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Obama speech

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Just saw the Obama speech that the press has been talking about, the one from Saturday's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines, Iowa. (That page contains both the full video and a full transcript. I'm not sure why the campaign hasn't posted this stuff on their speeches page yet.)

As has happened before, I have some disagreements with him and some doubts about him, but I'm carried away by the power of his rhetoric, his public speaking skills, and his charisma.

My favorite bit among many favorite bits (from about halfway through):

As President, I will end the war in Iraq. We will have our troops home in sixteen months. I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus. I will finish the fight against Al Qaeda. And I will lead the world to combat the common threats of the 21st century--nuclear weapons and terrorism; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now."

I also like the line everyone's been quoting: "This party [...] has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we led, not by polls, but by principle; not by calculation, but by conviction; when we summoned the entire nation to a common purpose--a higher purpose."

And the last few lines of the speech are pretty good, too, but I'll let you go hear those for yourself.

5 Comments

Um, you know where he's speaking Wednesday, right?


I like Obama a lot; I have read both of his books and was deeply impressed. I have also watched several of his speeches as well as his appearances on the Sunday morning TV shows.

We desperately need a president with a voice and a presence, who can inspire and instill hope. Very, very few of the candidates on either side have the ability to inspire, but Obama has it, big time. And it's based on intelligence and experience and a lot of thought; it's not just empty rhetoric delivered by a skilled actor.

However, my problem with Obama is on taxes...he is going to raise them. By a lot. Obama unfortunately has the hard-left "soak the rich" mentality on taxes. One problem is that many people who democrats classify as rich don't feel very rich and don't "live rich."

I would wager that many readers of Jed's blog will be hit by tax increases that various democrats are proposing. To some folks, it sounds good to "tax the rich a lot more" until they realize that "the rich" is them. I feel like I pay an enormous amount in taxes already, but I would actually feel good about it if I believed that all the money was being spent effectively on great programs. Instead, we have unnecessary wars, subsidies for dictators, farming subsidies that defy common sense, and countless other spending atrocities that won't be fixed by people in either party. I generally don't trust any politicians of any political party to spend the money wisely. So one answer is to not give them more of it.

Consequently, I remain paralyzed on Obama. He is literally the only presidential candidate of either party that I have given money to, but I still don't know if I will vote for him.



Three points on taxes: given the way the Republicans (aided and abetted by the Democrats) are spending money we don't have on wars we didn't need to fight, either I'm going to pay more in taxes now, or my son's going to pay a whole hell of a lot more when he's the age I am now. As a parent, why should I make him finance my generation's screw-ups? (I started to write "pay for", but he's going to do that regardless.)

Also, I'm rich by the standards of most of the world. I also pay less to help others (measured through taxation) than most of the world. I happen to think that's wrong. I donate on my own to try to offset that, though not as much as my ideals would call for.

Incidentally, my household taxes currently run in the vicinity of $15,000, and my household health-insurance costs run in the vicinity of $10,000. Actual health-care expenses run another several thousand. So if a new President (Obama, in this case, though his plan doesn't actually have the right characteristics) were to give me European-style single-payer health care, my tax rate could go up from 30% to 50% and I wouldn't even notice.


Jay,

I agree that if any of the major Democratic candidates are elected, taxes will be higher for people making more than, oh, $65K/yr, and possibly higher for people making between $45K/yr and $65K/yr, compared to under any of the major Republican candidates. It's also clear to me that the economy will be better if any of the major Democratic candidates are elected than if any of the major Republican candidates. So it seems to me that for people making less than $45K/yr, the Dems are clearly a pocketbook positive, for people making between $45K/yr and $65K/yr, the Dems are very likely a pocketbook positive, for people making between around $65K/yr and probably around $125K/yr, the Dems are likely pocketbook neutral, and for the top 5% or so, the Democrats will be terrible on pocketbook terms.

These are seat-of-the-proverbial estimates, but I don't think they are wild ones. Oh, and I left out all the explanations, warnings and details, because it's someone else's blog. If you want all that stuff, I'm happy to provide. My point is that most people will find that the higher-taxes business will not mean less real money to live on. When you add that to all of the non-economic reasons why any of the Democrats would be better for the country and the world than any of the Republicans (in my arrogant opinion, of course, based on my own understanding of country, world, better and non-economic), I think that you should break free from your paralysis and just support Sen. Obama, if you like him.

Taxes are one issue in a President's job, and not a very important one. Set your priorities, and try to figure out the candidate's priorities. If both of those are low taxes, well, I just wish you could vote for Our Only President again.

Thanks,
-V.


Thanks for the insightful comments, V.

I would like to buy you a beer sometime and talk politics.

It's interesting, if you read the NYT editorial page on a regular basis (as I do), you might think that we have an absurdly unfair tax system where the wealthy skate and the poor get walloped.

And if you read the WSJ editorial page on a regular basis (as I do), you might think we have an absurdly unfair tax system where the poor skate and the wealthy get walloped.

And in both cases, you have intelligent, well-intentioned and sincere people writing the columns and editorials.

Since this is Jed's blog I should probably stop here. It would be fun to talk about these issues (and not just tax and economic issues) in person sometime...I'm sure we have some common ground...and I love a friendly debate where we both might learn something.

Cheers,
Jay




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