Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Obama lost me, part 2

As I explained in this post, I've become disillusioned with Barack Obama as a candidate (read the intro to that post for the details). Here are some more points in the continuing list of reasons why:


6. Does Obama have a problem with "policy specifics"? Yes and no...

This critique has always bothered me. The fact is, most voters are moved by speeches about broad themes and values, not policy wonkery. And I find it highly suspicious that everyone makes this complaint about Obama, while no one says it about McCain, even though McCain is even more vague than Obama on policy. But...

a) Hearing Bill Clinton's convention speech, where he mentioned actual statistics and explained how they matter to ordinary people's lives, made me think: it is possible to have the best of both worlds. Obama is just not operating at the Bill Clinton level when it comes to communicating policy. Of course, very few people are at Bill Clinton's level -- but Obama has been billed as the next Clinton. And given the Democrats' history with presidential elections over the past few decades, Bill Clinton would be a pretty good person to emulate.

b) While saying "His policies are on his website!" is appropriate as a response to anyone who suggests that he truly hasn't offered specific proposals ... it's not very satisfying. If he really cares about those policies, he should be devoting real effort and political capital to trying to convince people of their merit instead of just passively hosting them on the web.

Also, he obviously didn't sit down and write that stuff from scratch and hit the "post" button; he found some smart, knowledgeable person to do it for him. Nothing wrong with that! That's true of every candidate. But it would be more useful if we could see him actually explain and defend these policies in an extemporaneous setting (or as close as you can get, given the scripted nature of campaigns).

Many Democrats are (rightly) skeptical of whether Bush, McCain, or Palin genuinely understands and believes in their own official economic policies. Voters are entitled to be equally skeptical of Obama.

c) Campaigns aren't fair -- that's life. Even if you don't agree with the narrative that "Obama is inspiring but too vague," as long as that idea is out there, it's Obama's burden to proactively convince voters otherwise.

He actually tried to do that in February while campaigning in Wisconsin ... but the result just wasn't very interesting! I watched one of his "specific policy" speeches, and the only thing I remember from it is that he wants to give college students a few-thousand-dollar tuition credit in exchange for community service. If I'm understanding it correctly, he's basically saying he'll offer a bunch of low-level government jobs specific to college students. That may be a perfectly fine thing to do, but it's not the kind of idea that's likely to sway anyone's vote. Yet it was the climactic moment of his whole policy speech.

d) A couple of his most distinctive policies -- that is, ideas specific to him rather than simply reflecting the consensus of mainstream Washington Democrats -- are notably bad ideas:
[C]hildren are already forced to work when they are sent to school. School is work. Respect that work. Let them know that it is work, and it's their job. And when they are done, let them play. Let them have their free time. Don't appropriate any more of their time. How dare you!
  • The faith-based initiative. Why put so much emphasis on a reheated leftover from Bush's 2000 campaign? Admittedly, this is an example of actually backing up his bipartisan rhetoric with policy specifics ... but if that's what Obama's bipartisan approach is really like, then I can do without Obama's bipartisan approach! (To be clear: I admire religious organizations for doing good works, but I don't want my tax dollars favoring the religious over the secular.) He claims the program will fund only "secular programs" and not "proselytizing" ... but money is fungible: give a church more money for their charitable works, and you're indirectly giving them more money for everything else they do.

7. As much as I hate to admit it, there's a lot of truth to the "He's all about speeches, not ideas" critique.


This is similar to #6, but broader. In other words, even beyond policy, what has he ever said about anything that's so exciting or original?

This is another point I've been resisting for months and months, but I couldn't deny the basic truth that Robert Wright -- another skeptical Obama supporter -- hit on here (transcript of key point followed by video clip):
If you are a great orator ... and you don't use your skills to surprise people or stake out a position that's a little risky and really do the work of convincing people that that's the right position -- if you take your great oratorical skills and just keep repeating "I'm a uniter, not a divider," plus several boilerplate predictions that are totally poll-driven -- you look like an empty suit!




(end of quote -- back to me...) It's getting clearer and clearer that what has gotten him so much attention and adoration despite his inexperience is not his ideas or policies or even his life story. It's two things: he's black, and he can give a great speech. If you took those two things away, it'd be inconceivable that he'd be chosen over Biden, Richardson, or Dodd, let alone Hillary Clinton. I'm not complaining about the focus on his race -- I think it's really important to have the first black president. And I'm glad he gives a great speech. But look, fellow Obama supporters: that's not really enough, is it, considering the crisis America is in right now?

Many commenters on my previous post complained that if I'm going to make all these anti-Obama points, I shouldn't turn around and vote for him. Well, there's a difference between whether to vote for him, and whether the excitement surrounding him has been justified. None of the points I'm making in this list convince me to vote for McCain instead of Obama. But at the same time, I think it's worth pointing out that it's really hard to see the justification for the unprecedented level of excitement around the guy -- which I myself participated in.


8. His take on race has been disappointing.

I largely agreed with the praise showered on his race speech. But it was pointlessly overshadowed by the famous passage in which he criticized his own grandmother for fearing black men on the street -- the implication being: even basically decent people have some racism in their hearts.

The problem is: whether or not you think Jesse Jackson and others are racist to feel relieved if the person towards them down a dark street turns out to be white, the fact is that many Americans do feel this way and don't consider themselves racist, anymore than they'd consider it sexist to feel relieved upon seeing that the person walking towards them turns out to be a woman. It's fine with me if Obama privately thinks otherwise, but that doesn't make it a productive thing for him to say when he's running for president.

Of course, the fact that he later tried to clarify that part of the speech by explaining that his grandmother was being a "typical white person" only compounded the problem.

Another example: when he was asked at a debate whether he, as the son of a Kenyan immigrant, has had to deal with the problems facing most black Americans, he jocosely mentioned "trying to catch a cab," then pointedly cut himself off as if to say to the audience: Now, doesn't that just about say it all? Of course, this got enormous applause. First of all, if that's one of the worst problems facing blacks in America, given our racial history, then we should all be overjoyed. Second, this image conjures up an affluent man standing around in NYC, waiting for a driver who -- let's face it -- is quite likely a minority and/or an immigrant trying to make ends meet. That's not exactly a crystal-clear symbol of everyday black people being thwarted by The Man.

UPDATE: Concluded here.

28 comments:

Hari said...

This is an interesting list and I look forward to the rest of it. There are a couple of things I would add - I wish he had agreed to the town halls with McCain, and taken public financing.

But the candidates are human, and do make mistakes. I do like that Obama has run his campaign with the goal in mind: winning. We'll see on election day how good his organization is with turning out voters. McCain, on the other hand, seems to be in constant crisis mode, constantly looking for short term gain. If that's any indication of how they would govern, I choose Obama.

Also the pick of Joe Biden was a good one - looking to the long term, Biden would probably make a good vice president. Sarah Palin was more likely than not chosen to turn out the base and help McCain get elected. We've already had eight years of someone who leads from his gut; I don't want her anywhere near the Oval Office.

I preferred Hillary but liked Obama too. I could have lived with a President McCain. But McCain has lost me, and now I can live with a President Obama.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I tellin' ya man, the markets and financial institutions are already nervous, you put Obama in the White House and it will be Jimmy Carter II or maybe even worse.

I'm being practical here, not a fearmonger, its the Democrats who have been the real fearmongers all along. Look how they've demonized conservative Christians, Republicans, their endless canards which created their Bu$Hitler derangement, and lately, Sarah Palin. They are all about fear, just like when Obama outright lied to the Floridian seniors recently about how their Social Security benefits would have been cut in half if McCain would have had his way and privatized a portion of SS. This lie was busted by factcheck.org and commented on at any number blogs on the Internet.

The man's campaign is about fear and now he, those running his campaign, and his liberal sycophants in the lamestream media are shamelessly starting to play the race card ... and that's one thing this country doesn't need now is a bunch of inflammatory racebaiters.

What are these people trying to do, hate this country to national unity? More like the Second American Revolutionary War if this kind of crap keeps up from the left side of the aisle. After about fifty years, mainstream conservatives' patience is wearing a little thin regarding how liberals are always portraying them as cousin' poking, corncob smokin', Bible totin' racists/homophobes/misogynists/bigots which, oddly enough, after the latest polls about race and electing Obama, is a more apt description of certain Democrats.

Look Chris, you all but admitted Obama is an empty suit. The man has already lied about being on the Senate Banking Committee to help pass legislation (videoclip on YouTube, he called the SBC, "my committee") and about "helping to pass" legislation regarding better health benefits for veterans despite the fact he didn't vote on it and neither did any of his provision written specifically for this bill make it in. Clearly the man was trying to beef up his already razor-thin legislative resume. Such political opportunists should be utterly rejected. If he's going to lie about his own resume then what else will he deceive the American people about? At least in this case he's already given us the heads up that he has little respect for the truth unless it somehow serves his political ambitions.

As noted in an earlier comment of mine, despite his high-minded rhetoric, Obama is not bi-partisan and has no intention of being bi-partisan which can only mean he will be a very divisively ideologically president given who he really is. I can tell you this, conservatives will not lay down for this guy and every misstep he makes will be pointed out by us, after all we have Bush-hating Democrats to thank for this political dynamic of late.

I'm no fan of John McCain because of the abomination called the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill and other issues here and there. In fact I'll be voting more for Sarah Palin who has far more executive experience than the other three male candidates in this race ... and that's a fact despite the repeated denials of leftist bloggers.

But putting Obama in the White House by default can be the worse possible scenario by far. That means there will be a lot of disillusionment by even his own supporters if or when things aren't going so well. Obama certainly won't be getting support even for his own party as they try to distance themselves from an inexperienced, unaccomplished guy who will be in way over his head. And its the nature of the beast that Chicago politicians from Emil Jones up to our fair governor Blagoyvich are by nature corrupted and corruptible people. They are thoroughly infected by the Chicago machine.

And as another poster observed, it will be decades before America will trust the Democratic Party again for putting such an empty suit into power, particularly during perilous times like these.

BTW, I'm absolutely amazed at the almost blind messianic fervor that the secular liberals on your side of the aisle has displayed for Barack Messiah Obama. In fact it's kind of scary. And its even scarier that the Democratic Party, for all intents on purposes, is becoming one of the biggest quasi-religious cults in this country replete with its own evangelists and apostles of the Democratic creed, its charity operations which levies confiscatory taxes on the rest of us, its sacraments of abortion and gay marriage and now its own messiah.

Hankmeister

Justin said...

On point 6a -- I have heard on more than a few occasions that, when making speeches, Bill Clinton would frequently make up numbers and statistics on the spot to make it sound as if he knew the details of his policies. I'm not sure if it's true, and in any event it gave the impression that he really knew his stuff. But I don't know whether it's the best practice to emulate.

I wonder if a certain level of vagueness is actually the most honest position. Since governing is a complicated task and much of it is delegated to experts, and the President's power is somewhat limited by Congress, how much specificity should we expect? At what point does it become highly improbable that the end result will look anything like the specifics set out in the campaign? I think Hillary had a lot of specific policy talk, but I never had much faith in her motivation to follow through if political expediency got in the way. Her highly opportunistic approach to politics is what turned me off to her all along. I think Obama would do well to take stronger, more specific and more risky positions. But generally I think this criticism is given too much weight.

Anonymous said...

He lost you but you're still voting for him?

Okay, let's cut to the chase. Why are you voting for him? Sounds like you're bitterly clinging to a lousy candidate to me.

Xanthippas said...

I guess I should try to be more generous, but this sort of analysis makes me crazy. Here's an example:

"The fact is, most voters are moved by speeches about broad themes and values, not policy wonkery. And I find it highly suspicious that everyone makes this complaint about Obama, while no one says it about McCain, even though McCain is even more vague than Obama on policy."

Then you say:

"He actually tried to do that in February while campaigning in Wisconsin ... but the result just wasn't very interesting! I watched one of his "specific policy" speeches, and the only thing I remember from it is that he wants to give college students a few-thousand-dollar tuition credit in exchange for community service."

And:

"A couple of his most distinctive policies -- that is, ideas specific to him rather than simply reflecting the consensus of mainstream Washington Democrats -- are notably bad ideas:"

So, even though Obama gets into more policy then McCain, even though when he does people like you are bored by it or disagree with it when he does, he should get into more policy specifics anyway. Yes, this in fact is a winning strategy for the election. Bore people to tears with policy recommendations that even bloggers who demand them can't stand to listen to.

And then you say: "But it was pointlessly overshadowed by the famous passage in which he criticized his own grandmother for fearing black men on the street -- the implication being: even basically decent people have some racism in their hearts."

And this isn't true...how? Obama was rightly lauded for that speech because he spoke to us about race as if we were adults, with frank admissions of the deficits are nation still faces in surmounting this problem. He didn't demean discussion of race like Republicans, and he didn't avoid it like Democrats. As for his cab comment...the fact that you don't understand why that would get such applause, indicates that you don't understand the problem of racism in America today. What he is saying is that even a successful, well-dressed and obviously successful black man can have trouble getting a cab because a cab driver is afraid of picking him up. That is not one of the "worst problems" facing blacks, and he didn't say so. But it is highly indicative of the fact that simple racism still exists in this country, and that's why the story resonates with black audiences.

Also, it simply boggles my mind that you think he's gotten so much attention because he's black and can give a great speech. Do you honestly believe that America has progressed to a point where our expectations are so low that we will elect a black man simply because he can give a speech? Guess what...Jesse Jackson can give a great speech. Al Sharpton can give a great speech. Do you see either of them getting the nomination? Yeah, me neither, so your argument fails on that part. What people like about Obama is his charisma, his ability to connect with them, the issues he's chosen to focus on and the manner in which he addresses them. Perhaps you can question his experience or his judgment or his policies, and that would be fair. But to argue that he's the nominee simply because he's black and can talk well indicates a complete lack of understanding of the state of race in this country, and it's so incorrect a statement that it causes me to question your judgment in making it.

Xanthippas said...

Also, someone please tell "Hankmeister" above that it's people on his side of the aisle who do things like equate Bush with comic book superheros like Batman.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB121694247343482821.html

"Messianic" fervor indeed.

Simon said...

6(b) reminds me of something Sir David Frum said a few years back. Frum expressed frustration, as I recall it, at having operated as a speechwriter for President Bush under the impression that if Bush agreed to say something in a speech, that must mean he understood and bought into the intellectual underpinnings of the words. Frum later came to doubt that over Iraq in particular. Similarly, Obama presumably assented to something written by someone else being stamped with his crest and placed on his website. Does it follow that he understands and buys into the intellectual underpinnings of that document? For that matter, is even that assuming too much: can we assume that if something is on his website, Obama must have read and approved it personally? Is it realistic to suppose in abstracto that with all the demands on a candidate's time, a campaign staff would let him or her personally read and approve everything put onto the website even if the candidate was so inclined?

That's what strikes me as problematic in simply referring people to the website. If the candidate doesn't talk about this stuff, what exactly links the candidate to the position paper beyond the brand? That's good enough if you're already a supporter. If you're a skeptic, not so much.

AJ Lynch said...

Chris:

"Go to my website" reminds me of businesses that ask you "have you gone to our website?" as if the website is the be-all and the end-all of their closing the deal.

I called Dell once when I needed a new computer and they suggested I visit their website. Well I did not have a working computer! So I could not go the website.

Bottom line - Obama lacks vision hence he lacks daring ideas and dreams.

He also does not have innate leadership qualities.

Pastor_Jeff said...

If you took those two things away, it'd be inconceivable that he'd be chosen over Biden, Richardson, or Dodd, let alone Hillary Clinton.

Geraldine Ferraro was excoriated as a racist and forced to resign from Clinton's campaign for saying the same obvious and true thing.

I'm not complaining about the focus on his race -- I think it's really important to have the first black president.

Absolutely. I don't like Obama's policies and will not vote for him, but I'm excited that we have a major party candidate for President. Unfortunately, there's already been too much talk (even from Obama and his campaign) suggesting that if we don't vote for Obama we're racist.

Is there racism in America? Sure. Are there people who won't vote for him because he's black? Sure. But is everyone who doesn't like Obama a racist? Not by a long shot.

If Obama really wants to be a uniter and a transformational politician, he could forcefully condemn that ugly and divisive idea whenever it rears his ugly head. But since tarring the other party is politically useful for both sides (Country club racists! America-hating Defeatocrats!), it's probably not going to stop anytime soon.

Yarrow said...

Me, I'm just a voter. I really could care less about the numbers buttressing a particular policy initiative. What I want to know about my candidate: general policy positions, governing philosophy, temperament, curiosity, intellectual capacity, character, human warmth and empathy - "soft" factors maybe, but far more compelling, I think, than Clintonesque wonkery. It's the "composite view" thing... Maybe my failure to sympathize with your disillusionment stems from my never having been illusioned - I never saw the big convention speech, I didn't particularly follow his career; in fact, what really sold me on him was an unflattering, "bubble-bursting" article in Harper's, which demonstrated to me that he seems to embody the rare paradox of a pragmatic ideologue, a man with principles who can also see the bigger picture. So I fully recognized and long ago accepted that he will disappoint me on many issues, but in aggregate he could get a lot done, especially with the backing of a Democratic Congress (one which in no way resembles the ideologically fractured and contentious party of the Carter era - people who make that comparison are just partisans who can't distinguish history from propaganda). So you've come to the conclusion that he's just another human being, with attendant frailties. Well, I guess it's a mistake ever to elevate a person so high in the first place - just makes the inevitable comedown that much more depressing!

submandave said...

Justin, it wouldn't surprise me, as studies have shown that a sound bite with solid statistics increase the chances of it being remembered and believed by at least 30%, even if it is later revealed to have been completely bogus.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Do you think there's something mildly racist about people's amazement over the fact that he's a good speaker? Lots of politicians can give speeches that are just as energetic and well-delivered. It's might be a little like Biden's "articulate" comment. A lot of the Obama love to me comes off like, Wow, he can actually speak. Wow, he's black and yet doesn't frighten us. And then they accuse anyone who doesn't support him of racism.

CastoCreations said...

With all the points you are making AGAINST Obama it is surprising that you still say you will vote for him.

I'm not the biggest fan of McCain but he's miles better in my eyes as the future leader of our country.

Obama seems like nothing more than a typical empty suit Chicago politician. And an egotistical one at that (two autobiographies already? After achieving what exactly?).

He still hasn't come out with his entire history - what exactly did he do as a "community organizer" and what did he accomplish? His friendship with Ayers is concerning but many of the people he surrounds himself with make me nervous.

In 2007 I was not all that worried with who was going to win... even Obama. I figured it'd be a good thing to have the first Black president and he seemed like a decent enough guy.

But the more I've learned about him the more nervous he makes me. I do NOT want him in charge of this country. I don't think we can afford it (security wise OR money wise). If he is elected I will certainly be looking for new ways to save my money from being eaten up by taxes (and no, we do not make more than $250...not even $150...but I'm not stupid enough to believe his 95% of people are getting a tax cut).

Interesting write up though.

Simon said...

Chris, for my part, I'm amazed that he's regarded as a good speaker. I saw him once in person, and of course ad nauseum on youtube and so forth, and he's never struck me as a particularly good speaker. I'm told that he has charisma, and maybe that's what makes the difference for some people. Don't see it, myself.

SB said...

Xanthippas nails it. I think it goes to the core of why Democrats get beaten over the head during elections: we can't coalesce around our candidate.

I'd like to think it's because we're the more nuanced and understanding party. But whatever the reason, Republicans have by and large detested McCain in years past, and now rally around him and defend him like he's the second coming.

Here we have well-written but not terribly coherent Democrats who will "reluctantly" vote Obama, but who can't get around these unspecified empty suit concerns. It's wishy-washy bullshit that only undermines our goals.

Obama may lose, and if he does it won't be because McCain is a better candidate. It's because he's been torn down from the inside by his own damn party, who can't see the forest for the trees. It's a national election at a time when America is on the precipice.

Democrats need to shut the hell up, get over their inconsequential quibbles and vote for the man who will do the better job at pulling this country back from the brink. He ain't perfect, but he sure as hell isn't McCain/Palin.

former law student said...

Mandatory community service is already here -- you can hardly graduate from high school any more without it. And there is already a federal government program reaching down to kindergartners:

http://www.learnandserve.gov/about/lsa/index.asp

Xanthippe captured the rest of my thoughts, but I'd like to comment on some of the comments:

I wish he had agreed to the town halls with McCain, and taken public financing.

Why should Obama play away from his strengths and into his opponent's? As great a basketball player as Michael Jordan could not excel at baseball. Obama can fill stadiums, while (minus Palin) McCain has a tough time filling a church basement. McCain had a very hard time attracting donors, while tens of thousands of people have given money to Obama.

Fearmongering Hank tries to spread fear about Obama's economic advisors (Warren Buffett, Larry Summers,and Paul O'Neill -- ooh scary),"the race card" (the Ace of Spades?) and enthusiasm. He's really afraid that the Dems will not continue the GOP's borrow-and-spend philosophy, and might even investigate how Cheney got us into the Iraq War. (I recommend everyone read Angler about Cheney's impact on the Bush Administration.)

regarding simon's concern: Obama is an intellectual, whereas GHW and GW are not. I'm sure Obama has reviewed the policies carrying his name in minute detail.

Obama is not black, by the way, but biracial. Considering his Asian and Hawaiian childhood, he's more multiracial. Even though he's a total wonk, he has the charisma that his Democratic rivals did not. And trying to marginalize him as being successful only due to his race (as Bill Clinton, Ferraro, Pastor Jeff, and apparently Jac) is to be in fact racist. Why not come out and say he's the AA candidate?

After seeing what happens when a legacy admit runs the country, I'm going with the magna cum laude Harvard grad.

And Pastor Jeff, you have to own your own racism; Big Daddy Obama will not absolve your sins for you.

Finally, I wonder if casto can name another "typical empty suit Chicago politician," so I could recognize what the heck he's talking about.

Nagarajan said...

It is absolutely amusing to see Obama supporters try so hard to convince themselves that they are supporting him for all the "right reasons".

He's intellectual ! He's policy wonk !! How dare you say that the color of his skin is even a factor that is contributing to his popularity ? He's multi racial, you know ?? Yeah, try telling it to the african americans who are waiting for the first black president to be elected.

"Finally, I wonder if casto can name another "typical empty suit Chicago politician," so I could recognize what the heck he's talking about."

Here's what casto should have said - typical Chicago politician who is an empty suit. The alarming words here are "typical Chicago politician" - any one who has lived in Chicago and has some basic honesty would tell you how corrupt this city is. To its rotten core.

Obama's mentor the corrupt Emil Jones, his strident support for the Todd Strogers and Richard Daley's of the world, not to mention his close ties with sleazeballs from Rezko to Wright to Pfleger should give any one pause. People who do not know any of these troubling ties or try to brush it away reveal their ignorance and their deep discomfort in dealing with fundamental facts of who Barack Obama is.

His speeches and the color of his skin are the two biggest reasons he is, where he is today. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is not to question his political talent.

But at the end of the day he comes from the scum that is Chicago machine politics.

You can put all the lipstick you want on a Chicago Democrat - he is still a Chicago Democrat. This one of course has more than an even chance of being President.

Saul Alinsky is laughing his ass of some where.

Pastor_Jeff said...

FLS - Thanks for proving my point. But the accusations of racism are facile and tiresome.

It's hardly racist to recognize that the idea of a minority-race President is very appealing to many people. It's appealing to me, even though I cannot support Obama.

Do you have any rebuttal to the charge that Obama wouldn't be the candidate if he weren't a racial minority? Other than his skin color, he was basically John Edwards.

And as far as Obama "absolving my sins for me," keep the Obamessiah for yourself; I already have a savior.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"regarding simon's concern: Obama is an intellectual ... I'm sure Obama has reviewed the policies carrying his name in minute detail."

Going to law school does not an intellectual make. Even if it did, I think you underestimate the demands on a Presidential candidate's time. Think of this through the prism of rational ignorance: the candidate has a finite number of hours in the day in which he must sleep, see his family, do everything related to his campaign, and perhaps even find the time to act as a Senator (although I'm reliably told by his constituents that the last one is negotiable at best). He and the people around him have to maximize the utility of every minute. Is it the most efficient use of an extremely limited resource - the candidate's time - to have him to be reviewing position papers "in minute detail"? Can reviewing a synopsis get close enough with less time cost? What about a verbal synopsis as he's walking onto a plane? Twenty four hours in each day to get it all done. Tick, a speech to write... Tock, a speech to give. Tick, a stolen moment with his wife... Tock, a stolen moment of sleep. Closer to tick? Or closer to tock? What Barack needs is a Lorien...

Mister Snitch! said...

Bravo for your frankness, and not just posting what Obamaphiles want to hear. We could use more of this all around.

Peter Blogdanovich said...

One of the very few advantages of being old is you get to pull the experience card on young guys spouting political nonsense. Another is the rich sense of political irony one develops slowly over time. One such irony is the fact that Obama will be the worst nightmare of the trade unions who support him (though less every day as they figure this out). Legitimate trade unions are exactly the kind of truly democratic power blocks which ultimately stand in the way of Obama's true goals. If elected, Obama will be revealed as an enemy of democracy, an enemy of liberty, and an enemy of anyone with some brains, like you. Ironic, isn't it?

wumhenry said...

Why is it "fine" for Obama to think (provided he keeps the thought to himself) that any white person who feels more apprehensive on encountering a black, male stranger on a dark street than he'd feel if the stranger were white is a racist? Doesn't the thought betray a lack of moral clarity?

Julie B. said...

Obama's "50 hours a year" proposal is even worse than you say, because the schools wouldn't be able to mandate it happen in the students' free time. It would have to happen during school hours. I have two high school students and one middle school student, all of whom are heavily involved in band. If this proposal was made into law, my son's middle school would have to eliminate its music program. The kids get two electives per day, "community service" would have to be one of them in order to get the 50 hours in, and since state-required PE is the other, band would be forced out.

I also can't see any way this could be administered at the building level in less than a full-time job. My son's middle school alone would be responsible to develop, implement and track over 46,000 hours per school year. There is certainly no money in the budget for another building admin position, so one of the counselors would have to be pulled off that job into just coordinating stupid make-work hours.

Also, I'm sure there are hundreds of non-profits in our community that are just dying for thousands of hours of 11-year-old labor.

Jim O'Sullivan said...

I think you meant SON of a Kenyan Immigrant. And Obama Senior was not an "immigrant." As his first memoir (sp?) demonstrates, that was a big thing for Obama Junior, as it turns out.

Tantor said...

The problem with Obama's statement that he has trouble catching a cab is that it panders to the legend that this is due to racism. The real problem is that black men stiff and harm cab drivers more often and so cab drivers don't want to pick them up. That is true of BLACK cab drivers here in Washington, DC. Cab drivers in general see black men as bad customers.

Once I was in the Philippines riding in a cab driven by a Negrito, the original black mountain people who populated the islands, when he spontaneously started saying how glad he was to pick up a white person. He was tired of getting stiffed by American black guys who rode his jeepney to their destinations, then jumped out and ran away, stiffing him on their fare. I was taken aback by his rant because he was blacker than any American black guy.

The problem with Obama is that he plays to the prejudices of his crowd rather than take them on. His cute reference to the purportedly anti-black prejudice of cab drivers is a form of prejudice itself against white people.

newscaper said...

The 50 hours of service crap is crypto-Marxist collectivism in general, and worse, you know damned well that 'acceptable' organizations the kids will be pimped out to will be left leaning, and others which the parent's wouldn't mind helping so much will be off limits.

Somehow that is supposed to be friggin' wonderful, but making convicted prisoners work hard to help subsidize their incarceration is considered virtual slave labor by many of the same people.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Jim O'Sullivan: thanks for the catch -- fixed

John Althouse Cohen said...

For the record, this blog is by me and my name is John. Contrary to some of the comments on this post, my name is not Chris.