Saturday, November 24, 2007

Iowa Independent Interview: Obama Sees Self Outside Long-Standing Culture War Roles

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama tonight told Iowa Independent the nation can't afford to be drawn into the same ideological warfare of the past.

"What I am insistent on is that we can't have the same arguments we had in the 1990s," Obama said. "We've got to deal with climate change. We've to deal with energy independence. We've got to deal with war. We've got to deal with revamping our education system and our health-cate system."

In an interview with Iowa Independent, the Carroll Daily Times Herald and La Prensa, a western Iowa Spanish-language newspaper, Obama, an Illinois Democrat seeking the presidency, responded to a question about a recent Atlantic monthly story in which writer Andrew Sullivan suggests front-runners Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani would fill traditional roles in a divisive culture war that has raged since Vietnam.

Here is Sullivan:

She and Giuliani are conscripts in their generation’s war. To their respective sides, they are war heroes.

And here is Obama's response when asked specifically about that quote:

"I do think because I'm a new face on the scene that I have an easier time of getting people to work together and listen to each other in ways that I think some of these other folks don't," Obama said.

Obama added, "Washington has been caught up in gridlock for a long time," he said. "The country has moved past many of these arguments."

He said people aren't voting against him based on "whether I inhaled 30 years ago."

"They just want some straight answers," Obama said. In a speech in Audubon, Obama acknowledged that he had tried marijuana as a youth -- and that he did inhale.

In the interview, Obama reiterated his differneces with Clinton on the issue of whether to remove the $97,500 cap on income subject to the payroll tax that funds Social Security. Obama favors taxing earnings greater than that to shore up the system while Clinton said such a move amounts to a tax increase that could affect the middle class. The issue emerged in the last Democratic debate and when asked if one difference between himself and Hillary Clinton is that she thinks $97,000 is middle class money and he thinks it's a lot of money, Obama said, "apparently."

"Right now, 94 percent of Americans are paying payroll on 100 percent of their income," Obama said. "But you have very wealthy people, people in the top five, six percent, who aren't. And top 1 percent who aren't."

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