These are comments, lightly edited, that I posted as a Contributor to The Arena feature over at the Politico yesterday:
I would like to endorse Barack Obama. I really would.
Like many Republicans, I’ve been unhappy with my party on many fronts over the past decade. Moreover, given that John McCain has publicly called me “corrupt” and more, there’s not a lot of personal affinity there to fall back on. I don’t mind the tone of Senator McCain’s campaign – I’ve seen worse, and overall it is no more negative, disingenuous, or unfair than Senator Obama’s campaign has been: Politics is a rough sport. But I’m not much interested in many of the issues that Senator McCain has chosen to campaign on. And I believe that Senator Obama is a very smart man, and personally a decent man, and there are good things that might come from an Obama presidency, most notably in healing some of the remaining racial divisions in our country.
But if Senator Obama’s economic platform were a book, it would be “‘101 Tips for a Healthy Economy,’ by Jimmy Carter, with an Introduction by Herbert Hoover.” Staring into an international financial crisis, Senator Obama wants to raise taxes (say Hoover, FDR, Great Depression), spend money to try to maintain purchasing power (the failed strategy of both Hoover and FDR in the Great Depression) and put new trade barriers into place (a junior league Smoot-Hawley). In the face of high oil prices caused by high worldwide demand and a constricting supply, he wants to increase taxes on oil producers and subsidize oil consumers (Carter). His idea of economic stimulous is to pull savings out of the economy and dribble it back out to consumers who are supposed to save the economy by increased demand (can you say “Carter” and “stagflation?”) He seeks massive new entitlement spending on health care, thinly disguised by a somewhat incremental approach aimed at reaching what he has stated is his true belief, a mandatory, single payer system. His support for “card check” to deprive workers of the right to a secret ballot on questions of unionization shows he either doesn’t understand the realities of the American workplace or, where the interests of his political allies are at stake, doesn’t care. Moreover, he has not shown the interest or the kind of determination necessary for one to think he would check the equally or even more liberal impulses of Democratic Congressional leaders, not only Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid but powerful Committee Chairmen such as John Conyers, Charlie Rangel, and Barney Frank.
I am pro-life but his support for some abortion rights I could live with if there were other compelling reasons to support the man. But his support for government paid abortions and his opposition – very avid opposition – to restrictions on even partial birth abortion, I cannot stomach.
Whether as a student at Harvard Law, as a backbencher in the Illinois legislature, or as a U.S. Senator, Obama has shown no inclination to work “across the aisle” to find solutions. His approach has been to get past the “old debates”, to use a phrase Senator Obama sometimes does, by conquering his opponents, not by the concilation he promises on the campaign trail. An Obama presidency won’t ruin the nation – as I said, there will probably be some good to come of it, he is a decent man, and this is a very sturdy nation. But as a conquerer, not a divider, he leaves little for people like me.
“Barack will never let you go back to your lives as usual,” declared Michelle Obama last spring. That is exactly what I don’t want in a politician – someone who won’t let me get on with my life. That statement was the equivalent of a declaration of war on all Americans who just want to live a good life, make their own choices, and live with the consequences – in other words, on all those who believe that every man and woman has an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
For all his flaws, John McCain is no Barack Obama. I think that, more or less, he will let me get on with my life as usual. That’s all I ask from a politician.