In several posts recently, I’ve come down on Barack Obama for his increasingly populist message, and for me, his low point in this campaign came during the NAFTA discussion in the Ohio debate. Even as I mentally wrote his words off as primary-campaign pandering, I was extremely uncomfortable.
I vastly prefer the pragmatic Obama; the creative solutions Obama. The Obama who will tell people uncomfortable truths.
That other Obama has resurfaced:
“It’s not good enough for you to say to your child, ‘Do good in school,’ and then when that child comes home, you got the TV set on, you got the radio on, you don’t check their homework, there is not a book in the house, you’ve got the video game playing,” said Obama while in Beaumont, in southeast Texas.
“So turn off the TV set, put the video game away. Buy a little desk or put that child by the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give them help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher. Make them go to bed at a reasonable time. Keep them off the streets. Give ‘ em some breakfast. Come on. … You know I am right.”
That was said to a mostly African-American audience in Beaumont yesterday, but he could just as well have been talking to any parent anywhere in America.
Yes. Parents know he’s right.
And while this may tick off partisans who desire revenge on their opposites, here too is the other Obama:
Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.
Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a “stretch”.
In my mind, these types of efforts are part and parcel of what make the senator from Illinois different.
Larry Korb, a defence official under President Ronald Reagan who is backing Obama, said: “By putting a Republican in the Pentagon and the State Department you send a signal to Congress and the American people that issues of national security are above politics.”
And although calls for more NATO help in Afghanistan have been sounded for years, his recent statements along those lines are cut from that same “other Obama” fabric. Yes, they’ve upset people in some quarters, but his approach here is neither surprising nor inconsistent.
It is, in fact, his foreign policy positions that pull me most strongly. He isn’t going to thrill hard-core partisans on these issues, nor will he pull in people from the extreme edges. But for an independent from Texas, his most recent statements are a great relief to me.
This is the Obama for whom I’ll be caucusing Tuesday night.