Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama Takes A Nose Dive In Philly

Finally, at a debate, Obama gets asked some difficult questions - though with minimal follow-up - and he stumbles badly. He was on the defensive most of the night and not only was his performance weak, but some of his answers will very likely come back to haunt him.


The far left is screaming this morn that the questions asked of Obama in last night’s debate were grossly unfair. You can find the high decibel round-up at Instapundit. They absolutely do not want a spotlight shown on Obama’s history from which we can infer the measure of the man. To ABC’s credit, they did ask questions about some of the major issues surrounding Obama’s character. That said, they did so without the follow-up questions to Obama’s facile attempts to sweep them away. Nonetheless, Obama looked bad and on the defensive throughout the night.

The lowest of the low points for Obama during last night’s debate came on the issues of “bittergate” and gun rights. Almost right out of the gate, Charles Gibson asked Obama about bittergate:

[You said] small town Pennsylvanians who have had tough economic times in recent years. And you said they get bitter and they cling to guns or they cling to their religion or they cling to antipathy toward people who are not like them. . . . Do you understand that some people in this state find that patronizing and think that you said actually what you meant?

Obama seems to have really fumbled his answer. He claims he misspoke, but then went on to say:

. . . when people [are] like promised year after year, decade after decade, that their economic situation is going to change and it doesn't, then, politically, they end up focusing on those things that are constant like religion. They end up feeling this is a place where I can find some refuge. This is something I can count on. They end up being much more concerned about votes around things like guns, where traditions have been passed on from generation to generation. And those are incredibly important to them. And, yes, what is also true is that wedge issues, hot-button issues, end up taking prominence in our politics.

Didn’t he just repeat the bittergate remarks, substituting the word “focusing” for the word cling? That is certainly what it seems to me. Just as it seems that he is saying is that its economic concerns that drive concerns about Second Amendment rights and moral issues. So if we only had enough money in our pockets, we would be unconcerned with such things as efforts to restrict gun ownership and moral issues such as gay marriage, abortion and the role religion should play in society. Its pretty clear Obama said exactly what he meant in the “bittergate” remarks to San Francisco’s elite left.

Then on gun rights issues, Obama sidestepped a question about where he stood on the highly restrictive D.C. gun laws, stating that he had not read the legal briefs before the Supreme Court. How that keeps him from forming his own opinion on the matter is beyond me – and his refusal to answer this question appeared very weak. Indeed, he has sponsored incredibly restrictive gun legislation while in the Illinois State Senate (see here), though Gibson did not ask him about that legislation.

Obama did give an answer that could have real long-term problems for him. He stated that he had “never favored a total ban on hand-guns.” Asked about a 1996 survey filled out by his campaign that clearly stated the opposite, Obama disclaimed any knowledge of the survey in the debate, stating “No, my writing wasn't on that particular questionnaire . . .” I blogged in detail about this questionnaire here. Obama was quizzed on the questionnaire the day after his campaign submitted it. The day after that, he submitted an amended questionnaire with both the answer about a ban on hand guns unedited and with what, until yesterday, his campaign acknowledged were Obama's own handwritten comments in the margins. This is not the last we have heard of this issue, by any means.

On his association with Rev. Wright, Obama claimed that he had already fully addressed this issue and again trotted out the frankly unbelievable assertion that he never heard Rev. Wright’s racist screed throughout his entire twenty year attendance at the church. The truth is we have yet to hear a Rev. Wright sermon that is not racist. I am waiting for someone to request copies of the Rev. Wright’s sermons over the past twenty years – and to ask Obama whether he will demand Rev. Wright make them available. And Gibson did not ask Obama about his reference to “white greed” in his book Audacity of Hope – an inclusion that clearly shows Obama not only heard such vile screed over his twenty year association, but that he adopted it. Be that as it may, Clinton had the right take on this:

I think in addition to the questions about Reverend Wright and what he said and when he said it, and for whatever reason he might have said these things, there were so many different variations on the explanations that we heard.

And it is something that I think deserves further exploration because clearly, what we've got to figure out is how we're going to bring people together in a way that overcomes the anger, overcomes the divisiveness and whatever bitterness there may be out there. You know?

It is clear that, as leaders, we have a choice who we associate with and who we apparently give some kind of seal of approval to. And I think that it wasn't only the specific remarks but some of the relationships with Reverend Farrakhan, with giving the church bulletin over to the leader of Hamas, to put a message in.
You know, these are problems. And they raise questions in people's minds. And, so, this is a legitimate area, as everything is, when we run for office, for people to be exploring and trying to find answers.

And on his long association with the unrepentent terrorist bomber William Ayers, Obama had the audacity to liken Ayers to conservative Senator Tom Colburn, a man who is virulently anti-abortion but who has certainly never advocated violence against the pro-abortion crowd, let alone carried out such an act. Gateway Pundit has more on this.

Both Obama and Clinton were allowed to repeat their ‘out of Iraq now' canard to softball questioning. Both said they would ignore the advice of Petraeus and Crocker, but neither were questioned on the explicit premise articulated by Petraeus and Crocker that such a precipitous drawdown would be a disaster that would open Iraq to being dominated by Iran and reinfiltrated by al Qaeda.

On the issue of a nuclear armed Iran, when asked whether the U.S. should put Israel under its umbrella of nuclear protection, while Clinton answered forcefully, Obama danced around the answer, never answering with a clear “yes.”

Obama was asked about his plans to nearly double the capital gains tax rate. When he was told that each time the capital gains tax rate has been cut, it has brought in more revenue, Obama responded by justifying his sophmoric class warfare on the grounds of “fairness.”

Obama continues to favor affirmative action and considerations of race in college admissions to overcome “current discrimination.” I was floored by that. The group most being discriminated against in college admissions today, according to the most recent surveys, are white male gentiles. How Obama’s support for affirmative action in regards to that reality portends to unite America across the vast racial divide we hear exists from the far left and from race baiters such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton – and you can add Rev. Wright to the list – is an issue that Obama needs to explain in detail.

You can find the entire debate transcript here. This was not only a poor performance by Obama, it is likely one that will - and very much should - resurface often between now and November. The more I see of Obama, the less I trust this man's judgment to hold any elected office.