Fred Seigel writes an excellent piece to accompany the below video of Obama supporters. The man has done nothing, not one accomplishment to point to which would give people pause and say “hey, the man would be a great leader of the free world.”
Obama’s achievements in reaching out to moderate voters are largely proleptic: words aren’t deeds. And while he has few concrete achievements to his name, he does have a voting record that hardly suggests an ability to rise above Left and Right. In 2005, his first year in the Senate, the man who made a specialty of voting “present” in the Illinois State Senate refused—despite repeated entreaties—to join a bipartisan agreement among 14 senators not to filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees. After his first two years in the Senate, National Journal’s analysis of roll call votes found that he was more liberal than 86 percent of his colleagues, and his voting record has only grown more liberal since then. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action now gives him a 97.5 percent rating, while National Journal ranks him the most liberal member of the Senate. By comparison, Hillary Clinton, who occasionally votes with the GOP, ranks 16th. Obama is such a down-the-line partisan that, according to Congressional Quarterly, he voted more often with the Democrats than did the party’s majority leader, Harry Reid.
This is the record that appeals to Ted and Caroline Kennedy and the aging MoveOn.org boomers who have long nursed hopes for a renewal of Camelot. But now as then, a charismatic political personality carries more dangers than benefits. The “politics of meaning,” which emerged from the Kennedy years and has now resurfaced with Obama as its empty vessel of hope, is doomed to disappoint because it asks more from politics than politics can deliver. In symbolic confirmation that Obama’s candidacy is as much about the liberal past as about the country’s future, the Grateful Dead, which disbanded years ago, has announced that it will reunite to perform a concert for him.
The banality of Obama’s campaign is exceeded only by his unwillingness to challenge liberal orthodoxy. In the recent Hollywood debate, he insisted, contrary to the evidence, that the problem with American education was that it was underfunded. But education funding has increased dramatically over the last 20 years to no good effect, as student performance on content-based tests continues to decline. In the same debate, Obama at first waffled in response to an African-American woman’s question about the effect of illegal immigration on working-class wages. But finally, in an echo of those who once saw fear of crime as simply an expression of racism, he insisted that complaining about the effects of illegal immigrants on working-class wages and neighborhoods was a form of “scapegoating.”
Republicans, swing voters, and moderate Democrats are entitled to know why a man who has never been to Iraq and who, aside from a brief trip to London, has barely been abroad as an adult, is ready to guide us internationally. Obama’s foreign-policy pronouncements might well be treated with derision if they came from a man with less poise and grace. As befits someone whose stock-in-trade is speeches that appear to dissolve deep-seated differences in a bath of good-think, he has deep faith in the UN and proposes a summit between the U.S. and the leaders of Islamic nations to discuss ways to “bridge the gap between us.” Obama, who never refers to anything so clear-cut as radical Islam or jihadism, says that he “wants to ask them to join our fight against terrorism.” He insists that Sunni tribal chieftains turned against al-Qaida in the Anbar province of Iraq because Democrats won the 2006 election, even though the chieftains’ shift took place months before the election. When violence broke out in Kenya after its recently contested election, he referred to his Kenyan grandmother as proof of his foreign-policy credentials, but failed to mention the tribalism—endemic to much of the African and Islamic world—that had produced a string of massacres.
It’s when Obama tries to show that he can also be tough that he most fully reveals his limitations. He both insists that Pakistan be governed more democratically and proposes to insert Special Forces into tribal Waziristan, if necessary without the cooperation of Islamabad. Such a move would destabilize a Pakistan rent by ethnic hostilities and already in danger of disintegration. As with Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis, Obama’s unstable mix of high-blown rhetoric and would-be bellicosity invites our enemies to misjudge us. In the wake of Bush’s naivety about Iraq and about the Islamic world’s supposed yearning for liberty, Obama, who is more at home with grand pronouncements than with facts on the ground, represents a gigantic gamble.
It will be ironic if in the name of post-partisanship we manage, with the contrivance of both Left and Right, to elect Oprah’s candidate, a man with a narrowly partisan record who has never demonstrated a capacity (rhetoric aside) either to lead or to govern. Only Clinton derangement syndrome can explain the alliance of so many otherwise thoughtful people of both parties who speak well of the candidacy of a man with scant knowledge of the world who has never been tested and has never run anything larger than a senatorial office.
Fred may be right. The only way to explain Obama’s popularity is CDS on the left. The MSM seems willing and able to ignore asking some very troublesome questions about Obama’s character and associates in their effort to fawn over the next crowned saint.
Melanie Phillips likens all this to the Princess Diana death and mourning in Britain. An apt comparison:
Watching the cresting of the Obama tidal wave, it seems that the US is having its Princess Diana moment. Hillary Clinton, turning on the tears but only succeeding once again in thus underscoring her own cynical calculation, wails fruitlessly that Obama is all warm fuzzy feeling but no substance.
‘Wait a minute,’ she said, ‘what is the substance here? What, as famously was said years ago, where’s the beef? You know, where is the reality?’
Welcome to Planet Diana. It was only with the death of the People’s Princess that the extent of Britain’s transformation from a country of reason, intelligence, stoicism, self-restraint and responsibility into a land of credulousness, emotional incontinence, sentimentality, irresponsibility and self-obsession became shatteringly apparent. Princess Diana was an icon of the new Britain because she embodied precisely those latter characteristics.
It became clear that politicians could score remarkable short-term success if they too got in touch with their inner trauma and felt everyone else’s pain. Bill Clinton (hideous irony for Hillary) was the first to realise this and made it his political signature. Tony Blair, whose lip periodically quivered with precision timing, had it in spades. David Cameron has it; so too does Obama.
The effect is electric, but short-lived. That is because Dianafication is essentially empty, amoral, untruthful and manipulative; eventually voters see through it and realise they have been played for suckers. But while it lasts — and it creates presidents and prime ministers — reason doesn’t get a look in. Warm fuzzy feelings win hands down because they anaesthetise reality and blank out altogether those difficult issues which require difficult decisions. Obama appears to be on the wrong side of just about every important issue going; indeed, were he to be elected president he would be a danger to the free world. But hey – the guy makes people feel good about themselves; he stands for hope, love, reconciliation, youthfulness and fairies at the bottom of the garden.
It an embarrassment to this country. But hey, he’s The Candy Man: