[G]iven Chicago’s reputation as the most hardcore of legal academic institutions; and given that Chicago is one of the few law schools that is (admirably) known for having strict tenure standards, and actually has denied tenure to some rather impressive scholars; and given that I’ve heard Chicago professors say (as of the mid-90s, a bit before the relevant offer) that there was a firm consensus on the faculty that they would never hire anyone who didn’t meet the highest scholarly standards, regardless of other considerations; and given that Obama had published no legal scholarship whatsoever at this point; this is a bit surprising.
But then I read this piece by Jonathon Weisman at The Trail in WaPo and nearly spit up my coffee. I must confess to a momentary feeling of panic – as if I had fallen off a cliff and didn’t know how far down the bottom was.
We can’t seriously be contemplating electing this megalomaniac president, can we?
In his closed door meeting with House Democrats Tuesday night, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama delivered a real zinger, according to a witness, suggesting that he was beginning to believe his own hype.
Obama was waxing lyrical about last week’s trip to Europe, when he concluded, according to the meeting attendee, “this is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world is waiting for.”
The 200,000 souls who thronged to his speech in Berlin came not just for him, he told the enthralled audience of congressional representatives. “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions,” he said, according to the source.
On Wednesday morning, House leadership aides pushed back against interpretations of this comment as self-aggrandizing, saying that when the presumptive Democratic nominee said, “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America,” he was actually trying to deflect attention from himself.
Of course they tried to “push back” against this type of talk from the candidate. The press has successfully downplayed Obama’s similar remarks in the past. But there is no mistaking the fact that Barack Obama actually believes that his candidacy is the “moment the world has been waiting for” and that he is the embodiment of “America returning to our best traditions.”
His supporters will accuse us of being upset about Obama, the uppity n****er. Frankly that’s hogwash. if John McCain started to go around believing his was what the world had been waiting for, I would feel just as depressed as when Obama utters it.
How long can the press keep covering for this guy?
Obama’s Surge Purge
By Kathy Shaidle
FrontPageMagazine.com | 7/30/2008
Barack Obama styles himself the candidate of “change” and “hope”. So when his website “changed” to erase his well-known opposition to the Iraq War surge, maybe the Senator “hoped” no one would notice.
In this day and age, that’s a foolish, not to mention cynical, conceit, especially coming from the young, self-proclaimed “progressive” Democrat. And it backfired. Even the Los Angeles Times picked up the small but telling story after it first broke in the blogosphere.
“This last weekend,” the Wake Up Americans blog reported on July 15, “Barack Obama’s official website was ‘purged’ of his longstanding criticisms of the troop surge…”
That “surge purge” came shortly before the candidate’s belated “fact finding” visit to Iraq, his first trip in two years to the nation whose impending doom he’d so confidently and frequently predicted.
Obama aide Wendy Morigi insisted that the web site deletions were simply part of “normal activity to update the site as events and situations change.”
But what about updating one’s views on the most important foreign policy issue of the times, “as events and situations change”? Apparently, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President doesn’t consider that a priority. Obama’s denunciations of the Iraq War and the surge strategy persist, even after his trip to Iraq – a trip that would have been impossible had the surge been a failure; the very leaders he shook hands with in Baghdad would have been killed, jailed or exiled under Saddam Hussein.
Despite his campaign’s attempts to cover up the facts, Barack Obama’s firm opposition to the surge is well documented. Back on January, 2007, Obama opined that, with Sunni and Shia factions unwilling to compromise, the threat of U.S. troop withdrawal was America’s only leverage. Rather than bring security to the region, Obama insisted, “I think it will do the reverse.”
“We can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops: I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.”
Obama based his campaign for President in part on his long standing opposition to the Iraq War and the surge, in contrast to his fellow Democrat candidates. Over a year later, with the surge strategy achieving positive results, Obama’s top adviser, David Axelrod, denied that his boss had ever said the surge would fail, despite video proof to the contrary.
Those positive results include the achievement of 15 out of the highly touted 18 political benchmarks for success. This month, violence is down 90 percent over 2007 — its lowest point in the last four years. The estimated 12,000 al-Qaida terrorists in Iraq in May dropped to approximately 1,200 by July – an astonishing accomplishment in only two months. The chaotic Anbar province is experiencing an “awakening” of peace and prosperity. U.S. trained Iraqi security forces are policing more than half the nation’s provinces, and plan to take charge of them all by the end of this year. Oil production is back up to 2.5 million barrels a day, and oil revenue sharing has begun. Iraq recently normalized relations between Kuwait and other countries in the region.
“To be sure,” editorialized Investors Business Daily, “there is still violence, internecine conflicts between tribes and clans, sporadic jousting between rival militias, and of course, an ongoing struggle between Shias and Sunnis. But then, that pretty much describes the last 1,000 years of Iraq’s history.”
In an interview with ABC’s Terry Moran on July 21, Obama was asked:
Moran: “(…) U.S. combat casualties have plummeted, five this month so far, compared with 78 last July, and Baghdad has a pulse again. If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you — would you support the surge?”
Obama: “No, because — keep in mind that -”
Moran: “You wouldn’t?”
Obama: “Well, no, keep — these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult . Hindsight is 20/20. I think what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate, because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.”
Obama explained that he hadn’t anticipated the so-called Sunni Awakening, and insisted that such positive developments “came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops,” implying that any gains were simply an inexplicable coincidence. “My batting average” in terms of making foreign policy predictions, Obama told Moran, “is still pretty darn good.” Asked if he thinks the U.S. will win the war, Obama responds wanly, “I don’t think we have any choice.”
To her credit, CBS news anchor Katie Couric (of all people) pressed Obama on this issue on July 22, right after he’d returned from his tour of the Iraq and Afghanistan:
Couric: But talking microcosmically, did the surge, the addition of 30,000 additional troops … help the situation in Iraq?
Obama: Katie, as … you’ve asked me three different times, and I have said repeatedly that there is no doubt that our troops helped to reduce violence. There’s no doubt.
Couric: But yet you’re saying … given what you know now, you still wouldn’t support it … so I’m just trying to understand this.
Obama: Because … it’s pretty straightforward. By us putting $10 billion to $12 billion a month, $200 billion, that’s money that could have gone into Afghanistan. Those additional troops could have gone into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a declining economic situation in the United States. That money could have been applied to having a serious energy security plan so that we were reducing our demand on oil, which is helping to fund the insurgents in many countries. So those are all factors that would be taken into consideration in my decision– to deal with a specific tactic or strategy inside of Iraq.
Couric: And I really don’t mean to belabor this, Senator, because I’m really, I’m trying … to figure out your position. Do you think the level of security in Iraq …
Couric … would exist today without the surge?
Obama: Katie, I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a political reconciliation. So this is all hypotheticals. What I can say is that there’s no doubt that our U.S. troops have contributed to a reduction of violence in Iraq. I said that, not just today, not just yesterday, but I’ve said that previously. What that doesn’t change is that we’ve got to have a different strategic approach if we’re going to make America as safe as possible.
So Obama’s stance against the surge has remained firm, which at least has the advantage of being consistent. Many of his fellow Democrats didn’t think the U.S. should send any troops to Iraq, then complained that not enough had been deployed in the first place, then opposed the surge strategy designed to put more troops on the ground.
Consistency has its virtues, but good judgment must count for more. Obama won his party’s nomination because he was against the Iraq war from the very beginning. This, he insisted, proved that what he might lack in experience, he made up for in superior judgment. However, current events on the ground prove that Obama was simply wrong about the surge, and is deeply reluctant to admit it. Poor judgment and intransigence is merely embarrassing in a Presidential candidate; it could be fatal in a Commander in Chief.
John Dickerson, chief political correspondent at Slate.com (hardly a hotbed of pro-McCain enthusiasms) asked pointedly:
“If Obama was wrong about the tactical gains that would be made by the new strategy and wrong about how the Iraqi political leaders would react, can his larger theory about how Iraqis will respond to a troop pullout remain intact? Perhaps, but he has the burden of explanation. Does he elide contradictions, claim they’re irrelevant, and generally spin? In his interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, he suggested that he’d always said the surge would decrease violence in Iraq. That’s not just spin. It’s not true.”
Michael E. O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, has confessed that he’s “livid” about Obama’s continued insistence on a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq by 2010:
“To say you’re going to get out on a certain schedule — regardless of what the Iraqis do, regardless of what our enemies do, regardless of what is happening on the ground — is the height of absurdity. I’m not going to go to the next level of invective and say he shouldn’t be president. I’ll leave that to someone else.”
Unlike his party’s presumptive nominee, O’Hanlon has admitted publicly and repeatedly that his expert opinions on the surge’s inevitable failure turned out to be spectacularly wrong. Why his candidate can’t do the same is more than a mystery. It is deeply troubling.
Not So Fast, President Obama!
By Paul M. Weyrich
FrontPageMagazine.com | 7/30/2008
It was an unusually warm January day in Washington as President-elect Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office administered by longtime Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens already had administered the oath of office to Vice President-elect Evan Bayh, of Indiana, who had been picked by Obama because he was perceived to be a middle-of-the-road man. Recent reporting has revealed that Bayh shares most of Obama’s radical views on issues. The packed Capitol Plaza waited with eager anticipation as now President Obama was about to deliver a rhetorical masterpiece, for which he had become famous.
Have trouble recalling how Obama had bested Senator John Sidney McCain, III? Was it the Electoral College which elected Obama or the popular vote or both? No one seems to remember.
No one seems to remember because there was no election. It began with the presumptive nominee’s trip to the Middle East and Europe. The Obama campaign began referring to the candidate as if he already were President. That, while politically risky, is certainly understandable. What is not understandable is how many in the media went along with what the campaign fed them. They began to treat the Senator from Illinois as if he already had been elected President. These are media types who believe that perception is reality. If they can convince the electorate that Senator Obama already is President the election will become a mere formality. In fact, the election is a sort of tolerated nuisance in their eyes.
It might have worked but for the contempt the electorate has for the media. I saw at least half a dozen interviews on cables over the air networks. In every case voters said, “He is behaving as if he were already elected.” Most said, “That isn’t right.” What shocked the reporters, who were stuck hanging around with McCain as he campaigned in small-town America while their anchors reported live from Obama’s trip, was how the voters got it. A number identified themselves as Democrats. One even said he was an Obama supporter. The tracking polls confirmed what these voters told the reporters. The campaign believed this trip would give Obama a big bump, putting Senator Obama permanently ahead in what has been up to now a surprisingly tight race with Senator McCain. It didn’t turn out that way. In every tracking poll Senator Obama actually lost support. He had opened a six-point lead at the beginning of the trip. Depending on which tracking poll one prefers, Obama’s lead decreased to either four, three or two points. Individual states were even more dramatic. In no state did his support increase. In some states where he had gone ahead substantially his support either reversed the trend or is now behind. They include Colorado, Minnesota and Michigan, among others.
There are lessons here for both campaigns and the media. Campaigns must be respectful of the America voter. Campaigns which put their candidate ahead of the candidate’s actual position run the risk of appearing arrogant. It would take something cataclysmic for both Obama and McCain not to receive their party’s nomination. Yet the voters want to see that it really happens, in Denver and Minneapolis. Lesson for the media? If the media has any chance to regain the credibility it has lost with the American voter it ought to pounce on any campaign which markets its candidate as if he already were President. The media which goes along with this planned deception will hammer its own nails in its own coffin. Extremely partisan voters might like it but the average citizen will be angered by media partisanship.
You can bet that the Presidential candidates’ handlers have watched what happened on this trip and I am willing to wager that they will not repeat this mistake again. The real question is: did the media learn the lesson of treating an un-nominated candidate as if he already were elected? I am willing to wager the media has not.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.