Skip to main content

View Diary: The Way Back Machine:  Obama in 1990 (31 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Are you kidding me? Obama wasn't exactly rich (5+ / 0-)

    His dad had died in Kenya by this point, and his mother and grandparents were no higher than middle class.  He never did end up taking a lucretive job- he paid his debts eventually by his book sales taking off.  Grassroots work is hardly the thing that looks good on a resume, anyway...clerkship at the supreme court?  Very much so.

    •  I think his point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      redtex, wasthatrhetoric

      is that having that Harvard Law Review Presidency he could decide in the future to go back and take the supreme court clerkship or position at a good law firm.  This akin to a rich kid who goes off on his own then later uses the family wealth if that doesn't work out. I think perhaps NoMoreNicks has somewhat of a point here in that it is possible that Obama might have had that to fall back on.  I would argue that the circumstances aren't consistent with the parallel in a few key ways:

      1.  The Law Review Presidency was earned by Obama on his merit.  He earned his way into the university, earned a position on law review and earned the position within law review.  It wasn't something earned by a prior generation that he was lucky to benefit from.
      1.  Regardless of his motivation for working as an organizer those who worked with him felt that he did an excellent job in that position.  He seems to have taken what he learned and applied it to his future endeavors.  Are we to judge him negatively because decisions made on his career path could have been made with future career aspirations in mind even if there is no evidence that that is the case?
      1.  NoMoreNicks argues that this can't be more than a hobby.  I would argue that his level of dedication and desire to invest himself in the community he was helping show that this was more than a hobby for him.  I think the most important question to ask was whether he made a positive difference.   Those who encountered him in this position believe so.
      1.  I believe there is a definite lack of hypocrisy here.  When he speaks out for workers rights there aren't videos of him in front of the walmart board.  When  he speaks in favor of equality and equal rights for all there aren't records of his votes against the Martin Luther King holiday.  When he includes plans for helping intercity youth in his Presidential platform you find ideas he used in his days as an organizer.  
      •  The clerkship... (0+ / 0-)

        Is probably an opportunity that was gone as soon as it was declined.

        But law firms? Hell, social and charity work would just be another thing on his resume at that point. He did have it to fall back on. Sure, he might not have gotten as many offers, but he'd not be in dire straits either.

        Regardless of his motivation for working as an organizer those who worked with him felt that he did an excellent job in that position.

        This means little when the person in question is charismatic. It means nothing, even.

        NoMoreNicks argues that this can't be more than a hobby.

        No, that was me miswriting. I only meant that to describe the rich kid; I screwed up the analogy. For the rich kid it really is a hobby... but for the aspiring politician I'm not even sure there are such things as hobbies. Even if you consider the games and pursuits of the rich and powerful, those seem to be more a venue to hobnob. I'd be shocked to discover that any politician on the track for presidency would ever have something as mundane as a hobby.

        I believe there is a definite lack of hypocrisy here.  When he speaks out for workers rights there aren't videos of him in front of the walmart board.

        Granted, his hypocrisy if it's there isn't anything quite this blatant. Then again, I'm not certain he is a hypocrite... I only think he is dishonest. And it's possible to be dishonest without ever being a hypocrite in the truest sense of that word.

        On the other hand, you should be careful to clear him of hypocrisy so early. Think of all the worst politicians for that, and then measure them for it not now, but when they were at an equivalent point in their careers to Obama. Using that as the test, many known hypocrites would appear to be clean (don't know that Hillary would, but even if she didn't, it would be a close thing, just a matter of a couple of years).

        •  evaluations, hypocrisy, and dishonesty.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          redtex

          The clerkship... (0+ / 0-)
          Is probably an opportunity that was gone as soon as it was declined.

          That's rather unfortunate. I'd like to think that if he changed his mind and really wanted to go that route he'd be able to find a path, but I'm not hugely familiar with the legal world.  Regarding the law firms, I agree that he was likely to be able to go back on that path.

          This means little when the person in question is charismatic. It means nothing, even.

          So.. Then... How can we evaluate him?  The law review presidency means little, the opinions of the people who worked with him as an organizer mean little...  What about the opinions of the conservative and liberal faculty and students at the U. of Chicago?  How about his consistent record on ethics reform first at the state level then the national?  Can we consider the campaign he's built up and the efficiency in which it has been run?  How about my/(your) interpretation of the things he says and writes?  I'll admit charisma is important maybe even required right now at this moment in history.  This is especially true with the youth looking to become involved and looking for someone to lead them.  How can we evaluate someone with charisma without allowing the charisma to bias our evaluation?

          Granted, his hypocrisy if it's there isn't anything quite this blatant. Then again, I'm not certain he is a hypocrite... I only think he is dishonest. And it's possible to be dishonest without ever being a hypocrite in the truest sense of that word.

          I would see dishonesty as being worse than hypocrisy.  It is possible to be somewhat hypocritical and still have a positive impact on the world.  For instance, someone who encourages conservation and living an environmentally friendly life could have the effect of modifying many peoples behavior even if he/she doesn't live that way his/herself.  Dishonesty about motivation, or worse policies and plans to me is far worse.  Perhaps we are defining these terms slightly differently though.  In what ways has Obama been dishonest?  Perhaps as you argue the path he has taken hasn't shown as much character as people believe it has, but what has he done that shows the opposite?

          You state that I should be careful not to clear him of hypocrisy so early.  I agree in the sense that I will pay attention to what he says and does and reevaluate over time.  However, the other 2 candidates have already shown themselves to not compare favorably in this regard; I don't even see it as close.  At this moment in time we are called upon to use the body of evidence available to draw conclusions.  It may not be perfect, but it is all we have.  Perhaps more will emerge later but at this point I still see Obama as honest, capable and well meaning.  I am certainly interested in hearing arguments to the contrary.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site