I have recently been lured into an e-mail debate with long-time friends from my family's neighborhood in north suburban Chicago (specifically Skokie and Morton Grove, hence the roots of the term "Skompton" in the title). I have decided to air my arguments here to get some more widespread feedback. Here is my first installment and the core of my argument against the prevailing notions of who Barack Obama is and what he is all about....
First of all, thanks for inviting me to the debate, I look forward to filling in the gaps in Mr. D's and Mr. H's arguments by providing specific examples for JM to think about and maybe we can save him from his naivety (though it sounds like he has already consumed several gallons of the "Obamania" Kool-Aid, so he may be a lost cause).
First, speaking to the issue of substance, let me draw a comparison to another truly substantive Democratic politician. Nobody will argue (I think) that Bill Clinton is a brilliant and captivating politician. Barack Obama is definitely captivating, but he has not at any point proven himself a great political mind, period. The primary difference between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton is that the stuff Barack says is almost entirely read from a teleprompter (and probably written by David Axelrod, the true political genius behind Obama) while everything Bill Clinton says is coming straight out of his head or off a pad of paper which he spent the last 5 hours scribbling his thoughts on in preparation. Barack is much more like George Bush (though much more captivating) than he is like Bill Clinton, at least in terms of his approach to campaigning and political presentation, just replace Axelrod with Rove. I do not think this is disputable. There are several elements that go into what determines "substance" and I will address the others in future e-mails when I have more time, but this is a good start.
Secondly, anyone who watched the Democratic debates knows that Barack didn't win a single one of them, and in fact got his ass handed to him over and over by Hillary Clinton, as well as John Edwards and Joe Biden when they were still considered viable challengers. I do not need to cite an specifics on this, but would happily do so if anyone would like me to. I look forward to his inevitable ass-whooping from Sen. McCain, who has already challenged Obama to TEN Townhall style debates, which Sen. Obama refused and counter-offered ONE over the 4th of July holiday, just long enough from election day that it probably wouldn't kill his candidacy before it started.
Third, Obama's strategy has essentially been to pretend he has been John McCain, "working across the aisle to get things done". What a joke!! I challenge you Joe to give me one significant thing Barack Obama has ever done on a bi-partisan basis. Trust me, it will take awhile, so I won't expect your response anytime soon. Contrast this lack of substance with John McCain's truly credible claim to have done exactly that, work across the aisle to get things done. It is unlikely that any other Republican Senator would put their name at the top of a bill next to Ted Kennedy or Russ Feingold, yet two of the most newsworthy bills to be proposed in the Senate this decade are in fact the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill and the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill. Interestingly, Barack Obama supported both of these bills, until it became inconvenient to his political ambition that is. You could argue correctly that McCain also withdrew his support for the Immigration Reform Bill, but that was in response to his GOP colleagues butchering with so many caveats and ridiculous amendments that he had no choice but to abandon it, as it hardly even resemble the original bill he proposed.
I think that this is plenty of ammunition for Joe to shoot back a nice long retort, which I am eager to read. I have a whole lot more to say about this, as I am a true C-SPAN junkie. That said, one thing I do not know that I would love to be enlightened on, is exactly what the ratio is of campaign speeches to Senate floor speeches Obama has delivered since his (LUCKY) election to the Senate in 2004. Perhaps this will be the subject of my next e-mail.