Friday, February 8, 2008

Obama a Demagogue?

I also disagree with the characterizations of Obama as a demagogue.

As has been pointed out, he tends to high-flown rhetoric and describes things that he can't possibly deliver. He's describing his vision for the future, a goal that he's working towards. His policy proposals (which he details on his web site) are geared towards moving towards his vision.

People should look at the proposals to decide whether they would, in fact, move the country towards the Obamian vision of the future. In my opinion, Obama genuinely believes that his proposals will move the country in that direction. A demagogue is someone who gives the vision speeches and then either fails to provide detailed proposals or provides detailed proposals that he or she knows are doomed to failure.

There is a long history of politicians promoting their vision of the future. Reagan is a prime example of this sort of leadership style. He promoted his vision, and he implemented policies that he believed would help move us towards his vision.

Clinton, in contrast, is much more of a nuts-and-bolts style of leader. She has a clear vision, but doesn't express it nearly as well as Obama does. She tends to get side-tracked by discussions of implementation details. She delights in the details of the proposals and could probably drown you in statistics and studies if given half a chance. She is also extremely tough and combative, which is not necessarily a bad thing in a President.

McCain is an interesting mix of the two styles. He has a clear vision and does a good job of expressing it, though not as smoothly as Obama. He is also more than happy to dig into the details to produce a piece of legislation that accomplishes his goals while also attracting enough opposition votes to actually pass. I'm not sure how well he will be able to lead the Republican party, however. We may be entering a period when the Republican establishment mimics the mistakes of the Democratic establishment with Carter. ("The problem with the Democrats is that they eat their young.")

I actually like all three as people. None of them particularly line up with my policy opinions, but I believe that they are all, at bottom, good people.