. Articles about housing costs. Gobs of material on the minimum wage: Edwards helped raise money for the six state minimum-wage initiatives. This really is what John Edwards is all about now: Inequality – the poor – organized labor. There is literally nothing not to like.

If you look at Barack Obama’s Senate Web site, you see virtually nothing about the minimum wage – nothing about the poor – nothing about labor. You see uninspiring pablum on a variety of issues. And one thing that sticks out:

Military Funding Since arriving in Washington in 2005, Senator Obama has been a strong supporter of defense funding. He has supported the annual Defense Department appropriations bills and supplemental appropriations bills that fund American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senator has also supported pay raises for the troops, efforts to improve military readiness, and the acquisition of new weapons systems.

Focus on that last point for a second. Pay raises for the troops? Sure. But a blanket endorsement of “new weapons systems”? That is the mark of a complete sellout to the military-industrial complex. And of a politician sorely lacking in fiscal responsibility. “Cutting weapons systems of the kind originally designed for the Cold War that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism” isn’t just a relatively safe position; it’s a totally safe position - a standard New York Times editorial page position. Here’s the latest from former Reagan Administration deputy secretary of defense Lawrence Korb:

“First, cancel outright the following weapon systems: the F/A 22 Raptor fighter attack aircraft; the SSN 7-74 Virginia Class attack submarine; the DDX Destroyer; the V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor transport aircraft; the C-130 J transport aircraft; and all offensive space-based weapon systems. In addition, the Pentagon should slow down the development of the tri-service F- 35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Army’s Future Combat System. These steps will save $30 billion in 2006 alone and more than $100 billion over the next five years.”

The fact that Obama doesn’t even have a nod toward those ideas shows a stunning degree of fealty to the military-industrial complex, and/or unjustifiable political timidity. And no, I don’t know where Edwards stands on these issues (other than being against Star Wars) – but at least he’s not going out of his way to endorse “new weapons systems.”

Or maybe it shows that experience does matter – that Obama hasn’t gotten around to reading Lawrence Korb. Which would be equally troubling.

Should I really base my decision on Web sites? Why not? That’s where voters can see, in writing, what candidates really, truly want them to see, without buying their books or whatever. (I shouldn’t have to pay $24.95 to find out what anyone stands for.) Everything Edwards gives me, I like, a lot. Obama gives me nothing to like very much and one thing to intensely dislike.


Minor Ripper said...

I think Edwards is great but I just don't know what has changed since 2004 except that he is two years older. The more I think about the Dems in 2008, the more I think the nomination is Al Gore's to lose: he was robbed in 2000, has been consistently right on Iraq (unlike Hillary), and will not have a problem with either cash or name recognition... I wrote a story on this at

Howard Martin said...

This comment is getting old.