By DAVID BROOKS, writing in the NYT (!)
Back in Iowa, Barack Obama promised to be something new - an unconventional leader who would confront unpleasant truths, embrace novel policies and unify the country. If he had knocked Hillary Clinton out in New Hampshire and entered general-election mode early, this enormously thoughtful man would have become that. But he did not knock her out, and the aura around Obama has changed. Furiously courting Democratic primary voters and apparently exhausted, Obama has emerged as a more conventional politician and a more orthodox liberal.
He sprinkled his debate performance Wednesday night with the sorts of fibs, evasions and hypocrisies that are the stuff of conventional politics. He claimed falsely that his handwriting wasn't on a questionnaire about gun control. He claimed that he had never attacked Clinton for her exaggerations about the Tuzla airport, though his campaign was all over it. Obama piously condemned the practice of lifting other candidates' words out of context, but he has been doing exactly the same thing to John McCain, especially over his 100 years in Iraq comment.
Obama also made a pair of grand and cynical promises that are the sign of someone who is thinking more about campaigning than governing. He made a sweeping read-my-lips pledge never to raise taxes on anybody making less than $200,000 to $250,000 a year. That will make it impossible to address entitlement reform any time in an Obama presidency. It will also make it much harder to afford the vast array of middle-class tax breaks, health care reforms and energy policy Manhattan Projects that he promises to deliver.
Then he made an iron vow to get American troops out of Iraq within 16 months. Neither Obama nor anyone else has any clue what the conditions will be like when the next president takes office. He could have responsibly said that he aims to bring the troops home but will make a judgment at the time. Instead, he rigidly locked himself into a policy that will not be fully implemented for another three years. If Obama is elected, he will either go back on this pledge - in which case he would destroy his credibility - or he will risk genocide in the region and a viciously polarizing political war at home.
Then there are the cultural issues. Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News are taking a lot of heat for spending so much time asking about Jeremiah Wright and the "bitter" comments. But the fact is that voters want a president who basically shares their values and life experiences. Fairly or not, they look at symbols like Michael Dukakis in a tank, John Kerry's windsurfing or John Edwards's haircut as clues about shared values.
When Obama began this ride, he seemed like a transcendent figure who could understand a wide variety of life experiences. But over the past months, things have happened that make him seem more like my old neighbors in Hyde Park in Chicago. Some of us love Hyde Park for its diversity and quirkiness, as there are those who love Cambridge and Berkeley. But it is among the more academic and liberal places around. When Obama goes to a church infused with James Cone-style liberation theology, when he makes ill-informed comments about working-class voters, when he bowls a 37 for crying out loud, voters are going to wonder if he's one of them. Obama has to address those doubts, and he has done so poorly up to now.
It was inevitable that the period of "Yes We Can!" deification would come to an end. It was not inevitable that Obama would now look so vulnerable. He'll win the nomination, but in a matchup against John McCain, he is behind in Florida, Missouri and Ohio, and merely tied in must-win states like Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A generic Democrat now beats a generic Republican by 13 points, but Obama is trailing his own party. One in five Democrats say they would vote for McCain over Obama.
General election voters are different from primary voters. Among them, Obama is lagging among seniors and men. Instead of winning over white high school-educated voters who are tired of Bush and conventional politics, he does worse than previous nominees. John Judis and Ruy Teixeira have estimated a Democrat has to win 45 percent of such voters to take the White House. I've asked several of the most skillful Democratic politicians over the past few weeks, and they all think that's going to be hard.
A few months ago, Obama was riding his talents. Clinton has ground him down, and we are now facing an interesting phenomenon. Republicans have long assumed they would lose because of the economy and the sad state of their party. Now, Democrats are deeply worried their nominee will lose in November. Welcome to 2008. Everybody's miserable.
The Radicals in Barack Obama's World, LA Times Hides the Facts
According to the LAT: "Evidence linking him to the ex-leaders of the Weather Underground is thin"
The circulation losing LA Times is again trying to hid the friends and views of Barack Obama. Could this be why fewer people read this newspaper? These must be novice reporters. Left out of their story, claiming Ayres and Barack are just acquaintances is the following:
1. they live five houses apart 2. they BBQ together 3. They have served on Boards of Directors together 4. They served on panels together 5. Their children go to the same school
There is more, but you get the point. The evidence is "thin" when you refuse to print the evidence. These reporters would get an "F" in high school journalism for this press release for the Obama campaign. Obviously this is not a world class story. Even a local throw away would be embarrassed by this propaganda piece.
Just as the Times had to apologize for its piece on the the murder of a hip hopper, the Times needs to immediately apologize for this non revenue producing ad for the Obama campaign. Any wonder the Times is losing revenues, readers and credibility?
OK, So Obama's A Liar
Post below recycled from Just One Minute. See the original for links
The new politics of hope and change sure looks a lot like the old politics of smear and distort. Here we go:
John McCain's campaign is crying foul over what it characterizes as repeated distortions from Barack Obama, saying on Friday the Illinois senator is "recklessly dishonest."
The most recent dustup comes after Obama criticized McCain earlier Friday for comments the Arizona senator made in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "John McCain went on television and said that there has been quote "great progress economically over the last seven and a half years," Obama told a Pennsylvania crowd. "John McCain thinks our economy has made great progress under George W. Bush. Now, how could somebody who has been traveling across this country, somebody who came to Erie, PA, say we've made great progress?"
The McCain campaign immediately took issue with the comment, noting the Arizona senator also said he knows families are facing "tremendous economic challenges." "American families are hurting and Barack Obama is being recklessly dishonest," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said. "It is clear that Barack Obama is intentionally twisting John McCain's words completely out of context. Obama is guilty of deliberately distorting John McCain's comments for pure political gain, which is exactly what Senator Obama was complaining about just yesterday."
Let's interject a bit of reality so that the reality based side can see for themselves just what some of them are foisting on us. Here is the McCain interview in question, my excerpt:
MR. COOK: I'm going to ask you a version of the Ronald Reagan question. You think if Americans were asked, are you better off today than you were before George Bush took office more than seven years ago, what answer would they give?
SEN. MCCAIN: Certainly, in this time, we are in very challenging times. We all recognize that. Families are sitting around the kitchen table this evening and figuring out whether they're going to be able to keep their home or not. They're figuring out whether they're - why it is that suddenly and recently someone in their family or their neighbor has lost their job. There's no doubt that we are in enormous difficulties.
I think if you look at the overall record and millions of jobs have been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that there's been great progress economically over that period of time. But that's no comfort. That's no comfort to families now that are facing these tremendous economic challenges.
But let me just add, Peter, the fundamentals of America's economy are strong. We're the greatest exporter, the greatest importer, the greatest innovator, the greatest producer, still the greatest economic engine in the world. And, by the way, exports and free trade are a key element in economic recovery. But these are tough times, tough times, and nobody knows that more than American families including in small towns of Pennsylvania. They haven't lost their fundamental religious beliefs, their respect for the Constitution, their right to bear arms. They are still - keep America as a beacon of hope and freedom throughout the world.
For Obama to extract one sentence and argue that McCain is out of touch is shameless. And by way of comparison, here is McCain when asked about Jeremiah (God DAMN America) Wright:
SEN. MCCAIN: Well, in the case of Reverend Wright, I have expressed in the past that I am sure that Senator Obama does not share the extremist statements that Reverend Wright made.
And he moved on the the "cling to their guns and religion and racism" controversy, which he does think is legitmate. Obama is a liar and a punk - should make for an interesting race. The Times has more fawning coverage. THINGS TO DO: If we are allowed to extract just one sentence and claim it is the candidate's view, I bet we can have fun with Barry. Any takers?
Obama Bitter About Free Markets
"In America, we have this strong bias toward individual action. You know, we idolize the John Wayne hero who comes in to correct things with both guns blazing. But individual actions, individual dreams, are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations." - Barack Obama, Chicago Reader, Dec. 8, 1995.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was not only the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate in 2007, according to the National Journal, but if he becomes the Democratic Party's nominee, he will probably be the most liberal politician to ever to get it. Obama's past stands, including opposing the death penalty under any circumstances, believing that people should not be able to own handguns, talking about doubling the capital gains tax or opposing free trade are not the only things that get him classified as a liberal.
Nor is it just his statements that paint an elitist, snobby, liberal view of the world. For example, as most people now know, on April 6 in a fundraiser to extremely wealthy donors in San Francisco, Obama said people living in "these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest ... cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." But, while his left-wing economic views are much less well known, they show a similar pattern.
Obama also never seems to have found a market that can work without extensive government regulation. During Obama's big economic address at the very end of March, little attention was given in the American press to his deep distrust of the free market and his laundry list of failures of deregulation. From telecommunications to electricity to banking to accounting, he blamed the failures as a product of markets out of control, with not enough government regulations to rein in "an ethic of greed, corner cutting, insider dealing, things that have always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system."
According to Obama, deregulation, even under the Clinton administration, produced an "'anything goes' environment that helped foster devastating dislocations in our economy." The proper government regulation can prevent the ''chaotic, %20%20%20%20%20''chaotic" _extended="true"unforgiving" nature of capitalism.
For almost 30 years, Republican and Democratic administrations realized that mergers might create monopoly power, but that they often make it possible for firms to be run more efficiently - allowing firms to survive and grow and providing customers with lower cost products. Obama's view is that even the mergers the government did allow were largely not about making the economy better off, they were allowed because lobbyists successfully pushed through mergers that benefited firms at the expense of others. He implies that the firm's gains were even smaller than the damage inflicted on consumers.
To Obama, the mortgage market problems arise because of unscrupulous lenders forcing fraudulent loans on unsuspecting customers. But why adjustable rate mortgages are fraudulent or so difficult to understand is never really explained. Do people not really understand that if interest rates go down, their monthly payments go down? If interest rates go up, the payments go up? If interest rates go down and lenders lost money, would politicians be talking about unscrupulous borrowers instead of unscrupulous lenders?
Unfortunately, Obama thinks that he is not just running for president, but for America's chief banker. He is so much smarter than the bankers, who have their jobs and money at stake, and who he thinks have messed up the mortgage market. He never even acknowledges that government regulations might be responsible. But a solution that he claims will prevent "larger losses" to the lenders requires that lenders must voluntarily "offer workouts and reduce the principal on mortgages in trouble."
If accepting lower mortgage payments was such a clear solution, wouldn't one think that even if the companies hadn't seen this solution to begin with, you could just offer them the advice? Would it really be necessary to pass a law forcing them to do it?
Obama's faith in the government to solve problems could also be seen earlier this month in Pennsylvania. Obama was asked about whether universal government health care insurance would result in the type of rationing that can be seen in other countries, but Obama claimed that a government run system would be much less expensive than a private system. If true, it would be a first. From exploring the Arctic to providing education, government provision has consistently proven to be much more costly than private operations.
He blames the U.S. health care system for any differences in life expectancy with other countries, but fails to acknowledge that people's own behavior involving diet, exercise, use drugs and weight also affect how long people live. Nor does he acknowledge that people in countries such as Britain are much more likely to die from the same surgery as those in the U.S.
What was most disturbing was the end of his answer to the question: "I'm not advocating a government-run system, right now."
Possibly, Obama's approach for government to solve everything is what people are looking for. But it will cost them. People work harder and figure out solutions better when their own money is at stake. Hopefully, the lesson won't be too costly.
Hollywood Better Get Over Obama Quickly
Barack Obama has made no bones about it. He is going to eliminate the cap on payroll taxes to save the Social Security/Medicare programs. Those making over $97,000 a year will be hit with an additional 15.3% in payroll taxes for anything they make over $97,000.
Let's assume you are a $20 million a picture actor and you make two pictures a year. Obama is going to ask you for an additional $6,130,000 of new taxes over and above the $14,000,000 you pay at 35%. In other words he wants you to pay a 44% increase in your taxes to compensate for Congress's irresponsible use of the pay-as-you-go method of funding those programs over the years and promising more than they could afford - to be precise $45 trillion more and counting.. .
Now if you are a run-of-the-mill celebrity and only make an extra million above the $97,000 cap it is only going to cost you an extra $153,000 in new taxes over the $350,000 you pay to the IRS. Assuming you are a Hollywood liberal the price of being one has just gone up - thanks to your new liberal political idol.
The tragedy of such liberal philosophy is that raising taxes on the rich never makes the poor wealthy. Raising taxes on the rich will merely reduce the capital in the private sector used to keep the economy humming. Obama's raising the cap won't make the poor wealthy, it merely covers up the screw-ups of Congress and keeps massively inadequate retirement programs called Social Security and Medicare from being scrapped for better ones.
(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)