The Criticizable Obama


So I guess the idea is out there that those of us who are backing Barack Obama at this point aren't just supporting him, but we're deranged lunatics who think he's completely above criticism and that any dissent is beyond the pale. Well, I dunno, maybe there are some people like that. For the record, though, I think the people who have been pointing out that his health care plan isn't really viable over anything other than the shortest of terms unless it's modified to include the sort of mandate that he's criticized are correct. I don't see this as nearly as big a deal as some other folks, but the criticism is accurate. Similarly, as I've said before he didn't cover himself with glory with his coal-related conduct in the Senate. And it's also true that he was basically MIA from some important war debates throughout 2005.

More broadly, though, while I definitely prefer Obama on foreign policy grounds, he's left himself open to a lot of legitimate criticism. The problem for Hillary Clinton is that she hasn't made those criticisms, instead she's made different criticisms I disagree with. But I warmed considerably to John Edwards before Iowa when he started talking about things like explicitly disavowing preventive war as a tool of non-proliferation policy and putting his critique of the "war on terror" conceptual framework front and center. Obama's recent promise to "end the mindset" that led to the war in Iraq is a tantalizing hint of a doctrinal dispute with Clinton that goes beyond "I was against authorizing the war and you weren't nyah nyah nyah" but I don't think it's really been fleshed out.

So there you have it. Nobody's perfect, not even Barack Obama. And, indeed, it must be extremely annoying for Hillary supporters to watch Obama get mostly-glowing press coverage while Clinton continues to be beseiged by the media's evident loathing of her. That said, the habit of arguing against Obama by knocking the least-sound arguments made on his behalf is pretty silly -- it's a giant country with hundreds of millions of citizens, and any widely known politician is going to be supported by some dumb people wielding silly arguments. It's the good arguments that you need to worry about.