Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Obama not compromising

White House hopeful Barack Obama has angrily rejected any talk of standing as vice-president on a "dream ticket" with Hillary Clinton, and accused his rival of trying to fool voters. "I've won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton. So I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice-president to the person in first place," he said.

Talk of such a Clinton-Obama "dream ticket" intensified over the weekend as Clinton supporters promoted the idea as a way to resolve a tight race which risks going down the wire to the party's nominating convention in August. Speaking on Saturday, former president Bill Clinton argued that a presidential ticket headed by his wife, with Obama in the number two slot, would be an "almost unstoppable force".

But Obama ridiculed the suggestion and warned cheering supporters "they are trying to hoodwink you" as he campaigned in Columbus, Mississippi, ahead of Tuesday's nominating contests.

Clinton has repeatedly sought to undermine Obama's bid by casting doubt on his credentials to be the commander-in-chief. And she stepped up the attacks recently with an ad suggesting he would not be able to handle a dead-of-the-night crisis. "They have been spending the last two, three weeks, you remember, with that advertisement with the phone call ... getting the generals to say, well, we're not sure he's ready. I'm ready on day one, he may not be ready yet," Obama told supporters. "But I don't understand. If I'm not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president? Do you understand that?"

With eight weeks of primaries already completed, Obama leads the all-important delegate count by a narrow margin. Pollsters said he had 1,588 delegates to 1,468 to Clinton. A total of 2025 are needed to win the party's nomination to stand in the November polls, and the party's 795 delegates are certain to play a deciding role in who is eventually crowned the nominee.

"I want everybody to be absolutely clear," Obama told the Columbus rally. "I'm not running for vice president. I'm running for president of the United States of America. I'm running to be commander in chief."


Why the Obamas don't advertise their standard of living

Mrs Obama is a rich bitch whom nothing could satisfy

Campaigning for her husband in Zanesville before the Ohio primary, Michelle Obama described to a group of women how hard it had been for her and Barack to make ends meet: "We spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we're spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements. And summer programs...Do you know what summer camp costs?"

The burden was especially heavy because she and Barack had to repay the student loans for college and law school at Princeton and Harvard: "The salaries don't keep up with the cost of paying off the debt, so you're in your 40s, still paying off your debt at a time when you have to save for your kids," Michelle Obama said.

Actually, Michelle's salary has kept up pretty well. The University of Chicago Hospital, where she is vice president for community affairs, bumped her pay from $121,910 in 2004 to $316,962 after her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate that year. National Review's Byron York, who covered her remarks at the Zanesville Day Nursery, noted that her new salary is roughly ten times the median household income in Muskingham County.

The Obamas also have Barack's salary as a U.S. Senator ($169,300), royalties from his two best selling books, and an undisclosed amount of income from her service on six corporate boards. But this hasn't brightened Michelle's outlook: "We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day," Michelle had said at a black church in South Carolina in January. "Folks are just jammed up, and it's gotten worse over my lifetime... The life that I'm talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl."

Mrs. Obama was counting her husband and herself among the folks who are just jammed up, reported Lauren Collins of the New Yorker, who was at the Pee Dee Union Baptist Church in Cheraw when Michelle spoke there. "You're looking at a young couple that's just a few years out of debt," Mrs. Obama said. "See, because we went to these good schools, and we didn't have trust funds." It is, apparently, America's fault that the Obamas didn't have trust funds, and unfair that they had to repay their student loans. We're a country that is "just downright mean," Mrs. Obama said.

It is true that some people in America are having trouble making ends meet. Some people in America always are having trouble making ends meet. But what Michelle Obama said is astounding. She was born in 1964. At the time, segregation was still legal. Governors in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi stood in schoolhouse doors to prevent blacks from attending college.

"The per capita income of African-Americans has risen sixteen-fold over the last 40 years," noted John Podhoretz of Commentary. "Black home ownership has risen tenfold. The black poverty rate has declined from 75 percent to 25 percent." But this is, I suppose, meaningless if you think piano lessons and summer camp are among the things government should guarantee everyone. Whatever gratitude Michelle Obama has for the opportunities America has provided her are overwhelmed by her resentment that some others have more than she does.

Husbands and wives often have different political views, so we should not assume Barack shares the chip on Michelle's shoulder. But "Spengler," the erudite cynic who writes for the Asia Times, thinks the women in his life are a clue to the inner Barack. His mother, Ann Dunham, was a communist sympathizer, he noted. A childhood mentor who Barack praised in his autobiography was Frank Marshall Davis, a prominent member of the Communist Party USA. "Radical anti-Americanism, rather than Islam, was the reigning faith in the Dunham household," Spengler said.

"Barack Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother's milk, but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career," Spengler said. "He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and fears while remaining at an emotional distance. That is, he is the political equivalent of a sociopath."

Spengler's is a minority view. But if he's right, we shouldn't wonder why Barack won't wear an American flag pin in his lapel.


Obama and the Pet Rock

In fall 1975 I remember sitting in the Stanford student lounge watching two apparently educated and bright students compare their pet rocks, as the craze spread all over Silicon Valley and then went national. By summer few would admit they had purchased one. Never underestimate the ability of mass wired consumer society to go hysterical.

Something like that happened with the Obama campaign in mid-February, as he became the new generation's pet rock. No one knew what he had done; no one knew what he would do; no one cared whether they knew; all only wanted to be a part of it. It was a sort of self-described "movement" to "change the world," that offered absolution for all sorts of sins, real and imagined, of commission and omission, an atonement for past and present, here and abroad.

And now, as some people wake up from their pet rock purchase, they are seeing they've de facto nominated someone rated about the Senate's most liberal senator based on three years of experience there. The Democrats have boxed them into a situation of running a candidate that has out-sourced all negative attacks to the New York Times, political junkies and columnists, in order to remain above the fray and loyal to the "new" politics of change and hope.

Iraq is quieting not flaring up, even as the Obama rhetoric about it as the "worst" something or other stays fossilized-and his advisors turn to his NAFTA-like two-step of leaking that you really don't quite mean the flight that you've promised on the stump.

Democrats will have to run against a Republican moderate in states like California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas that their candidate lost in the primary, after a nasty fight in which Sen. Clinton finished as the surger. Already commentators on television- long biased in favor of Obama and apparently without embarrassment or recognition of how they sound-explain that Obama will win this or that state because it has a caucus instead of direct voting or has a large African-American electorate-and therefore in contrast he will probably lose a key state like Pennsylvania since it doesn't. And this is passed off apparently as praise of his strength than criticism of his eroding support.

If Hillary twists arms to overturn the Byzantine nominating process, Obama could hardly serve as her VP since he could imagine the sorts of humiliations in store as payback for his upstart campaign. In turn she would suspect that his inexperience would lead to a Carter-like presidency, and therefore would not wish to replay a Mondale in 2012 or 2016.

Sober Democrats are starting to worry, caught between the pet rock of the Obama fad and the hard place of giving the nomination in back-room fashion to Clinton, Inc.- the masters of the much denounced back room.


Has Barack Obama Jumped the Shark?

After a terrible week punctuated by demoralizing defeats in Texas and Ohio, is it possible that Senator Barack Obama, until recently the darling of the fawning mainstream media and leftist elite, has “jumped the shark?”

For those unfamiliar with the term, “jump the shark” is a pop-culture phrase referring to the point at which a television show, popular figure or other cultural phenomenon passes its peak and begins its decline into mediocrity and staleness. The term specifically derives from an episode of the 1970s television series Happy Days, in which Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli ridiculously dons a swimsuit and jumps a shark tank on water skis. It marked the point at which the previously-acclaimed 1950s nostalgia series descended into pathetic absurdity in pursuit of easy ratings. Since that time, the phrase has come to symbolize the pivotal moment at which a popular entity declines in quality or appeal, and loses its previous charm. In other words, jumping the shark constitutes the beginning of the end. Think Howard Dean’s “I Have a Scream” moment, Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards, Elvis after his return from the Army or New Coke.

The first sign of trouble for Senator Obama came during his January 5, 2008 debate with Senator Clinton, when Obama sarcastically and dismissively replied, “you’re likeable enough, Hillary” after Senator Clinton labeled him “very likeable.” Some observers labeled it a “cringe moment,” and it may have cost Senator Obama the New Hampshire primary. This week, however, a potential avalanche has germinated over Senator Obama in the form of “NAFTA-gate” and the Tony Rezko felony trial in Chicago.

Regarding NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, Senator Obama may have been exposed as precisely the type of double-talking, calculating politician that he claims to transcend. Canada’s CTV network reports that Austan Goolsbee, Senator Obama’s chief economic advisor, told Canadian officials that Obama’s anti-NAFTA invective was mere campaign rhetoric aimed toward Ohio union voters. According to Mr. Goolsbee’s own admission, he assured these officials that Senator Obama recognizes the benefits of free trade. One would never know that from Senator Obama’s public pronouncements, of course. In contrast to the private assurances to Canadian officials, Senator Obama has incorrectly blamed NAFTA for exporting American jobs, and he ridiculously asserted that it “forced parents to compete with teenagers for minimum wage jobs at Wal-Mart.”

The reality, of course, is quite different. Since NAFTA took effect on January 1, 1994, America has experienced unprecedented levels of prosperity and employment growth. Furthermore, a whopping 55% of Ohio’s exports go to Canada and Mexico, our NAFTA partners, compared with 35% for the United States as a whole. Finally, the primary magnets for Ohio’s job losses have actually been lower-tax and non-union Sun Belt states, not Canada or Mexico. Regardless, exposure of this diplomatic flub has embarrassed Senator Obama, and jeopardized his self-professed “post-partisan” image.

The Tony Rezko trial may be even worse news for Senator Obama and his superficial stardom. Although Senator Obama is not accused of illegal activity related to this case, it is a huge embarrassment to him. Obama’s personal relationship with Mr. Rezko, a longtime Illinois political player, spans two decades, and Mr. Rezko has given tens of thousands of dollars to Obama’s various campaigns during that period. In 2005, after Obama had been elected Senator and received campaign funds for that race from Mr. Rezko, the two bought adjacent Chicago properties while Mr. Rezko was known to be facing federal investigation. Even Senator Obama acknowledges that the real estate deal created an appearance of impropriety, and labeled it “boneheaded.”

This week, Mr. Rezko’s felony trial on charges of extortion and wire fraud commenced, and observers are monitoring the matter closely for what it reveals about Senator Obama’s own judgment. According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Rezko sought millions of dollars from investment firms seeking to conduct business with Illinois state agencies, as well as a $1 million kickback while sitting on a hospital facilities governing board. Additionally, prosecutors contend that Mr. Rezko obtained millions of dollars in non-existent business sales to straw purchasers. “Boneheaded,” indeed. Voters are left to ask themselves whether they can afford for Senator Obama to acquire on-the-job training in the White House while he navigates other “boneheaded” errors.

During a press conference before a press corps that suddenly stopped fawning over him, Senator Obama irately fled the podium and protested that he “already answered, like, eight questions” about the relationship. Is this a foreshadowing of things to come? These flubs follow incidents in which Senator Obama dismissively declined to wear an American flag lapel pin, and his wife asserted that she is only now proud to be an American. Combined, might this period of pitfalls constitute the stretch in which Senator Obama jumped the shark? We’ll soon find out.



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