Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Hopefully the title of this post will be self-explanatory in a minute. I also hate interrupting The Dude's string of Olympic entires, but here's a passage from one of the early AP articles on Obama's announcement that Joe Biden will be his running mate:

A senior Obama adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his boss has expressed impatience with what he calls a "reverence" inside his campaign for his message of change and new politics. In other words, Obama is willing — even eager — to risk what got him this far if it gets him to the White House.

So that begs the question: now that we've made it to this point, is it win at any cost? Do we just jettison the message of change for some kind of perceived greater good and hope that our candidate remembers it once he takes office?

This is why I hate politics...


Big Daddy said...

Has he merely been Biden his time all along? (sorry but that's what I actually expected the title of your post to be) I agree/share your concerns and I go back and forth. On the one hand what has finally got me interested in "national" politics once again has been Obama's seemingly breath of fresh air and the idea of hope he brings.

On the other hand, I was reading an article in Thurs NYT about McCain v Obama in "rural" PA and while people aren't too enthusiastic about McCain, they aren't to enthused about Obama either. For whatever reason, they (and a lot of people in general) see the rhetoric of change as just that rhetoric. I mean in all seriousness Obama should be up by 15 points not in a dead heat. And don't get the cynic in me started about "the race question" (i.e. say one thing to pollsters but when it comes down to it on election day, actually pulling the lever...)

So should he go Bush/Clinton and do the win at any cost and hopefully find a way to get elected without tarnishing his biggest asset, that of a not-as-usual-politician. Or continue with his fiery idealism and perhaps find himself losing come election day (while polls show him ahead/dead head, if you do the polls based on electoral votes McCain has caught and surpassed him) I do not know. But I shall end this with a shout out to the Dude for wonderful Olympic coverage, I too am jealous, and with a


Head Dude said...

I admittedly love the pick and think this was the best choice possible -- one of my law professors was Biden's former chief of staff for 20 years, and Biden gave us an hour long presentation on the virtues of public service, and I was instantly impressed.
So my view is colored, but I don't see how this impacts the change message. He chose a Senator who ranks 99 out of 100 in wealth in the Senate, had to mortgage his house twice to send a son to college, his oldest son is about to be deployed to Iraq next month, and he lost his first wife and two children in a car accident -- this is a guy who has lived a real life. Yes, most of it has been in Washington, but I don't know that adding someone with experience means Obama is any less of a "change" candidate.
Obviously Biden is an insider, but I think it was just a smart pick. Kaine or Sebellius would've been new blood, but on some level, you have to show the country you're ready to govern, and I'm not sure a four-year Senator paired with a three-year governor does that.
Let's face it, even if Hilary were the nominee, it still would've been a significant change from Bush. But I think Obama-Biden are two dudes who haven't lived a life of privilege, have had middle-class experiences with which most Americans can relate, and that's an enormous change from the status quo. Sure, Obama has gotten rich the last few years, and it's not like Biden has been in slums, but both grew up poor, have devoted themselves to public service, and the fact one has been a Senator for 35 years and met with all foreign leaders I see as an asset. Now, you bring a new voice and perspective to the White House, with his #2 as a seasoned sounding board, who at age 65, won't harbor ambitions to be President and will commit himself to the greater good.
How's that for a puff piece?

Big Daddy said...

Well said. The problem I fear is that "I know that, you know that" but the average joe doesn't know that. To a dude who used to work in a factory but now has to paint fire hydrants to make a living in Ohio, PA, NY etc does the message of change really resonate with them?

One of the criticisms is that Obama gives these "hifilutin" talks and messages of hope, change and the like but doesn't offer any specifics on how to do it. And as such it creates a "disconnect" with the average person. Then when one sees news reports of Obama takin it easy vacationing in Hawaii for a week it feeds into this disconnect.
True Biden is the 99/100 ranked less wealthiest senator but again to many a senator is a senator who sees and has more wealth in a week than they see in months.

So the question becomes how does Obama connect to these votes that Hil absolutely killed him in getting in the primary? I think that's why he's trying/hoping to tone down the "change-mantra" because for whatever reason it's not playing across a crucial demographic.

I too love the Biden choice though I had sorta hoped he would be Sec of State. Then again you have to win in order to make those choices. Besides the General (whom the Dude refused to do a VP overview for but also had no realistic chance) he was the one I liked the most. The others as you pointed out had too many flaws/drawbacks.

Big Daddy said...

I was reading this article today, think it was one of those "cnn politics" things and the author mentioned how Obama selecting Biden gives Mccain "political cover" to select Ridge. I'm curious as to thoughts about that ticket and the issues it would pose for Obama-Biden 08.

Also I have to semi-apologize to head dude. I wasn't sure if people would buy a 30 year senator as a message of change and in touch with every day "values" but the more I've been reading on Biden the more impressed I am with him. I had no idea about the riding the Amtrak home to Delaware from DC daily after sessions were done. What a fantastic guy.

IF they can parlay that into people seeing Obama as a "real" person who cares about everyday people then I may not have to worry as much as I have been.

Head Dude said...

I think Ridge is the smartest choice McCain could make. But I don't think he'll make it out of fear the far-right wing would implode. So instead I think he'll go with Pawlenty. I just don't see him taking Romney since he can't stand the guy, he's a d-bag, and his wealth combined with McCain's would make them look disconnected from the country. But who knows.
I'm pleased with the reaction to Biden -- the best the Republicans can do is show Biden's criticism of Obama and praise of McCain. As to the former, the public doesn't care and it's just hypocrisy since Bush Sr. did all but call Reagan a wingnut back in 1980. And to the latter, as I heard someone point out, the fact a politician says nice things about an opponent across the aisle is actually a positive and shows a level of magnanimity. Behind the scenes, the GOP recognizes it was the best choice Obama could make.