Why do I like Obama so much?
In my Random Ten post this morning, I talked about how what some in the DC establishment were calling a gaffe by Barack Obama was, in my book, simple truth-telling, and that I found that to be a positive. I still do, and I think the reason why is related to something the first presidential candidate I ever fell in love with said. "The definition of a 'gaffe' in Washington is somebody who tells the truth but shouldn't have." That was Howard Dean in 2004, and the press corps, along with the DC and Democratic party establishment did a pretty good job of taking him down and giving us as candidate, the "electable" John Kerry.
So I'm heartened when I see Barack Obama's campaign fire back at the power structure with this:
Over the last few weeks, Barack Obama has once again taken positions that challenge Washington’s conventional wisdom on foreign policy. And once again, pundits and politicians have leveled charges that are now bankrupt of credibility and devoid of the new ideas that the American people desperately want.
On each point in the last few weeks, Barack Obama has called for a break from a broken way of doing things. On each point, he has brought fresh strategic thinking and common sense that break with the very conventional wisdom that has led us into Iraq.
The memo is long and I'm not going to quote it all here, nor am I going to say that I agree with every one of the positions in it--I don't. But I do think that while being contrarian for its own sake is no virtue, there's certainly nothing wrong with challenging the perceived wisdom of the DC elites in both politics and the press corps that have gotten us into the many and sundry messes this nation finds itself in right now.
I heard Bill Clinton, during a speech in 2004, once say that the difference between governing by ideology and by pragmatism is like being in a hole and trying to get out. The pragmatist stops digging, while the ideologue says "give me a bigger shovel," so it's ironic that Clinton, by supporting his wife's attacks on Obama's statements, comes off as the ideologue in this situation, while Obama is the pragmatist. Bill Clinton certainly never governed like an ideologue, and I'd imagine that his support of his wife's candidacy is pretty unconditional, but it's interesting to see how being in power can change your perceptions of governance. Obama is the new and exciting and forward-thinking pragmatist, the guy who is looking for new ways to get things done, while the Clintons are now the old guard, taking the safe and tried paths that have led us into our current quandaries.