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Friday, October 31, 2008
Esquire magazine endorsed Barack Obama today -- the first such endorsement in 75 years.
Senator Obama is the only one of the two candidates who seems to believe in the idea of a political commonwealth, that there are those things -- be they the guarantees in the Bill of Rights or mountains in Alaska -- that we own together. Barack Obama stands, however inchoately and however diffidently, for the notion that a common purpose is necessary for common problems, that "government," as it is designed in our founding documents, is our collective responsibility. It is this collective responsibility that built America into a great power without peer in the history of the world. And it is this collective responsibility that has succumbed to nearly thirty years of phony rightist populism, corporate brigandage, and the wildly cheered abandonment of a common American civic purpose. It is shocking that in America an argument for salvaging the common good is regarded as a radical notion by anyone, but that is where we are. And that is what Barack Obama seems to stand for. After all, as a young man with his potential, he could have headed straight to midtown Manhattan and made a fortune. Instead, he took a church job working for poor people in Chicago, and for his troubles, he and those poor people have been viciously jeered by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin. Such is their regard for the common good. And such is Obama's promise. And in that, however inchoately and however diffidently, Obama stands not only against Bushism, but against Reaganism, which gave it birth. And that is more than enough.
[Obama's] Republican counterpart is one of the first presidential candidates in history to run as a parody of himself. John McCain has decided on a cheap and dishonorable campaign. He has embraced the tactics with which he was slandered in 2000, and he has hired the people responsible for them. In so doing, he has become something of a mockery of everything he once purported to be. He has stated that he wouldn't now vote for his own immigration bill. He has operated in violation of the very campaign-finance law that bears his name. And even though his own body bears the scars of torture, he has silenced himself on the issue of the torture sanctioned and designed by the government he seeks to lead, so as not to alienate "the base." The most underutilized trope of the campaign is the notion that John McCain is running against John McCain.
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