February 10th, 2008

storyteller doll

Virginia Primary

The Virginia primary is Tuesday (along with Maryland and D.C.) and I've finally figured out what to do about it.

Virginia is peculiar in not having any form of party registration, so we inherently have an open primary. The Republicans were at one point, talking about requiring people requesting their ballot to sign a loyalty oath, promising that they'd vote for whoever the Republican candidate is come November. It would be unenforceable, of course. They were shown the error of their ways and that silliness went away.

Anyway, the Democratic primary is the interesting one - and the one I would be inclined to participate in anyway, since Virginia Republicans are inclined towards the neanderthal Southern religious right variety. (The story might be different further north, where there is a history of liberal Republicans, i.e. ones who are socially liberal and politically conservative. I voted for John Anderson in the Massachusetts Republican primary in 1980, switching my registration back to independent the next day.) The problem is that I'm not really crazy about either candidate. If Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd were still in the running, it would be easy. If one of the remaining candidates had a clear lead, I'd either stay home or vote for Mike Gravel just to make a statement.

But things are what they are and, much as I hate the current system for selecting candidates, I don't want to stay uninvolved. My inclination was to vote for Obama, only on the grounds that I want things to stay close. Today's Washington Post, however, gave me a better answer. Oddly, it came up in the book review section. There was a review of a new book by Samantha Power about Sergio Veiira de Mello, who led U.N. operations in a number of hot spots around the world before being killed in Baghdad in 2003. The review mentioned that Power, a Harvard professor who also won a Pulitzer for a previous work on genocide, is a foreign policy advisor to Obama and is likely to end up with a high level position in his administration if he wins.

I firmly believe that the major way in which a President can affect the country is via the choice of advisors (including Cabinet members). Being advised by Power is a strong plus for Obama. I should probably do a bit more research and see who is advising each of the candidates on major issues (foreign policy is my big thing, but economic advisors are important, too). So I can't say I'm completely decided. But I'm glad for something which gives me an idea of how to make what I consider an informed decision.
storyteller doll

More on Advisors

Fortunately, the Washington Post had an article (found via a Google search) on who is advising whom.

Clinton gets a plus for having Madeleine Albright, but has three serious minuses. Those are Samuel Berger, Richard Holbrook, and, especially, Strobe Talbot. Basically, she's got high profile folks from her husband's administration.

Obama has Zbigniew Brzezinski, who I have mixed feelings about. But, overall, his list of advisors seem to have a broader focus. My point is that we don't know where the emerging foreign policy crises will be and the tendency to focus entirely on the Mideast is a huge mistake.

By the way, John Edwards had two military advisors who are retired Air Force generals I have some personal knowledge of. Namely, Gen Les Lyles and Gen "Speedy" Martin. So he was probably the only candidate who had anybody telling him about military space issues.

So, unless something serious happens in the next 48 or so hours to change my mind, Barack Obama will get my vote on Tuesday morning.