Take the damn ball, Senator Obama.

Cross-posted in orange

An open letter to Senator Barack Obama from a supporter.  

Senator Obama, in your short time in the public eye you have shown great wisdom, judgment, and vision.  Your greatest strength is the ability to fuse pragmatism with idealism.  This often means eschewing traditional showboating and playing for the cameras in order to build consensus that builds towards progressive goals.

However, no single approach works for every problem, and building consensus is not working on the problem of Iraq.  There was a time for Congress to be the steering wheel of our Iraq policy.  Now, someone needs to slam on the brakes.

That person should, by all rights, be you.  You alone of any  major candidate running in either party had the prescience and honesty to oppose invading Iraq.  You understood the disaster that would unfold.  This gives you credibility--as well as intellectual and moral authority-- that no one else on the national stage possesses.

And you used that authority wisely by introducing legislation to mandate withdrawal on Iraq back in January of this year.  And you have been a good team player on this issue as Democrats, a functional minority in the Senate, tried to forge a consensus.  Harry Reid is the 'team' leader, and he has been entrusted with handling the ball on Iraq.

However, Senator Reid has dropped the ball on Iraq (forgive the mixing of football and basketball metaphors).  Senator Reid, for all of his strengths, just isn't getting the job done.  He is a competent work horse, but he isn't a star.  He isn't a difference maker.

You are.

And, when it comes to crunch time, star players and difference makers need to take over.  The truly exceptional leaders are not just willing to step up and take the important shot, they demand the damn ball.

This is your time to do so.  Iraq hangs in the balance.  Republicans are wobbly.  Unfortunately, so are your fellow Democrats.   The talk increasingly is of both sides holding hands and enacting pro forma legislation to pretend that Congress is doing something about the war.  We are moving dangerously close to a point where the goal will be to pretend to be doing something about Iraq rather than actually doing something about Iraq.

Don't let them get away with it.  

I understand your hesitance to call out your colleagues.  But, to hell with that.  There are larger stakes.

Others, of course, are trying to speak out.

But, nationally, no one (outside of their supporters) cares what John Edwards says from the safety of non-accountability or what Chris Dodd says from a position of relative obscurity.

What you say is news.  Because you say it.

And, to be blunt, saying we need to get out of Iraq just won't cut it anymore.  What matters now is doing something to get us out of Iraq.  Not just saying we need to do it, but talking about how we're going to get it done.

Now, I know that some people will bring up your presidential run, and talk about how it wouldn't be the smart thing to do.

Senator, you're either moving forward or you're moving backwards.  Relative to other candidates, you're moving backwards on Iraq.   How on earth is it even remotely possible that Hillary Clinton, a clinical study in opportunism when it comes to Iraq, is perceived amongst primary voters as essentially indistinguishable from you?  

Do the right thing and the smart thing.  For your nation, your party, and yourself.  Step forward, demand the damn ball, and be prepared to accept the consequences one way or another.  The voters will not punish you for speaking out against a tragical farce like our so-called Iraq debate.

Playing it safe will result in Bush winning and Hillary getting the nomination.  Playing it safe is the ultimate form of living dangerously.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I'd sure say it's time (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 12:40:45 PM EST
    I just wonder if he has it in him.

    Hopefully (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by taylormattd on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 12:41:41 PM EST
    someone does.

    He does. His patience, caution, and prudence (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Geekesque on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 01:03:37 PM EST
    are normally virtues, but too much patience can be lethal.

    I hope he does. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 06:54:38 PM EST
    But I'm afraid that if he did you wouldn't have to be asking him to take the damn ball, and he needs to remember there are others who will and do, that people can support.

    Some suggestions... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by rashomon on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 02:02:24 PM EST
    This really needs to framed in the context of "we've got to start a redeployment on our terms before George Bush breaks our military and makes us unable to respond to our enemies."

    There's an obvious push here, because the fact that we have to start leaving next April (because we're out of troops) is well known.  Use that to hammer Bush and the Republicans.

    Nicely put. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Edger on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 06:35:22 PM EST
    saying we need to get out of Iraq just won't cut it anymore.  What matters now is doing something to get us out of Iraq.

    Playing it safe is the ultimate form of living dangerously.

    Great post, Geek.

    The goal of pretending be doing something about Iraq rather than actually doing something about Iraq seems to be one most Democratic leaders are dangerously beyond being only dangerously close to.

    They know it's dangerous to the country and to the troops.

    If only they perceived it as being dangerous to themselves we might be making some progress.

    Yopu know what I think (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 06:52:38 PM EST

    Obama Get Ready (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by AshleyA on Thu Sep 06, 2007 at 09:00:01 PM EST
    I agree, in order to really make a difference Obama needs to stop just pointing out the flaws and actually create solutions that would satisfy the American people. America already knows something needs to be changed, but how can it be changed, how can we get troops out of Iraq, how can we lower the amount of terrorists who to bomb us. Take a stand for the American people, that's what I want in a president.

    Note to Obama (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MikeDitto on Mon Oct 22, 2007 at 08:41:55 AM EST
    Most Democrats wait until after the primary is won before they start throwing gay people under the bus.