Yesterday, after a speech on Wall Street, Obama had an interview with Brian Williams on the roof of a building where he gave very sober, frank, honest answers to Williams’ questions. What he says is very open but it isn’t dripping with ideological oversimplification either. He is a candidate who has thought through many things and is willing to share his thoughts.
Obviously these sort of nuanced discussions don’t rile up many supporters (though if you were at the Harkin Steak Fry as I was, you would know that Obama has quite a few riled up supporters), but it shows that he is a candidate that is more than just a hyped up demagogue, but rather someone who has pondered the issues and while he does maintain a large following, he doesn’t just stand on his charisma as some would like to believe.
One section of the interview that I was particularly fond of was a response to one of Brian’s questions about the primary schedule:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Well, about this front load in calendar, how– how great a concern do you have that just at the time when a lot of Americans will be dialing in, a lot of states will have already made the decisions leading up to who the nominees of the party are.
BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think– I– I think it’s a problem. I think that in some ways for people like myself and Hillary Clinton who are a little bit better known, it gives us probably an unfair advantage. On the other hand, it also means that we’re gonna see a very long general election which could end up making it even uglier than usual general elections.
Because when there’s that much time to be filled in general elections typically, it ends up being filled with negative ads. That seems to be the process. Now, that’s a process that I hope to change as the nominee. But you know, I think we would have benefited from spreading out the– this primary season longer, so that people weren’t voting right after they’d done their Christmas shopping.
He is willing to openly admit that the schedule is likely to benefit his candidacy and yet he denounces it for its unfairness. This shows that he is a man who believes in the principles of democracy that are being strained by our current electoral setup, even when he would benefit by letting it be.
He also rightly spoke against a recent ad by MoveOn.org that played with General Petraeus’s name by asking “General Petraeus or General Betray Us”. While Obama rejects the idea that Petraeus’ testimony serves as justification for the policies put forth by the Bush Administration, he has a more nuanced view of the situation in which he points out that we should be taking issue with the Administration not with the general who is following the mission that is assigned.
I stand firmly in the anti-war camp but I think that the overly simplistic ideological discourse that ads like the “General Betray Us” ad put forth is counterproductive as they allow the more neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party, including Giuliani, to paint the anti-war movement as consisting of ideological simpletons.
Hopefully we can see more of this type of interview from Obama in the future.