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Obama the Conservative Choice


Huffington Post progressives should look to the conversation that is going on among traditional conservatives if they are seriously interested in nominating a candidate who would be both electable and good for the country. As a conservative, it is frankly incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to go back to the sleaze, constant political triangulation, sense of aggrieved entitlement, and low-life characters like Sandy Berger that characterized the Clinton White House. Nor is it possible to understand why anyone would want to cast a vote that would seem to establish a dynastic principle in American politics in which the White House alternates between people named Bush and Clinton. The American people and the country surely deserve something markedly better than the Bushes and Clintons that we all have experienced. Jeb and Chelsea, step aside please! Find a real job.

Taking aim at the deficiencies of the Clintons is not to exonerate George W. Bush, who has been a far worse, more corrupt, and much more dangerous president than Bill Clinton ever was. But let's face it, as presidents go, Clinton was an ethical mess, actually making George Bush look good on the personal integrity scale. Hillary is in the same mold as her husband as she lies, dissimulates, and misspeaks her way through her campaign and makes clear that, in her own mind, she was born to rule. There is also the practical issue of electability. If Hillary is the nominee it would surely galvanize the Republican Party base, which despises both her and Bill. If progressive Democrats want to do something to bring out the GOP vote to produce the ultimate horror of a President John McCain, nominate Hillary.

Many traditional conservatives (not the neo-con subspecies) are embarrassed by George Bush and are looking for a way out of the foreign and domestic policy nightmare that he has engineered. They also understand that John McCain would be more of the same or even worse. There is a lively discussion of Barack Obama that is taking place both in the blogosphere and in the media directed at a conservative audience, and much of the discourse is surprisingly receptive to the idea that Obama, though a liberal, could bring about genuine change that will benefit the country. A recent article by Boston University professor and former army officer Andrew Bacevich appeared in The American Conservative magazine and is available on the internet at www.amconmag.com. It is entitled "The Case for Obama" and makes the point that Obama is a candidate that is certainly no conservative, but he is the only real hope to get out of Iraq and also avoid wars of choice in the future. Bacevich rightly sees the Iraq war and its consequences as a truly existential issue for the United States, one that should be front and center for voters in November. Any more adventures of the Iraq type will surely bankrupt the country and destroy what remains of the constitution. Bacevich also notes that the election of John McCain, candidate of the neoconservatives and the war party, would guarantee an unending series of preemptive wars as U.S. security doctrine and would validate the disastrous decisions to invade Iraq and wage an interminable global war on "terrorists." Electing Obama instead would be as close as one could come to making a definitive judgment on the folly of Iraq and everything that it represents, a judgment that is long overdue. Many conservatives would agree that the Obama commitment to leave Iraq is the right way to go and long to return to the days when America only went to war when a vital interest was threatened.

Other conservatives have observed that Obama might also seriously address the hemorrhaging of America's manufacturing base that has taken place under the auspices of President George W. Bush, a trend that would undoubtedly continue under either McCain or Clinton, both of whom are either ambivalent about or committed to globalism and free trade. America must put its own house in order first and it is time to challenge many of the economic and social assumptions that have driven policy over the past 15 years.

In short, Obama for president is beginning to look pretty good to many conservatives and that means that a Barack Obama administration might actually bridge the gap between right and left, finally bringing together American citizens who are intent on righting the foundering ship of state rather than preserving the status quo. Clinton and McCain represent little more than two nightmarish visions of an out-of-touch political reality that has manifestly failed and should be rejected.