January 31, 2008

Obama Signs the 80/20 Questionnaire

Saw this on the Reappropriate website (and fellow 44 skrips also mentioned it as well.).

So if the 80/20 site is correct, basically Obama signed the 80/20 questionnaire with some minor modifications. From the 80/20 website:

“OLD Q4 If elected, will you within your first term of office increase the nomination of qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III life-tenured federal judges, whenever such vacancies are available until the current dismal situation is significantly remedied? [To put things in perspective, not meaning to imply quota, presently there are 0.6% Asian Am. Federal judges, while the Asian Am. population is 4.5% and the % of Asian Am legal professionals in laws firms of 100 or larger is at least 5.3%.]

NEW Q4: If elected, will you make it a top priority of your Administration to nominate qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III life-tenured District Court federal judges, whenever such vacancies are available?

OLD Q5: If elected, will you nominate within your first term of office qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III Circuit Judges, whenever there are vacancies in those positions, until the current dismal situation is significantly remedied? [To put things in perspective, none of the 179 Article III Circuit judges is an Asian American.]?

NEW Q5: If elected, will you make it a top priority of your Administration to nominate qualified Asian Americans to serve as Article III Circuit Judges, whenever there are vacancies in those positions?”

Yes, it’s basically what Obama has said from Day One, with the added requirements from two of the other four questions that Obama will meet with 80/20 in the future if he wins. But that’s not the point. The point is that it’s a really sad day in politics when a politician caves in to special interest groups–especially a special interest group whose tactics have been unethical, whose demands have been unreasonable, and whose e-mail propagandists don’t even know how to use spell check. I totally understand that it’s a tight battle and that the stakes are high since we’re less than a week away from Super Tuesday. I understand fully that politics involves some compromise at certain levels. I understand that 80/20, regardless of the organization’s ethical conduct, is the most powerful Asian American political organization out there, and that Obama may have felt compelled to answer them based on his considerations of repercussions from the slanderous lies and threats that S.B. Woo was throwing out. But nevertheless I’m disappointed.

I remember watching one of the Republican debates a few months ago. It was a CNN Youtube debate, and one of the Youtubers was a member of some special interest group. He asked the Republican field whether they would make a promise to his group. I don’t remember exactly what the promise was, but one by one the Republicans gave their versions of the same statement. Each one basically said, “I may agree with your position, but I won’t pledge anything to any organization. I don’t work for you. I only make pledges to the American people.”

This is why Reagan is still so popular. This is why W beat Kerry. These Repubs have hard principles and stick to them. They cultivate their values to the point where they have no trouble pushing them on others, and they have no trouble voicing them (even if those values are wrong–but that’s a whole different conversation). In “The Anatomy of Power,” Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith points out that there is “a greater conservative instinct for discipline” and that it therefore leads to conservatives being disproportionately powerful relative to their absolute numbers. I’m a Democrat, but the charge is true: these Republicans stick to their guns. We can accuse W of being arrogant, dangerous, divisive, ignorant, and wrong, but he definitely sticks with what he believes is right.

I’ve read some of the other blogs, and it looks like I’m not the only Asian American disturbed by this change of events with 80/20 and Obama. Hope is great, but the most ideal kind of hope is one which always does what is right, one which always strives for perfection, one which always tries to be fair and fights back against low-hitting bullies like Mr. Woo. I’m not going to put all the blame on Obama either; if we Asian Americans had had a stronger political organization based in proper ethics and funded by good money, we could’ve taken out S.B. “Swift-Boat” Woo and his attack hounds. But we didn’t have such organization. Perhaps through the 44s and other organizations, we can now start to set the foundations so that we can have a greater influence on our own culture in the future. So we take our blows right now in hopes that we’ll be stronger and more powerful in the future.

As I mention above, eventually we have to put this behind us. Those of us who have supported Obama so far have an election to win. I may be disappointed, but, as I also mention above, we all have to compromise sometimes.

And I’ll still take Obama over Hillary anyday.

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