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Web Letter

Has Hedges ever read Barak Obama's speech? He should. When you get away from the excitement of the crowd and no longer hear the excellent delivery, you are left with general feel-good rhetoric.

Most of Obama's independent and college-age supporters know little about his positions. Of course, the special interest groups understand that they will get more government assistance if he is elected President.

Here is the future: independent political action committees will spend a billion dollars on attack ads exposing Obama for promising so much to low-income citizens, college students, unions and illegal immigrants. When the total bill is added up it will scare away his independent support.

Consequently, Obama will be the easier Democrat for McCain to defeat.

Hillary--warts and all--can win. All she has to do is run as a moderate Democrat. I know, Hedges hates Bill Clinton.

Personally, I support Bloomberg for President. Imagine, a proven leader who solves problems without deficit spending.

Incidentally, Obama's one speech was written with the help of Ted Stevensen. Remember him? He was also the speech writer for John F. Kennedy.

Bill Hawkins

Dunedin, FL

Feb 8 2008 - 10:56pm

Web Letter

1. It is a mistaken notion that our only vote choices are Obama or Clinton. Those who want real change should vote only for candidates who would seek real change, regardless of party status or even whether they're officially on the ballot. The system can just ignore anyone who claims to be for change but who votes for candidates who are basically more of the same, as these are. By saying progressives are split between Obama and Clinton, you are saying anyone who wants real change is not progressive. This doesn't make sense to me--a true definition of progressive would include those who are not supporting establishment candidates. Neither Obama or Clinton would bring to fruition a progressive majority, because neither is progressive. Someone is not going to build a movement whose ideals they oppose. Obama has some very nice rhetoric, but since elected to the Senate has not come out for any meaningful change on anything whatsoever.

2. Obama did make a statement against the Iraq War at the beginning, qualified and emphasizing that he was not for peace, just that it seemed this particular war was dumb. But he was not in Congress, and so this was not courageous because he didn't have to vote. He later said repeatedly he is not sure how he would have voted had he been in the Congress. He repeatedly voted for funding for the war, and has stated recently that he might keep US troops in Iraq throughout his term, if elected. He has consistently voted for a bloated military budget, and his official campaign position is for an even larger military budget and for increasing the size of the armed forces. So the margin on military and foreign policy is very slim.

3. I agree that Obama would get more votes and arouse less animosity than Clinton. But since neither favors any basic change of course for America, we're talking about rearranging desk chairs on the Titanic.

Bill Samuel

Silver Spring, MD

Feb 4 2008 - 4:18pm

Web Letter

Given the choice of the remaining two, Obama is the obvious best pick for progressives. However, Obama's choice for running mate has to be superlative in order for the Democrats to defeat McCain. Second, the Democrats have to go on the immediate offensive. They cannot lie down and just take the abuse and Swift-boating from the RNC like they did in 2000 and 2004. They have to get aggressive--and quickly.

John Giarratana

Jersey City, NJ

Feb 4 2008 - 11:42am

Web Letter

There is nothing "lame and deceptive" about the parties' equal responsibilites for the "bickering" and "divisiveness." I was taught if you wanted to see the problem look in the mirror. By the way, that is where you will find the solution also.

Larry Carlson

New York, NY

Feb 4 2008 - 12:05am

Web Letter

As a lifelong liberal and activist, I am both discouraged and angered by Mr. Hayes's circular thinking and willingness to look right past Barack Obama's opportunism and disingenuous statements to conclude, based on "faith," that he will lead us to the realization of a progressive agenda.

Mr. Hayes acknowledges that Mr. Obama's brief time in the Senate has been "centrist" and undistinguished. His agenda appears to have been to position himself for higher office. Is that not arrogant and presumptious for a new senator? Does one not need to demonstrate more than rhetoric about "hope" and togetherness and non-specific statements about "change" and national unity to be President? Mr. Obama is a talented speaker and an intelligent person, but is he really ready to be lead the country?

Mr. Obama's criticizing Hillary Clinton for saying Martin Luther King's "dream" was realized when President Johnson pressured Congress to pass civil rights and voting rights laws was one of many examples of his disingenuousness. Her statement in no way diminished Dr. King's greatness, nor his courage, vision and leadership. It is true that it takes a Dr. King to create a national movement and a President and Congress to make laws that bring about the desired changes. Mr. Obama knows that, unless he needs a refresher in American History.

And why are both Mr. Hayes and Mr. Obama talking about Ronald Reagan in positive terms? Exactly what was the "movement" for which he was the messenger? He was one of the worst presidents of the twentieth Century. He dismantled every progressive program he could get his hands on, but with a smile. He was a super salesman, who could talk people into buying things they didn't want, didn't need, and couldn't afford, and giving up things that were in their best interests. That's not transformation; that's a super manipulation, a super con. Why do some progressives buy the "myth" of Reagan?

Finally, can Mr. Obama really be a post-partisan President and bring Republicans and Democrats together? I strongly doubt that. Actually, Bill Clinton tried, but Republicans pounced on him from his first day in office. We are partisan--just read The Nation.

Estelle Klatzkin

New York, NY

Feb 3 2008 - 1:44pm

Web Letter

A suggestion.

Rather than campaign against each other, the two remaining democratic candidates should campaign against Bush and the prospect of continuation of Bush-like ideas and policies.

It is an opportunity for the next 4 months (until the convention) to tag team the Republicans.

Two voices, with different emphasis and style, saying, "We are worse off for Republican borrow and spend policies."

"We are worse off for the Republican war and spending policies."

"We are worse off for high taxation on work and enterprise and low taxation on speculation."

Tag-team, not divided and conquered.

Richard Witty

Greenfield, MA

Feb 3 2008 - 7:42am

Web Letter

Fortunately, Senator Obama won't face Patrick Buchanan. Buchanan’s America First protectionism and Fortress America isolationism, with prayer, pro-life and marriage security at home, would offer Reagan Democrats the “join and keep the faith” option, which beats the nonconformist “join, but don’t renounce” option.

As for Mr. Hayes's "circular" argument, a political leader whose speeches are content-neutral in their appeal, or lack of it, is either a happy, misdirecting communicator or a democratic statesman with a talent that troubles him. Reagan Democrats, if they are to be the swing, must be pragmatic, believe deeply in individualism and free enterprise while simultaneously believing job globalization is a real threat to their and their children’s standard of living, which the US government must fix quickly without raising prices at Wal-Mart. Could Senator Clinton ride this wave, making that case as well as Senator Obama, or will it, like voodoo economics, take nice-guy charisma to package and sell it, transcending ideological (in this case, market-chase) naysayers?

And finally, the article’s commendable candor suggests the cipher problem: will a President Obama, like President Reagan, move left and right, surprising friends and foes alike?

J.D. Muller

San Francisco, CA

Feb 1 2008 - 7:04pm

Web Letter

I am a moderate Democrat but I am enthusiastically supporting Barack Obama because I believe he will bring about the changes our nation so badly needs by reaching across the aisle and working with members of both parties. The bitter partisanship in Congress is making it impossible to get reforms in healthcare, the environment, immigration and our foreign policy. Hillary Clinton has ran a nasty, mean-spirted campaign against Obama, full of mud-slingling, character assassination and the politics of personal destruction. As President she and her husband will make the presidencies of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush pale in comparison when it comes their vindictiveness, secretiveness and wanting to get back at their enemies.

America has too many problems that need to be resolved and they never will be resolved if we demonize those who disagree with us. Obama has proven he can work with those whose views don't always equal his in a way to find common ground and get meaningful legislation passed that will benefit all Americans. He will hold true to his beliefs but will still be able to get majorities to pass legislation because of the type of leader he is.

We don't need more partisanship in Congress, we need less. We don't need more lies, more mud slinging, and more dirty campaigning. Nixon is long gone, and Bush will soon be gone. If revenge and getting back at the Republicans is your motive,then vote for Hillary Clinton. If progress and change and laws protecting our environment, extending healthcare to more of our citizens, a fair and decent immigration policy, and a foreign policy that will restore American values without making us a pariah in the world is what you want, then you have one clear choice: Barack Obama.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Feb 1 2008 - 2:45pm

Web Letter

I have supported Obama from the very start because he is the first candidate in a very long time who seems to think before he speaks, a rare quality among US (or for that matter any country's) politicians. He also seems to think strategically, and to think through the intricacies of doing politics in a society that is highly polarized in the aftermath of Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove. Take his health plan: it is clearly designed to avoid being sabotaged as being socialist (a designation Hillary's "universal" plan is sure to provoke), and would give coverage to Republicans he will need to get on board to get the program through. He is also very inspiring, and is trying to engage ordinary folks in politics and civic life, also a rare quality. One other reason I admire him is that I understand, early on after his election to the Senate, he was invited to join the DLC, and he refused! That seems to be consistent with the commitment to the underprivileged demonstrated in his work on the South Side of Chicago.

Whether one is progressive can only be judged in the context. I think election of a black man, who is not Clarence Thomas, with a clear commitment to the poor, the ability to attract a sizable white vote, would be close to being revolution in a society that remains burdened with the legacy of slavery and racism. My sense of Hillary is that like most DLC subscribers, she is Republican-lite as best and a closet neo-con at worst. Her refusal to take the opportunity to be human by admitting that she made a serious mistake by supporting the war greatly disturbs me.

M. Siddique

Chevy Chase, MD

Feb 1 2008 - 9:34am

Web Letter

I think Obama has the better healthcare plan. Barack Obama's Health Care is the same "universal healthcare" offered by Hillary but with one major difference: you have the option of choice! Do you want to be forced to pay for medical insurance like you are mandated to pay your auto insurance now? Or would you rather have the option of choice--to be able to decide whether or not you want to buy your medical coverage at this time? This way Barack Obama's plan does not put another mandated cost on the backs of the people, especially the young, who already have college costs to contend with. However, the coverage is always there for you, if and when you need it.

Julie Mack

Philadelphia, PA

Feb 1 2008 - 7:51am