This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



September 2008

Obama, McCain and Trust

OK, I decided I couldn’t wait to answer that last part from my last post, so here goes. I also emailed this to the anonymous reader, but decided shortly after I started writing it that I would also post it.

“Obama says great and awesome things, but if you told me absolutely everything I wanted to hear, but I think you are full of it, how can I believe you?”

This is indeed the crux of the matter. When one person says one set of things, and one person says another, it is not just a matter of which one says the things you agree with the most, it is also about how much you trust the two people. I disagree with probably more than half of Obama’s policy positions. If you actually look only at positions, there is even a chance that I actually even agree with McCain more often.

But I trust Obama, while to me every bit of trust I *did* have in McCain eight years ago (and I *did* trust him eight years ago) has been systematically eroded by his choices and actions over the last six years.

Meanwhile, while Obama only hit my awareness four years ago, most things (not all) that I have watched him do in the meantime have increased my respect for him and my trust in his ability to make good decisions.

I trust that even when I disagree with Obama, he will be making a well thought out decision backed by evidence and knowledge and doing what he really thinks is right. With McCain, I have no idea what he will do, I distrust the way in which he will make the decision, and have no faith that his motives are fundamentally good.

The thing I wonder, and would be glad to be enlightened on, is for those who, not on policy issues where the arguments are completely different, but on issues of trust and integrity, are supporting McCain over Obama… what specific things had McCain done or said over the last few years to make you have that faith in him? And on the flip side, which things has Obama done or said for you to not feel the same way about him?

Do any of my other readers agree with my anonymous reader? Can you enlighten me?

[Edit a few moments later: I should add that I had the same feeling of distrust with both Bill and Hillary Clinton, which is why I was a constant critic of Bill when he was President, and why during the primaries I was pretty loudly against Hillary, who I thought would be horrible… even though on policy she and Obama match on almost everything.]

11 comments to Obama, McCain and Trust

  • ivanbou

    I heard a 10 year old tell me yesterday that his 12 year old brother told him that Obama is a Muslim sleeper agent who is going to bring down the US once he gets elected. Obviously he got that from an adult. I have gotten that from many people. I do believe that many people still actually believe that and therefore will not vote for him. Then add the fact he’s black heard that one this week too. So a black muslim sleeper agent… How many presidential candidates had to fight this bullshit?!

  • Reb

    There’s several obstacles Obama has to deal with.

    1. Racism/prejudice. There’s a lot of folks (esp. those in the 50 and over crowd) who have voted democratic all their life, but won’t do it now. They’ll swear it’s not a racial thing, but it clearly is.

    2. The “elitist” tag. He worked really hard, wasn’t handed anything, is obviously intelligent and accomplished. Apparently that bugs people.

    3. The middle-aged woman anger. This isn’t so tough to figure out. Why would Hillary supporters be interested in Palin? They’re completely opposite on issues and in style.

    Cause (as for the two reasons above) for certain (many?) people it’s not about issues. In this case it’s unconsciously symbolic. Women, for the most part, get screwed. They make less money for the same work. They do the majority of the child rearing which means their careers suffer or they’re not fully appreciated by those they spent all that time taking care of. It’s not just because someone’s a woman — it’s more complicated than that. A vote for Hillary was a vote for what they earned, but never received. It was a vote against every guy who took them for granted. Hell, it was even a vote against Bill Clinton (and against every man who lied and cheated). It was a vote for working mothers. The ones who work twice as hard and get double the crap.

    When that chance to vote for Hillary was taken away (by a younger ambitious man — who probably mirrored younger men where they work, who they had to report to, who made more money than them, who was promoted above them, who probably was dismissive of their sacrifices), it was heartbreaking. The smug college boy got the job they earned. (Example, all the people who felt Obama owed the VP spot to Clinton, and his seeing his choosing Biden as a personal diss.)

    So now they have another chance to vote against the young smug college guy — ironically for a woman who would likely make their lives more difficult and challenging — but this is clearly an extremely emotional election. Our country is in a serious crisis — wars, recession, mortgage crisis, energy crisis, civil liberties crisis . . . and an opportunity (not a guarantee, but a chance) to make a change is now. But at many important crossroads, people freeze up, get caught up in inconsequential details, can’t let go of their grinding axes or are just plain terrified of the unknown. As a country, we’re in an incredibly irrational moment.

  • ivanbou

    I need to add, that I also used to trust Mccain, until inexplicably he did a 180 turn on so many positions he held. The only reason he did it was to win this election and that is what really kills me. It is why I refused to vote for Clinton in 1992 because I could not vote for someone who twisted their positions so easily in order to gain votes. And I don’t mean changing their position based on what happens, I mean changing your position based on what will gain you more votes, which means you don’t have any internal set of beliefs that will guide your decision making.

    I don’t expect a candidate to have 100% of my positions. Being a good manager (and being a manager is part of the job of a president) means that you shouldn’t be inflexible and compromise on certain positions if it means you can guarantee certain other more important position. You got to hold out on some of them, Mccain decided to hold out on apparently none. Tax cuts, immigration, abortion, his VP pick, etc… He has sacrificed so much it seems that the only thing he now holds important is winning. How could I vote for someone like that?

    And let’s not get started on Palin. In her speech at the convention she stomps on the constitution to cheering by the crowd. I can make a list of 100 women more qualified without batting an eye. Even (gaghhhh) Carly Firorina was 100 times more qualified. This pick was a joke. To me it was the ultimate insult.

    Rebecca is totally right, we are at such a fucking irrational moment I am sick to my stomach. Even the fucking Mexicans could vote for Felipe Calderon (Harvard educated guy who was thoughtful) instead of Lopez Obrador (Populist who advocated positions that would have set back the country 50 years).

  • Abulsme

    Of all of the points above, the one that bothers me the most is the elitist thing. Ivan and I have talked about this a few times on the podcast.

    If by elitist you mean that I want people who actually know what they are doing in positions of importance, then yes damn it, I’m an elitist, and proud of it, and everybody who isn’t an elitist is an idiot.

    I want someone with a proven track record as my surgeon. I want someone who knows how to fly as my pilot. And yes, I want someone who is smart, knows what the hell they are talking about, and can make a decision through facts and logic rather than emotion and gut as president.


    On some of the other points, I admit to having assumed in the past that anybody who is bothered by Obama’s race wouldn’t have been voting Democrat anyway, so wouldn’t make a difference. That is clearly not true after all.

    As to the middle-aged women… I’ll leave that analysis to Reb. I frankly just don’t get it.

    Also, I imagine either Virginia where Reb is, or Florida where Ivan is, are much better places to get a sense of these dynamics. Living right outside of Seattle, and having almost all of my in person interactions at a high tech firm primarily populated by under 30’s, with a few in their 30’s and 40’s but very few older than that, I very very rarely see the McCain supporter side of things except online.

    My particular congressional district that I live in has a Republican congressperson. But I still only see Obama signs and bumper stickers and such.

    And we even do our grocery shopping online, so I don’t get to hear political cellphone calls in the store either. :-)

  • Reb

    Chris’ mother, who’s always voted democrat still isn’t sure who she’s going to vote for, but doesn’t like Obama — and also has mentioned her intense dislike of his wife. She hasn’t been able to intelligently explain why — it’s a purely emotional reaction that I’m betting she doesn’t fully understand herself, but she’ll swear up and down it’s not because he’s black.

    I mean, who likes really likes Cindy McCain? She showed up to the convention wearing a 300k outfit! What kind of idiot does that when a significant portion of the country are losing their homes which cost a lot less than that?

    A lot of this is a generational thing — people over 50 are generally having a tougher time with the black thing. They can’t deal with the (rather mild) criticisms Michelle Obama made in a paper she wrote 25 years ago.

    And the folks who seize on the “he’s a muslim terrorist” bit are doing so as a way to confront that they’re racist motherfuckers. Make him evil to cover their own evil tendencies.

  • Reb

    oops, that last section should have said:

    And the folks who seize on the “he’s a muslim terrorist” bit are doing so as a way to *avoid* acknowledging that they’re racist motherfucker

  • Abulsme

    I don’t understand what there is to dislike about Michelle Obama either. She seems exceptionally bright and together as well. If the winds had blown a bit differently, she could just as easily be running for public office as him. She was very impressive on the campaign trail.

    But perhaps that is part of the problem?

  • Reb

    I’m also surprised at people’s distaste for her too. I fantasize about being her BFF!

    I think she suffers from the similar perceptions he does — the “they think they’re better than us” reaction.

  • Abulsme

    Of course, compared to the vast majority of people… they ARE better.

    (And as mentioned before, would you really want them NOT to be?)

  • ivanbou

    For a lot of people the answer is unfortunately no. That is why I see a lot of managers that hire people stupider than they are because they can’t stand someone who could be better than they are. A lot of voters can’t stand it either…

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