The editor’s opinion from Marketplace, Northeast Wisconsin’s business magazine. (Obligatory disclaimer: Most hyperlinks go to outside sites, and we’re not responsible for their content. And like fresh watermelon, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes and sweet corn, hyperlinks can go bad after a while.)

June 12, 2008

President Obama?

On Monday, I pointed out that to say that Barack Obama, who visits Kaukauna today, is preferable to Hillary Clinton is not the same thing as saying that Barack Obama is preferable to John McCain.

There are, in fact, at least two gigantic reasons to not vote for Obama — his inexperience and his overreach. His campaign is a curious mix of naïveté and arrogance, as typified by his bizarre assertion a week ago suggesting that, by his clinching the Democratic nomination for the presidency, “generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children 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 rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

Obama has been in the U.S. Senate for not even one full term. Before that, he was an Illinois state senator for eight years. Unlike, say, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Obama has zero experience in anything approximating managerial-level experience in government. Obama’s most significant executive experience, in fact, is his
presidential campaign, which, once you look past the hype, has been something less than smooth or original, as seen in how Obama handled the controversy over his former pastor.

That controversy, incidentally, gets to the question of personal judgment (a persistent issue, you may recall, with the last Democrat in the White House), which is a subset of the experience issue. It is inconceivable that Obama could have sat in his church for 20 years, heard the Rev. Jeremiah “God damn America!” Wright, had his children in the same church, and then claim that, well, he wasn’t paying attention. Had any pastor of my church said something like that, either he would have left, or I would have left, and it wouldn’t have taken 20 years to figure out that Wright’s comments are inappropriate from a pulpit.

Obama not only has no legislative record, but his claim that he can bring people together is a crock. No one with as liberal a legislative record as Obama can prove that he has any interest in bipartisanship, unless his definition of “bipartisan” involves Republicans’ caving in to whatever Obama and Democrats want. (Which could happen if the predictions of a GOP Congressional disaster in November come true.) And, whether Obama likes it or not, his wife Michelle has some explaining to do for her apparent shame over being an American. (The precedent that, yes, presidents' spouses do matter was set by Obama's last opponent in the Democratic primary race.)

Who are Obama’s supporters? According to Project Vote Smart, they are the left-leaning National Farmers Union, Citizens for Tax Justice, Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (an anti-jail group), the National Education Association, Campaign for America’s Future (the words “left wing” should be in its title), Comprehensive Sustainable US Population (which claims that “many higher costs, inconveniences and hardships, inequities, and lowered quality of life and standard of living are due to people longages more than to resource shortages”),
Citizens for Global Solutions, State PIRGs Working Together, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the AFL–CIO, the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Government Employees, Americans for Democratic Action, the Alliance for Retired Americans (an anti-Social Security reform group), and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (a “non-partisan, non-profit think tank providing ideas that fuel the progressive movement”).

On the other side, there is the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, the National Tax Limitation Committee, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independent Business, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, the American Land Rights Association and Citizens Against Government Waste. The only remotely business-friendly group that gave Obama even a C grade was USA Engage, a pro-trade group.

The National Journal gave Obama a liberal composite score of 95.5 — higher than anyone in Congress — and a conservative composite score of 4.5 — lower than anyone in Congress. That doesn’t appear bipartisan, postpartisan, inclusive or unifying. Bill Clinton looks like a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy compared with Obama, who seems to be patterning his views on Clinton’s Democratic predecessor in the White House, Jimmy Carter.

Obama is a native of Illinois, one of the two states of the U.S. famous for endemic corruption (in Illinois’ case, bipartisan corruption) in state government. We have read quite a bit already about Antoin “Tony” Rezko, fundraiser for five Obama political races who earlier this year was convicted of 16 corruption charges and faces a fraud trial next year.
The fact that Obama’s Democratic primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, no stranger to corruption herself, brought up all of Obama’s weaknesses during the recent campaign doesn’t make her charges less valid.

Moreover, if Obama’s words are to be believed, he appears to be ready to use the courts to enact revenge upon his White House predecessors upon arriving at the White House, including, yes, war crimes trials. As American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson puts it, “This kind of change — putting your predecessors on trial for their conduct of policy — may not be what most Americans really want or expect from someone with Obama’s gauzy rhetoric of unity. But unity has a dark side in the hands of people who regard their opponents as criminals. America has two centuries-plus of history lacking the totalitarian practice of jailing the predecessors when a new president takes office.” And Obama and his supporters better realize that the next Republican president will have all the incentive in the world to do the same thing to his or her Democratic predecessors, permanently poisoning our politics.

I'd love it, by the way, if a Democrat running for president grasped the fact that free markets are far superior to government control, because free markets and freedom are too important to be entrusted to one political party. As First Trust Portfolios chief economist Brian Wesbury put it in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal,
“In contrast to what some people seem to believe, having the government take over the health-care system is not change. It's just a culmination of previous moves by government. And the areas with the worst problems today are areas that have the most government interference — education, health care and energy. … In the midst of all the natural change, the last thing the U.S. economy needs is more government involvement, whether it's called change or not.”

This is the third, and I’ll bet not the last, time I’ll bring up the sage words of Ben Stein, whose news bulletin points out that we are in fact responsible for our own lives, not Obama nor John McCain nor any other past or future presidential candidate. This Barack Obama Superstar thing that seems to be going on among the most gushing of his admirers is going to leave a lot of disappointed people in its wake if Obama is elected president. Every president, you see, is a disappointment because, at some point, every president (for that matter, every presidential candidate) compromises. Neither Obama nor McCain nor Bob Barr nor Ralph Nader nor anyone else will actually “give us change, offer us hope, make our breath sweeter, make us more prosperous, more productive, happier, better educated, and healthier if we cast our votes for him or her.”

Cynical? Yes. Reality? Yes.

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