Saturday, March 29, 2008

Obama's Speech on Racism - part 3

This is probably my last post on this speech. The first post basically summarized the speech. The second post commented on the first part of the speech (on racism). This part will focus on the last part of the speech, where Obama transitions.

It's important to note that I think Obama is highly intelligent and I noticed him at the Democratic Convention in 2004. He's a man with a future, but I am suprised that he as risen to this level this fast.

Obama's speech talked in great detail on Racism. But the actual speech was titled "A More Perfect Union". Many in the press thought this would be his speech to defend Rev. Wright or to distance himself. He did talk about Rev. Wright and to some small degree both defended him and distanced himself. But I believe that this all set the stage for what Obama sees as the way to form "A More Perfect Union."

Roughly 4500 words into his speech, Obama transitions. He says "we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division..." Then he points out "if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction." I agree. Racism and Rev. Wright are a distraction. Focusing on these issues (and others like them) take the focus off the real problems in our nation. Obama (and I) has a better idea "we can come together and say, 'Not this time.'"

So what does Obama think we should focus on? Here's where my opinion and the Senator's diverge. Obama lists 1) "crumbling schools that are stealing the future of (all) children" first. Then he talks about 2) health care, 3) the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life (and offshoring) and 4) "how to bring (soliders) home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged."

Here's my differences: 1) Schools should not be federally run. Nothing in the constitution says that every one has a right to education. Leave the schools up to the states and local authorities. Get the federal government out.

2) Health care is an issue, but more of an economic issue. I've talked about my view on healthcare in another blog post (see it here)

3) Job protection (shuttered mills) and offshoring - Obama doesn't say what he will do here. I haven't studied enough of his platform to figure it out. I see the economy as a second tier issue, my comments are here.

4) Obama says the war in Iraq should not have been waged and we should bring the soldiers home. I disagree on both parts. We (including the UN) told Iraq and the world NUMEROUS times that they should comply with certain resolutions and they did not. We looked like the bully who drew a line in the sand, but backed down when the other guy crossed it. Hussein was a ruthles dictator who ground people up in meat grinders. He wiped out most of the Kurds and let his own people die will he lined his pockets. We watched as other countries skirted the economic blockades and profited at our expense. My only complaint is that we waited too long. Actions should have been taken sooner.

As for withdrawing the troops, if we do that now, Iraq will crumble. We have a moral obligation to protect the people and to help rebuild. We did this in Japan and Germany after WWII. It will not be over soon. There have been problems in the way this has been handled, but we shouldn't penalize the Iraqi people because of our cowardice.

5) Nowhere in Obama's speech does he talk about National Security. I believe this should be the #1 issue in 2008 and beyond. He ignores terrorism and in other speeches says we should sit down with known terrorist leaders.

While Obama only spent about 400 words on what it takes to form "A More Perfect Union", I believe this represents his ideas. While he wants to move the focus off of racism, he wants to move to the wrong items. And the way he focuses on those items is wrong.


Ashley Beth said...

I don't have an opinion formed yet about federal education, so help me understand. What is so bad about the federal government controlling education? Wouldn't that mean consistent standards across the country? If a child moves states halfway through the school year, wouldn't it mean that the child could basically pick up where they left off? Wouldn't consistency help colleges set standards accurately? - since a 3.5 GPA would mean the same thing in all states. What are the downsides to this control?

Randy Barnett said...

Glad you read all the way through my post. It was long.

The problem is the size of government and the proper place for standards. If education standards are set at the federal level (as they are partially today)that means the federal government has to be that much larger. The more involvement, the larger the government. It also means that we get less control at the local level. As it is, teachers are hamstrung by standards instead of teaching. Are all students equal? No. To federalize means to flatten the goals to a one-size fits all standard.

The constitution sets the stage for our government and describes what the government should and should not do. Anything outside the scope just complicates matters. Education is better left to the state (or even smaller) level.

ByTheWay, I've never bought off on the idea that SC schools are the lowest in the country (or 49th). So what? I was educated in the SC school system and I received a very good education. It's all about the individual and what he/she makes of that education. You can see it in your friends. Some in SC received good educations, some in "better" states received lousy education.

Anonymous said...

To quickly run through my thoughts on the four speech topics you're post highlights:

Education: I could go either way on this. State governments should have a better idea of what's needed where, but I've also seen my state screw up school funding (Ohio's current system has actually been ruled unconstitutional) without facing much in the way of consequences.

Healthcare: We have to do something to get things back under control, right now the U.S. is falling behind other developed countries in this area. I also agree that in many ways it is an economic issue.

Job Protection: This is probably the biggest issue in my area. The local economy has been devastated by free trade because places like China (where labor is cheap and money isn't spent on safety and anti-pollution equipment) import steel at prices lower than the few local steel mills that are left can manufacture it. We have to level the playing field somehow.

Iraq: I often just have to stop and ask myself what would happen if a typical person would convince their boss to start some huge new product based on information that turned out to be false and a strategy as flawed as the one the Bush administration had. I really don't see any way that that person would keep his job.

Granted, we're already there and we can't change that. But if we had taken the time to do the proper planning I highly doubt we'd have anywhere near the problems we have today.

At some point we're going to have to admit that America can't do it alone and issue an ultimatum to the Iraqi government that they either get with it or we'll get going. Until that happens I doubt anything will change.

Randy Barnett said...

I've read all sorts of stories about the "false information" that Bush used to justify the war. Maybe I'll address that sometime, but for now, I think you've been duped. I do have serious questions about the plans and think that's a problem.

As for "we can't do it alone" and that we should "issue an ultimatum to the Iraqi government", that's my main point. We can't just "get going". Doing so would leave Iraq open as a breeding ground for terrorism and for genocide the likes of which we have not seen. I read in another blog where 2million out of 7million were killed in Cambodia after Pol Pot took charge (after the fall of Vietnam). That's more than 1 in 4. I don't believe we can stand idly by and see that in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

The two reasons used as reason to go to war were WMD and ties to Al-Qaeda, both of which have been repeatedly proven wrong. Now either someone didn't do their homework on finding evidence for those claims or they were an outright lie. I choose to believe the former.

Do you honestly think we can impose peace on the Iraqi people without their cooperation? As long as they know we'll be there indefinitely to deal with the real problems they are just going to keep taking advantage of the situation to settle old scores. They need to know that someday the free ride is going to end and that they need to prepare accordingly.

Randy Barnett said...

Can you find the reference for the causes to go to war? The sound bites have taken over.

For several years leading up to the war, most everyone, (two presidents, congress, UN, etc) believed their were WMD.

There were more than two reasons given, one specifically was Hussein's repeatedly ignoring and violating UN Resolutions. I believe there was one more, but can't recall it now.

But that's a 2003 argument, it's past now. Done, can't be undone.

Can we impose peace? Well, we can impose martial law. And that would be better than pulling out.

Remember, we rebuilt Germany and Japan after WWII. I don't believe we're doing it correctly in Iraq today, but I do believe that it CAN be done.

Anonymous said...

Sorry it took so long to reply, I missed the last comment.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by references. Do I need proof that those were the two main claims, or that both claims were false?

As for Iraq's WMD, you leave out the part right before the war when we sent UN inspectors to Iraq and they didn't find anything.

Any way you look at it, the war wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the two false claims. All the other stuff was old news, and we didn't find it a reason for war back when it originally happened.

I know it can't be undone, but what happened needs to be understood so it never happens again.

As for your last statement, there's a pretty obvious rebuttal: Japan and Germany weren't still fighting. Martial law isn't an answer, it would probably only cause more problems.

Randy Barnett said...

Actually, Japan was still fighting while we rebuilt. There were a lot of soldiers holed up in caves that didn't give up. I don't know that about Germany, but I suspect it's true. And the reason that these two countries gave up, was that the war had worn them out BEFORE the rebuilding. Our approach in Iraq tried to minimize civilian death during the pre-rebuild part.

As for the reasons for the war, I'll take this as a challege. I have one more political post coming up (John McCain's foreign policy speech), but as soon as it's over, I'll research the reasons we started the war. I believe you're wrong, but will admit I'm wrong if I find out.

One final comment. This is the first nation rebuilding since Germany/Japan. I truly believe there should be discussion in HOW to rebuild. The way we've done it here just simply doesn't work.