POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Zakaria (NEWSWEEK): The Case for Barack Obama

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 20, 2008

Fareed Zakaria writes in Newsweek …

First, McCain …

  • To watch McCain address the current economic crisis is to see a man out of step with his time. His responses have been a recitation of old slogans—cut taxes, limit the government, cut spending—that are largely irrelevant to today’s problems.
  • On foreign policy, John McCain is a fighter. In fact, his bellicosity has increased over the past few years as he has discovered his inner neoconservative. He wants to keep the battle going in Iraq, speaks casually of bombing Iran and is skeptical of the Bush administration’s diplomacy with North Korea. He wants to kick Russia out of the G8 and humiliate China by excluding it from that body as well. He sees a “league of democracies” locked in conflict with an alliance of autocracies. This is cold-war nostalgia, not a strategy for the 21st century.
  • McCain’s problem is not only one of substance but perhaps more crucially of temperament. Throughout the campaign, he has been volatile and impulsive. He moves suddenly and unpredictably—one day suspending his campaign, the next urging that the chairman of the SEC be fired, the third blaming Democrats for the economic crisis.

By contrast, Obama …

  • Barack Obama has been steady and reasoned throughout his campaign. After careful deliberation, he endorsed the administration’s decision to intervene in the financial industry but with caveats—not to score campaign points but to make the program work better. These modifications were adopted by the administration and employed last week by Secretary Paulson.
  • Obama’s broader economic agenda—health-care reform, infrastructure investments and a major push for alternative energy—are large solutions to the growing problems of our times. They are not radical, but neither are they overly constrained by the fear of seeming liberal.
  • On foreign policy, Obama is cool to McCain’s hot, discriminating about the fights he wants to pick. He argues for greater international cooperation and the aggressive use of diplomacy. He sees a world in which America doesn’t have to get adversarial with everyone and tries instead to work with other countries—of whatever hue—to solve the common problems we face.

This is the case for Obama on substance, which is the most important criterion.

But symbolism is also a powerful force in human affairs.

  • Imagine what people around the world would think if they saw America once again inventing the future. 
  • And imagine how Americans would feel if they saw their country once again fulfilling its founding creed of equal opportunity, if they saw that there really were no barriers in their country, not even to the highest office in the land, not even for a man with a brown face and a strange name.

Read the entire article at … http://www.newsweek.com/id/164498

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