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Regret and Denial

By Arthur Joel Katz  Posted by Walter Brasch (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Arthur Joel Katz  Anyone who often reads my column knows that I passionately supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and thought she was a vastly better choice for president than Barack Obama.  I deeply regret that she lost, but life goes on.  In the midst of my Clinton advocacy, I said that if Obama won I would have real trouble voting for him.     Perhaps Ralph Nader or Bob Barr, I said, or just sit it out. The Nader or Barr possibility was an inside joke to those who know me. But sooner or later----hopefully sooner----one has to get over personal pique and do what is best for the country.   Accordingly, I whole heartedly now support  Obama for president. My choice is not based on the fact  that Hillary threw her support to Obama or whatever are her chances of running for Vice President on the his slate are.   I may be wrong---although,  as my wife knows, I never admit it----but I don’t believe Hillary has any great desire to be Vice President.   She is presently an important senator from New York and her party is very likely to be in the majority in the new senate.   Surely she would rather remain in the senate then become Vice President under circumstances that make it unlikely she will have very much influence over the president.  As FDR’s original Vice President  John Nance Garner once said, “The vice presidency is not worth a warm bucket of spit.” If Obama was to ask Clinton to run for vice president she would have no choice other than to accept.  Her loyalty to the Democratic Party and the causes for which it stands requires no less.  To the extent that by running she can bring an overwhelming majority of the 18 million people who voted for  her in the primary to vote for the Obama ticket, she has to do so.  She might be a wise choice for Obama, but my support of him does not rest on that.   Why then Obama over Senator McCain?  It is not who is a nicer guy or who has more experience or who is younger or who is older.   It has to do with what they say would do as president.  Be it remembered that George W. Bush seemed like a nice guy and Gore a stiff.  It turned out that Bush was a nice guy but a jerk, and I am not even sure about the nice guy part.  In short, voting for personality or really irrelevant matters like age is flat out dumb.   The choice must be made  on the basis of what each man says he would do as president.  Couched in those terms, McCain is a disaster.  No matter how he tries to distance himself from Bush, the only real distinguishing factor is that McCain can speak English and is apparently a lot more competent than Bush. Despite the horror of the Iraq and Afghani wars, the problem of global warning and the desperate need for universal health care in our country, the major issue is the economy.  Here McCain descends into the customary Republican bathos.  While originally McCain opposed President Bush’s  tax cuts on the richest Americans---and I mean very rich----he now says ending them would mean a tax increase.  Duh.  Of course it would be a tax increase, but a tax increase on billionaires and millionaires at a time when we are nine trillion in debt seems bearable.   Making the Bush tax cuts permanently cost the government about $500 billion.  McCain says that he would make up that lost by cutting government spending.  How he doesn’t say.   Ahem. According to the Wall Street Journal Obama would do away with the Bush tax cuts extending them only for households earning over $250,000 per year.  He would “restore fairness” by adjusting the tax code so that low and middle-income families pay less while upper-income families pay more.  That would cause a tax loss of about $85 billion but Obama would  make it up for fixing corporate tax loopholes and increasing the capital gains tax.   In the housing crisis,  to quote the Wall Street Journal, “Until recently,  Sen. McCain opposed federal aid to homeowners to stave off a wave of housing foreclosures, but has come to support a modest package.  Sen. Obama’s plan is more aggressive---and more expensive.”  I would argue that more expensive by about $10 billion is cheap considering the damage the mortgage failure rate is doing to individual lives and the economy as a whole. This is hardly a full description of the differences between the two men on economic issues.   All I can say is look, listen and read.       There certainly are other reasons to oppose McCain.  Among the most important is that in an attempt to shore up his conservative credentials he has promised to appoint Supreme Court Judges on the model of those Bush appointed.  In short, if McCain is election judges will overturn Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to govern her own body.  His judges would continue the decimation of civil rights, the destruction of the separation between church and state and continue the oppression of the American people by its government. It is true that McCain has more experience in government than Obama.  But his experience shows him to be dead wrong.  He supported the Iraq War from the start and still believes it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruct and to stabilize the region.  The fact that there never were weapons of mass destruction or that the region has gone from bad to terrible doesn’t seem to bother him.  Indeed, he insists that troops be kept in Iraq until “victory is achieved” whatever that is. This country is mired in discontent on almost every level.  During the term of the President Bush we have gone from a relatively prosperous country to one clearly in recession and bordering on another Great Depression.   We have gone from a country widely admired by our many friends throughout the world to one that is now widely regarded as a pariah.  We have descended beneath the lowest level of contempt in the treatment of our prisoners and in our failure to treat our own casualties, no less those we have caused, with the care they deserve.   It is indeed time for a change.  McCain represents the old tired notion that if we stick our collective heads in the sand, somehow things will straighten out.  They never have and they never will.  We need a fresh start.  Obama is not a perfect candidate yet he is infinitely preferable to McCain.   Obama has shown his organizational powers by running a superb campaign.  He has shown himself to be a brilliant speaker, one that is capable of moving people away from their purely personal concerns and prejudices, to dedicate themselves to a better America.  He offers an American renewal, just as John F. Kennedy did.  He may succeed or he may fail.  At the very least, his chances of success are much greater than his opponent. 

 

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