If all goes according to plan, today or tomorrow will be election day for me by means of early voting (I don’t want to deal with huge lines on election day). I’m not sure I’m ready and I’m not sure I really know for whom I’m going to vote for President, although I think I know. One never really knows until one has to vote, however. My plan is to write about my final decision after I’ve voted. For now, I am left to ponder some things brought to my conscious attention by three Op-eds in this morning’s Washington Post.
The first of the Op-eds, by Alan D. Viard, Alex Brill and Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, is entitled The Real Problem With Obama’s Tax Plan. While the column puts to rest some of the inaccurate Republican claims about the plan, it states that Obama’s “real proposals … would still be plenty damaging.” I should note that I was never enamored with Bush’s reductions in income tax rates for the highest American earners and that I am very concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor America. However, I am concerned by the authors’ claim that the Obama tax proposals would be “bad for the economy.” I am particularly concerned Obama’s inclination to tax corporate America to pay for social programs in a time of economic crisis. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of leadership during the Great Depression. It is something I will be bearing in mind as I vote.
A second Op-ed, by Michael Gerson, entitled Clues in the Mist: What the Stump Speeches Really Tell Us gives us a picture of the closing argument each candidate is making out there on the stump. Here is an excerpt from the column:
… Obama has returned to the theme of unity that characterized his early campaign. “We need to get beyond the old ideological debates and divides” and “unite in common effort: black, white . . . young, old, rich, poor.” Except, of course, the “rich” part, because his speech is also a classic of leftist populism, going after billionaires, big corporations, CEOs, “wealth” and “power” with hammer and tong. Obama is alternately possessed by the noble spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and the noisy shade of Huey Long.
McCain attempts to take advantage of this tension by calling Obama as “The Redistributor” — recounting his history of unscripted liberalism and past support for tax increases. For the first time since the financial crisis broke, McCain has a coherent economic message: Is it really smart to raise taxes while headed into an economic crisis, as Herbert Hoover did?
I don’t like that Obama is cheapening his powerful promise of a new kind of leadership and politics in America with populist rhetoric. Readers will recall my posting describing how sickened I was by that message in Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver. If I vote for Obama it will be because I ultimately conclude that he has the best chance of bringing that new kind of leadership to America. It will be in spite of speeches such as he delivered in Denver is still apparently making on the stump. This is part of what so discourages me about the state of American politics today. Am I wrong to hope for progress, for something different and new?
The third informative Op-ed today is Ruth Marcus’ ‘A New Kind of Politics’? Good Luck WIth That. The Marcus column reiterates my concerns about the disconnect between Obama’s promise of a new kind of leadership and the reality of his campaign. It is a must-read column, and one that I hope Obama reads and takes to heart in these closing days. Mr. Obama, you cannot have it both ways — new leader and old style populist demagogue. Here’s an excerpt that will give me pause as I contemplate voting for you:
What evidence is there that a President Obama would govern differently than candidate Obama campaigned? Would a President Obama press policies — on teacher accountability, on climate change, on trade — that discomfit Democratic Party interest groups? Does he have the spine to stand up to the inevitably overreaching demands of congressional Democrats? Does he have some magical, Republican-whisperer ability to quell a political opposition that will be determined from Day One to frustrate his program and regain power?
It is with these thoughts and more that I will wrestle as I make my final decision and vote.