The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

An Obama presidency is not without its risks.

Posted by Bill Nance on October 7, 2008

It’s increasingly looking like Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. As an Obama supporter, I think it’s fair to say I’m happy about that.

But let me state for the record that an Obama presidency may have some very serious down-sides. Things that should make everyone pause and take a deep breath before crying Hosannas or thinking all our political problems will be solved.

Have I suddenly changed candidates? No. But unlike some folks on both sides of this campaign, I’ve neither drunk the Kool-Aid™ nor lost my memory.

No one should fool themselves about the potential consequences of an Obama victory with a Democrat controlled congress. An undivided government has been a nearly universally bad thing. (FDR being the possible exception, and even there, plenty of bad things almost happened, like his attempted stacking of the Supreme Court).

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve read my screeds about the Democratic Party in general and my contempt for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in particular. This doesn’t make me any less disgusted with the Republicans, but it does make me very skeptical of a Democrat in the White House with essentially no effective opposition.

The problem with this situation is always the same. Even if you have a genuine political genius in the White House, no one is perfect. Even the best presidents can have lousy ideas. An effective opposition can change or moderate the other side’s implementations of bad policy and force compromises which work out better for everyone in the long run. Sometimes they just need to tell the President: “No Way Jose.”

Want an example? How about Bill Clinton.

I voted for Bill twice and still think he was a terrific president, overall. But he made so many horrendous mistakes in his first two years of unopposed government that it fueled the culture wars, lost him the congress in ’94 and well and truly pissed off rural America to the extent that it’s still largely McCain territory 16 years later.

In 1992 Clinton screwed up healthcare reform so badly it killed a very important issue for 16 years. Some of this was Hillary’s poor execution, but another part was an ineffective Democratic congress that wouldn’t force the issue.

His stupid if well-intentioned attempt to open the military to homosexuals at a time not one in five Americans supported the idea, further polarized the country and just fueled the culture wars. A Republican controlled congress would have made the whole thing a non-starter. As it was, he he tried and failed to put through an issue whose time had not yet come. Today we’re probably actually losing lives because of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s” policy of booting dedicated troops in critical jobs like Arabic translators, because of their preference in bedmates. For the record, discharges for homosexuals skyrocketed after DADT was implemented. We’d be better off if the issue had never been pressed. (let me add here I’m in favor of changing the policy now, but that’s because the country and the rank and file military are ready for it).

And finally, there’s the passage of the Brady Bill. This is a law which did nothing to prevent crime and didn’t effectively keep any criminals from getting guns. It just gave Urbanites a false sense of security. It did however, make rural America and gun owners across the country hate Clinton and the Democrat brand for years to come. Ask my friend Jay about the Brady Bill. He may not admit it, but I’ll bet you that pushed him more firmly to the opposition than any other single issue ever could have. I would venture the same is true for millions of Americans. A Republican congress would never have passed this bill as it was written and saved the country yet another issue to fuel the culture wars.

George Bush is another example. The Republican majority for six years of his administration allowed for colossally bad policy to flow from the White House like water through a spigot.

Then there’s Jimmy Carter. Need I say anything more than the name?

In each case, one-party rule had pretty stinkin’ consequences. Obama may be yet another example if he is not very, very careful. And I am concerned that his lack of long-term executive experience may make him ill-prepared to ride herd on a Democrat congress full of bad ideas and led by incompetents like Pelosi and Reid.

This is the kind of congress a popular president (and Obama may win by landslide proportions) can and must treat pretty roughly, if with finesse. And by the same token, congress has got to remember that the enemy isn’t the other party; it’s the other branch of government. -Something that’s been lost on the body for too many years now.

So vote for Barack Obama . Please. I think the man has some terrific ideas, and has the advantage of being a very bright guy not married to ideology. He may even have genuine greatness lying within him; we shall see. Certainly John McCain has shown he has no business anywhere near the Oval Office, and that alone should be enough to convince you to vote the other side.

But as you pull that lever for Obama, pray for a revolt in congress or an Obama administration with a clear eye for history. The issues facing all of us are too important to have bad solutions railroaded into law without an effective opposition.

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One Response to “An Obama presidency is not without its risks.”

  1. Frank said

    Well said and I have similar concerns. Your post is especially meaningful since you are an Obama supporter.

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