Our highly anticipated (by me) endorsement for the Democratic primary is upon us. Those of you who follow the site were probably expecting us to come out for John Edwards, based on some favorable posts written about him over the past few weeks. But no, instead SAM Online is for Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
As with our endorsement of John McCain let's address our pick's faults first.
He's inexperienced. Very. Abe Lincoln inexperienced, John Kennedy inexperienced. He was a state senator for seven years and served only four years in the US Senate. But don't let that fool you (see below).
His name (Barack Hussein Obama) is too close to a couple of major US enemies... well that didn't stop SAM from endorsing Adolf Cornwallis a few years back.
Let's also take a look at why we just aren't comfortable endorsing the other Democratic candidates in a very strong field.
Hillary Clinton lost me with her answer to the illegal immigrant driver's license question during the Halloween debate. Hearing her try to straddle both sides of the issue was deeply disturbing. It's an act she's run her entire Senate career, playing more moderate or conservative while anticipating her run at the presidency. I don't dislike her, but it's why so many people do. Her vote labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization is also unacceptable. Maybe they were worthy of that designation, but I don't see what purpose the vote served. And, considering President Bush's Constitutionally- challenged sense of entitlement towards attacking anything remotely "terrorist," it opened the door to war with Iran. She refused to play the old primary game, cozying up to the party's base before shifting moderate in the general election, and it cost her SAM's support.
John Edwards still has a soft spot for me. He's paying the most lip service to the poor and struggling masses of our country. He's tough and he's old-school. He may be a schmoozing plaintiff's attorney, but who cares? Plaintiff's need attorneys, too. He's not getting the nod from SAM because Obama has duplicated many of his strengths, but brings additional assets to the table. Still, hopefully Edwards plays a role in the next administration (insert worn expensive haircut joke here).
Joe Biden/ Bill Richardson/ Chris Dodd have canceled each other out to a large extent. In most other years they'd be strong contenders (you better believe Biden and Richardson are kicking themselves for not running in '04). Of the group, Biden's the best. But they are all smart, capable and experienced. But it's not happening.
So why Obama? In the first place I'm done with the Clintons and Bushes. It's over, for the good of our country we need to move on. I love Bill as much as anybody, but enough is enough. These political dynasties turn my stomach. When Hillary talks about the estate tax, she talks about the US being a meritocracy, and having to earn your way. And she earned her way to an impressive extent, she campaigned hard and has been an effective senator for New York. But we're about to sign up for another round of Clinton, followed by the ultimate face off-- Jeb/ Hill '12. Do you really want to sit through those commercials?
Granted, my disdain for the dynastic has much more to do with the Bush clan (the Clinton's aren't even a real dynasty), but Obama offers a fresh perspective and a clean slate. The last eight years have been so bad that we need to kind of start over, and do so looking forward. Electing Hillary Clinton would be a step back. If Clinton's nominated, she'll win, and our country will be just as divided as it's ever been. The politics of personal destruction will intensify, and we'll slide ever further down that long slippery slope. O'Reilly, Hannity, Maher and Olberman benefit, but the rest of us lose.
Domestically, his presidency will probably run the same course as a Clinton one would. In Iraq, we can't pull out totally no matter what. So his policies and skills mean less than that he is a voice that we can all get behind. The rivalries, hang-ups and arguments of the Baby Boom generation can begin to fade into the past.
An Obama presidency will have a different feel, energy, bounce.
Meanwhile, high profile members of Hillary's team have sharply criticized Obama as inexperienced, most notably her husband and former Ambassador Joe Wilson.
Sam Stein's article for the Huffington Post puts this in proper perspective, going over Obama's trips and meetings as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He also had the foresight to oppose the Iraq war from the beginning, and is the same age (46) as Bill was in 1992. Obama also has life experience, living abroad in Indonesia and the melting pot of Hawaii, as well as the rough-neck part of South-side Chicago.
Stein quotes Steve Clemons of the Washington Note:
"Hillary is on Armed Service Committee and has traveled all over the world. Barack has been an attentive member of the Foreign Relations Committee. There are differences between them but they are 10 to 15 percent difference. Whereas, the differences between the Obama or Hillary and Rudy [Giuliani] or [Mike] Huckabee are a 40 to 60 percent difference, just a staggering jump."I know that Hill played a large policy role in her husband's White House, but that is just not the equivalent of working in an elected capacity. She did not have to deal with Congress or get an agenda passed (save the 1993 Health Care debacle), and her influence was almost entirely behind the scenes. So when Bill compares his wife's "35 years" experience to Obama's "one year" (before he launched his presidential campaign), it rings hollow.
And Barack represents progress. For all the crap that our country produces these days: the celebutantes in and out of rehab, the glorification of violence, sex and drugs, the materialistic idolatry, this is progress. A black man as president. This could not have happened in the last generation. Let's give the cynicism a break for once. Some things are getting better.
Now, Clinton's election would also signify progress. But not to the same extent. First, because she would still just be matching her husband (and if it wasn't for him she might be an Illinois Congresswoman stumping for Obama, waiting to take his Senate seat). Second because the history of racism and slavery is one of America's defining characteristics. It's our original sin. And this wouldn't absolve us, but it would be something.
In the end, I won't have a hard time voting for either of the two, but I just think our country will be a better place if we wake up November 5th with President- elect Obama. If you vote the way SAM tells you to (and you really should), then cast one for O. It's about change. And it's about time.