Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

03 January 2008

Why Obama? An Appeal to Older Voters

As Iowa’s caucuses are only hours away, I want to address older voters. Obama has lots of support from young people. I’m in my sixties, but I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for him. Here’s why.

As we older people know by hard experience, the most important qualities in a leader are wisdom, judgment, and perspective. If a leader has them, nothing else matters. If he or she lacks them, nothing else will compensate.

Obama has these vital qualities more than any candidate for the presidency in forty years. That’s what drives me toward him—not his unusual background or his promise of change. Like Obama, Edwards promises real change, and Edwards also is an honest man. But Edwards lacks Obama’s wisdom, judgment and perspective.

I’ve already written much about Obama’s wisdom and judgment. But perspective is important, too.

For seven years, Karl Rove’s Republican juggernaut distracted us from vital issues with culture wars and other irrelevancies. We let ourselves be distracted.

If our eyes continue to stray from the ball, we will lose the game of history. Our wealth, comfort, safety, security and international influence will decline.

Obama knows how to cut distractions short. When they asked about driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, he said he thought they would make the roads safer.

It was and is an issue of zero importance to our fate as a nation. Obama gave it the single short sentence it deserved. Lacking his perspective, Hillary Clinton danced like a cat on a hot tin roof, as if your grandchildren’s future depended on her answer.

If Hillary couldn’t decide an issue that trivial, how well would she respond to the next Pakistan or Kenya? to the next terrorist attack here at home? When you’re in the Oval Office and a top-secret, urgent bulletin hits your desk, there are no polls or focus groups to consult.

It takes a person of perspective and wisdom to fight Republican demagoguery effectively. A great leader like Obama trusts the public to know wheat from chaff. The Republican propaganda machine will grind Hillary Clinton up because she doesn’t have the pespective and self-confidence to fight it effectively.

On wisdom and judgment, don’t just take my word. Take Ken Burns’. Burns has forgotten more about Lincoln than I will ever know. But like me, he has compared Obama to Lincoln in the qualities that matter most.

It is a test of our own judgment as a people that Obama’s intelligence, wisdom, judgment and perspective come in an unusual package. But greatness always does. Remember FDR.

We can have a once-in-a-century leader. Or we can select yet another politician as usual and continue our national decline. The choice is ours, and, Iowa, you lead.

P.S. As readers of this blog know, I’m not a typical blogger. I don’t have the time to research everything going on in the blogosphere. But I’d like to give credit to two sites that have sent many readers my way and that offer wisdom worthy of the importance of this election. One is Think on These Things. It contains complete instructions for attending tonight’s Iowa caucuses and exhaustively researched refutations of the many canards against Obama. (Just look at the right-hand sidebar.) The other is Andrew Sullivan’s blog in TheAtlantic.com, which referred readers to my analysis of the superiority of Obama’s health-care plan.

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