Friday, April 18, 2008

The Central Issues Of Obama’s Candidacy

Obama is attempting to ride into the Presidency on an undefined promise of change and a claim to be able to magically heal the supposed divides of the nation, if not the world. He deflects reasonable concern about his lack of any substantive experience by proclaiming that he is possessed of "superior judgment." Thus, and as with all candidates, we need to take the measure of Obama’s judgment, his character, and his veracity in order to determine his fitness to lead us as President.

But as Obama and his supporters made clear today, they want all such topics off limits. Obama outrageously claims that these issues don’t matter:

It is the height of hypocrisy for Obama to call this "gotch’a politics" and unfair electoral tactics. Beyond the fact that these questions are central to assessing Obama’s fitness for the presidency, virtually Obama’s entire political career has been built on unfair electoral tactics and "gotch’a politics." His first foray into politics was won when he used his fellow lawyers to get his competition decertified and taken off the ballot. His subsequent elections have each been won only after huge "gotcha’" moments involving his competition. For Obama to claim the questions last night are either superfluous, unwarranted or unfair is hypocrisy and prevarication writ large.

(Update: Obama has now refused to take part in a CBS debate that had been scheduled before the North Carolina primary. It appears that he wants nothing to do with further debates.)

That said, let’s review what was raised last night and why it matters:


Charles Gibson questioned Obama on Obama's recent comments made before a rich, liberal crowd gathered in an "off the record" venue in San Francisco:

Obama claimed that he misspoke, but then he immediately reaffirmed the substance of his "bittergate" comments. He tied people’s economic situation to whether they are overly concerned with their rights under the Second Amendment, as well as with moral, ethical and religious issues. He questions their judgment, stating in sum - albeit more tactfully than he did in San Francisco - that Americans concerned with these things are unable to distinguish what really matters. What does this say about how he will treat their concerns as President? What does his belittling of their values say of his judgment?

Are we to accept, just by way of example, gay marriage and severe regulation of our right to own weapons in return for socialized Obamacare and a few other middle class entitlement programs? Are our values and ethics for sale in Obama's view and, if so, what does that say about his own? When it comes to choosing Supreme Court judges, will Obama use his judgment to choose justices likely to uphold the traditions important to those small town people he calls bitter? Or will he choose judges with a socialist agenda who espouse the theory of a "living constitution?" - i.e., a theory that allows judges to act as a supra-legislature and create new rights - or gut old ones, such as the 5th Amendment limitation on government's ability to take private property - based on their personal beleifs. Obama's explanation of his "bittergate" remarks clarifies most, if not all of those questions.

Gun Rights, Obama’s Position On Handguns & The 1996 Survey

As part of Obama’s claim to superior judgment, he asserted last night that he has "never" supported a ban on handguns - and that his "writing" never appeared on a 1996 survey indicating that he did support such a ban at the time. By making this claim in light of all the surrounding circumstances, Obama again asks us to make a blind leap of faith and accept, on his bald assertion, a counterintuitive conclusion. It raises questions of character and veracity that transcend the policy issue of restriction on gun ownership.

In 1996, when he was first running for elected office, an influential local political organization asked Obama to complete a survey on his positions as an integral part of their process to determine which candidate to endorse. The completed survey ascribed to Obama a series of very far left positions on a variety of hot button issues, one of which was support for a total ban on handguns. After the survey came to light, Obama’s aides said he "never saw or approved" the questionnaire. They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who "unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position." That was plausible.

But then additional facts emerged. Obama, it turned out, had met with the organization and was interviewed directly upon the basis of his answers to the survey. Further, the day after the interview, Obama filed an amended survey with a hand-written comment in the margins. Once this came to light, according to the Politico, "[t]hrough an aide, Obama, . . . did not dispute that the handwriting was his. But he contended it doesn’t prove he completed, approved — or even read — the latter questionnaire." That is the type of legalistic defense that Bill Clinton could appreciate. As several members of that local political organization admit today, Obama’s claims in this regards are simply "unbelievable."

Now in the latest twist, Obama not only disclaims any knowledge of the answers on which he was quizzed, but even claims now that the handwriting isn’t his on the amended survey.

The important point here is not that 12 years ago Obama supported a total ban on handguns, though it is of some significance. The critical aspect of this whole situation is that Obama is prevaricating to keep his carefully created reputation for "superior judgment" from being called into question. And by taking this tack, he calls not only his judgment into question, but adds issues of veracity and character.

Rev. Jerimiah Wright

Once it came to light that Obama, the would-be great uniter, was heavily influenced by, spent twenty years with, and donated substantial sums of money to a virulenty racist, anti-American preacher, it created a cognitive dissonance of epic proportions. It was of a magnitude that, were it a white candidate in the same scenario, his candidacy would have been crushed within days of the matter becoming public – no questions asked by anyone of any race. It is a dissonance that so clearly goes to Obama’s character and judgment that it must be answered. And it is a measure of the hypocrisy of our left wing media that no one has yet vetted Obama’s frankly unbelievable claims of ignorance in regards to Rev. Wright.

Once a few of Rev. Wright's racist sermons were made public - what we saw on Fox was in fact a highlights reel sold by Rev. Wright's Church - Obama tried an ever changing litany of excuses to quell the issue. Only after these excuses failed and his poll numbers were tanking did Obama decide to give a speech on the "larger issue" of race in America. He started that speech by referring to slavery as "original sin" - thus tagging every white now alive in America and all yet to come with responsibility for slavery. That is not a particularly uniting theme. Indeed, it is the theme at the heart of race baiters and seperatists. The remainder of Obama's speech got little, if any, better.

Our left wing press proclaimed the speech historic and asserted that Obama had fully put to rest the issue of Rev. Wright. But for those of us with critical faculties not predisposed to the vacuity of identity politics, Obama's speech was in no way a reasonable explanation of why he adopted Wright as his mentor and supported him with church attendance and donations for twenty years. It did not explain how Obama was so moved by a blatantly racist sermon condemning "white greed" that he chose it for the central theme of his book, the Audacity of Hope, published in October, 2006. Nor was his speech in any way a larger dialogue on the issue of racism. It was a series of excuses buttressed with a completely unbelievable claim that he had no idea Wright was a racist during his 20 years he sat with his family in Wright's pews. Contradicting earlier assertions, Obama now admitted that he had heard a few "controversial" remarks from Rev. Wright over the many years. Obama caveated that by saying that he completely disagreed with the remarks and that the remarks were excusable becasue of Wright's background and public works.

Hillary Clinton hit the nail on the head in her response to Obama on this issue. And if Obama wants us to accept his incredibly unbelievable excuses, he needs to have Rev. Wright release his transcripts for 20 years of sermons - the whole sermons, not merely the sanitized versions.

William Ayers

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse fully explores the extent and the importance of Obama’s voluntary association with the unrepentant anti-American terrorist, William Ayers. As Rick presciently asks:

What would any other politician have done when he or she discovered that a terrorist was sitting on the same board as they? Wouldn’t just about anyone else have said “no thank you” to such an invitation?

Moreover, Obama displayed a very skewed sense of moral relativism, equating Ayers, a man who bombed government buildings and is proud of his past terrorist acts, with Senator Tom Colburn, a doctor who believes abortion is morally wrong and has sponsored a bill to treat doctors performing abortions as murderers.

Tony Rezko

Obama’s extensive relationship with a major fundraiser-cum-felon Tony Rezko didn’t even make it into the questioning last night, but it is yet another issue that goes to Obama’s judgment and veracity. Again, see Rick Moran for the full explanation.

Flag Pin and Patriotism

I would consider this a non-issue had Obama not made it one. In October, 2007, Obama told a reporter:

. . . right after 9/11 I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest, instead I'm gonna try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism."

That is not Obama's only act that seems to smack of a disdain for patriotism. Several months ago, Obama refused to put his hand over his heart while our national anthem was being played. Admittedly, these are mere symbolic acts. But symbolism is used to make a point. Taken together, it would be reasonable to infer that Obama sees some things very fundamentally wrong with our country and its 200 plus years of traditions. That is quite troubling in a man who wants to "change" this country in some undefined way. Under these circumstances, it is quite valid to raise these issues and test those inferences. In other words, if Obama is going to make symbolic acts, than we as a nation have every right to find out the meaning he is trying to convey by those symbolic acts.

Here is the anthem video:

And here is Obama last night:


One’s character is determined by how one habitually responds to things within one's environment. To put it in the words of P.B. Fitzwater, "character is the sum and total of a person's choices.” It is only by looking at character and veracity that we can judge how a man is likely to act in the future – whether in accordance with deeply held principles that define his character, or with prevarication and expediency that define a weak and self-serving character. And it is only by reviewing a person’s past acts as well as their current beliefs that we can get a feel for the soundness of their judgment. Character and judgment are the crucial considerations in choosing a leader who will face a myriad of challenges, many we cannot forecast today, over the period of the next four years as President.

The questions Obama was asked last night are central to assessing his character and judgment. It tells us volumes about his fitness to lead us as President that he does not want us to ask anymore questions on those issues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest, instead I'm gonna try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.""

Taking him at his word, it accentuates even more the fact that he continued to sit in Wright's church for 20 years, but saying nothing about divisivness of his sermons...