Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm Ready for a Smart President

Pundits keep asking whether the American public is ready for a black president. I just don't think of Barack Obama in those terms. Yes, I realize he is black; yes, I realize that he self-identifies as black and relates to black culture; and it would definitely be a benefit that little black kids all over the country would grow about two inches the moment he becomes president. But that isn't why I'm supporting him.

Obama is about as intelligent as anyone who has ever run for the office. A graduate of Harvard, the editor of the Law Review, a college professor versed in Constitutional law, and a successful civil rights lawyer, he has used his intelligence and his inherent wisdom about human nature not to enrich himself, but to advocate for the rights of the poor and the dispossessed of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

His policies may not seem to differ greatly from Hillary Clinton's, but the differences that do exist show him to be a thoughtful and compassionate man. When he looks at Hillary Clinton's mandate that everyone purchase health care insurance, he asks, how is this going to affect people who still can't afford health care? When he advocates for easing payroll taxes, he is looking at people at the low end of the economic scale and recognizing that payroll taxes and self-employment taxes, which are assessed on the first penny people earn and are not lowered by Clinton's proposed tax credits, are an enormous burden on the poor. In other words, when he ponders economic issues and possible solutions, he asks himself, "How is this action going to affect the little guy?"

Obama's calm demeanor in the face of persistent and sometimes bizarre attacks from the Clinton campaign, at times from Clinton herself, give me confidence that Obama's steady hand on the ship of state can steer us, peacefully and rationally, through some very difficult times ahead. Not so Clinton, who has proved herself to be erratic, manipulative, and underhanded.

Black? I don't care whether Obama is black, blue, or a kangaroo. I care that he is intelligent, wise, and kind.

I'm ready for a smart president.