Saturday, June 28, 2008

How would Bambi handle another 9/11?

Charlie Black is getting rapped on the knuckles for this comment:
As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.

Of course. There's no reason to think that after a terrorist attack, Americans would prefer the leadership of a war veteran who's spent his entire career dealing with national security issues. There's every chance that with Americans dead and more attacks possible, they would turn to the former community organizer who, when asked about his military response to terrorist attacks, gives a lengthy answer listing every action except the military response:
Williams then turned to Sen. Barack Obama, second in the polls but gaining fast on the frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "If, God forbid, a thousand times, while we were gathered here tonight, we learned that two American cities had been hit simultaneously by terrorists," Williams said, "and we further learned beyond the shadow of a doubt it had been the work of al Qaeda, how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas as a result?"

The question was specifically focused on a military response, but Obama didn't talk about the military, or any use of force at all. "Well, first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans," Obama said. "And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack."

"The second thing," Obama continued, "is to make sure that we've got good intelligence, A, to find out that we don't have other threats and attacks potentially out there; and B, to find out do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network."

The reference to "some action" might be interpreted as an endorsement of the use of force, but in the rest of his response, Obama softened even that notion. "But what we can't do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast," he said. "Instead, the next thing we would have to do, in addition to talking to the American people, is making sure that we are talking to the international community. Because as has already been stated, we're not going to defeat terrorists on our own. We've got to strengthen our intelligence relationships with them, and they've got to feel a stake in our security by recognizing that we have mutual security interests at stake."

That was it. Obama's answer to a question of how, as commander-in-chief, he would change America's "military stance" in response to an attack by al Qaeda did not involve using the military.

Williams' question deserved a brief answer: "We find the perpetrators and kill them." Or, alternatively, "unleash hell." Or some variation of that.

No, of course, Black is wrong. The American people would eagerly want the guy whose foreign policy advisers contend that Osama bin Laden, if captured, should be allowed to appeal his case to U.S. civilian courts.

They'd love to have a commander in chief who erroneously claims that all of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing have been brought to justice, and who praises the pre-9/11 approach to al-Qaeda terrorism, ignoring the fact that the attacks kept getting larger.


It's All About Obama

(Self-centredness is very characteristic of psychopaths)


Many candidates have measured the Oval Office drapes prematurely. But Barack Obama is the first to redesign the presidential seal before the election. His seal featured an eagle emblazoned with his logo, and included a Latin version of his campaign slogan. This was an attempt by Sen. Obama to make himself appear more presidential. But most people saw in the seal something else - chutzpah - and he's stopped using it. Such arrogance - even self-centeredness - have featured often in the Obama campaign.

Consider his treatment of Jeremiah Wright. After Rev. Wright repeated his anti-American slurs at the National Press Club, Mr. Obama said their relationship was forever changed - but not because of what he'd said about America. Instead, Mr. Obama complained, "I don't think he showed much concern for me."

Translation: Rev. Wright is an impediment to my ambitions. So, as it turns out, are some of Mr. Obama's previous pledges. For example, Mr. Obama has said he "strongly supported public financing" and pledged to take federal funds for the fall, thereby limiting his spending to roughly $84 million. Now convinced he can raise more than $84 million, he reversed course last week, ditching the federal money and its limits. But by discarding his earlier pledge so easily, he raises doubts about whether his word can be trusted.

Last month he replied "anywhere, anytime" to John McCain's invitation to have joint town hall appearances. Last week he changed his mind. Fearing 10 impromptu town halls, Mr. Obama parried the invitation by offering two such events - one the night of July 4, when every ambulatory American is watching fireworks or munching hotdogs, and another in August. His spokesman then said, "Take it or leave it." So much for "anywhere, anytime."

My former White House colleague Yuval Levin pointed out that Mr. Obama, in his first national TV ad rolled out Friday, claims credit for having "extended health care for wounded troops," citing the 2008 defense authorization. That bill passed 91-3 - but Mr. Obama was one of only six senators who didn't show up to vote. This brazen claim underscores the candidate's thin resume and, again, his chutzpah.

Mr. Obama has now also played the race card, twice suggesting in recent weeks that Republicans will draw attention to the fact that he's black. Who is unaware of that? Americans overwhelmingly find it a hopeful, optimistic sign that the country could elect an African-American president. But they rightly want to know what kind of leader he might be. They may well reject as cynical any maneuver to discourage close examination of him by suggesting any criticism is racially motivated.

The candidate's self-centeredness has been on display before. Having effectively sewed up the Democratic nomination, he could have agreed to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations (states Hillary Clinton had carried). While reducing his lead by 50 to 55 delegates, it would not have altered the outcome. But Mr. Obama supported cutting these battleground-state delegations in half. At a time when magnanimity was called for, the candidate decided he'd strut.

Mr. Obama's alpha-male attitude was evident even as he stumbled towards and over the primary finish line. First, his campaign announced in May it was talking to Patti Solis Doyle after Sen. Clinton fired her as campaign manager. This served only to pour salt in the Clintons' wounds.

Then, after the primaries ended June 3, Mr. Obama's campaign leaked word that Leon Panetta (a Clinton supporter who'd apparently angered the Clintons by persistent criticism of their performance) and Ms. Doyle would conduct its outreach to the Clinton camp. Ms. Doyle was named chief of staff to the as-yet-to-be-chosen vice presidential running mate. All this was pointless, but reveals a disposition certain to manifest itself in other ways.

Mr. McCain will be helped if he uses Mr. Obama's actions to paint his opponent as someone driven by an all-powerful instinct to look out only for himself. In a contest over who is willing to put principle above personal ambition and self-interest, John McCain, a war hero and a former POW, wins hands down. That may not be the most important issue to voters in electing a president, but it's something they will rightly take into account.


Obama's lack of ordinary modesty

In his victory speech over Hillary, Barack Obama soared rhetorically about his feelings of humility. And yet he hardly sounded humble:
generations from now,

we will be able to look back

and tell our children

(with mounting excitement)

that this was the moment

when we began to provide care for the sick,

and good jobs for the jobless.

This was the moment

when the riiiiise of the oceans began to slow,

and our planet began to heal.

Now politicians are allowed some rhetorical overkill, but this is straight into Star Wars territory. There are no real precedents for this in traditional American speechifying, and that is saying something. Obama tells his hypnotized followers that we have not been caring for the sick (false); that we have no good jobs for the jobless (false); that the rise of the oceans (which doesn't exist) will begin to slow (false); and that our planet (which is feeling just fine, thanks) will finally begin to heal. (Also false).

So this is pure drivel from the deep regions of fantasyland. But Obama's brain dead followers are marching right in lockstep. They are a million Weekend at Bernie's, with millions of flatlining Obamanites being propped up to look as if they were alive and conscious. It's the Million Man March of the brain dead. This election will pit the mind-numbed robots against sensible voters. Who is the majority? That's not clear at all at this point.

Obama deliberately plays to the lowbrow crowd; after all, half the population has an IQ of less than 100. This hardly shows Obama's modesty and humility of which he boasts in his first sentence. It is wild-eyed I Can Save the Planet grandiosity. This appears to be the real Obama; a Napoleonic Man of Destiny, with the zeal and certainty of a True Believer.

Obama's more-than-human sense of destiny may become a problem for him in the general election against down-to-earth John McCain. His vision of himself as a true revolutionary ready to save America and the world poses great risks to the Democrats, who may not be able to hide their hard-Left associations any more.

Worst of all, Obama's lack of humility may pose a danger to the United States if he should win. Otherworldly grandiosity and a sense of superhuman destiny do not make for sober judgment in a president. Any smart opponent -- Ahmadi-Nejad or Putin -- would simply play to Obama's blatant narcissism and screw the United States, but good.

Fourteen years ago Hillary Clinton closeted herself with a few allies like Ira Magaziner to redesign one-seventh of the three-trillion-dollar American economy. The health care sector is inconceivably complex, just like the climate (which only a delusional zealot like Al Gore claims to understand). No health care economist truly understands that much of the economy to the point of being able to predict supply, demand and prices for the huge range of medical products and services. Anybody who could do that could become a billionaire. Nobody has done it. It's way too complicated.

What we do know is that the health care sector works pretty well, churning out just about the best medical treatments in human history to the largest number of human beings who have ever received such care. It's the goose that lays the golden egg -- but a goose so complicated that no biologist would dare try to build a better one. And yet, Hillary Rodham Clinton never doubted for a moment that she could fashion a better health care system from the top. That is arrogance beyond the ordinary, arrogance to the point of mad grandiosity. It is not a rational state of mind.

That is Obama's brand of arrogance as well -- except that according to Michelle Obama, Barack intends to redesign no less than America as a whole, to "restore our souls." That sort of more-than-human belief in one's own higher power drove Lenin and the Soviet Politburo to create a command economy that had Russian peasants starving for decades. Over seventy years of Communist power the Soviet economy never lived up to its promises. Nearly every year the harvest fell short again, and the Politburo would come up with new excuses, new grand promises for the next Five Year Plan. That looks like the mind-set of candidate Obama.

But in addition to Obama's fanatical belief in his quasi-religion of the Left, he has a sizable chunk of personal narcissism as well. It is visible in his physical stance when he accepts the plaudits of the masses. You and I might be embarrassed by that kind of adulation. Obama bathes in it as a well-deserved tribute. His grand narcissism appears whenever he changes his mind on life-and-death questions like Iranian nukes. One day Iran is a "tiny country" (it's not) and the next day Obama claims to have a fully thought-out policy to solve the knottiest foreign policy dilemma since Jimmy Carter blundered us into it. Yes, well, maybe the mullahs could turn out be a problem after all, says Obama.

Who knows what he really believes? Well, we know what his Imperial Guard believes, and they are downright appeasers to the last man and woman. Obama has the most hard-core Leftist group of advisors, ready to take power by January 2009 and steeer the ship of state straight on the rocks.

Now Obama is a very bright man, but he way overestimates his own capacities. There are limits to human intelligence. Jimmy Carter famously tried to micromanage everything down to the tennis court schedule at the White House. Carter was also possessed of that more-than-human sense that he, of all people, knew all the answers. So did Bill Clinton. Both of them were historic failures in the most basic duty of the presidency, the duty to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

For Obama it may be partly his childhood mentoring by Frank Marshall Davis, a hard-core Stalinist, plus his Harvard elitism, and his Clintonesque cynicism in using slippery words. But a lot of it looks like Pure Obama Arrogance -- something in his character that he's possessed for a long, long time. After all, this is a man who published not just one but two autobiographies before the age of 45. They are sort of proto-biographies, saying, "Here I am, a Man of Destiny, and here is the revolutionary future I bring to all of you."

As Victor Davis Hanson pointed out, Obama spent the first eighteen years of his life outside of the continental United States. He doesn't know this country very well at all. (Hawaii is another-worldly place to grow up in, as is Indonesia, compared to Indiana or Georgia.) Then he entered the unreal Ivory Tower of American colleges, followed by twenty years of weekly indoctrination lectures by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his buds in the Black Liberation Theology political ideology. That's Obama's life to date. Obama's total experience at the national level of American politics comes down to two-plus years in the US Senate, most of which was spent campaigning for president.

So what Barack Obama thinks he knows about the United States comes from reading books and newspapers, and from his carefully chosen friends on the Left, including Jeremiah Wright and old-style Communist Frank Marshall Davis. Obama's immense arrogance comes paired with equally great ignorance. He does not know, nor does he respect the basic rhythms and intuitions of American life.

Now this is very weird indeed for a man running for President of these United States. There are no precedents in American history of a serious candidate for the presidency who just doesn't have much experience of everyday America.

Narcissism is defined in psychiatry as an overweening sense of grandiosity, a sense of entitlement to whatever one desires, and a dehumanizing way of manipulating other people as objects. A lot of presidential candidates have that to some degree; the Clintons are the original poster kids of narcissism. But most candidates in American politics go through a long process of getting beaten up by reality, which helps to modify their outsized egos. Obama has never done that.

Indeed, Obama has done nothing in his life that indicates any ability to deal with reality in the raw. He has never had a job that deals with reality -- farming, business, engineering, science. He is simply Hollywood come to earth. Psychologically, Obama is ET, the Extra-Terrestrial -- he is from another place, a place in the otherworldly imagination of the Left.

Obama's narcissism combined with his fundamental ignorance spells danger for the country. If he does become president -- which looks like at least a 50-50 proposition right now -- he will be the most dangerous occupant in that office ever. He doesn't know where the steering wheel and the brakes are located; but he knows where he wants to go in his fertile imagination. A more dangerous driver of the American ship of state is hard to imagine.

Like Jimmy Carter, Obama will take a significant chunk of American safety and security with him. Obama is a talented actor on the national stage, but he will need a lot more seasoning before we can feel safe having him in the most powerful office in the land.


Obama's Oil Idiocy

Why does it seem like the Democrats are doing everything in their power to actually prolong the energy crisis? Not content with hamstringing US oil exploration, they are against Iraq handing out contracts: "Senators seek to stop Iraq oil deals". Mustn't let ANYONE provide more oil! Not us, not Iraq. I'm surprised they haven' t leaned on OPEC to cut production. Ben explains:
Note the Dems are a day late and a dollar short, as usual: Total, a FRENCH corporation, just scored a deal with Iraq.

Obama's ignorance is astounding. Try applying his "We can't drill our way out of an oil shortage!" logic to any other commodity, and you get:

"More construction of new homes will NOT reduce the housing shortage!" and

"Increased farming will not ease the food shortage!"

Nothing ever misspoke by Bush has ever been so utterly stupid. It is one thing to fumble the words while processing a coherent thought. Obama is a guy who will clearly and plainly speak words of absolute idiocy.


Monsieur Obama's Tax Rates

Celebrity chef Alain Ducasse insists that his change of citizenship this week from high-tax France to no-income-tax Monaco wasn't a financial decision but an "affair of the heart." Right. But even if he's being sincere, plenty of other Frenchmen have moved abroad to escape their country's confiscatory taxes. Americans should be so lucky: Theirs is the only industrialized country that taxes its people even if they live overseas. That hasn't been a big problem as long as U.S. tax rates have been relatively low. But with Barack Obama promising to lift rates to French-like levels, this taxman-cometh policy could turn Americans into the world's foremost fiscal prisoners.

And make no mistake, taxes under a President Obama could be truly a la francaise. The top marginal tax rate, including federal, state and local levies, could approach 60% for self-employed New Yorkers and Californians. Not even France's taxes are that high now that President Nicolas Sarkozy has capped the total that high-earning Frenchmen like Mr. Ducasse can pay in income, social and wealth taxes at 50% of earnings.

Mr. Sarkozy set this "fiscal shield" because he knows that tax rates affect behavior. When he visited London this year, he observed that the British capital is now home to so many French bankers and other professionals seeking tax relief that it's the seventh-largest French city. Those expatriates choose not to use their creativity and investment capital to benefit France and its economy.

Senator Obama's plans to raise income, Social Security and capital-gains taxes amount to a belief that people don't react to punitive tax rates. If so, he needn't worry about people leaving the country and could let them pay taxes in whichever part of the globe they choose to live in. Once Americans are paying French-style tax rates, they ought to have the same freedom to move as Alain Ducasse.


Getting to Know Obama

We are barely at the beginning of the long period in which most Americans will give their first serious scrutiny to the presidential candidates and decide whether Barack Obama or John McCain will get their vote. Americans have many questions about both men. In the Post-ABC News poll last week, only half of those interviewed said they felt they knew an adequate amount about the candidates' stands on specific issues. Voters split evenly on who would be the stronger leader, and they showed great uncertainty about which, if either, would be a safe choice for the White House.

Obama leads on domestic, economic and social issues, but McCain is a strong favorite on national security and terrorism. The former POW's personal appeal looms as the strongest barrier to the Democratic victory indicated by the towering majorities that disapprove of President Bush (68 percent) and that fear the country is headed seriously on the wrong track (84 percent).

Despite those fundamental weaknesses in the Republican position, McCain trails Obama in that same poll by only six points, hardly an impossible margin to overcome. What may be crucial in the end is whether people become comfortable with the prospect of Obama as their president.

McCain benefits from a long-established reputation as a man who says what he believes. His shifts in position that have occurred in this campaign seem not to have damaged that aura. Obama is much newer to most voters, less familiar and more dependent on the impressions he is only now creating.

That is why a pair of strategy decisions made in the past two weeks could prove troublesome for him. The first was Obama's turning down McCain's invitation to join him in a series of town hall meetings where they would appear together and answer questions from real voters -- without a formal agenda, press panel or professional interviewers.

Obama's manager initially called the idea "appealing," but nine days later, when David Plouffe got around to responding, he countered with something quite different from the 10 informal discussions McCain proposed holding before the late-summer nominating conventions. Plouffe said that in addition to the three traditional debates under official sponsorship later in the fall, there could be only two others -- one on economics on July 4 and another on foreign policy in August.

The McCain side said that few Americans would sacrifice their Independence Day holiday to watch a debate and reiterated its offer to meet Obama anywhere he wanted on any of the next 10 Thursdays.

At a news briefing last week, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs characterized that as a "take it or leave it" stance by the Republicans and suggested that discussions were finished.

At the same briefing, Gibbs and campaign counsel Bob Bauer defended Obama's decision to become the first presidential candidate since the Watergate reforms to decline public financing of his general election campaign.

Gibbs and Bauer in effect blamed McCain, saying repeatedly that he was "gaming the system" by pledging to accept public funds while saying he could not "referee" spending by outside independent groups if it occurred. In fact, McCain had been far more vocal in denouncing such groups on the GOP side than Obama was in criticizing their counterparts playing Democratic presidential politics -- even though Obama has claimed the mantle of campaign finance reformer that McCain has long enjoyed.

Obama supporters note that town halls are McCain's favorite campaign settings, so it's no surprise he prefers them to formal speeches, where Obama excels. They point out that public financing helps McCain, who has lagged all year in his private fundraising, while it would inhibit Obama, who has tapped into a rich vein of small contributors using the Internet.

But it's also the case that the multiple joint town meetings McCain proposed would be a real service to the public and that suspending the dollar chase for the duration of the campaign, as McCain but not Obama will do, would be a major step toward establishing the credibility of the election process.

By refusing to join McCain in these initiatives in order to protect his own interests, Obama raises an important question: Has he built sufficient trust so that his motives will be accepted by the voters who are only now starting to figure out what makes him tick?



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