Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Perfect Storm?

Democrats running for U.S. President just cannot seem to control their impulses. And, yet again, such impulses just might cost them an election that otherwise shouldn't even be close.

Despite a flailing economy and the war in Iraq, presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, appears intent on resorting to the Democratic politics of the 1970s rather than transforming the Party platform to one that not only eschews the politics of division but one that moves the nation forward.

For Democrats, Mr. Obama's comments since receiving the Party's implicit nomination for President two weeks ago have to be at least mildly disconcerting. Prior to claiming the Party's nomination, Mr. Obama spoke most often about what he was not. He was not, he contended, a divisive candidate. And he would not, he vowed, rely on wedge issues in his campaign.

So far, Mr. Obama largely has stuck to his pledges, but, with the natural progression of his general campaign into the realm of policy details, Democrats certainly have to be wondering if, despite yet another campaign year in which Democrats ought to be the beneficiary of a perfect political storm set to undertake Republicans, Mr. Obama is on the verge of altering the course of that storm in the direction of the Democrats.

At a June 16th rally in Flint, Michigan, Mr. Obama sounded the Luddite alarm. "Globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers," he stated, arguing that the government must play a strong role in wealth re-distribution from the wealthy to the poor.

For Democrats, what is most disconcerting about Mr. Obama's current campaign rhetoric is that, despite indications that most American voters have two primary concerns--how best to extricate ourselves from Iraq and how to rejuvenate the economy--Mr. Obama is using his campaign stump to campaign on issues that remain wholly secondary to this electorate.

Health-care reform, tax tables, and open markets are, to be certain, concerns of many Americans and are related to the broader issues facing the United States, but they ought not be the focus of Mr. Obama's campaign. By making these issues the center-piece of his stump speeches, particularly when it means getting off message on how to deal with economy and Iraq, Mr. Obama is veering in the direction of Al Gore's ill-fated run for President.

Only slightly less troubling for Democrats is the fact that Mr. Obama's few comments on Iraq appear to lend credence to opponent John McCain's self-proclaimed strength in this campaign--that Mr. Obama is inadequately prepared to deal with the crisis in Iraq.

One might be able to overlook Mr. Obama's Flint, Michigan comments as poorly thought-out pandering to a gathering of largely unemployed auto-workers in one of America's poorest cities, if only there seemed to be less conviction behind the statements.

While globalization, technology, and automation might very well weaken the position of some workers, each offers benefits to workers not heretofore realized.
The question, therefore, ought not be whether we return to a 1920s era of high tariffs, limited international trade agreements, and support for dismantling of technology, but how we move forward in a World that, with or without the United States, will be moving on with trade agreements and ever-improving technology.

Up Next: McCain Working Hard to Undermine His Few Advantages.

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