Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Barack Obama: Sometimes he makes me feel all lightheaded. But not in a good way.

Before I get accused of hurting Democratic party unity, let me repeat that I will absolutely vote for Barack Obama in November. I mean, what else can I do?

But I still think he must be held accountable for his continued effort to please everyone on the issue of equal marriage for all. His die-hard supporters have always promoted him as a man of strong conviction, a man who will fight for what's right. So when I hear him in an interview like the one he did last night with Jake Tapper of ABC, I am disappointed. His verbal gymnastics as he tries to please everyone and offend no one, are just painful:
TAPPER: OK, last one, and that is same-sex marriage is now going on in California.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: You oppose same-sex marriage.


TAPPER: Do you think that the fact that this is now going on in California, does that cause you to re-think your pledge to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act?

OBAMA: No. I still think that these are decisions that need to be made at a state and local level. I'm a strong supporter of civil unions. And I think that, you know, we're involved in a national conversation about this issue.

You know, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I also think that same-sex partners should be able to visit each other in hospitals, they should be able to transfer property, they should be able to get the same federal rights and benefits that are conferred onto married couples.

And so, you know, as president, my job is to make sure that the federal government is not discriminating and that we maintain the federal government's historic role in not meddling with what states are doing when it comes to marriage law. That's what I'll do as president.

TAPPER: Does it bother you, what California's doing?


Please! Someone get me the Dramamine, 'cause all this back and forth is making me seasick!


Mary Ellen said...

If you watch any of Obama's interviews he does this same thing. He tries to speak to whatever audience he has and tells them what they want to hear. When he's in a situation where he has to speak to the American people as a whole, as he does in interviews or debates, he flip flops so much you can't figure out what he's talking about.

I think the media has it wrong, he's not our first black nominee, he's just a run of the mill chameleon politician who could change his colors depending on what crowd he's addressing. What is really frustrating is the fact that the interviewers in the media refuse to hold him to what he says or pushes him to clarify his statements. Instead, they just smile and nod their head and move on, as if he really answered their questions.

Sue J said...

He's Zelig!

Anonymous said...

there are 4 words that sum up how he feels about marriage equality:

one man, one woman.

just hearing that phrase boils my blood. and you're right, how can he claim to stand for what's right if he's still offering the gays a chicken platter and breeders get the prime rib??

quakerdave said...

"...one man, one woman..."

No. Two committed, loving adults.

This is one of the areas where My Chosen Candidate really rubs me raw. This might just be the wimpiest of all his wimpy, half-baked positions.

Be a man. Stand for something. This is RIGHT. This is JUSTICE. THIS IS CHANGE.

Rant and caps off now.

Sue J said...

Feel free to rant here at any time, QuakerDave!

I think what disappoints me most about his answers in that interview is that he tries to sound supportive of the gay community by saying we should have all these rights -- when he knows full well that a "union" or a "partnership" will never afford us the same legal rights as a marriage.

Separate is not equal.

Mary Ellen said...

LOL! I forgot all about Zelig! Perfect.

You would think a man who claims to care about civil rights would get a clue on this issue. Of course, like I said, the media will continue to give him a pass on this stuff and he knows it. He also knows that if he did support gay marriage, he would lose all his evangelical voters.

Nan said...

Gawd, I hate the hair-splitting politicians do when they try to pander to multiple and conflicting groups of voters.

At least he does have enough spine to say it's up to the states and not the federal government to decide exactly what constitutes a marriage. I'm still pissed at Bill for signing the Defense of Marriage Act back in '96.

Fred said...

And I agree with Nan...
Obama's answer is stupid because the question itself is stupid. And the question is stupid because this matter is up to the States. Who cares what Obama thinks about same sex union??
What do you expect from Obama as a human being??? 100% flawless speech and answers 100% all the time??? Come on, let's get serious over here. Everybody complains or is unsatisfied (including myself sometimes) yet none of us would do as well in front of the camera. None of us would give as many average to good answers. We would SUCK half of the time because we've got no clue on most issues being discussed with the media.
We want Obama to address matters of national interest.

Mary Ellen said...

fred- eventually, the issue of same sex marriage is going to go before the Supreme Court. As each State makes their own laws, the problem with whether those laws apply if a person is married in a State that allows same sex marriage to a State that doesn't will force the Federal government to make a ruling on whether their marriage is still lawful. For that reason, a person who wants to be president and will most likely appoint at least one Supreme Court Justice, must be able to address this issue.

Regarding Obama's public speeches and interviews, at this stage of the game, he should be able to handle himself better than this in an interview. He should be able to address these issues with intelligence. You never saw Hillary Clinton stammer and hem and haw during an interview. She knew exactly what she was saying, especially when it came to issues of the economy. Obama doesn't seem to have the ability to do that. We've already had a President who couldn't put together an intelligent thought, do we really need another one? Obama may be "educated", but he isn't very smart. Bush has already proved to us that a diploma doesn't make him any smarter.

Same Sex marriage may not seem like an important issue to you, but it is in the "national interest".

Sue J said...

Mary Ellen, well put explaining why this is a national civil rights issue. For many Americans, this is anything BUT a "stupid" question.

As far as Obama's interviews, I don't question his intelligence because I think he's probably very smart. But I do question his tendency to pander, which comes off as sounding not so intelligent. He's "book smart" all right, but is he "politics smart" enough to wheel and deal the way he's trying to do on these issues?

Mary Ellen said...

sue j- You did a better job of what I was trying to put forth regarding Obama's intelligence. You're right, he's "book smart", but doesn't show that he is in the least bit "politically smart". He's clueless when it comes to economics, and although that is also true of McCain, at least McCain will admit that. Obama tries to BS his way through everything and won't admit he has no idea what he's talking about. Listening to him talk about Capital Gains taxes during the last debate made me want to scream. It was as if he had no idea what it was, but continued to try to BS his way through it. It reminded me so much of Georgie Bush who we all know was equally stubborn in defending his policies on issues he was clueless about.

Anyway, I'm not saying that anyone who supported Hillary before is wrong to support Obama. I would never tell others how they should vote. Personally, I feel that Obama needed to earn my vote, he hasn't done that and I doubt if he ever will. It has less to do with the way he handled his campaign, and more to do with the fact that I think he's incompetent and equally as arrogant and dangerous as Bush.

Like I said, that's just my opinion, not trying to push it on anyone else.

Fred said...

Thank you MaryE for your thoughtful explanation and analysis. I tend to disagree with your conclusion. To me and many Americans, this is not a reason to involve the one person who may bear the highest responsibility of the country. Because again this is not of national interest. Issues of national interest are Education, Health Care, Employment, Security, Foreign Policy (still!), Monetary Policy,... And this is where we all would like to know more about Obama's plan. The future of the US lies upon those issues, not on same-sex union. Let Journalists ask thoughtful questions on these critical issues please!!!
I think my opinion is based on the way I see ideal Democracy, with less centralized decision making. For a true democracy to operate, we should give more power to local authorities and agencies. I do not want a single person (namely the President) to legislate on certain issues that rather involves local communities. For the same reason, I do not want the President to legislate, say, on whether or not San Francisco is entitled to ban the use of plastic bags. Those issues are local even if technically speaking they are present in every State. You see what I mean? A President who is asked to legislate on those "small" issues is a Dictator. I admit this is MY opinion based on my view on the perfect Democracy. Maybe I live in Utopia? :)
Regarding the candidates' intelligence, I must say that Obama is far from the best and that's why I'm frustrated that Al Gore, who's much smarter than Clinton and Obama, didn't run. And both Clinton AND Obama fucked up while speaking out, not only Obama (see YouTube huge library on both candidates). European leaders are much better prepared to lead a country because they are taught about issues of national interest. When they speak out, one can learn something. I have never learnt anything while listening to either Clinton or Obama. Actually, feels like you learn more when reading their respective books!

Sue J said...

Fred, I can't believe you just said my civil rights are no more important than plastic bags.

Sara said...

You know, Obama could simply say, it's up to the states- and shut the fuck up.

this bullshit pandering to the middle and right by saying "marriage is between a man and a woman" is transparent at best.

Yes, there are many issues at hand- the war comes to mind as perhaps the largest and most important.

HOWEVER, marriage equality- and it's not gay marriage it is about equality and access to legal rights- is not merely a state issue. trust me, I'm married in MA and I can list all the federal benefits we do not get.

that doesn't mean I don't want universal health care, women's right to choose, the war to end, better economic polices, better trade agreements, more regulation on wall street, clean up of the subprime crisis... it's not mutually exclusive.

the world is not that simple.

plastic bags, indeed.

Mary Ellen said...

fred- Besides your comparison of gay rights to plastic bags being insulting to those in the gay community, you said, "I think my opinion is based on the way I see ideal Democracy, with less centralized decision making. For a true democracy to operate, we should give more power to local authorities and agencies. I do not want a single person (namely the President) to legislate on certain issues that rather involves local communities."

Where I think you are dead wrong is the fact that same sex marriage is not a Statewide issue, but a national one. Don't you think it would be strange to tell a person who is not gay that their marriage is only legal in the State in which they got married? That somehow, when they cross a State line, their rights cease to exist? This is NOT a State issue, but a National issue!

During the times of slavery, the North freed their slaves, the South didn't. This isn't much different. If a slave was caught crossing the line into the south, they were no longer free. This is the same thing, it's a civil rights issue.

Being gay is not a "state issue", it's a natural way of life that doesn't change when you cross the border. The gay community deserves equal rights under the law. They don't get that when they cannot be married like heterosexual couples.

I'm hoping that your comparison to human beings to plastic bags was not what you really think, if it was....you need to re-evaluate your moral codes.

Fred said...

HAHA very true Sue, sorry about that! :) That was not politically correct for sure. Our civil rights are more important than plastic bags, although we're talking about recycling and environment issues that will affect our children.
Next time, I'll take a better example. It's just the one that crossed my mind.
Gosh! I realize that Al Gore has been talking about environment more than any other issues! I do hope he values other rights. Of course he does! Just joking with myself here ;)
However, Obama saying "it is up to the State" in front of the camera would not be kind of politically correct... I can already hear people booing at him for avoiding that question.
Finally I consider we do have pretty good civil rights over here, especially compared to the other 250 countries of this Earth. If not, I (you too?) would have left this place.
This country remains great by nature because it is federated. So if I do not like NY State's rulings, I can always move to another State that better fits my personal views and way of life (regardless of the hassle of moving and finding another job!). That amazing freedom and the resulting possibility to change the Federal framework within the same country is unique in this world. We should celebrate it, CHEERS!

Sue J said...

Oh, Fred, it's such a cop-out to use the phrase "politically correct."

You mention "ideal Democracy," but shouldn't that ideal be based on every citizen being afforded the same civil rights. EVERY citizen?

Whatever your religious beliefs, how can anyone who so strongly believes in the importance of civil liberties accept these facts (from Human Rights Campaign):

** Gay and lesbian couples in lifelong relationships pay higher taxes and are denied basic protections under the law.

** They receive no Social Security survivor benefits upon the death of a partner, despite paying payroll taxes.

** They must pay federal income taxes on their employer’s contributions toward their domestic partner’s health insurance, while married employees do not have to pay such taxes for their spouses.

** They must pay all estate taxes when a partner dies.

** They often pay significant tax penalties when they inherit a 401(k) from their partner.

** They are denied family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

So, Fred, while you may think equal marriage is a "stupid" question, I hope you can see for many of us it is a tragically important question.

Fred said...

Don't take me wrong, I do respect gay people (half of my NY friends are gay!) and the importance of their civil rights. I do not ignore those important facts that you are rightfully mentioning. But their degree of importance cannot make them as critical as national security, health care, etc... We already have one of the best civil rights in the world. Addressing Gay issues requires some tweaking that the States can take care of. The States can address these civil issues much BETTER than one person, namely the President. Because the President does not address these issues does not mean they are not important. The President should focus on certain matters while the States address those specific civil rights (which may differ between States). Anyway, you know it's a waste of time because the President will have NO influence on how the States legislate on gay union. Having States and their Governor address equal marriage does not make the matter less important. On the contrary, it actually gives more power for example to local gay communities/association. It's a matter of organization of duties not a matter of what's important or not important.
Asking the President's opinion on every single issues going on in the country is almost like hinting that he knows everything and maybe he can even legislate, which few people want because it suggests power could be centralized in one hand when many issues, albeit important, can be dealt on a local basis, which is the very definition of Democracy.

Sue, Democracy is not an end in itself, it's a mean. As such, it is not perfect (hence my self question about Utopia). So the "ideal" cannot always be based on EVERY citizen. There's always going to be unhappy people. Again, the current Federal system allows micro democracies to operate on a local level, let them do their job since they are given this great opportunity while the President takes care of other matters.

Putting Obama down on gay issues is cheap. Criticizing him on his below average dealings with Foreign matters is much more normal.

quakerdave said...

No, I expect Mr. Obama to give an honest answer, not to be perfect. Honesty would be appreciated, if he's going to get my support and my vote.

The president does have the power to have an impact on how this issue goes. S/he can appoint justices to the Supreme Court, for example, who might actually act based on the Constitution and not on partisan politcs, as the Bush appointees are doing.

More than that, s/he gets to use the bully pulpit of the office to put moral weight behind the stance s/he takes. To me, what a politician says about these "moral" or "social" issues, like gay marriage and like abortion, tells me a lot about where that person stands on issues of basic human rights.

Call me crazy, but that's important to me and mine.

BAC said...

I wonder if Obama would have supported Emancipation, plantation by plantation?


donald said...

obama is being too much of an old style politician now. trying to appease everyone, and making no one happy. he definitely needs to develop some backbone! i had higher hopes for him. but i still won't vote for mccain!

fred, like you, i don't want the president to willy nilly dictate the law, but i DO want him/her to stand up for our rights, and work with the congress to get legislation passed that provides ALL americans are treated equally under the law. the states can only take this so far. there have been more states that have taken action to ban gay marriage, then will ever make it available to their citizens. of course we can move, but do we want whole communities uprooted because some state legislatures decide to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and yes even possibly gay relationships. rights for americans is a federal issue, not a state issue!

R.J. Colin said...

WAHOU! I cannot believe this discussion. Are we trying to put the gay rights (a new sub-section of our institutional civil rights) at the same level of importance as national matters such as Education, Retirement, Health Care as mentioned earlier???
You're just trying to find any reason to blame Obama. Maybe we should also blame him for being "ghetto" when he gives high-five to his wife? Because that supports the Gangs' traditions after all! We should also ask him if that city is allowed to build a school on that contaminated land. We should ask him if FL State companyA is allowed to merge with CA State companyB. And if the buzzer rings, shame on Obama right?
Let Obama focus on big issues which he still did not answer well. We already have civil rights, they are one of the best in the world. The Gay issue IS NOT a national priority. It just requires some tweaking which can be easily done on a local level. The Supreme Court involvement does not mean Obama is the boss. Nobody wants Obama to influence or even take control of that Court.

RJ. Colin

Sue J said...

We already have civil rights

Um, maybe you missed that part where I cited all the areas where I don't have the same civil rights as you.

All I ask of Obama is that he be honest about his opinion on this issue, and then stand up for it. He has been promoted as a politician for "change", but on this issue he is taking a very old school stand and trying to please all and offend no one.

By the way, because I think civil rights are important does not mean that I'm not also extremely worried about other issues -- such as the war. Thee are many important issues facing our nation right now, and I think it's fair to ask a potential president where he stands on them, and expect an honest answer.

And lastly, R.J. Colin, Maybe we should also blame him for being "ghetto" when he gives high-five to his wife?

WTF? That has no place in this discussion, and comments like that will get you deleted in the future.

Fred said...

RJ is tough! Keep calm. Anyway, I do not think Sue wants Obama to influence the Supreme Court and thinks he's ghetto.
Hey, I found a better example than my plastic bags! :)
Legal age. This could fall into civil rights after all. Yet majority is a concept that is not understood and ruled out everywhere the same way with fairness (alcohol/smoking issue).
Like gay union, majority issue has evolved simply because generations evolve. Although we've had good civil rights for decades (with not much complaining going on), people's mentality has evolved and new issues came up naturally (gay union, legal age to drink, to smoke...) which makes our civil rights kind of out-dated. But that does not mean our civil rights are bad because everybody NO LONGER enjoys the same rights ("no longer" because 25 years ago, there was no such an obvious civil right issue). We do have the good basis on civil rights and now we need to make some updates. And again those necessary updates on legal age for drinking or on gay union should not fall under Obama's responsibility. He's got much tougher matters to deal with.
I guess at this point we will never agree. I do not need to know Obama's opinion on legal age or gay union but obviously, whereas you guys do need to hear what Obama has to say on matters that do not fall under his duties.
Obama is not going to change the world no matter what he SAYS.
Richness of this world resides in its diversity [of opinion].

Sue J said...

Obama is not going to change the world no matter what he SAYS.

But ... but .. I thought it was all about change. And now I suppose you're going to tell me he won't be giving out ponies, either.


Mary Ellen said...

Sue- Well, another example of Obama flip flopping (grab your bottle of Dramamine, you'll need it). After putting this up on his web page..

Support Campaign Finance Reform: Obama supports public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. Obama introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and is the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) tough bill to reform the presidential public financing system.

Mr. Hopey Changey just said that he won't accept public funding for the GE race. Oh my! Does that mean he's NOT an agent of change after all???? Same old same old Obama.

Fred said...

Come on... are you telling me you were taking those candidates' political marketing tag lines for granted???
WE the people as well as current and future generations make the DEEPEST changes. Certainly not Obama or Clinton or McC**n. -hope you don't mind me auto-censoring his name :)
Cheers and see you in November!

Sara said...


Sue J said...

Sara, I know. It's really disappointing. It turns out that Obama's "hope" and "change" are just another political line. Who knew?

Oh, that's right -- WE did!

Sara said...

the fall from so far up is painful.

reminds me of the story of icarus...

Mauigirl said...

I am totally in favor of gay marriage and I think it will slowly become the law of the land state by state until it goes to the Supreme Court. I think DOMA was unconstitutional.

That said, neither Hillary nor Obama supported same sex marriage so there was no difference between them on this issue. I wish Obama supported same sex marriage but it is what it is. It isn't as if McCain would.

Unfortunately, the last 25 or 30 years have seen a shift of the "center" in our political scene to the right, and until we get a true progressive majority (read, veto-proof) as well as a progressive president it will stay that way.

Sue J said...

Mauigirl, I'm not comparing Obama to Hillary. He's the nominee, and I accept that. But as the nominee, I expect him to be straightforward about his position on this issue, and tell us where he stands. He constantly tried to qualify his words whenever he talks about a politically difficult subject like this, and I find that extremely frustrating.

Yes, he's better than McCain. But does that give him a free pass on the difficult subjects?

Fred said...

There was a funny joke on gay marriage last night on the Colbert Report (no offend to those who don't like him):

And since you ask that "free-pass" question, I will answer YES.
After all, gay people represent LESS THAN 10% of the population (not that they should be ignored). BUT, unfortunately, gay haters (namely the Christians among others) are MORE NUMEROUS.
So YES, given that tricky statistics about those potential voters I DO NOT expect from the Nominee as straightforward an answer on this tricky issue than on matters that involve 100% OF THE POPULATION (education, health care, etc...).

Sue J said...

Well Fred, let me know when you get a straightforward answer from Obama on any of those other issues, either, 'k?

And whether you are gay, straight, white, black, yellow -- whatever -- the issue of civil rights should "matter" to every American.

Fred said...

Yes, he does on certain -albeit not all- issues as you can notice in his books, sorry. Please reread.
As a citizen (whether I am white or black or...), the gay issue DOES NOT matter to me as much as Education, Health Care, etc... This is as obvious to us as it is to Obama. As you can see, I still do care since I am discussing it with you. But come on, this is NOT in my list of priority. And this is the opinion of most straight guys, trust me. Yet we all have gay friends and like'em!