Yes, we know stupid is also usually good politics in the United States. Which is why Sen. Obama is unquestionably on his way to becoming our President, as he has shown the ruthlessness to adopt the evidently expedient ("tough sounding") position on three troubling issues of the day, damn how I feel about them...: (1) FISA telecom immunity, (2) the Supreme Court child rape caseand (3) the Supreme Court gun ban case.
The point... if there is one... is that no one who can get themselves elected to any office in this country (let alone Senator... or President) can divorce themselves from the political reality that "appearing tough," even in... stupid ways... is how you get elected here. Which is why in my view "character" has always been more important than "issues"... and why I'm far less concerned with particular stands on issues than I am with what I perceive as the arc of someone's life factored in to their overall world view. "Policy pronouncements" can change... "character" rarely, if ever, does.
As to the FISA sell-out, mostly I blame Reid and Pelosi, either of whom could stop this egregious assault on our Constitutional rights... Obama has to appear "tough on terror". No brainer for Obama: the Congressional leadership didn't have his-- or our-- back on this. What exactly did we "win" when we took back Congress in '06, anyway? [BTW...Candace has some advice on this fight... you might want to follow it...]
On the Louisiana death-penalty-for-child-rape case, once again, Obama cannot appear to be a squishy liberal, so he must sound tough, on this absolute freebie (free because there's nothing he can do as President, only to promise to appoint even more liberal judges likely to make similar rulings!) But he sounds tough, without having to go down to Arkansas and personally sign any death warrants!
And on the D.C. gun ban, we have a difficult position... I have long said that a Supreme Court decision recognizing an individual "right to bear arms" (rather than a collective "militia" right) would help Democrats by shifting the debate to "reasonable regulation," away from the kind of absolute ban the District of Columbia undertook (even if I think such an absolute ban is very sensible policy). So, Obama's apparent "embrace" of the decision makes a lot of sense, even if an increase in legal firearms ownership will only increase accidental and intra-familial homicides... funny how Antonin Scalia isn't nearly as concerned with how many (more!) Americans will die as a result of his guns ruling than with the habeas corpus ruling... oh well.
Anyway, there you have it. The arc of character actually favors both candidates this year: Sen. McCain, whether he himself would characterize it or not, is a genuine hero, and in both his performance as a military man and as a Senator, has often bucked expedient positions at cost to himself. Sen. Obama has achieved what had heretofore been considered inconceivable: a man of color is on the cusp of the Presidency of the United States. Ah, but, aside from the chasm between the two on policy (hint: this favors Obama in my view), some elements of character matter: Obama is the super-cool, cerebral, laid back guy (kind of how I see myself)... McCain, by contrast... is somewhat more rash and angry.
As the world grows hotter and crazier and potentially more perilous... and as each candidate tries to race to the center... I'll take the cooler guy... the guy cool enough to appear to be an apostate on some things, and yet, not cause me to waver in my support for him one bit. Yes we can, America. Yes we can.