Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Surfing Barak Fantastic

Well ok so I didn’t go surfing with Barak Obama. In fact he never even came to Kauai, but he is on Oahu for vacation so that’s pretty close, I think. It’s kind of a big deal, actually. Presidential candidates NEVER come to Hawaii. With 4 electoral votes, it’s not much of a prize to travel half way across the pacific for. And since it’s not a battleground state, our votes are already presumed cast. He’s not really campaigning here so there’s not much to say about his visit. Yesterday’s paper reported that he went jogging on Kailua beach. At first he was wearing shoes. Then he took them off. Does this mean he really is a flip-flopper, as McCain says?

Obama was born and raised on Oahu, but in all I’ve heard about him and read I’ve never encountered any mention of surfing in his past. In his book he admitted to marijuana and cocaine use. But maybe he wants to keep his youthful experimentation with surfing quiet. While I would personally consider it totally awesome to have a surfer in the oval office, many voters, acting on their stereotyped perceptions of the slacker-surfer, might consider it un-presidential. It’s hard to believe that someone who spent his youth in Hawaii never touched a surfboard. So, how about it, Barak? It’s better to come clean now and reveal all of your youthful indiscretions so they don’t come back and create a scandal later.

While Oahu may be as close as he ever gets to Planet Haolewood world headquarters, there was an Obama event yesterday on Kauai. Obama enthusiasts gathered at the one-lane bridge over the Hanalei River to participate in “Yes We Span,” A campaign to photograph Obama supporters on bridges. I’m not kidding. I did not attend. That bridge was built in 1912 and I wasn’t sure it could take the weight of all those Obama faithful.

I’m sure the bridge was fine, actually. But I’m not really an Obama supporter. I think of the American voter as a woman in the process of breaking up with the worst boyfriend in the history of boyfriends. She sees Obama as a knight in shining armor. “He really GETS me!” she woozily explains to her friends, who think she’s totally crazy for ever getting with the last boyfriend, anyway. We’re on the rebound and there’s no law of symmetry that demands Obama’s presidential capabilities be equal to Bush’s “perfect storm” of arrogance and incompetence.

I’m reserving judgment on our friend, Barak, (at least until I have reliable evidence that he is, in fact, a surfer.) My main reservation is that he has accepted far more money already than any presidential candidate and we still have a long time to go. Nothing is free. The people and organizations giving him money are buying influence. He originally said he would conform to public financing limits, but when he realized he could raise more money than he could get from public financing, he reversed his position. That’s a real flip-flop on an issue that really matters.

It matters so much because it’s at the root of every other problem in government. We have a democracy of dollars. One dollar = one vote instead of one person = one vote. That’s why, for example, we continue to subsidize ethanol even though it benefits no one except those directly receiving the subsidy. It’s difficult if not impossible to make progress on all the things that need changing as long as the democracy of dollars goes on. Obama seems to be really good at raising money, so he can thrive in the status quo. It would be nice to think that he sees his compromise on public campaign financing as means to and end and that as president he’ll try fix the system he has described as “broken.”

As they say, “talk is cheap.” The only way to evaluate a candidate is to look to his or her actions. Obama doesn’t have a long record to look back on, but the way he handled public campaign financing doesn’t bode well.


At 8/15/2008, Blogger Matt said...

You never know what's in a person's head, let along a political candidate's. But it's probably fair to suspect that if Obama's $1,000-plus donors are responsible for one-third of his donations as the NY Times recently reported, then hopefully the two million people responsible for the other two-thirds will get a little more consideration than usual. Somehow, I don't think the fact that McCain is taking the money is going to make him any more responsive to the public.

I think the public financing issue was a flip-flop, but I'm glad he did it. McCain's already shown he's willing to cheat the public financing system, so to me the more honorable way to remain competitive is not to start cheating yourself, but to play honestly by another set of rules. Attracting (and having to keep attracting) two million small-dollar donors may be a better means to the end intended by public financing laws anyway.

I think we're up to about $175 to Obama so far, $25 or $50 at a time.

At 8/15/2008, Blogger BOR-ee-us said...

I haven't donated any money to Obama but I did bet a co-worker $5 that he'd win. Who would you bet on?

At 8/18/2008, Blogger Matt said...

I think he'll win too, but the capacity of the American people to fall for Republican BS has been underestimated many times in the past...

At 8/30/2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

obama was born on kauai bor...and then moved to oahu later (went to high school there) :)

At 8/30/2008, Blogger BOR-ee-us said...

Here's a link to a copy of Obama's birth certificate showing he was born on Oahu.


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