Barack Obama and the audacity of my hope (confessions of a former Republican)

By Sue Emmett of Milwaukie, Oregon. Sue describes herself as a "lifelong conservative Republican, recently converted Progressive Democrat, mother of 7, grandmother of 24."

ObamaI am a life-time Oregonian, born and raised in Portland, now back in Portland after 25 years in Salem (love this city!). I grew up in a VERY Republican home, and in a religion that virtually required “Republican” on your precinct card to be on the rolls. I was white, I was middle-class, and everyone in my family's social circle was a dedicated conservative.

But I have hope in Barack Obama.

How did I get from “there” to “here”? How did a believer in uber-conservative Republican values and policies for over 50 years come to change her political registration three years ago? How did I get to this place wherein I proudly wear an Obama button, and plaster bumper stickers on my car for maybe the second time in my life!

Even as a young child, social activism was brewing deep inside me. I was often in trouble for asking questions and talking about “issues” that made others uncomfortable. And... I attended multi-racial Washington High School in the 50's – which I still consider a privilege in my life. Whites, Blacks, Chinese, Japanese – we were far ahead of our time. We were in clubs together, we served in school politics together, we led cheers on the rally squads together, and we played sports together. Yes, as a white girl, I really didn't have a clue about the black kids, but for those times, we were FAR past the prejudices of our parents. Blacks were still being lynched in the South, and we were having integrated slumber parties – and never gave it a second thought!

I spent the next 30+ years living the conservative, right-wing life that my parents and my religion had inculcated in me. But all those years failed to produce a complete and mindless neo-con. I was definitely “in the closet” – a liberal at heart, faking her Stepford-like allegiance to all things conservative. I even convinced myself – yet, I never voted a straight party ticket except when required to do so by Oregon's primary rules.

Fast forward to the first “Bush” election. I voted for George Bush (she says, head lowered in shame). By the middle of that first four years, I was coming to terms with my life-long affliction! When the talk began of invading Iraq, I knew I was done! I was against the war from the very beginning, and within weeks had changed my registration to Democrat in order to find a political community that more closely mirrored my beliefs about many issues. I started to get involved in volunteering, and today I find myself with an audacity of hope because of the candidacy of Barack Obama.

There is no point in hashing over all of the mindless, self-serving, criminal and unconstitutional acts that have occurred with the present administration. Coupled with the complete hijacking of the Republican Party by the Fundamentalist Christians, we are staring down a tunnel of despair and fear. I believe the only thing that is going to put this country back to some semblance of being a “beacon of hope” for it's own citizens (as well as the world) is a leader who has the skills to bring people together, the diversity in his background to make him credible to the world, and the intelligence to see through the manipulations that take place in Washington D.C.

That's why I have hope in Barack Obama.

After studying his life, hearing his speeches, and getting a sense of the depth of his character, I have come to the conclusion that maybe – just maybe – a leader has finally appeared who can bring people together, and mend the wounds that George Bush has caused throughout the world.

When I view the videos of his rallies, and see the faces of all colors showing up because of the hope this man has generated, I remember my days at ole' Wa-Hi, where I learned that diversity was a gift -- and I have hope that with Barack's leadership this country has a chance to heal from many wounds. I have the audacity to hope that this country will become a different place if this man is elected, and I have dedicated whatever time and money I can give to his campaign.

Join me and some other ardent Oregon supporters of Obama who have organized a fund-raising event to be held on June 28th at McMenamins – Edgefield. Meet people from all parts of Portland who have this same hope. If you'd like to join us for a great evening, link here to get information and sign up.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    As a recovering ex-conservative Republican I always enjoy these kinds of "out of the closet" commentaries because I invariably identify with many of the same dynamics and reasons for change.

    I would be interested in hearing more specific reasons why you believe Obama offers this hope you speak of. That's not a challenge. I too am intrigued by him and took a presidential candidate selector quiz a month or so ago that said he was a 100% match for me. It's just that your post doesn't really articulate anything specific... just that he gives you hope and that you've studied him a bit.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    When I view the videos of his rallies, and see the faces of all colors showing up because of the hope this man has generated, I remember my days at ole' Wa-Hi, where I learned that diversity was a gift -- and I have hope that with Barack's leadership this country has a chance to heal from many wounds. I have the audacity to hope that this country will become a different place if this man is elected, and I have dedicated whatever time and money I can give to his campaign.

    This is not a criticism of Obama but an expression of concern with how people can be star struck with a politician and the risks they run and create in going with first impressions. Many people throughout history have been mesmerized by people seeking leadership roles only to end like a Greek tragedy in disaster. Extreme examples: Mussolini, Hitler, Jim Jones. This is not to say that Obama is likely to become that type of leader, but if he continues to get these cheering crowds and they get larger he runs the risk of his judgment being impaired. JFK was a great leader, but as we continue to learn he was human and had his flaws, one of which helped get us into Vietnam. I watched Obama this week on C-Span and was impressed by how he handled himself when responding to a critic, so he obviously has his virtues and skills. As much as this nation needs a leader who can inspire its people, it also needs people who are judicious, fully informed and not given to impulses. So let's not pass the buck for this nation's future to one person. We all share that responsibility.

  • (Show?)

    Very well said, Bill!! You've put your finger directly on what has thus far been my greatest unspoken concern about Obama. The last thing we need is a cult of personality. History has demonstrated time and again how dangerous that can be.

    I'm not saying that Obama's candidacy is nothing more substantial than a cult of personality. But I do want to know the specific reasons why those who support him have arrived at that position.

  • (Show?)

    I'll give you some reasons to support Obama and I am not yet committed to him as I find other Dem candidates also appealing.

    O'Bama is smart and after George I really value intelligence. He is grounded. While he didn't grow up in a log cabin, he did live a multicural life that will be helpful. He spent his early job career, not on Wall Street or with high powered law firms, but on the street helping in the community. He spent several sessions in the state legislature, where one has to deal with potholes, police, and education; where one gets truly grounded in the legislative process. Because of who he is and because of his background he can do more than anyone to heal the U.S. relations with the international community, especially the Islamic world and boy do we need to heal relations. He is a pragmatist seeking solutions that will work and will get the American population behind him. And yes, he does inspire people and gives them hope at a time that we certainly need it.

    I also have the impression that his wife will help keep his ego in check.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)
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    So...you never really were a conservative. You were more of a mindless sheep lazily grazing with a red herd. Now you're a blue sheep.

    Personally, I have very little respect for those who change stripes so easily, whether I happen to agree their positions or not. Such dramatic transformations generally represent an overall lack of depth and a world view largely based on ignorance and inexperience. Maybe it's just me.

  • DeeAnna Roberts (unverified)
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    I think it's beautiful that you have hope again and I am glad you shared this. I feel the same way about Barack obama. I did extensive research on him and a few other candidates and I came to the realization that this man has the will to change this nation. I believe him. I don't see him like I do the others. I believe he is telling the truth. It's not "star struck" as I take this thing VERY seriously and I believe you do as well. Ignore the doubters. Stay encouraged. Obama 2008!

  • (Show?)

    Joe12pack,

    It' just you.

  • Sis (unverified)
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    I also previously voted Republican. Then I read Obama's first book about his life "Dreams of My Father." It was so moving and I thought here is a genuine person. After that he was elected in the Senate and I later tried to read his "Audacity of Hope." Being a busy Mom I never was able to and listened to it read to me by Obama in audiobook forum. And then I thought, this guy REALLY should consider running for office.

    When he did, I found his website barackobama.com. He has a link just for ISSUES and it clearly states his stand on all of the issues. I devoured that site and everything else I could read about him. And Barack Obama is the genuine article for this country. You do not have to be Republican or Democrat to follow him. You only have to love this country and want Change for the better. I am not star struck in the least. I know I don't want another politician that is indebted to lobbyists. Obama is by the people and for the people. He is who we need to unite this country for the better. There is none better and he definitely has my vote!

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Sue wrote, "There is no point in hashing over all of the mindless, self-serving, criminal and unconstitutional acts that have occurred with the present administration. Coupled with the complete hijacking of the Republican Party by the Fundamentalist Christians, we are staring down a tunnel of despair and fear."

    Actually, (and this is an unplayed lever with Christians) the Fundamentalist Christians did not hijack the Republican Party, the power brokers of the Republican Party hijacked the Fundamentalists. They were ripe for the picking, and got picked.

  • jb1125 (unverified)
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    This video from 2002 answers the concerns of Bill and Kevin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXzmXy226po

  • Tom (unverified)
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    Obama's ability to bring in independents and others who are disillusioned with the President is his strongest selling point. With all the Republican candidates supporting Bush's failed war policy, those voters are ripe for the taking. Obama is the candidate who can take them.

    He is fairly liberal in his politics, but he's also a pragmatist who cares more about finding solutions than pandering to the extremes of his party. He talks to the experts, regardless of their political persuasion, and doesn't discount ideas just because the extremes of his base are opposed to it. He's also not afraid to tell his audience what they don't want to hear, something that is extremely rare in politics. While I could see myself voting for a couple different Democratic candidates, Obama is the only candidate I'm enthusiastic about.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    There is something we need to know about Obama that remains unknown. Who is behind him? I suspect this is like a horse race except the stakes are much greater. How did he get his first national exposure at the Democratic convention? Were there big players who saw in him an ideal front to gain power? Perhaps, we will learn more when the race is getting near the finish line if it is down to the DLC's favorite against Obama and Biden and possibly Dodd and maybe Richardson play hatchmen for Hillary.

  • Angela (unverified)
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    Some info on Senator Obama for those less familiar:

    The Obama resume is formidable: Harvard Law School graduate and president of the Harvard Law Review, civil rights lawyer, constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, author of two best-selling books, grass-roots organizer and Illinois senator for eight years, where his style has been described as methodical, inclusive and pragmatic.

    In his first two years in the US Senate:

    Senator Obama has been notably productive in Washington -- he's the primary sponsor of 152 bills and resolutions, including three Senate resolutions, and 14 bills that he co-sponsored have become law. He introduced the Spent Nuclear Fuel Tracking and Accountability Act, which works to deter nuclear proliferation; the Drinking Water Security Act of 2005, which reduces pollutants in our water; and the Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2006, which secures health benefits for our veterans.

    Regarding 'less experience' than other candidates, think about this:

    "Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have an awful lot of experience, yet they have engineered what I think is one of the biggest foreign policy failures in our recent history. So I would say the most important things are judgment and vision ... and passion for the American people and what their hopes and dreams are."

  • (Show?)

    jb1125,

    The concern that I've articulated is one of why those who support Obama chose to do so, not one of why is Obama a candidate. If that video is your answer as to why YOU support him then it is a partial answer to my concern. If not then perhaps you could articulate why you support him.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    One thing that may be more important than a fat resume is bringing people together. No matter who wins each Primary we can assume that the R machine will run its divisive and crude hit campaign. Obama needs to show he's got the stuff to deal with that.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    I share the expressed hopes regarding Barack Obama. It is interesting and noteworthy that he has appeal to Republicans and former Republicans. That itself is a reason for hope and interest. As much as I want a progressive with backbone for a candidate, I also want someone who can unite this country around a rational and humane foreign and domestic policy. Barack Obama has the potential to do that. I am hoping that potential will be realized.

  • Becky (unverified)
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    As a fellow former member of the Religious Right, I know exactly what you're talking about. I was shocked when I took a little Presidential candidate quiz last week to see which one was most aligned with my own beliefs and Obama was at the top of the list - not because I didn't like him, but because like you, I so instantly favored him even without knowing much about his politics.

    Don't let the naysayers get you down. If someone has not been raised in a white conservative Christian male dominated family, they simply cannot comprehend what it takes to break away and figure out for yourself what you believe in. I'm about five years along on my journey and have finally figured out what I believe. It feels wonderful!

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Barack Obama is the lead sponsor of the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Energy Act, a massive piece of corporate welfare of one of the most polluting technologies in the world.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/6/6/174318/2170

    You can write whatever hopes and dreams you want on this blank slate, but when push comes to shove, Barack Obama is more of the same, and that doesn't appear to be progressive.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Obama was at the top of the list - not because I didn't like him, but because like you, I so instantly favored him even without knowing much about his politics.

    Another example supporting my opening point.

  • (Show?)

    Peter -- Is it possible for someone to still be a progressive, even if they're wrong on one issue?

  • Levon (unverified)
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    Caution is certainly understandable and it's fairly early in the process. Nevertheless, compare Senator Obama with the current occupant of the White House and we recognize that risk is relative.

    My favorite argument for Obama concerns the perceptual shift that will take place throughout most of the world if he were to be elected.

    Obama's life represents some of what is most attractive about the US. That a multicultural figure without any connection to political American political dynasties could become president of the US would reaffirm what to many has become nothing but sheer myth......that the US is to some degree a meritocracy.

    In addition, Obama's particular ethnicity and life experiences are especially powerful considering the history of this country and our government's low esteem in the Islamic world.

    Yes, let's be wary and examine his ideas and stands on issues, but to ignore the importance of biography or to use silly comparisons to despots trivializes Obama and detractors with more substantive concerns.

    We tend to elect the antithesis of the last person. Obama certainly fits that bill quite well. Here's to the audacity of hope!

  • jb1125 (unverified)
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    You shouldn't just look at the cheering crowds, but to the people that knew Obama before he was popular—when he was a community organizer, when he was state senator. Obama may be knew to national stage, but in Chicago there are plenty of people who have known him a long time. Look at his Resume

    He directed Illinois Project Vote, which led to 150,000 registered voters. He was on the Board of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a local non-profit. He was to the go to guy for environmentalists on environmental issues in the Illinois. Here's an article on Obama's environmental background.

    I have talked to people that knew him for years, and they all say that he is exactly the same now as he was then, he cares deeply about the issues he fights for, and he looks for pragmatic, realistic solutions to problems.

  • Rev. Chuck Currie (unverified)
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    Don't forget to checkout the new site People of Faith for Barack.  I'm one of the writers and hope my fellow Oregonians will drop by.

  • Sue Emmett (unverified)
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    Test response - having trouble getting my response to go through.

    Sue

  • GM (unverified)
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    In response to Bill B's comments, I too can see the danger in people becoming enamored with a candidate and seeing him as the savior to the nation. That's why I've (like others here) done quite a bit of research on him, since I too was quite taken and inspired by his words. I've listen to both of his books (on audio) about his life and his views, read numerous speeches, looked up public records on his voting and positions, read lots of news reports on the web, wading through the distortions, looking for the actual words in a speech or response to a vote that is questioned. I have concluded that of all the other candicates he is the best one out there based on many of the reasons already stated here. When Bill B asks "who is behind him" in the second posting, (implying it is "unknown" and therefore possibly sinister), I would say - a lot of "the people", including many wealthy and many more not so wealthy people, such as myself.
    I have no problem being skeptical (which Bill seems to be), but if others support him just because "they like him", then I wonder if that's such a bad thing? Many people in this country are busy trying to make their lives work, and simply don't take as much time to research politicians, and may therefore resort to supporting a candidate on their gut feeling. But that doesn't mean that Obama has consciously manipulated them simply because people react to him that way or because he came into the public eye very quickly after the 2004 Democratic speech he made. Maybe it simply points to how hungry we all are for the change he speaks of.

  • Kevin Kouns (unverified)
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    Hi Sue,

    Great post. Obama has a chance to be a "transformational leader." What do I mean by transformational? I mean that he can cause a party realignment in the same way that FDR and Reagan did. He can solidify Dem strength with a whole new generation of voters. He can extend Dems strength with minority and multi-ethnic voters at a time when they are becoming much more important. He has the potential to change the process by reducing the bitter partisanship that has characterized our national politics for the past fifteen years. He has a long standing commitment to cleaning up the campaign finance and lobbying laws that make the entire system so easy to manipulate by large corporate interests.

    Obama is in the best position to hold the Repubs responsible for the tragic mess in Iraq, because he was not complicite in authorizing the war. He is likely to have the longest coattails because he is well liked by independents and will be able to bring several million voters to the polls. Obama is a progressive who has an ability to communicate progressive values and policies in ways that are accessible and acceptable to those who are not self-identifed liberals. This is the key to building the Dem base.

    I don't think Edwards can win the nomination. The MSM is in the process of marginalizing him as the candidate of the left. I think Hillary would be highly vulnerable in the general election because of her baggage, her polarizing image, and her lousy numbers with independents. Obama is not perfect on every issue, but he has a chance to become the most progressive President in my lifetime. That is good enough for me.

  • Maria (unverified)
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    Sue's honest and enjoyable post is a great read, yes. And I agree with Kevin Koun's Sen. Obama possibly "the most progressive President in my lifetime." My own words to describe this exceptionally brilliant presidential candidate is "practical visionary". Please read his books "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope", and check out where he stands on the issues on www.barackobamacom.

  • Mark (unverified)
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    Read about my experience at Camp Obama last week and meet a real card-carrying RNC member who has moved over.

    http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/blog/markwiznitzer

    Why does he appeal? Obama is neither left nor right, just common sense.

  • Sue Emmett (unverified)
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    Yesterday I wrote a lengthy response to a couple of comments made about my initital post that started this conversation. It didn't make it onto the site because of an error I made in posting. Meanwhile, a lot of you have answered the queston asked about WHY I am for Obama -- what are the specific reasons. It would be redundant to repeat all that now, as some of you have answered that much better than I did, and I have learned from you. The answers are there for anyone who wants to take the time to find out why so many of us are so enthusiastic.

    I would, however, like to answer the comment by Joe12Pack. He said: "Such dramatic transformations generally represent an overall lack of depth and a world view largely based on ignorance and inexperience." I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Just for the record, my journey out of deep conservatism was hardly sudden. I'm a college graduate, I raised 7 children, I was a community volunteer in many organizations over the years, I'm a compulsive reader, and it took me 35 adult years to pry myself out of a marriage, religion, and social community that marginalized people who dared to express liberal leanings. I have paid a price for following both my heart and my intellect - a price I am proud to have paid, altho I'm still dealing with the fallout with my family. I've met plenty of people recently who have changed their political affiliation after long and arduous thought. I'd hardly call that something to disrespect!

    Sue

  • Gary Lapon (unverified)
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    Official campaign websites or books written by Obama are the last place people should check to find out information about him that is useful in forming anything approaching an objective view. Of course they're going to make the candidate seem great: that's the whole point of them. They're marketing tools. Would you base your health care decisions on pharmaceutical industry advertisements, or would you talk to a trusted doctor and seek out unbiased sources such as publications from non-profits and industry watchdog groups? For example, John McCain's website says that he has "a fundamental commitment to the protection of human dignity that will shape his presidency." At a recent fundraising event, he responded to a question about when the US will "send an airmail message to Tehran" with a disgusting "joke" about "that old Beach Boys song...bomb, bomb Iran."

    Even Obama's website doesn't impress me much. He identifies some very important issues, but his proposed solutions are lacking (and I have to assume that he's like every other candidate in history in that his presidency would see many of his promises unfulfilled).

    He claims to be concerned about deaths of migrants crossing into the US from Mexico, but is in favor of increased border security. The fact is, the length of the US-Mexico border makes effectively stopping the flow of immigrants impossible in terms of costs and necessary manpower. He points out that the number of deaths tripled between 1990-2005: the result of increased enforcement, which drives migrants to the most dangerous crossing locations like the mountains (where they freeze to death) and the Sonora desert (where they die of dehydration and heat exposure). His proposal will only make the situation worse. Of course, he talks about targetting employers to remove the incentive for people to ener illegally, but it is politically unlikely that he will be able to effectively confront the meatpacking industry and agribusiness, major contributers to both political parties. Not to mention the fact that NAFTA, passed during the Clinton years, is the main reason people enter the US illegally. NAFTA has lowered tariffs, allowing agribusiness to dump surplus corn onto the Mexican market, forcing millions of Mexican farmers off of their land. To support their families, they come to the US. Obama doesn't mention this, which leads me to believe that he's more interested in not ruffling the feathers of corporations that profit from the labor of undocumented immigrants while causing their migration in the first place. Not exactly a progressive position.

    Obama states he is in favor of leaving troops in Iraq to engage in "counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces." In other words, to continue to kill people and to train death squads. Our experience in Iraq has shown that you can't fight terrorism with firepower. The US presence provides terrorists with a target in Iraq. If you want to fight terrorism in Iraq, the US has to FULLY withdraw. There is also the issue of there being more private mercenaries in Iraq in the US employ than occupation soldiers (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/06/04/1651/), something Obama doesn't address. Will he remove them as well? If so, why doesn't he say so on his website? Finally, he's in favor of troop "redeployment," not withdrawal. This means he'll probably send many of them to Afghanistan, another unjust failed occupation, or to friendly countries in the region from where they can enter Iraq to carry out missions, then return. Not exactly a plan to end the war. Obama has also said that he would consider missile strikes on Iran, which would be a foreign-policy disaster that would make Iraq look like a stubbed toe. He supports the "War on Terror," a code word for US imperialism. The cause of terrorism is the long history of brutal US interventions arround the world, particularly the Middle East (overthrowing a democratically-elected regime in Iran, supporting numerous dictators and monarchies, killing millions of people, supporting the occupation of Palestine, and generally pursuing economic policy that deprives people of the hope of a decent life not worth ending in terrorist acts, etc.). More of that is not the way to end terrorism: the "War on Terror" is simply a cover for extending US influence in the Middle East in order to control oil resources for power and profit, a program Obama is fully behind.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I mean that he can cause a party realignment in the same way that FDR and Reagan did. He can solidify Dem strength with a whole new generation of voters. He can ... perform other miracles.

    Now it is time to sober up. Try reading this article and substitute "Obama" in place of "Carter" as you go through this sordid history.

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    Mark: Why does he appeal? Obama is neither left nor right, just common sense.

    Interesting choice of words and one that I can readily identify with. That's exactly how I saw Howard Dean's candidacy in 2004.

  • Joe'sGhost (unverified)
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    I'd respond, but it appears my IP address has been banned by the good folks at Blue Oregon. Joe12Pack will trouble you no more. Peace

  • (Show?)
    I'm a college graduate, I raised 7 children, I was a community volunteer in many organizations over the years, I'm a compulsive reader, and it took me 35 adult years to pry myself out of a marriage, religion, and social community that marginalized people who dared to express liberal leanings. I have paid a price for following both my heart and my intellect - a price I am proud to have paid, altho I'm still dealing with the fallout with my family.

    I'm not a particularly big fan of Dixie Chicks, but I really do like the single "Not ready to back down." I don't know whether Maines has experienced the full kind of conversion you have, but the above paragraph reminds me of a couplet from the song (which if you don't know, is a defiant answer to the brouhaha about Maines telling a crowd she was ashamed Bush was from Texas): "It turned my whole world around/and I kinda like it."

  • (Show?)

    Joe, are you sure this wasn't a Typepad thing? Sometimes it filters me out--even sometimes when I put up the original post.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Joe, are you sure this wasn't a Typepad thing? Sometimes it filters me out--even sometimes when I put up the original post. Me, too.

    Back to Obama. When he visited Portland did he cross the Willamette by a bridge or did he walk across?

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    Gary, Senator Obama's proposed Iraq De-escalation Act DOES call for a COMPLETE withdraw from Iraq in stages. It also specifically states that there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq.

    With respect to Iran, don't expect any candidate, Republican and Democrat, to get nominated without tough talk with respect to Iran. With Obama, the difference is he also has the wisdom not to get us entangled in yet another war. I also like the fact that he is willing to engage in a dialogue with Iran and others in the region.

    In general, I would echo the sentiments of the author of with regard to Senator Obama's appeal to Republicans and Independents. I was an Independent but am now a Democrat bent on casting my vote for Obama in what may be a historic primary. At our first Obama meeting here in Medford, we had a Republican show up to tell us that he was supporting Senator Obama.

    This cross party appeal bodes well on the issue of "electability" in the general election. It also explains why Senator Obama is shown as beating the Republicans in the Zogby head to head polls. . In contrast, even McCain is shown as beating Hillary and Edwards in this poll. http://zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1316

  • (Show?)

    You've put your finger directly on what has thus far been my greatest unspoken concern about Obama. The last thing we need is a cult of personality. History has demonstrated time and again how dangerous that can be.

    I'm not saying that Obama's candidacy is nothing more substantial than a cult of personality. But I do want to know the specific reasons why those who support him have arrived at that position.

    I would say that only 30% of voters base their votes on the issues, while most people base their votes on things like personality, looks, vibes, psychology, as well as according to who they think is going to win. Most people also base their votes mostly against the candidate they don't like, rather than for the candidate they do like. People see what they want to see, rather than what is really there. Then they are disappointed when their perception does not turn out to be the reality down the road.

  • Tricia (unverified)
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    Here's a Bloomberg article on Obama, among others. For those who are skeptical of him, I'm curious who you do think would be the best Presidential candidate.

    Obama, Thompson Gain Ground on Clinton, Giuliani, Survey Shows

    [Editor's note: Please don't copy and paste entire articles. They're copyrighted. Feel free to excerpt and link.]

  • Mark (unverified)
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    Kevin -

    Having lived in Vermont much of the past 3 1/2 years, I believe that among the many differences between Obama and Dean -- and there are many -- is the fact that Dean had a "deep North" attitude. For instance, his comments about Republicans at the country club and never have worked are not the basis for unifying this country. As Obama would say, it is designed to divide us.

  • (Show?)

    Mark,

    I see that quality in Obama and admire it. That's not really what attracted me to Howard Dean nor is it why I saw him as neither Left nor Right. He called things the way he saw them and let the chips fall where they may. I admired that very much. Sure he made some gaffes along the way, but underneath them was invariably an inconvenient kernal of truth. Republicans and country clubs is a good example. Didn't our current President joke about the uber affluent being his real base? But we're going to fault Dean for trying to make a pointed joke about it?

    I'm sorry but there is precious little common ground to be had between the likes of George W. Bush and myself. On what basis could we possibly unify?

    I don't believe that America needs every single citizen to be unified. It's simply not a realistic goal.

  • Gary Lapon (unverified)
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    Matthew,

    Obama's proposed Iraq War De-Escalation act calls for the a goal of total phased redeployment of combat troops (Note: most troops in Iraq are not combat troops, and there are as many mercenaries in the US's employ in Iraq as combat troops), and it would maintain a force presence in the region to train Iraqi forces and intervene in Iraq when needed. That's a lot different from withdrawal. Not only that, if Iraqis meet certain benchmarks, the redeployment can be suspended.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    Gary, I do not believe the objective of the proposal is for leaving non-combat troops and mercaneries in Iraq indefinitely. Whether you call it a redeployment or a withdrawal, the point is that we would ultimately have all of our forces out of Iraq with no permanent bases in Iraq. Yes forces would remain for training, gaurding embassy, counterterrorism. You also left out the point about the suspension of redeployment being temporary.

    Here's a link where you can read the whole proposal

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c110:1:./temp/~c110oTdyxR:e682:

  • Pavel Goberman (unverified)
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    Sue wrote that she has a hope in Barack Obama. Sue, do you have health insurance? About 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Sue, our borders are open. Do you know how many potential terrorists are living in Oregon and in the USA and are ready to kill you and other Americans. Large corporations bough President Bush and most members of US Congress, including political prostitutes Wyden and G. Smith, and they are not interesting to lock-up borders. And illegal are coming. Sue, why jobs are moving from Oregon to oversea? Sue, you elected President and US Congressmen for to protect our country and the People. Our soldiers are dying in Iraq, but an idiots as President Bush and US Congressmen, including Wyden, Smith, Obama, Clinton and etc have now an opportunity to help our nation in difficult situation: win war in Iraq without loss of our soldiers, but they do not know what to do. What will be different if some of these morons will be elected as President? NOTHING!

    Pavel Goberman - Candidate for US Senator

    Sue

  • jonathan (unverified)
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    Someone above said "With respect to Iran, don't expect any candidate, Republican and Democrat, to get nominated without tough talk with respect to Iran. With Obama, the difference is he also has the wisdom not to get us entangled in yet another war."

    1st: Your 1st comment suggests it is OK for you that a candidate "BS" with "tough talk" about Iran. That's a sad statement as to the reality of where our nation has come. Defending a candidate you like, excusing him for having to BS about war mongering with Iran. I don’t want any body who BS’es and shoves “good sounding soundbytes” down my throat, not after W and Slick Willy, thank you very much. Point number 2, what type of track record does a 2 year senator have to demonstrate “wisdom”? Are you kidding? As someone above so accurately put, he has no intention but to continue to serve war interests. Study the events of the past 100 years, and especially since the JFK assassination, and you’ll see there is a “right wing” war faction, and a “left wing” war faction. Cheney, et al, they are the “hawks”. But please, have the Clinton criminals fooled you with their rhetoric and double talk, while they waged wars in Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, et al, all through their 8 years? The left right faction keeps people thinking they have a choice. The only way we’ll start getting back our choices is to realize this and put a stop to it. Make no mistake about it - whether it is Giuliani or Romney or McCain, or Edwards or Clinton or Obama - they are all the "safe bet" candidates for the corporate-military-industrial plutocracy, of which the corporate controlled media is a part. You can BS and quip all you want, the facts are there. The truth behind 911, the truth behind the Iraq war and the overall "war on terror" reveals that, the controlling apparatus of both major parties is completely in line with expanding the size of government, expanding the war machine, corporate welfare (as accurately mentioned by someone above to be one of Barack's objectives). and reducing your covil liberties as a result. Look no further than the presidencies of Clinton and W for proof. With W in office, it is easy to forget Clinton's war-mongering, but just research it and see for yourself. What will Barack Obama do differently than do his masters bidding? What has he proven? Already his credibility is in question, with stories circulating of his financial ties to mob-type characters like Tony Rezko.

  • jonathan (unverified)
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    Want a solution? Look to see the candidate that the major parties hate. He gets elected to his congressional district with over 60% of the vote every 2 years, but his own party supports the opposing candidate in a desperate attempt to silence someone who would, and does, tell the truth. Who is this Republican who has stood up for what is right by voting against the war since 2002? Why does his own party hate him? Sound like an interesting candidate? Sound like a Hero? Who is Ron Paul, and why is he trying to save your country?

    Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record: He has never voted to raise taxes. He has never voted for an unbalanced budget. He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership. He has never voted to raise congressional pay. He has never taken a government-paid junket. He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch. He voted against the Patriot Act. He voted against regulating the Internet. He voted against the Iraq war. He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program. He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year. Congressman Paul introduces numerous pieces of substantive legislation each year, probably more than any single member of Congress.

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    I applaud you Sue for your courage and change of heart poltiically. I also am supporting Obama and am happy to see a former Republican so enthusastic about his candidacy. I only hope many more follow in your footsteps.

  • bill (unverified)
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    Odumbdumb is 100% liberal- rcvng 100% ratings from Illinois counterparts - ACLU, AFSCME, Public employee unions, etc. Anyone who gets that score from any state orgs such as those is li-heee-berrrrall. Studying his life? How old is he 45?- "I'm curious who you do think would be the best Presidential candidate."

    Being in the US cesspool Senate for 2 years doesnt even qualify him to work as a cook at MickeyD's. Really none of the candidates; R or D are qualified to run the nation, they are all lawyers and government workers who have never had a real job. Romney is the only person thus qualified, his investment firm started the Staples office store chain!!

    Obama's radical voting record and his prominence in the corruption scandals have all been virtually ignored by the mainstream media- of course. I like his racist comment in the debate yesterday, "we want justice, not just us". PFFt I would not vote for any candidate with his weak background, even if they agreed with me 100% of the time.

  • Alex (unverified)
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    I don't live in Oregon, not even in the US, but, like most other citizens of our fair world, I have a more than passing interest in who is the president of the US. Almost any of the contenders for the Democratic nomination would make a better president than the present incumbent and than most of the Republican contenders. That said, I think Barack Obama is the best of the present crop of contenders. Other commentators have spoken about his strengths, or lack, but I;d like to give you guys one thought, if I may. I believe it was an American statesman who said "My country, right or wrong! When right, to be kept on the right track; when wrong, to be brought back to the right track", or words to that effect. I cannot think of anytime in the history of your country that its standing in the world has been so low; not even in the darkest days of Vietnam! It is time to get America back on the right track and it seems to us, this side of the pond, that Mr. Obama nay be just the right guy at the right time. As for the lady whose "confessions" elicited all these wonderful responses, all I can say is better a right thing, though late, than a wrong thing forever. More grease to you elbows, Madam, and God bless.

  • Shaz (unverified)
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    Levon wrote: "My favorite argument for Obama concerns the perceptual shift that will take place throughout most of the world if he were to be elected."

    I could not agree more, for all of the reasons Levon mentioned. There are many, many other important factors involved besides "experience" as Levon has done a fine job of outlining.

    <h2>I leave you with two words: Obama. '08.</h2>
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