May 21, 2008

TRIBALIST VS UNIVERSALIST:

McCain, not Obama, is real reformer (David Brooks, May 21, 2008, NY Times)

If elected, Obama's main opposition would not come from Republicans. It will come from Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. Already, the Democratic machine is reborn. Lobbyists are now giving 60 percent of their dollars to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The pharmaceutical industry, the defense industry and the financial sector all give more money to Democrats than Republicans. If Obama is actually going to bring about change, he's going to have to ruffle these sorts of alliances. If he can't do it in an easy case like the farm bill, will he ever?

John McCain opposed the farm bill. In an impassioned speech on Monday, he declared: “It would be hard to find any single bill that better sums up why so many Americans in both parties are so disappointed in the conduct of their government, and at times so disgusted by it.”

McCain has been in Congress for decades, but he has remained a national rather than a parochial politician. The main axis in his mind is not beeen Republican and Democrat. It's between narrow interest and patriotic service. And so it is characteristic that he would oppose a bill that benefits the particular at the expense of the general.

In fact, in this issue, McCain may have found a theme to unify his so far scattershot campaign. He has always been an awkward ideological warrior. In any case, this year may not be the best year for Republicans to launch a right versus left crusade. But McCain has infinitely better grounds than Obama to run as a do-what-it-takes reformer.


Senator Obama's race doesn't matter for reasons of racism, but because his election would appear to favor one special interest over the others that make up the tribal party. That's why the Reverend Wright's "nationalism" is so damaging.


MORE:
The Black-Brown Divide: For every race in America, there’s another racial barrier. Ernesto Quiñonez examines the often contentious divide between Latinos and African-Americans. (Ernesto Quiñonez, 5/21/08, Esquire)

Forty-eight percent of Hispanics checked themselves off as white, while only 2 percent identified themselves as black. We can blame the form -- not enough boxes, not enough choices -- but the bottom line is that almost half of us can’t shake the idea that we’d be better off if we were white. Is it any wonder that some Obama staffers can’t sleep at night?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 21, 2008 7:33 AM
Comments

One thing I remember about the South Side of Chicago from my four years living there in the late '70s is that even the reformers were on the take. The major part of their "reforms" was that they just didn't want to give the Daley/Biilandic Machine its cut. The whole point of Jane Byrne and Harold Washington was to give some other "tribes" time at the trough.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 21, 2008 10:27 AM
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