Obama Speaks In Politician and I Translate For the Readers At Home

Flip-flopping on NAFTA, Obama explains his position in his native politician language:

“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake,” despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

What that means in English is “Politicians pander and lie to get elected and I’m a politician, so I’m no exception.”

I give Obama the credit of having enough honesty that he here and elsewhere not only admits he lied but also accurately attributes it to his being a politician. Problem is with the lies and with the attempt to excuse his behavior on those grounds.

I understand the felt need to pander. I actually also prefer his true position on NAFTA to his rhetorical one for the primaries.

What I don’t appreciate is his consistent unwillingness to take an unpopular stance on principle. On gay marriage, he has given tacit approval of the California Supreme Court’s position, so there is reason to hope he won’t sell out the gays like Clinton did with DOMA. But his official position says he will indeed oppose marriage for gays. He claims he will reverse Bush’s assaults on the constitution, but thus far is silent on the Congress’s contempt for the constitution expressed in its passing of the FISA legislation. I put up with pragmatically, but less and less appreciate, his pandering to evangelicals on both the left and the right to insist on increasing rhetoric that insists religion should play a large role in governmental thinking. It would be nice if maybe he could take leadership and combine the Democrats’ just call for universal health care with the Republicans’ just call for tort reform that would eliminate the enormous amount of money wasted on unnecessary medicine aimed at protecting doctors’ from irrational malpractice suits. It would be nice if Obama didn’t pander to ethanol producers in Iowa. It would be nice if he could take a principled, controversial stand on anything, actually.

I agree with most of Obama’s platform and McCain is an extremely dangerous, militaristic Neo-Con and scary deficit spender who wants to stack the Supreme Court with people with no concern for civil rights. Plus McCain is as big a flip-flopper, if not bigger,than Obama is. So, there’s no doubt the only remaining hope in this campaign for any kind of reversal of the disastrous Bush policies and mindset in government is a President Obama. But it’s increasingly clear that while Obama will not have Bush’s vices, he can be expected to have most of Bill Clinton’s, excluding only the sexual ones.

It is definitely a lesser of two evils election as usual though, I’m finally coming to see and accept that. For a short period there I actually thought it might be something else.

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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