Friday, 27 June 2008

Obama's 'betrayals'....

Liberals are getting to stuck into Barack Obama for a series of positions that he has adopted that could be interpreted as political manoeuvring. Michael Tomasky takes issue with this, arguing that winning is a principle in itself.

I have already argued that refusing public funding was the right thing for Obama to do: it engages people in his campaign in huge numbers and, more expediently (but this is politics ladies and gentleman) could enable enable him to protect and build a more secure Democratic position in Congress, and lay the foundations for Democratic domination of US politics for some time.

His condemnation of the Supreme Courts decision to oppose the death penalty for child rapists is consistent with previous positions that he has adopted on the issue. Even the support for the 'clarification' provided by the Supreme Court yesterday, which outlawed Washington DC's ban on handguns is consistent with his previous positions. Ultimately, he is a constitutionalist and Amendment 2 of the US constitution is at best ambiguous, a seemingly qualified right to bear arms as it is. It can be read either way, and Obama respects the Supreme Court as a constitutional authority on this.

There is, however, a contradiction between the two positions he has adopted on these two Supreme Court judgements that can't be ignored: going with the Supreme Court on one and against on another. My suspicion is that there is some politics in his condemnation of the Supreme Court on the death penalty for child rapists. He can be forgiven for that- remember the Willie Horton ads which brought Michael Dukakis crashing down in 1988?

I wouldn't go quite as far as Michael Tomasky in arguing that winning is a political 'principle.' However, Obama can be forgiven for the position he has adopted on this. Anything else would not change a single thing, would have no chance of changing a single thing even if he were President (it's a Supreme Court judgement.......!), and could potentially cause major harm to his bid for the Presidency. Do we really want it to be John McCain who replaces the elderly Justices who currently occupy the Supreme Court? Absolutely not.

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