By Bruce Walker
Barack Obama is just another politician. That is the increasingly obvious fact of the presidential campaign. He runs to the center to win the election. He breaks his campaign pledge on public financing when it helps him. Obama plans an open air speech in Denver; how is the substance of that speech going to be different than an indoor speech? Everything is for image. Everything is for style. Everything is for political gain.
Barack Obama has never been President, but he plays one on TV. The TV newsies find this utterly world-shaking, which is why the three major networks are sending their prime-time anchors along with the President of the World, Senator Barack Obama. John McCain took four foreign trips in the past year, and nobody even noticed.
“… for all the adoring throngs that are likely to greet the Democratic contender and the eight foreign leaders he will meet, the trip is aimed at voters back home, where Mr Obama’s youth and inexperience have raised significant doubts that he has the gravitas, grit and sure-footedness to be their next commander-in-chief.
“The 12,000-mile whirlwind tour, extraordinary for its timing midway through a general election campaign and the international media frenzy it is attracting, will take Mr Obama to Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Germany, France and Britain as he seeks to bolster his national security credentials – one of his greatest electoral liabilities.”
“You have to go back to the Beatles’ first US tour to find a transatlantic trip freighted with the sort of pregnant excitement that attends the one Barack Obama is about to make next week.”
“Obama’s Ego Exceeds His Achievements. …“Americans are beginning to notice Obama’s elevated opinion of himself. There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?“Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted “present” nearly 130 times.”
Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself.Then there is the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist. Utility customers must simply pay a few extra pennies per kilowatt hour, and they can continue living their carbon-neutral lifestyles knowing that they are supporting wind energy. Plenty of businesses and institutions have signed up. Even the Bush administration is using green energy for some federal office buildings, as are thousands of area residents.But according to public records, there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences.
Are Facts Obsolete?
By Thomas Sowell
In an election campaign in which not only young liberals, but also some people who are neither young nor liberals, seem absolutely mesmerized by the skilled rhetoric of Sen. Barack Obama, facts have receded even further into the background than usual.
As the hypnotic mantra of “change” is repeated endlessly, few people even raise the question of whether what few specifics we hear represent any real change, much less a change for the better.
Raising taxes, increasing government spending and demonizing business? That is straight out of the New Deal of the 1930s.
The New Deal was new then but it is not new now. Moreover, increasing numbers of economists and historians have concluded that New Deal policies are what prolonged the Great Depression.
Putting new restrictions of international trade, in order to save American jobs? That was done by Herbert Hoover, when he signed the Hawley-Smoot tariff when the unemployment rate was 9 percent. The next year the unemployment rate was 16 percent and, before the Great Depression was over, unemployment hit 25 percent.
One of the most naive notions is that politicians are trying to solve the country’s problems, just because they say so – or say so loudly or inspiringly.
Politicians’ top priority is to solve their own problem, which is how to get elected and then re-elected. Barack Obama is a politician through and through, even though pretending that he is not is his special strategy to get elected.
Some of his more trusting followers are belatedly discovering that, as he “refines” his position on various issues, now that he has gotten their votes in the Democratic primaries and needs the votes of others in the coming general election.
Perhaps a defining moment in showing Mr. Obama’s priorities was his declaring, in answer to a question from Charles Gibson, that he was for raising the capital gains tax rate. When Mr. Gibson reminded him of the well-documented fact that lower tax rates on capital gains had produced more actual revenue collected from that tax than the higher tax rates had, Mr. Obama was unmoved.
The question of how to raise more revenue may be the economic issue but the political issue is whether socking it to “the rich” in the name of “fairness” gains more votes.
Since about half the people in the United States own stocks – either directly or because their pension funds buy stocks – socking it to people who earn capital gains is by no means socking it just to “the rich.” But, again, that is one of the many facts that don’t matter politically.
What matters politically is the image of coming out on the side of “the people” against “the privileged.”
If you are a nurse or mechanic who will be depending on your pension to take care of you when you retire – as Social Security is unlikely to do – you may not think of yourself as one of the privileged. But unless you connect the dots between capital gains tax rates and your retirement income, you may fall under the spell of the well-honed Obama rhetoric.
Mr. Obama is for higher minimum wage rates. Does anyone care what actually happens in countries with higher minimum wage rates? Of course not.
Economists may point to studies done in countries around the world, showing that higher minimum wage rates usually mean higher unemployment rates among lower skilled and less experienced workers.
That’s their problem. A politician’s problem is how to look like he is for “the poor” and against those who are “exploiting” them. The facts are irrelevant to maintaining that political image.
Nowhere do facts matter less than in foreign policy issues. Nothing is more popular than the notion that you can deal with dangers from other nations by talking with their leaders.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain became enormously popular in the 1930s by sitting down and talking with Hitler, and announcing that their agreement had produced “peace in our time” – just one year before the most catastrophic war in history began.
Mr. Obama may gain similar popularity by advocating similar policies today – and his political popularity is what it’s all about. The consequences for the country come later.
Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.