Caroline, I was busy trying to comment on your message last night when I accidentally erased everything. What frustration! I am going to try again, as briefly as possible.
Guy has already raised some very valid points , so I will not dwell too much. I will just say that those who are dreaming of an Obama as someone who is going to tackle some of those hard issues in a revolutionary manner are not being realistic.
For example the FISA vote was unfortunate. But, the democrats have always been accused of being weak on national security. So, Obama the politician played it safe, even as McCain and his supporters were accusing them of flip-flopping. This is establishment politics. This is a presidential contest we are dealing with.
If you take the Cuba position, again one has to understand that the Cuba lobbying has managed to become quite powerful in American politicis. Obama needs the Latino vote in Florida. So he plays it safe, pledging to lift travel restrictions, but to maintain the "stupid" embargo, as Guy says. By doing so, he satifies the Cubans who want to be able to travel to Cuba and those who want to maintain the embargo. Do not think logic here. The US' foreign policy is full of contradictions and we have to realize that and view Obama in this context.
It would be too long to go into each issue here, but suffice it to say as Guy, that on balance, despite his so-called "lack of experience", Obama is far better that MCCain on many issues.
1) The Iraq War. Obama advocates an end to the war and withdrawal of the troops in 16 months. The Iraquis themselves agree. Obama says rightly that those billions pouring into Iraq can be invested instead in the American economy to remedy many problems.
2) McCain stupidly enough accuses Obama of being responsible for the high cost of oil and credits Bush for the cost drop of the barrel of oil! Just incredible! Under Nixon, the US were importing 28% of its oil; in 2008, this percentage is about 78%. Where was Obama at that time? I will let you do the math and reach the conclusion.
I believe Obama has a much more sound approach of the ways to solve problems in this country. I would have one word of caution though. In general, I believe that it is on the domestic front tht Obama has a chance to really affect the situation in this country. On matter of foreign policy though, I have less illusion that an Obama administration would create a revolution. The Jewish lobby is way too powerful. The Cuban Lobby is way too powerful. So I do not believe we should think ahead of ourselves, but rather be realistic that the US Establishment remains all powerful.
After 8 years of the Republican administration, people are ready for a change. We are not talking in the abstract, the facts are there for everyone to see: a mismanaged economy, a foolish war and a tendency to open a new front (something will surely happen during a McCain administration); an administration which engaged in torture (and refuses to recognize the International Criminal Court for fear its citizens might be brought before that Court) ; a total disregard for the suffering people in this country (Katrina, Bush being forced to sign the Housing Bill which he had ferociously opposed in the past while the rate of foreclosures dramatically increased) and on and on.
Obama represents that change and even though one may not agree on everything, I repeat, like Guy, that on balance, there is no comparison: Obama would be much better.
The question to be asked now is the following: why is it that, in the face of all this, Obama should only be ahead of McCain by only 6 or 7 points?
From my own perspective, this can only be atttributed to the question of race. A big chunk of the American people is not yet ready to admit that a black man can be that intelligent, that articulate and that well-versed so as to reach the presidency. Never mind the issue of experience. John Kennedy did not have that much experience either. Some news anchors are barely beginning to address the issue, albeit carefully, cautiously. Guy mentioned Obama's speech on race as a key turning point. I totally agree, but despite that, too many are still afraid or just plain scared. Remember how none other than Geraldine Ferraro was suggesting that white people cannot talk anymore! Pardon me! Did I hear well?
The real test for this country will be when, on the date of the general election, the white voter goes into the booth, alone with himself, and he deposits his ballot in the box. Will he have the guts to vote for the better candidate, or will he believe that a black man will be dangerous for the country if he becomes president ? Will he believe that he cannot vote for a Muslim? Will he be able to clear his mind and vote on the basis of the facts?
The jury will be out in 180 days on all these questions. But I remain convinced that is the only issue that keeps Obama down in the poll.
I cannot vote in this country, but frankly, if I could, I would vote for a toad rather than vote for McCain.