Sunday, November 04, 2007

Andrew Sulliavn on Why Obama Matters

I do not always agree with some of Andrews positions, but I tend to agree with him more often than I dis agree. He has a new column in the Atlantic Monthly that deserves a good reading. In it he discuss what he believes Obama, unlike any the other candidates offers in terms of reuniting the American people and changing the political landscape. It is long, but well written and thought out. I still have not decided my position on Obama (admittedly the McClurkin disaster was not a plus). Here are some highlights from Sullivan's piece:
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy. The war on Islamist terror, after all, is two-pronged: a function of both hard power and soft power.
Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

The other obvious advantage that Obama has in facing the world and our enemies is his record on the Iraq War. He is the only major candidate to have clearly opposed it from the start. Whoever is in office in January 2009 will be tasked with redeploying forces in and out of Iraq, negotiating with neighboring states, engaging America’s estranged allies, tamping down regional violence. Obama’s interlocutors in Iraq and the Middle East would know that he never had suspicious motives toward Iraq, has no interest in occupying it indefinitely, and foresaw more clearly than most Americans the baleful consequences of long-term occupation. . . . The man who opposed the war for the right reasons is for that reason the potential president with the most flexibility in dealing with it.
We are talking about a world in which Islamist terror, combined with increasingly available destructive technology, has already murdered thousands of Americans, and tens of thousands of Muslims, and could pose an existential danger to the West. The terrible failures of the Iraq occupation, the resurgence of al-Qaeda in Pakistan, the progress of Iran toward nuclear capability, and the collapse of America’s prestige and moral reputation, especially among those millions of Muslims too young to have known any American president but Bush, heighten the stakes dramatically.
The full article is here: Regardless of which candidate one supporters, I recommend that all think about some of the issues Sullivan raises and consider how your favorite tallys up. As for the concern that America is not ready for a black president, Douglas Wilder was elected Governor of Virginia in 1990. That is 17 years ago - IN VIRGINIA no less. If the Virginia of 1990 could elect a black as Governor, I would hope the America of 2007 could elect a black as president.

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