The Most Unbiased Article on Obama I've Ever Read
- 10-31-2008, 02:07 PM
The Most Unbiased Article on Obama I've Ever Read
National Journal Magazine - Which Obama Would America Get?
Which Obama Would America Get?
The Liberal Ideologue Could Be A Well-Meaning Failure; The Pragmatic Reformer Could Be A Great Leader.
by Stuart Taylor Jr.
Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008
When John McCain and many other Republicans ask, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" there is an implication that maybe he is somehow sinister or extremist.
I don't believe that. But I do think that there are two very different Obamas. Both are extraordinarily intelligent, serene under pressure, and driven by an admirable social conscience -- albeit as willing to deploy deception as the next politician. But while the first Obama would be a well-meaning failure, the second could become a great president.
An ultraliberal in moderate garb? The first Obama has sometimes seemed eager to engineer what he called "redistribution of wealth" in a 2001 radio interview, along with the more conventional protectionism, job preferences, and other liberal Democratic dogmas featured in his campaign. I worry that he might go beyond judiciously regulating our free enterprise system's all-too-apparent excesses and stifle it under the dead hand of government bureaucracy and lawsuits.
This redistributionist Obama has stayed in the background since he set his sights on the presidency years ago, except when he told Joe the Plumber that his tax plan would help "spread the wealth." This Obama seems largely invisible to many supporters. But he may retain some attachment to the radical-leftist sensibility in which -- as his impressive 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, explains with reflective detachment -- he was marinated as a youth and young man.
Obama spent much of his teenage years searching for his black identity. He was mentored for a time by the poet Frank Marshall Davis, a black-power activist who had once been a member of the Communist Party, and who was (according to Obama's book) "living in the same Sixties time warp" as Obama's mother, a decidedly liberal free spirit.
While the first Obama would be a well-meaning failure, the second could become a great president.
In college, lest he be "mistaken for a sellout," Obama "chose my friends carefully," according to his book: "The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets." After college, his social conscience steered him to become a community organizer and "organize black folks" in Chicago, from 1985 to 1988.
It was then that Obama met the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who as head of Trinity United Church of Christ did many good things but had a now-famous penchant for America-hating, white-bashing, conspiracy-theorizing, Farrakhan-honoring rants. A central theme of the first Wright sermon that Obama attended -- the one titled "the audacity of hope" -- was that "white folks' greed runs a world in need."
After graduating near the top of his Harvard Law School class in 1991, Obama could easily have landed a prestigious Supreme Court clerkship and gone on to a big law firm where partners make well over a $1 million a year. Instead, he followed his social conscience and political ambition back to Chicago, joining a small law firm.
Obama became more than casually acquainted with Bill Ayers, the Weather Underground bomber with whom he served on the boards of two Chicago philanthropic groups. In 1995, Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn -- the same Dohrn who in a blood-curdling 1969 speech had cited the Charles Manson gang of murderers as role models for the Weather Underground -- co-hosted a political fundraiser for Obama at their home. By then, the still-unrepentant Ayers had become a respected member of an academic establishment in which far-left views are fashionable.
I dwell on these much-debated associations not because I think that Obama sympathizes with what he has called Ayers's "detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8" or identifies with Wright's wild ravings. But I do think that Obama has understated (at best) his involvement with Wright and Ayers. And I wonder about the worldview of a man who was so comfortable with such far-left extremists and whose wife, Michelle, asserted earlier this year that America is "just downright mean" and "guided by fear" and that most Americans' lives have "gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl."
Obama's voting record as an Illinois and then U.S. senator is not extremist or radical. But it is not a bit bipartisan, either. He has hardly ever broken with his party, and he famously had the most liberal record of any senator in 2007 (although not in 2006 or 2005), according to National Journal's vote ratings.
This Obama has endorsed a long list of liberal restrictions on free enterprise that could end up hurting the people they are supposed to help, along with the rest of us: statist remedies for our broken educational system; encouraging unionization by substituting peer pressure and an undemocratic card-check process for secret ballots; raising the wages of women or lowering those of men who have dissimilar jobs that are declared by bureaucrats to be of comparable worth; renegotiating NAFTA; and more.
I wonder how far Obama wants to go down the road suggested by his lament in that 2001 radio interview that the civil-rights movement had failed to engineer "redistribution of wealth" and "economic justice." Would he be content with the moderately redistributive, Clintonesque increase in taxes on high-earning Americans that he proposes now? Or would he end up pushing for confiscatory taxes that could stifle entrepreneurship and job creation?
The best thing for the country would be for Obama to take on the interest groups and to govern from the center.
And would Obama's declared desire to appoint judges and justices driven mainly by "empathy" for "the powerless," rather than by fidelity to the law, lead to judicially invented constitutional rights to welfare, to ever-more-rigid preferences based on race and gender, and to other novel judicial overrides of democratic governance?
A pragmatic reformer? The pragmatic, consensus-building, inspirational Obama who has been on display during the general election campaign is a prodigious listener and learner. He can see all sides of every question. He seems suffused with good judgment. His social conscience has been tempered by recognition that well-intentioned liberal prescriptions can have perverse unintended consequences. His tax and health care proposals are much less radical than Republican critics suggest.
This Obama has surrounded himself not only with liberal advisers but also with mainstream moderates such as Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. He has won the support of moderate Republicans, including Colin Powell and Susan Eisenhower, and conservatives, including Kenneth Adelman and Charles Fried.
This is the Obama who said in his dazzling 2004 Democratic convention speech that "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is a United States of America." This is the Obama who distanced himself not only from Jeremiah Wright but also -- more subtly -- from the rest of the racial-grievance crowd in a March 18 speech deploring as "profoundly distorted" the view that "sees white racism as endemic."
The pragmatic Obama is smart enough to know that reforms take root only if they enjoy broad public support and that self-identified conservatives vastly outnumber self-identified liberals in America. He also understands that while we need more-effective regulation, "America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It's led to a standard of living unmatched in history." He has said that "we don't want to return to marginal tax rates of 60 or 70 percent." He wants to expand the armed forces and to send more troops to Afghanistan.
The pragmatic Obama is not just a made-for-the-campaign creation. He was elected president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990 not only because he was one of the most brilliant students but also because the handful of conservatives whose votes helped tip the balance saw him as fair-minded and open to their point of view. And they were not disappointed.
Obama has dipped his toe in the water of questioning Democratic interest-group orthodoxies. He has supported charter schools (while opposing vouchers) and merit pay for teachers; he offended trial lawyers by voting in 2005 to curb unwarranted class-action lawsuits; and last year he questioned whether affluent black children such as his daughters should continue to get racial preferences over more needy whites and Asians.
To be sure, apart from these less-than-bold gestures, Obama's down-the-line liberal voting record does not give a centrist like me much basis for hope that he would resist pressure from Democratic interest groups, ideologues, and congressional leaders to steer hard to the left.
But I do hope that if Obama wins, the enormity of the economic and international crises facing him will accelerate his intellectual evolution and convince him that simply replacing dumb Bush policies with dumb Democratic policies will only drive the country deeper into the ditch. The best thing for the country would be to take on the interest groups and govern from the center. That would also be the best way for Obama to win re-election and have a truly historic presidency.
- 10-31-2008, 10:21 PM
Excellent find, Rob: props for sharing it!
I could quibble w/ this or that - the over-playing of 'radical roots' for ex - but I'll just say thanks.
10-31-2008, 11:16 PM
I feel like he does a very good job of explaining the opposing points of view of one of the simultaneously loved and hated men in our country. I for one had a difficulty understanding his appeal until I read this article.
11-01-2008, 01:53 PM
I find it even harder to understand his popularity honestly..... I mean seriously, with the polling data (correctly or incorrectly) skewed by +6-7% democrat to begin with, I don't quite see that he has that much popularity, and don't think he should. All the evidence prior to 2006 points to him as the sort of person that would be inconceivable running our government yet he has SPOKEN (not acted) centrist since he began campaigning. And yes out of fairness mccain has gone the other way, the vast history of his as a centrist to heading away from that over the last 4 years.
11-01-2008, 02:06 PM
It would make it moderate vs liberal, instead of conservative vs liberal. Yes your base might not like is as much, but I have a feeling your base is voting against Obama anyways.
11-01-2008, 03:23 PM
11-01-2008, 04:11 PM
11-01-2008, 09:02 PM
Vote Obama and watch him pull out the troops from Iraq when victory is almost at hand; and dishonor the good men and women that've died there. Not only Americans but allied nations' soldiers like Canadians that Americans left their ****ing mess in Afghanistan to. What happens when America pulls out of Iraq? Leave it to Canada again to police? Goddamnit.
All their deaths will mean nothing. Vote for McCain and ****ing FINISH THE DAMN JOB.
11-01-2008, 09:07 PM
I agree, I never liked Palin but thought it was a bad pick from the beginning. Now had it been a moderate or slightly right of center (Romney) the Obama campaign would be trailing right now IMO. Palin has been an anchor on the campaign in the long haul and is seen as too extreme and inexperienced, hell Eagleburger (sp) a supporter of McCain, says she is not qualified. They could have painted Obama with that brush had he made a better choice
11-01-2008, 09:10 PM
11-01-2008, 09:10 PM
11-01-2008, 09:12 PM
I think the Palin pick is a big deal based on McCain's age and recent health issues (4 battles with cancer one in 2/08)
11-01-2008, 09:15 PM
11-01-2008, 09:18 PM
11-02-2008, 01:28 PM
11-08-2008, 06:31 PM
11-08-2008, 06:37 PM
11-08-2008, 07:01 PM
are they dying for nothing, i sure hope not. i believe they are fighting for the man or woman next to them, not the men and women on capitol hill.
11-08-2008, 07:26 PM
DefenseLink News Article: Munitions Found in Iraq Meet WMD Criteria, Official Says
There's your WMDs. They found quite a few of them.
The Buyout- Your opinions
This thread also has DAdams validating this as an eyewitness in country at the time.
As for the "thousands of civilians". Some civilians will die in any military conflict. The press has been dishonest with how they report these numbers, holding the US accountable for every death that has happened there since 2004. Its ignorant to hold the US accountable for Al Queda killing a civilian.
In addition, contrast that number to the number of death caused by Saddam. This article credits Saddam with 2 million deaths, including the use of lethal gas on his own people.
Saddam Hussein killer file
Nobody fights for a politician. However, our Soldiers have been extremely successful in implementing a long term strategic goals since the surge began. The Iraqi Army and Police Forces have become self sufficient over much of Iraq, and the country has become peaceful once again.are they dying for nothing, i sure hope not. i believe they are fighting for the man or woman next to them, not the men and women on capitol hill
11-08-2008, 08:16 PM
and that buyout thread was ridiculous. dood sounded like a tool. but i do agree with one of the posts. why not north korea, saudia arabia, iran?
and regardless of media and news being "dishonest". thousands have died probably not because soldiers are just killing people for fun. i know thats not the case. however, bombs are not bullets. bombs destroy other things than the target, such as surrounding houses, schools, etc.
so are those deaths part of our freedom? i cant argue the genocide that took place under saddam. that would be wrong, and a straight up lie. i dont need to read an article to know that. but again, why save iraq? what about genocides happening in africa? conflicts in india and pakistan?
i honestly view the war as part of a personal agenda. as richard clarke said in his book, after 9/11 bush came to him and asked, "what do we have on iraq?". to me, that does not sound like concern for protecting americas freedoms.
11-08-2008, 08:31 PM
We wouldn't fight Saudi because theres no reason. North Korea would be somewhat tempting, but in my eyes doesn't help the US strategically, as we already have a strong presence in South Korea. Iran is not a country that is feasible for invasion. The terrain is horrible. Its like afghanistan with a real army.and that buyout thread was ridiculous. dood sounded like a tool. but i do agree with one of the posts. why not north korea, saudia arabia, iran?
If that stuff happened it was during the initial invasion. I haven't heard or read any stories about such collateral damage. Americans are not running around bombing schools.and regardless of media and news being "dishonest". thousands have died probably not because soldiers are just killing people for fun. i know thats not the case. however, bombs are not bullets. bombs destroy other things than the target, such as surrounding houses, schools, etc.
I don't have an answer about the whys. The bottom line is we're there for whatever reason. We have to build our plan from that reality. Given a couple more years, we'll be leaving Iraq a better place with more liberties and freedoms for the citizens. Thats a good thing.so are those deaths part of our freedom? i cant argue the genocide that took place under saddam. that would be wrong, and a straight up lie. i dont need to read an article to know that. but again, why save iraq? what about genocides happening in africa? conflicts in india and pakatistan?
Again, I'm not justifying us going in there, but we have to move forward from the reality that we ARE there and make our decisions accordingly.i honestly view the war as part of a personal agenda. as richard clarke said in his book, after 9/11 bush came to him and asked, "what do we have on iraq?". to me, that does not sound like concern for protecting americas freedoms.
11-08-2008, 08:33 PM
And Sadam was the only douchebag in that area that we could attack without having to worry about any reprecussions from any of the other middle eastern nations, as they hated him too.
Recall that he had blown off UN mandates for 10 years. Exactly how long is long enough for the UN to actually do anything about it? An infinite time, as Russia + China have veto power on the security council, so force is never authorized for anything
11-08-2008, 10:34 PM
11-09-2008, 07:47 AM
11-09-2008, 02:11 PM
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