Obama campaign: volunteer if you want to see Oprah

Nov 29, 2007

More interesting is how undecideds get tickets...

This is brilliant, but risky. I believe residents can only get tickets through their precinct captain or precinct field organizer, so it essentially forces residents to acquaint with the Obama campaign if they want to see Oprah. I would imagine that forcing Iowans to speak to an Obama organizer will have positive and negative effects.

This puts a lot of pressure on those who are supporters of Obama to bring their undecided friends. I imagine supporters would be more likely to make the contact with the organizer to get the tickets. This could potentially limit the number of undecideds because undecideds, I would imagine, would be less likely to call Obama organizers on their own to get the tickets and might even be put off by it not being an “open” event.

The other side of this is that it betters the relationship between supporters and organizers. Supporters who want to go will have to come into contact with leadership. Face to face time is increased, and that is always good. Maybe it creates more volunteers out of average supporters.

So, what base are they working on with this Oprah event? It seems they are working on undecideds via the supporters they can count on. Oprah will be a big draw, no doubt. But, instead of say 20,000+ showing up for this, they could end up with quite a few less. Quality over quantity seems to be their initial goal, but I would not doubt that as the event gets closer, the way tickets are given out will change to being geared toward the quantity end of the continuum.

No question Oprah increases social capital for Obama, but this may be the campaigns way of increasing social capital from the most ardent supporters to the most confused or un-informed undecideds.

I’m Caucusing for John Edwards

Dec 14, 2007

Interesting Choice

I see Edwards as an ok number two choice at the caucus simply because I agree with his values, but I am concerned about his capacity to win and make change.  He has a lot of clingers from the 2004 election and I generally think they are wrong to cling to him.  I think the clingers are the ones who have not looked close enough at Obama to see that Obama is a better version of the politics of change that Edwards adopted.  I was a strong supporter of Edwards from 2003-2004.  In 03-04 he seemed then as he does now to be on the right track with his ideas, but evidenced in his loss to Kerry and terrible showing in debates with Cheney, he lacked the capacity to captivate the populace, to reshape its value system and to redefine our identity, as I think our country needs, and as I think Obama can and will do well…..  

My biggest concern with Edwards is that he had such a poor showing in his run for Vice President and was such a weak debater despite his highly touted rhetorical skills as an attorney, that by the end of the 2004 election I was fed up with him.  He was eaten alive by Cheney.  Cheney was just a better fighter.  And, Edwards claims now that he is going to be a fighter for the forgotten people.  We need a fighter for them, but we need someone who can do more than just fight – after all, all politicians are fighters.  We need someone that is going to win the crowd.  That is what politics is about: shaping the nature of the conflict in a way that wins over the crowd.  Cheney knew this.  I think Edwards knows this too.  I just don’t think Edwards can do it as well as Obama.  That is why Obama is compared to Kennedy and that is why before Obama was running for President D.C. was whispering about the great things he might do for this country.  We need not just a fighter for the forgotten, but we need many, many fighters for the forgotten.  The only way for that to happen is to captivate the country.  I am not so sure Edwards can do that.

I’m Caucusing for John Edwards

Dec 15, 2007


It is ok to note when Foxnews is correct.  You can still be a Democrat and watch Foxnews.  I enjoy telling them when they are wrong more than I enjoy telling MSNBC or CBS that they are right.  I have to admit, their coverage of the debates this week, and for the most part of the year, has been superior to that of any of the other networks.  This is in part due to their innovative approach to have a group of about 25 likely caucus goers or voters give their reactions throughout the debate.  I find that interesting on a purely intellectual level.  They have interesting analysis, often it is opposite to my views, and I like to point that out to my wife, but sometimes they have good points.  I am not opposed to hearing different viewpoints because it challenges me to hold my ground intellectually.

That being said, I think it is all great that Edwards has solar panels on his house.  I love renewable energy.  That does not mean Edwards will be a good President.  Edwards can be a good rhetorician, as he is known to be.  He can recite key platform points.  I understand that.  I respect that.  I respect his ability to do that better than Hillary.  I also respect his positions over Hillary’s.  However, I think there is a difference between a candidate being good at one’s platform and being good for the country.  It takes more than one person good at rhetoric to make real change in this country.

There is something special about Obama.  He is the most articulate candidate for President we have seen in a long time.  Before he was a politician, before he had the aspiration to be a statesman, he chose to be a community organizer, earning very little.  Obama represents the type of America we should be.  He is the fighter that America needs because he has lived that fight.  For him, it was a personal struggle.  

Any politician can say he or she is going to go in to office and fight the good fight, but not many politicians have the capacity to go into office and captivate a country.  He believes in the core decency of this country and he makes us believe in it.  He believes we can overcome our differences and he makes us believe in it.  

I am voting for Obama.  I have been for him since before he ran for US Senate.  Like many, I was captivated by his visionary speech in 2004 at the National Convention.  Yet, I knew about him before that because I lived in Illinois before moving to Iowa in 2000.  You know, in political science we talk about how special charismatic leaders come along once in a while and sweep countries on to new paths.  Well, sometimes those charismatic leaders come to power on negative and hurtful principles and end up changing the world for the worse.  I believe Obama is the opposite.  He is the special charismatic leader that comes along once in a few generations who has the positive and helpful principles to change the country, and the world, for the better.  Edwards can claim to fight corporate interests all he wants.  I think he is great for elucidating the fight he wants.  Yet, he is still one person and I think he is approaching the fight the wrong way.  That is why Obama needs to win, and that is why I think he will win.  

Barack Obama at Key Foreign Policy Forum Tuesday Morning

Dec 18, 2007

Response to the Foreign Policy Forum

Judgment was the key word at the forum.  The three advisors that were there discussed Obama’s judgment and his ability to unite the country on foreign policy (unity used to be the status quo in Congress and has lately been divided b/t red and blue).  They also talked about his ability to rebuild America’s image so that other countries’ leaders will not have to sacrifice political points at home when they choose to work with the United States.  Sarkozy was an example of this.  He came in to power in France wanting to work with the United States but because the United States had ruined its image (its soft power) in the world, it became a political risk for him to work with the US.

So, basically the talk was about emphasizing Obama’s ability to unite the country and to bring America’s and the world’s interest closer together.  At home he does not want to pit Republican foreign policy against Democrat foreign policy, but rather find a middle ground that would allow us to pursue foreign policy consistently and effectively.  He thinks unity is essential to successful and consistent American foreign policy, and I would agree.

Most importantly, the forum demonstrated that Obama can handle his own on foreign policy with his future advisors, some of which, especially Tony Lake, have been around Washington for a while and are seasoned bureaucrats.  Tony Lake is a smart diplomat/bureaucrat and it is good to see Obama got him from the Clinton campaign.  He did some interesting things during the Clinton administration.

The forum also allowed Obama to use foreign policy jargon, such as sticks and carrots, and to elaborate on how he would use them when dealing with difficult countries.

Another key point was that he called attention to the fact that in a debate earlier in the summer or spring he was questioned and then attacked by the Clinton camp for his idea about engaging our enemies by talking to them.  He reiterated the point that talking to one’s enemies is not a bad thing.  We have to engage our enemies in order to settle our differences.  Isolating them and not negotiating is a negative use of our power.  But, what was interesting in when he said this was that he pointed out that after he made this comment in the debate this summer that the Bush administration started engaging North Korea and Iran.  Bush wrote a letter to the Iranian leader and also sent high level diplomats to North Korea to negotiate a nuclear settlement.  Obama spoke and the Bush administration listened, so to speak.

Obama talked especially strongly about reinitiating citizen involvement in our foreign policy. He talked about doubling the size of the Peace Corps, giving more funding to Americans studying abroad, and making it easier for foreigners to come and study at our university. He pointed out that part of what is so great about having exchange programs is that it softens the image and the relationship of two countries. Each person brings back to his or her country a new respect and understanding for the other country. Obama articulated that this is essential to America’s effort to rebuild its image in the coming decades. Again, I agree with this.

He is taking the same approach that Kennedy had: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Citizen involvement in foreign policy has taken a huge hit with the Bush administration. Every time I have traveled abroad this decade (twice to Europe, once to Mexico) I have had to explain to at least one person why they should respect America even though they hate the Bush administration. That is the job of our citizens who go abroad, especially when our country is in such low standing in the world: to conduct foreign policy individually. Yet, it becomes harder and harder to convince people to go along with what you’re saying when your country’s government acts arrogantly and imperialistically at the expense of other countries well-being.

Essentially, Obama continues to show good judgment when it comes to foreign policy.  Political experience in WAshington is not everything.  Unique experiences prior to coming to Washington have made Obama a good judge on how to handle different foreign policy situations.  He showed it with his correct predictions about the Iraq war in 2002 and he has showed it throughout the campaign this year.    

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