Friday, January 18, 2008

A Case For Obama

Brain. Quivers. Like. Jello. I'm post-call today. Yesterday I admitted one patient to the intensive care unit, and unfortunately, another coded and needed to move down there. Needless to say, I did not have much time for sleeping.

It's times like these that I can rely on my friends to say thoughtful things about stuff. The rest of this post is an email to me from one of my MD/PhD colleagues when I revealed just how undecided I am about the upcoming Democratic primary. He also happens to write a column for Seattle's alternative newspaper The Stranger called Dear Science. Each point has a link to a longer, wittier post over at Slog, The Stranger's blog.
I'm leaning heavily towards Obama, for three disparate reasons.

1. His favorite TV shows are M.A.S.H. and The Wire. (Ok. I'm being somewhat serious here.) The wire perks my ears up. It's a seriously dark-minded exploration of the decay of US cities and communities. Most intriguingly, a central theme is the limited ability of those in power and institutions to deal with the problems faced. Any president (or presidential candidate) who starts from this attitude gets some respect from me just for self honesty.

2. Obama, when he was a State senator, initially supported a bill to require universal influenza vaccination during the last big shortage. Public health advocates visited him and explained that during a shortage it is way better to limit the vaccine to those who really need it--the infirm and health care workers predominantly. He argued back, asked tough questions, but eventually was convinced. He publicly supported the less politically tractable but empirically "correct" policy, even though it wasn't his initial judgment. To my mind, this demonstrates why Obama the most "scientific" candidate--willing to critique, accept and change with data.

3. His rhetorical strength is well suited to the presidency. Hillary and he essentially support the same policies. Hillary claims she knows how to best maneuver in the existing political environment. Obama claims that he can *change* the political reality to make dramatic policy changes. I find Obama's read to be the more compelling. In other words, Hillary has made and excellent case for herself--as senate majority leader.

Pair up an Obama presidency with a Hillary Clinton led senate? Wow. I get shivers.
Me too. Oh yeah - that's because it's 17 degrees in Spokane...

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