The Comprehensive Argument Against Barack Obama

It’s an opinion piece that’s being lauded in conservative pundit circles. I thought it’d be interesting, given the attention it’s gotten among those who agree with it, to give it an airing in a forum built on debate that has a lot of users who’d disagree with it. Even if it’s a “hit piece,” given its popularity and its own encouragement to be shared amongst undecideds, that it deserves some thought. Besides, it’s rare that you see so many of the most common arguments on the Republican/conservative side in one place, complete with related blog-type links.

Liberals, how would you attack the arguments made therein?

Just point to the reasons why Powell decided to support Obama.:

Game, set, and match.

I’m not going to attack (why not say dispute or rebutt?) the “arguments” in the piece. I will say this for it: it is refreshing to read the positions without conservative exagerration and venom. IMO, that’s about all that can be said. The disingenuousness remains, even if it is expressed more calmly. One example:
If “average Americans are judged by the company they keep” and that principle is used to condemn Obama’s relationship with Ayers or Wright, why does this not apply to McCain and Liddy or Keating or whomever? Failing to note this is biased. And of course it’s biased! It’s written for a specific audience. But the authors cannot claim they are not interested in perpetuating lies, innuendo etc–if they are doing just that. They are not really helping their cause, either.

I would much rather hear from the conservative side WHY McCain has better plans than to hear what they think is wrong with Obama’s. I have yet to hear that from McCain, Palin or pretty much any conservative here.

But the last thing I want is to get sucked into another black hole of politics “debate”. I don’t have the stamina, so I’ll bow out now.

Regardless of how the arguments are stated, the piece, or what I read of it, appears to be a fairly standard hatchet job relying primarily on innuendo to make its various cases. I’ll make brief comments on the first four items:

  1. Obama’s ‘extreme’ position on abortion: firstly, the current legality of early-term abortion in the US is not an issue for me, as a voter. Further, Obama’s ‘extreme’ position appears to be roughly the current status quo. I’m not in favor of partial-birth abortion, but even if Obama supports that it does not guarantee that such would become legal during his term, and many others would be equally responsible if such ever came to pass. The statement about a daughter notionally being ‘punished with a baby’ for a mistake she made re: protection against pregnancy seems a perfectly fair comment even if some don’t happen to like it. In any event, to claim someone is ‘pro-abortion’ strikes me as false on its face, as such a position seems almost vanishingly rare anywhere, least of all in this country.

  2. Raising the capital gains tax: again, a non-issue for this voter. It is unlikely in the extreme that I will have any capital gains taxes to pay in the next few years, and if I do, I doubt I would notice in any concrete sense that the tax rate was higher than in all the years I wasn’t paying this tax previously.

  3. Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright: so much cold porridge. The authors appear to bring nothing whatsoever to the table except to say that Obama must be a dangerous radical because he sat in a pew and listened to Wright’s sermons for twenty years or so, and employ circular reasoning in claiming that Obama’s lack of admission that he believes in anti-white radicalism somehow demonstrates that he is lying about holding such beliefs. What-ever.

  4. Obama’s relationship, such as it is, with William Ayers: more of the same as (3), but even less relevant due to the utter lack of any evidence that Obama has ever agreed with or based his behavior on Ayers’ actions in the 1960s.

Sorry, at that point I felt I’d be wasting my time going any further.

It’s certainly calmer than many conservative screeds but it’s not persuasive.

For example, yes, Obama is pro-choice. But that doesn’t make him out of the mainstream as the article suggests. Polls show that the pro-life position is actually the minority.

On taxes it’s disingenous. Instead of attacking Obama’s plan they merely handwave it away by saying, in essence, “He’s a taxer at heart so no matter what he says now he’s gonna tax you.”

Eleanorigby has already pointed out the problem with the Ayers / Wright line of attack. Apparently associations only matter if you’re a Democrat.

I could go on, but, eh, who cares. The article is fairly sober, but it’s points aren’t solidly argued. It’s kind of sad that at this point merely not frothing at the mouth is considered evidence of a solid argument in some conservative circles.

Actually, those were the remarks Powell made to the press after his endorsement, the transcript and video where Powell trashes many of the “comprehensive” points in the argument against Obama can be found here in Powell’s endorsement:

Didn’t get past the “abortion” stuff. That screws it for me. Another cheap hatchet job and nothing else, from the admittedly little I read. Calmer in tone, but the same shit, different shovel.

I would much rather Conservatives were putting forth a candidate with good arguments and plans that I could get behind.

But, I’ll give you a really good reason to vote for McCain: Gridlock. The more gridlock there is the lower the chances of asinine ideas getting implemented.

Look how great Clinton was with Repbulican houses. Look how much better Bush’s 2nd term was with a Democratic house.

Gridlock is our friend.

Well, it’s a reasonably well put together peice. Running it down, their points boil down to this:

  1. Obama is inexperienced. It’s a valid point. It’s not terribly convincing in terms of voting for the other ticket, though.

  2. Obama is pro-choice. This is true. However, it’s appealing if you are pro-choice.

  3. Obama would raise capital gains taxes. This is a valid criticism. It’s not a good idea, and he’s been unable to explain why he’d do it aside from its popularity.

  4. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.

At this point I have to admit my skepticism meter pegged. Obama’s association with Ayers is professional at most - they are not best buddies - and of absolutely no relevance to anything; Ayers was a criminal 38 years ago and it’s not like he killed anyone. Almost everyone knows SOMEONE who committed crimes in their youth. Ayers has been accepted back into society by pretty much everyone in Chicago, right or left, and it’s a criticism of the most pathetic irrelevance.

As to Wright, two thirds of the pastors in the world are fucking crazy, fucking idiots, or fucking their altar boys, and I’m not prepared to say most churchgoers are evil as a result.

The instant the blog went to the Wright-Ayers well it lost a lot of credibility. Obama is not perfect, and a lot of his policy positions are very attackable. He has been asked several times how he would prioritize spending and have tax cuts at the same time and has never explained it. His protectionist rhetoric is economically ludicrous. Why not attack those things? If you have to go to Bill Ayers… well, you show me a career politician who hasn’t shaken hands with a criminal and I’ll eat a hat.

  1. ACORN. Skepticism meter is now pegged at 11. ACORN is a tempest in a teapot. It’s bullshit up and down and any objective observer can see that. When are they going to criticize Obama’s trade policy? Why this ACORN shit?

  2. The Iraq War and the surge.

On this issue they at least return to the facts, but have a curious take:

  • Obama was against the war but that’s irrelevant.
  • Obama was against the surge and that’s relevant.

Sorry; you can’t have one without the other. Now, in my personal opinion, Obama was right on both; the “Surge” isn’t why you’re hearing less out of Iraq, you’re hearing less out of Iraq because it’s been ethnically cleansed for the most part. But even if you assume he was wrong about the surge, again, he was RIGHT about the more critical of the two decisions; he’s 1 for 2, and McCain is 1 for 2, so how is this a point against Obama?

  1. “Meeting Iran without preconditions”

Semantic bullshit. How can you engage someone in dialogue with conditions (spare me the idiotic, tautological construction “preconditions”) if you did not already meet with them to set the conditions?

  1. Obama hates Middle America.

Yeah, right.

  1. Obama plays the race card.

There’s some truth to this, though it’s unclear how much is offense and how much is defense.

  1. OBama lacks experience.

True, but it’s the same as Point 1.

So in summation:

Point 1 and Point 10. Lack of experience. Valid, though its effect may or may not be a negative.

Point 2. Pro-choice. Good to some people, bad to others.

Point 3. Ca[ital gains taxes. A valid criticism.

Point 4. Ayers and Wright. Total bullshit.

Point 5. ACORN. Total bullshit.

Point 6. The surge. Debateable.

Point 7. “Meeting Iran without preconditions.” Total bullshit.

Point 8. Obama hates Middle America. Total bullshit.

Point 9. Obama plays the race card. Vaguely true; importance minimal.

So of 9 points, one is unquestionable a valid critique, one is a concern, two are debateable, four are total bullshit, and one is of limited interest.

What’s amazing to me is THEY MISSED HIS BIGGEST POLICY WEAKNESSES. His policies of protectionism are terrible, terrible ideas. His support of the union bill is probably unwise (at least in this business climate.) He offers no realistic plan to balance the budget. Those are the things that he should be questioned on and this article did not even mention them, choosing instead to focus on the ridiculous, pointless Bill Ayers thing.

It’s a terrible effort.

However, historically divided government passes more bills. Nixon and Ford had more luck with Congress than Carter did.


I only got to the 2nd paragraph of The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama when I read the following:

I’ll read the rest, but I’m guessing that it will be similarly disingenuous.

Quoted from the link (at the end of the first paragraph title THE CONTEXT):

Sorry, this is nothing but subtle racism. Once I read this, it went down hill for me. Ageed, it isn’t that rabid an article, but the subtle suggestion that Obama is some “lazy nigger” really raises my hackles.

Others here have done a fine job of pointing out its weaknesses so no need for me to repeat it. Add me to the list of unimpressed beyond seeing a calm tone in the piece which almost makes you think you could have a discussion with them.

I think the easiest way to grade their attempt would be for you (or whoever) to think how far their “arguments”, as stated, would fly here in GD.

Honestly, if that is the very best the conservatives can come up with they should be very worried. Obama has positions to take legitimate issue with. If these two young journalists offered that as part of their writing talent to me for a job it’d be tossed in the bin (and not for them having a position counter to my own).

If nothing else, thank you for your honesty here. To me, this rings with the voices of many of the GOP. I just wish more could be as honest.

I don’t think this is true. There is too much grandstanding and political maneuvering and pork on BOTH sides, always.

I held my nose and voted for Clinton the first time–he was too much a smooth talker for my taste. But when the GOP hate machine went into action and smeared that man even AS he left the White House, the GOP lost my respect(a very small part of me would like Michelle Obama to sniff at the manner of the Bushe’s leaving).
I have yet to see that party as a whole conduct itself in a reasonable, civil manner since Clinton got re-elected. IMO, it’s a miracle Clinton got anything done–and a credit to his intelligence and fortitude. He can’t keep his dick in his pants, but IME, most men can’t, so what was the big deal?

Better? Not from where I’m standing. W has been an 8 year long nightmare for me and mine. The ONLY thing he got right was the port thing --and his own party was up in arms about Saudis owning a piece of America. W took this country into the toilet and put coffin nails in our already failing reputation (steady decline since WW2, IMO). He and his will not be missed.

I don’t think Reps or conservatives understand how hungry most people are for change, real, earnest, true change. I don’t want gridlock or Beltway shenanigans–I want fundamental progress in this country. I am willing to pay more taxes to get it. I want a single payer health care system, real funding for public schools, investment in alternative fuels, better rail service, among other things. I do not want some hack getting up and telling me to wave the flag, bake a pie, embrace our “freedoms” and all will be right with our world. It’s insulting. It’s wrong. It’s non-productive.

Sorry to go OT here. I am deeply afraid that Obama cannot possibly deliver what is needed. Too much rests on his shoulders and I am too old to be fooled into thinking that DC will change all that much. He is one man among entrenched political entitlements and agendas.
The GOP will be waiting for the first hint of blood in the water–and we will have the Monica/Whitewater years all over again. I don’t think this country can handle that–not with everything else that is going on. I am fed to the backteeth with slander, snark and Swift boat-type swill.
The conservatives here like to compare the Doper liberals to monkeys flinging poo. Such is the nature of their discourse. But it is not wrong to look with dismay upon our country’s condition; it is not unpatriotic to criticize or condemn a leader’s decisions or an opponent’s position.
Which is more like flinging poo: to want change that will help most Americans (and have perhaps faulty methods of doing so) or to denigrate that change(and the ones who seek it) while offering no real alternatives? I have not heard yet a reasoned defense of McCain’s economic plan or a concrete rationale for his plans for Iraq. I doubt I will. I doubt McCain knows his own mind on either subject. No article, even one as calm in tone as the linked one, will change my mind. Obama is a small hope to me–but I only have a fool’s hope to begin with. McCain’s and his supporters’ blogs’ insistence on attack, attack, attack is just so much background noise to me now.

Can you explain please? I do not see the racism in that comment, If anything I was thinking it was an age thing, a lot of people think that the young are lazy in general.

I saw it as a remark on his experience, which is the context they were setting. I didn’t see any reference to race at all.

It’s unfortunate that one can’t raise a legitimate point like “Obama doesn’t have much experience” without being accused of saying “he’s a lazy nigger”. I understand the desire to put Obama above criticism, but it is still unfortunate.


It’s also flatly untrue (isn’t it? It is from my recollection, anyway.) Wasn’t Obama a professor of constitutional law for many years? How is that not a full-time position?

ETA: on review, FactCheck says that his Senior Lecturer position at Chicago was not a full-time position, in recognition that many of the Senior Lecturers taught classes in addition to their other jobs. Still, he worked for a law firm and for the university for 12 years - I guess I’d count that as full time. Apparently these conservative bloggers don’t.

eleanorigby, well said. Mighty well said.

Not as far as I can tell. His position at the University of Chicago was part time, as you mention. So, apparently, was his position with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, which was three years as an associate and then seven years as “of counsel”

The ABA defines “of counsel” as

His law license became inactive in 2002, so I don’t believe he was doing much full-time lawyering.

So, as far as I can tell, the observation is technically correct - if he finishes his first term as President, that will be four years of permanent, full-time work, and the longest such span in his resume.


I concur with RickJay, right down to the policy weaknesses point.

The Republicans have spent so much time attempting to discredit Obama by spurious means that they’ve left themselves little room to either sell their own candidate or address the genuine flaws in Obama’s platform. Despite voting for him I half expect Obama to be another Jimmy Carter: intelligent and well-meaning but insufficiently hard-nosed to get things done. He’ll be popular abroad but will squabble with Congress (even a Democratic one) and at best maintain an economic holding pattern for four years, when a non-neocon Republican will kick him out of office.

Why vote for him then? Because lacking other choice I’ll take benign ineffectuality over active malevolence any day, and while I’m not unsympathetic to McCain himself he has allied himself too closely to the Dark Side for me to trust that he will do anything different from what has happened over the past eight years.

Obama will be a good Head of State. He may surprise me and also turn out to be a good CoC and leader of the country, but I’m not holding my breath.

I dunno, he’s been pretty damn effective negotiating deals in the IL and US Senates. He knows how to deal with people who don’t agree with him, and even more importantly, those who do.