Obama is for Children

071103_obama_vmed_8p_widec David Brooks is not my favorite columnists but I think he is right "on it" with this peroration.

Obamamania is just that, "mania."  It is the historical equivalent of the economic hysteria that lead to such phenomena as the Dutch Tulip disaster or mass investment in Florida swamp land.  Huey Long promised change as well. Obama promises change.  What change?  Tell us what change and how he will accomplish it within the boundaries of law and the constitution.  His wife, a Harvard graduate, told us that for the first time in her adult life she is proud of the United States.  She says she is proud because now real change is possible.  Once again, what change?  Single payer national health care?  Mass transfer of wealth from one group to another maybe?  How?  Confiscatory taxation maybe?  Widespread award of large federal set-aside contracts maybe?  Further restriction of free speech to avoid emotional pain inflicted by "insensitive" statements or writing? 


Evidently a few people are beginning to sober up long enough to think of this man’s presidency as something other than a global public relations stunt.  Good for them.

Senator Barack Obama may well be the stuff of an historic president, someday.  Right now he is running as a demagogue appealing to the childishness that lurks just below the surface in American popular "culture."

He could no more run the executive branch successfully and enact a legislative program than any other slick talking novice politician.

"The Sitting Shiva Campaign."  Very good, David.  I would prefer "The Drunken Irish Wake Campaign" but I share your sentiment.  I surely do.  pl


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87 Responses to Obama is for Children

  1. You were exactly right when you said “Right now he is running as a demagogue appealing to the childishness that lurks just below the surface in American popular “culture.”
    Every president promises sweeping change, but seldom delivers.

  2. zot23 says:

    Are you serious Col. Lang? What change? He’ll be the first BLACK president with a MUSLIM name. You don’t see a break with precedent there? Not even a little bit? Come on, at a minimum the way the world views the USA will be transformed overnight, and if he conducts half the goodwill and foreign correspondence he has suggested, that is a huge break from “Slim Georgie Pikins” riding the bomb down into the sand that we’ve had for the last 7 years.

  3. mike says:

    He owes his popularity to Will Smith.

  4. Buzz says:

    Obviuosly Obama alone can do nothing. I think that the potential “change” that he offers and that many people seek is an end to the politics of polarization which is based on the demonization of your political opponents.
    I for one am sick of the two parties constantly talking about “taking back America.” Conservatives and liberals both live in America, and the Rovian politics of demonization prevent us from even starting to seriously look for common ground in finding solutions to the problems facing our country.
    There is definitely such a thing as “the politics of division”, we’ve had 8 years of it and it has crippled our country.
    From the beginning, Obama has campaigned offering an alternative to the politics of polarization and demonization, a “politics of inclusion”.
    If he is elected President by a significant majority of politcally diverse voters ( including Obama Republicans), it will signal a change to all politicians seeking election that the politics of demonization and division is no longer wanted by average Americans. Since politicians want to be elected this could encourage more moderate, practical candidates.
    Obama alone can do nothing but if the American people demonstrate that they want more moderate,practical politicians everything could change in a positive direction.
    It is not that our political differences will magically go away but that it is possible to move forward through respectful dialogue and compromise rather than attempting to “take back America”.
    Ideologues will not be happy with this but their approach is destroying America. Yes we need a change. Obama could be the start of this but the change must really come from the American people.
    It is possible. We’ll see.

  5. Dan Mercer says:

    Wow! What an ill-considered and intemperate post. As an Obama supporter I resent being described as a child. I don’t think he is the messiah or any other nonsense. Obama is a talented politician whose policy positions do not differ in any significant way from Hillary Clinton’s positions. He is more electable in the general election than Hilary and has run a much better campaign. Hillary relied on a loyal but incompetent campaign manager, underestimated her opposition, and did not develop a back-up plan in the event that the best case scenario did not occur. Does this remind you of someone? Sounds like our current president.

  6. JM says:

    pl: “Senator Barack Obama may well be the stuff of an historic president, someday. Right now he is running as a demagogue appealing to the childishness that lurks just below the surface in American popular “culture.””
    I’m not sure that there are too many other options than “running as a demagogue” for a person with little previous national recognition.
    What else should he do? Present his legislative agenda in exhausting detail to the crowds at his rallies? Spell out precisely what his foreign policy views are, with all the inevitable nuance that that would (or should) entail? As for me, I’d love to see that sort of campaign, but how would Chris Matthews respond?
    When you’re working within a childish popular culture, perhaps it makes sense to appeal to the kids.

  7. Ronald says:

    I think you are right to be skeptical of Obama’s rhetoric. Any talk of change will likely gloss over the fact that presidents, ya know, have to get laws through congress . . ..
    But why is Clinton or McCain’s rhetoric any better? What is the evidence that either person’s “experience” gives them better judgement? Be specific. To cite one example, Obama at least had the judgement to question what the heck we would do after we overthrew Saddam. To the extent that the other two appreciated those risks, there is no evidence that they ensured (given their positions) that those risks were addressed before they advocated war. McCain’s insistence that “noone has been more critical of the conduct of the war than he” is wrong. Furthermore, his ‘criticism’ consisted primarily of noting that things were going badly when the rest of the GOP was still ‘creating its own reality’ over there. Personally, I do not give points for noting the obvious.
    Perhaps Clinton and McCain seem “tougher.” What does that mean? Especially, since McCain is now going after Obama as ‘rash’ for noting that Obama said he would strike in Pakistan if AQ were there and Pakistan refused to act. McCain himself has said he would chase AQ to the Gates of Hell, or some such cr^p. It is also just so much rhetoric. For goodness’ sake, even if a candidate chooses to wax eloquent about policy details for 2 hours, _that_ is a rhetorical choice.
    My response to people who claim that Obama is “just talk” or riding “mania” about “hope” is to note that it reflects, with all due respect, those people’s frustration that their own candidate, with all of his or her rhetoric, is losing. It is that simple. To borrow a line from Apocalypse Now, faulting a candidate for using soaring rhetoric is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. Obama’s rhetoric seems to be “working,” and that bothers people who want someone else to win. Further, nothing reveals that motive more clearly than trying to insult the supporters of the other candidate (a la the title of your post “Obama is for children”).
    My own antidote to all of this campaign season hot air and to the various assaults on clear thinking and diction-related atrocities is to re-read Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.” Really clears the palette, and is as true today as it was then.
    I should also say that, considering the initial field of candidates (and whatever the rhetoric), Americans will be choosing among (ultimately, between) candidates who are by no means lightweights. People can knock Obama as green, McCain as irritable, or whatever . . . , but at least these three people are smart and accomplished. It could have been a lot worse.

  8. Dave of Maryland says:

    You once told me not to post again, but I figured out Obama.
    Think of Andy Jackson. Think of US Grant. Think of carpetbaggers. Think of Ronald Reagan. Think of the Velvet Revolution. Think of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Think of Boris Yeltsin. Think of the post-Soviet Eastern Block. Think of the fragmented states of the former Soviet Union. Think of French Socialists in 1936.
    Don’t think Obama. It’s bigger than Obama. Think sea change. Think coat-tails.
    It’s coming to the US next year.
    No, I’m not happy either.

  9. Nicholas Weaver says:

    The problem I have: I have no way of knowing whether or not Obama would be a good president. “A noun, a verb, and ”hope”” is no better than Guillani’s “A noun, a verb, and ”911””.
    The question is: “Will he hire good people and will he listen to them, and can he change his mind when presented with evidence?” as that, beyond anything else, seems to be the mark of a succesful president. And I think there is at least some, err, “hope” this might be the case.
    But H Clinton has shown by her recent behavior and “win at any cost” campaign that she would be a disastrous president, as she has no ability to cope with falirues and adapt well.
    As for McCain, he’s clearly “3rd Term GWB”, as I believe not only is he too old, but has been hopelessly corrupted by 8 years of the Bush administration.

  10. anna missed says:

    Simply put, Obama’s declaration of “change” is the equivalent of Reagan’s declaration of “morning in America”. People buy into such vague propositions for a multiplicity of reasons, but all are grounded in a general sense of something being wrong. I don’t expect Obama to be any more specific than Reagan was. And in addition, John McCain finds himself analogously, a new incarnation of Fritz Mondale in 84, trying to sell more war instead of more taxes to a public sick of it – and willing to latch onto any fantasy as an alternative.

  11. china_hand says:

    Except Hillary’s a hysterical cynic.
    And McCain’s a bitter, angry old man.
    So now that we have all the candidates reduced to one-liners, can we get on with discussion about what they intend to do?
    Or maybe it would be better to disucss what we hope they won’t do?
    Obama isn’t my first, nor second, nor even distant fifth choice. But I prefer him over the other two, by far. I suspect that even his mistakes would be better for the country than anything the other two might concoct.
    Better now, i think, for our politicians to fail on principle than to succeed with subterfuge. And let’s face it: the other two are experts at that latter.
    Either one would seek to continue the trend towards a Regal Executive. Enough power has been concentrated there; i’m voting for Obama for the simple reason that he’s both the least likely to abuse his position as well as the least likely to allow others to abuse it in his name.
    And anyway, what is Hillary all that worried about? Not being president? Is she so vindictive that she really believes a weak Obama wouldn’t ask for her aid?
    Or is it just that she’s sick of playing a support role and has decided to take her ball and go home?
    Mrs. Clinton, meet Henry Clay.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a strong senate, for a change?

  12. Walrus says:

    I’m watching this from a long way away and can’t vote anyway, but I have two observations.
    1. Anyone is better than Bush.
    2. “Change” can occur, often rapidly, when a crisis occurs people and society “Unfreeze” their values and positions, then sweeping change is possible with no resistance.
    Of course after a while, opinions and values “refreeze” into the new state and then change is impossible until the next crisis.
    It happened to us here exactly that way after a State financial meltdown. The newly elected government closed schools and hospitals, privatised all sorts of things and there wasn’t even a whim,per of protest because we were desperate.
    Naomi Klein(?) made a name for herself by repackaging this 40 year old discovery as “shock politics” or suchlike, and accused the Republicans of using 911 to drive a change agenda, which of course they successfully (and predictably) did.
    Given that the U.S. is about to enter the mother of all financial meltdowns, I think it is entirely possible that by January a newly elected Obama will be faced by an electorate, corporations and institutions, clamouring for change, and meekly prepared to make sacrifices to achieve them, in all contentious areas including health care, education, taxation, industry protection, foreign policy, environment, in fact the lot.
    I’ve seen it work this way before.

  13. DCA says:

    Will he hire good people and will he listen to them? This is indeed the all-important question, and I would argue that we already know the answer: he had to do this to set up his campaign, which has been very successful. (I do not think he inherited much of this organization from anywhere). How much change can he bring? Probably less than many hope for–but I’ll go for someone who at least sounds like he is willing to address some of the issues.

  14. Interesting post. Question is will the challenges of the next decade be in fixing what is broke in existing federal policies? Or will it being able to adjust to the new problems and issues sure to arise? For example, would mass emigration from Cuba or Mexico prompted by revolution or whatever be handled better by Obama or someone else? Clearly he can think on his feet but that skill does not necessarily mean long term understanding of what needs changing and why? Again in my view some of the basics need fixing domestically and not all the tigers in the world are the product of ineptness by the US in its foreign relations or military approaches. But then who are his experts? And who are McCain’s or Huckabee’s? Time for serious analysis of who each party is likely to bring to power and why? For a start how about the VP slot and the National Security Advisor! Since the Sec. Treasury is not a posting of Goldman-Sachs I guess Paulson can stay if he wants. Oh, you want an example of a new issue–War in the Formosa Straights (sic).

  15. rjj says:

    Save Tinkerbelle! Clap your hands if you believe. Click your heels, and blink, blink, blink.
    Aren’t Faith, Hope, magical + wishful thinking what got us into Iraq?
    Isn’t anybody troubled by Obama’s fast-track onto the national scene thanks in part to the timely intervention of Denny Hastert and Ray LaHood.

  16. bubba says:

    Consider the alternatives.
    It may be comforting to gripe about how seemingly lacking his rhetoric is on its face. But that is simply politics. Unconventional, somewhat, but politics nevertheless. Griping about politicians engaging in politics is an avoidance of reality.
    How many news stories have you seen lately intelligently considering any candidate’s policy positions? No. Policies only take you so far. Packaging takes you the rest of the way. Clinton and Obama are nearly deadlocked on policy. On most points they are nearly indistinguishable. Only on the minor points of each position do they differ, and those minor differences will evaporate upon first contact with Congress.
    Therefore, it necessarily comes down to packaging, personality, the “soft power” of politics. Obama’s “change” theme is not merely a kumbaya transcendence of partisanship (unless that’s what you want it to be), nor is it only a snub against the Bush administration. It also attacks Clinton. It subtly implies that bringing back Bill’s staff to run a new administration is not signigicant change either.
    Regardless of the packaging, Obama does have some significant experience. See here for a rebuttal to the latest attack on his lack of substance (and click the links for more complete summaries of his record).
    But what do we really mean when we argue that a politician is lacking experience? What possible experience can singly prepare one individual to be chief executive of the United States? Did Bush 43 have it? Bill? Perhaps Bush 41 had a better resume, but what did that get him? Does McCain have it? What of lasting significance has he done in 25 years? Hillary?
    So, is Obama’s change rhetoric simply speaking to fools? Perhaps. But maybe that’s necessary in politics. People always project their own hopes and ideas onto leaders. Anti-war Republicans were voting in greater number for McCain than any of the alternatives (when there still were alternatives). How many times have we heard smart people explain Bush’s policies through the prism of their own vastly different ideals? Maybe some of these people buying into his change line will be disappointed when, three months into his term we are still not living in a happy, futuristic, post-partisan world. Who cares. Just like listening to a diplomat speak, the smart people know that lofty rhetoric is merely starting your bid high.
    Aw, hell… I’m rambling now. Hopefully something in this mess of a response makes some sense to someone.

  17. JohnH says:

    Yeah, I know. Obama will run a terrible White House–just like he ran a terrible campaign. The Obama difference will consist of using the bullly pulpit to rally the public to break the partisan gridlock and deliver programs that benefit the many, not the top 0.5%.
    The reason for Obamamania is that he speaks to people’s needs, directly and clearly. When he says, “we must end this war,” it resonates. When Hillary says, “we have to draw down responsibly,” no one knows what her real intentions are.

  18. Curious says:

    Maybe Hillary has better promise and Obama is all talk.
    But if how a candidate manage campaign is an indication how he is going to deal with daily operation. Then Hillary is clearly deep inside the machine.
    Hillary Rodham Clinton started the year flush with cash, but by the beginning of this month, she’d blazed through most of it — spending $11 million on ads, $3.8 million on messaging guru Mark Penn and $1,300 at Dunkin’ Donuts, just to name a few expenditures — leaving her campaign woefully unprepared for an extended battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
    She simply did not have the cash to compete in the post-Feb. 5 states, mostly because her campaign spending blueprint was built around two flawed premises: that no one would be able to match her fundraising and that the nomination would be decided on Super Tuesday.
    Clinton’s January campaign finances, filed Wednesday night with the Federal Election Commission, show she spent nearly as much as Obama from the beginning of the campaign until the beginning of this month. But they also show a top-heavy campaign lacking the liquidity to adjust to the new electoral landscape that emerged after Feb. 5.

    This is basic mechanic of election. How candidate device a strategy, execute and deal with changing situation. Hillary clearly fails to anticipate Obama’s move.
    Is energizing the young voter “all hype”? Isn’t this how future generation learns to lead? Isn’t this the clearest indication of change? (creating different political base that does not depends on the usual machine.)

  19. Binh says:

    Is Obama’s promise of change a bunch of false, vague nonsense? Of course. But explaining his rise (and Hillary Clinton’s apparent demise) because he is a “demagogue appealing to the childishness that lurks just below the surface in American popular ‘culture'” to me doesn’t cut it as far as analysis goes.
    The fact of the matter is that Hillary’s vote to authorize the invasion, support for NAFTA, hawkishness on Iran, etc have become fatal liabilities in today’s environment where the electorate desperately wants a break with, not a continuation of, the policies and rhetoric of the Bush era.
    That has a lot more to do with Obama’s rise than childishness on the part of the American people.

  20. sbnative says:

    I think you are missing the point…every candidate has to say something; they can pander; they can inspire; they can innudate with detail. Obama has chosen to inspire…it was a clear decision on his part: a strategic decision. I should think that you of all people would LOVE someone who can think strategically and then stick to that game plan without getting lost in the weeds. I think he may end up being the most strategic president of the last 100 years…quite a change.

  21. sglover says:

    I think much of Obama’s success is due to the utter and inescapable barreness and falseness of the supposedly “experienced” Beltway mandarins. You can’t blame Obama for that. People sense — correctly! — that the old institutions are fraying badly. Why should they have any affection for relics who are so intimately wrapped up in old mistakes?
    Obama may well be offering false hope, and a lot of folks may be investing more in him than any one person rates. But McCain and Clinton are flat-out odious.

  22. Max says:

    I’m not partial to Obama’s sugar either but neither am I expecting his substance to be as vast as the apparent hype, or holding him thereby to a standard differing for any other potential successor to the current debacle, be they more highly experienced in an arguably pertinent way or not to the specific job in question. Correspondingly, I would submit that, in no small portion, peoples’ reactions to Obama are in part contingent and attributable to the jaw-dropping abject radicalism, contempt and greed of the present gang of thugs. Are people relying on belief alone, and not desperately running away from the chaos? Certainly if Obama was all that and some crackerjacks, the substance would be the prize in the rhetorical box. But there’s no net below this high-wire act now in play; whatever he says will spawn hydra; whether it is substantively correct and good will not deter the reality distortion dementors. Should he ignore those risks so early out of hand and let the chips fall, relying on hope (if he even really has the substance)? Doesn’t seem like the kind of political shrewdness and savvy necessary for success in today’s politics. Pressing his advantage in this way says as much about many of us as it does about him, I think. And if Clinton’s problem is the hype then what more than her substance will better undermine it in the end, and what better time to start?

  23. hardheaded liberal says:

    Col. Lang, you are a wise judge of national security issues, especially in the Middle East. But you are neither wise nor objective about Barack Obama’s “Yes we can…bring change.”
    Have you listened to his full stump speech? The first chance I had was on Tuesday night, when he came on the networks to pre-empt Hillary Clinton’s stump speech. There is a considerable amount of “meat and potatoes” in his stump speech.
    A simple point to cite is the paragraph where he states: “As a law professor I have taught the Constitution. I respect the Constitution. And when I’m President, I will obey the Constitution!” Either before or shortly after those words, he specifically refers to the scandal of US agents torturing prisoners. There is one specific point that is clearly stated: The Bush-Cheney deviation from international law on torture will be reversed and disavowed.
    Your question as to a single-payer health care plan also suggests a complete lack of attention to the current Democratic primary campaigns. Obama has a proposed plan that might be described as “universal access to affordable insurance.” He does not even require that every household actually purchase or otherwise obtain health insurance – he only wants to guarantee that it is available and affordable. Hillary Clinton is trying to bash Obama about the fact that his proposal does not even mandate carrying insurance coverage, so that it is estimated that the Obama plan will reduce the uninsured population substantially below the 47 million Americans who are NOT covered at any one time, but will leave about 15 million Americans, 5% of the population, still not covered.
    Tax policy? Obama has made a specific commitment to allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire (and trying to repeal them early) as to households with income exceeding $200,000 per year. Corporate tax policy? He proposes to revise the tax code to eliminate incentives for corporations to export jobs overseas and to increase incentives to create new plants and jobs in the U.S.
    Colonel, you are a respected member of “the reality-based community.” All your published analyses show your ability to analyze controversies through a dispassionate assessment of empirical facts. You haven’t applied those faculties yet to assessing the facts about Obama’s policy proposals that are widely available to the public.
    I think if you are able to analyze Obama’s proposals with a clear eye, you will no longer be alarmed that electing Obama might put a closet fascist or a closet communist in the White House. You probably will continue to support another candidate [or one of the candidates] after such an assessment, but I don’t think you will continue to demonize Obama.
    Perhaps more important than what policies Obama will propose is how well he will organize the direction of the cabinet and the executive branch. The Obama team is the only team in the 2008 presidential race that has consistently shown effective planning for a winning campaign and the ability to marshal all the resources necessary to implement its plans.
    Hillary Clinton chose not to have a strong independent campaign manager to run her campaign and instead put a pliable but loyal former scheduler in that position. She chose Mark Penn as her messaging adviser and has stuck with him as her campaign has lost both support and financial strength. John McCain’s campaign has boiled down to being the “last man standing,” in the Republican race, after the voters rejected the other major contenders one by one.
    Obama is the only candidate who has organized his campaign in a way that gives voters confidence that he can organize a White House staff or select a strong team – including, as JFK did, some important Republicans – for his cabinet.
    PS Your alarm at the potential risks of unknown Obama Policies has the tone of the Clinton team’s shrilly grasping at any negative comment they can think of to tear down Obama’s image. I don’t know if you consider yourself a supporter of any candidate or a part of any candidate’s cheering section, but the tone and factual void of your Obama-alarms – very atypical for your posts – is the same tone increasingly used by partisans of one candidate to attack another candidate. Does this play a part in your feelings about Obama?
    Or from another perspective, have you had an experience (e.g., a tragedy you witnessed when a leader you endorsed who promised “change” turned out to be an authoritarian villain) that left you with a visceral sense of threat from any leader who promises “change”?
    PPS Colonel, I enjoy your posts immensely and I have deep respect for your opinions. From my own comment and others, many of us who follow your blog regularly are puzzled by the intensity of your alarm about what Obama might mean by change. If you have had bad experience(s) with leaders promising “change” who later betrayed your trust, I am sure many of us would be interested to learn more about those experience(s), even if you would have to change the names of the players to protect the guilty!

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A very good response to this post. I am surprised at the level of toleration (thus far) of my unwillingness to accept the promise of deep change accompanied by respect for our essential institutions.
    I am not willing to sacrifice our liberties for the promise of social justice. I am not sure what such a promise means when it comes from the mouth of aomeone who has been so clearly benefited by our evolving system.
    Nevertheless, I accept the opinion of so many who wish to believe in a boundless future. I left that behind somewhere.
    Jefferson believed that government must be reinvented in every generation.
    I pray that he and so many of you are right. pl

  25. sglover says:

    “I am not willing to sacrifice our liberties for the promise of social justice.”
    Uh….. Wha…? Who’s asking you to?

  26. Paul says:

    The term “demagogue” (now a pejorative) once meant “champion of common people”. It is therefore accurate to call him a demagogue. When in the past 50 years have we had a president who tried to champion common people? Jimmy Carter? Reagan completed three good years of service but his last five years might just as well have been spent in a nursing home.
    The “decider” promised to bring everyone into the same tent. Instead, he allowed his underlings to drag us into several sink holes, and in the process they convinced him that he actually was a king in disguise.
    Bush and his sycophants in Congress passed laws that favored corporations at the expense of the general population. The unprecedented use of signing statements sidestepped the most meaningful aspects of the laws. He’s proven to be a poor CIC because he has violated the first tenet of military leadership: “take care of the troops”. Only an idiot would have made a “dead or alive” plea.
    Ron Paul could lead an effort to put a stop to executive branch folly but he will not be elected because the sheep (75% of the voters) do not understand (nor do they care about) the complexities of the modern world and how our nation relates to it.
    Hillary Clinton has the intellect and elbows to lead the country, but the prospect of Bill Clinton sitting in a White House back room throwing turds into the punchbowl is asking too much.
    If Obama cancels or reverses the existing signing statements he will effectuate a significant change in our country’s direction. As he shows no predilection to undermine the role of Congress, it could be that his leadership style will be consistent with the role of the Executive Branch outlined in the Constitution. He does not seem to have “trifling” inclinations as far as the military goes; indeed, the services might even fulfill their promise and destiny under his leadership.

  27. Stanley Henning says:

    If Obama is for children, who has Bush been for ? As others have already noted, a lot, almost everything, will depend on the combination of Obama himself, the kind of people he is surrounded with, and how they all interact, as in any administration, and, hopefully, primarily for the good of OUR country, realizing we have to live with others on this earth. What more can we ask for? I do hope the individual who wins will operate with minimal ideological bent, will carefully balance advice, and will not try to end run our system of checks and balances. And, of course, I hope both parties will try to cooperate as much as possible for the good of our country — we need to do a lot of repair work, but many of the repairs will count on a decent economy .

  28. rjj says:

    Jefferson believed that government must be reinvented in every generation.
    But I thought we needed to de-reinvent the work of Dick Cheney and his familiars.

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Politicians do not tell you what they intend to do to you until they attain power. A deep suspicion should be maintained toward them all. Bush in his first campaign and in his first year in office was a vastly different creature than the post 9/11 aspirant to dictatorial power that he has manifested since.
    Anyone who implies that he “is the answer” does not have an image of himself that fits into the limited role that we have hoped for in American presidents.
    Liberties vs. social justice? Review the history of the continuing tension between these values in Western civilization since the French Revolution. Along the way, re-read “Animal Farm.” pl

  30. Jose says:

    1. Not a Neo-Con
    2. Not a Clinton
    3. 180 degree change from what we have now.
    That’s enough to defeat the mighty Clinton machine and the remains of the Republican majority.
    Perhaps this “Child” is exactly what America needs as opposed to “triangulation” and the “fear is my ally”.

  31. David says:

    One indication of how these two democratic candidates would run the country is how they run their campaigns. Clinton’s has been a disaster. Oboma has run a masterful campaign. Give me the inexperienced guy any time! I also like his
    foreign policy advisers. A few (at least) new faces, and by the way, don’t you think Hillary is too cosy with AIPAC?

  32. Foot, meet ant-hill.
    Ant-hill, meet foot.

  33. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Perhaps it would be useful to know more about Mr. Obama? What serious biographic data is out there?
    Just how does a guy from Hawaii blow into Chicago and skyrocket? Just who did make him? What is his real background in Chicago politics? Who are his patrons?
    Being from Chicago myself, things I hear from my sources in the Hyde
    Park black community go something like this:
    1. He came into Chicago as a social worker involved in various projects in the South Side. The original groups he worked with were Christian based and his primary work was with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God crowd. He later distanced himself from that milieu. He became a member of Trinity United Church of Christ.
    2. He got noticed in his early social work days by some well connected white philanthropists some of whom have links to the University of Chicago. They supported him and moved him along in their circles.
    3. One of his key patrons is the Pritzker family. Penny Pritzker (a billionaire or so — Hyatt Hotels and all that) is the national finance chair of his presidential campaign.
    “With over 350,000 donors and more than a half a million donations, Americans hungry for change know that Barack Obama is the candidate with the right experience to make that change happen,” said Penny Pritzker, Obama for America National Finance Chair. ”
    4. Through powerful patronage he got around the usual Chicago machine path of entry via a family connection (father, uncle etc.),paying your dues for many years, doing the favors you need to do, keeping your mouth shut. Hence, “he’s relatively clean” as someone from Hyde Park told me.
    For those not familiar with Chicago, I might suggest the Pritzker family as subjects of interest. They do have a colorful (one might say) Chicago background and you can read all about it in
    a book by Gus Russo called Supermob (2006):
    “This book is an explosive story of the criminal underworld and its covert takeover of American politics, business, and entertainment. It’s the tale of a cadre of powerful men who, over the course of decades, secretly influenced nearly every aspect of American society, including such famous (and infamous) folks as Jules Stein, Ronald Reagan, Abe Pritzker, Lew Wasserman, and John Jacob Factor — as well as numerous other meticulously low-profile members. At the heart of it all is was the Chicago Outfit and its fair-haired boy, Sidney Korshak, aka “The Fixer,” who from the 1940’s until his death in the 1990s, was not only the most powerful lawyer in the world, according to the FBI, but the enigmatic, almost vaporous player behind some of the shadiest deals of the 20th century…”
    The Rezko thing…well, isn’t the real subject of interest actually Rezko’s patron Nadhmi Auchi, the Iraqi billionaire, former oil minister, Saddam guy etc? Rezko-Auchi-Obama links all over the London papers but somehow doesn’t seem to get picked up over here…

  34. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,
    I would agree that there is a certain element of risk in electing Obama in that he’s not an establishment candidate. However, as others have noted, I think the US populace on both sides of the political spectrum are sick and tired of the establishment. Who would have thought McCain would win the nomination defying the GoP base? He’s hated by liberals for those times he’s supported Bush and most of the GoP base hates him for not towing the parry line, yet he won. Obama, I think, has been successful for similar reasons, though his stellar campaign certainly helped. Were Hillary’s last name something other than “Clinton” things might be different.
    I think this is one of those election cycles where there will be a lot of aisle crossing. I suspect in a year we might be talking about “Obama Republicans” or “McCain Democrats”. It’s an election cycle where I think the silent majority in America that largely ignore politics most of the time will make their voices heard and ultimately decide the next President. Those voters are, I believe, likely to support the “change” candidate.
    Finally, consider that the Democrats are still in primary mode. Provided Obama wins the nomination, he will have to change tack in the general election. Undoubtedly he’ll continue with the change mantra, but he’ll have to spend more time on policy and substance.

  35. zanzibar says:

    IMO, we can never be certain of how a candidate will perform once they are in office.
    All we can observe is what have they done, how they have made decisions in real time and their judgment.
    As far as the current campaign is concerned – Obama’s team planned and are executing a 50 state strategy. They did not assume they would win every contest and decided to compete for every vote and delegate in all our states. Hillary on the other hand had all the institutional advantages and the Clinton name recognition but her strategy was to focus on inevitability and a knock-out on Super Tuesday. When that did not materialize she had no Plan B.
    So just taking the campaign as an example of decision making and judgment – Obama scored better than Hillary. And to achieve the objective of winning the nomination of the Democratic party if he had to appeal to our childish nature, that, IMO, reflects astuteness.
    Ultimately I believe if we are to maintain our constitutional democracy with the degree of skepticism of government that our founders had, we the citizens have to exercise our sovereignty. Its easy to blame others but we also need to accept our responsibility as citizens.

  36. David W says:

    By definition, those who are resistant to change benefit from the status quo, and that includes the DNC wing, Bill and Hillary.
    What swayed me was that Obama voted against telecom immunity in the Senate earlier this month, while Hillary, true to form, abstained from the vote. This is a Constitutional issue, yet Hillary was afraid to touch it, because her ‘triangulation team’ probably told her there wasn’t enough upside, and they didn’t want to offend the people who weren’t paying attention.
    I’m a lifelong independent, not a dewey eyed ingenue, and although Obama has plenty of question marks, his record has way more integrity than Hill’s situational pragmatism. I don’t expect a return of the Great Society, but I think that change can be achieved by something as simple as enforcing laws and bringing back the govt. watchdog.

  37. matt says:

    Maybe Obama is for a huge swath of the Democratic Party that wishes to express its unwillingness to accept a presidential nominee in the corporatist, top-down, manner much more indicative of the modern Republican Party. Of the many possible – and accurate – ways to interpret this primary campaign is that we are witnessing the begining of re-invigorated party apparatus asserting itself after 20 years of DLC-style, ‘third way’ hollowing out.
    Political parties are most certainly one of our political system’s “essential institutions”. Rhetoric is a means to an end.

  38. taters says:

    I don’t buy it either, Col. Lang. Sure, he may win it – I wonder why someone like Robert Kagan go ga ga over him?
    McDonald’s may be the tops in sales, just don’t tell me it’s cuisine.

  39. PR says:

    Moon stations a trip to Mars and 600 billion in military spending are hardly essential institutions.

  40. rjj says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,
    for asking my question and providing some of the answers.

  41. Mo says:

    No matter who wins, how do we get them to get you as foreign policy adviser for the Middle East?

  42. Twit says:

    Col Lang, on your prayer:
    I think that is a brilliant observation that this election is about a choice between how we want government to be ‘reinvented.’ And the choices are pretty clear, and both are partially scary.
    Obama’s power derives from the people, i.e. from his ability to sway, influence, and manipulate the general public. Hillary’s power derives mostly from entrenched interests, i.e. her ability to sway, influence, and cajole those already in power.
    Obama thus offers a reinvention of government that could be much more in line with the Founders vision in that it be definition would lead to decentralization of power away from the federal government and towards the individual. He would only become a demagouge if he was willing and able to reflect his power (derived directly from the public) back onto himself. This is how a personality cult populist like Huey Long governed, and you’re right, it does lead to sacrificing liberty for effectiveness (i.e. change both good and bad).
    On the other side Hillary and McCain simply represent a more benign continuation of the type government ‘reinvented’ by Bush and co, namely one that involves us trading liberty for things like loyalty, security, comfort, and unity/conformity.
    I for one, would rather take my chances with Obama’s reinvention. At best, we reinvent government in a way that makes us freer. At worst, we get a failed populist (I doubt Obama is savvy or evil enough to become a real despot). With Hillary or McCain, we further entrench a system of government that leaves us with neither liberty nor justice.

  43. Curious says:

    More report of Clinton campaign inner working
    Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising.
    Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s latest campaign finance report, published Wednesday night, appeared even to her most stalwart supporters and donors to be a road map of her political and management failings.

  44. Larry M says:

    Respectfully, I think you missed the tone of the majority of the responses to your post. The majority of your readers seem to be as skeptical, or almost as skeptical, as you are about Obama’s change rhetoric. They believe, though, (correctly in my book), that, underneath that rhetoric, Obama is candidate of some promise – or, at a bare minimum, of more promise than the two awful alternatives.

  45. Mike says:

    Change? What change? Good question. Change – as in cosmetic change – a black (ish) man with a Muslim middle name as President. Supposedly, this might inspire those coloured and Muslim peoples of the world whose declared vocation in life is to hate “imperialist-colonialist” America to suddenly fall in love with America just because he is black. Mmmmmm. Maybe -for five minutes. Then it will be back to usual, one suspects. Change – as in tinker with the educational system, the social security system, taxation, funding for the military, etc. Those would be changes, but not change. Will these tinkerings really represent any deep and substantial change in the way Americans think about themselves and their society and their place in the world? They are really merely adjustments to the machine, not a complete redesign. Change, real change, surely is the sort of change that was effected in England 1642 to 1660, America 1777 to 1783, Italy 1848 on, Japan after Perry, France 1789 to 1815, Russia 1917 and 1990, South Africa 1990s. Revolutionary change – good or bad. The wholesale re-organisation of the collective cosciousness of society, reflected in a massive shifting and re-structuring of its policies and attitudes to the outside world, its belief systems, how its citizens relate to each other, its internal politics and so forth.
    Is Mr Obama offering in reality merely the cosmetic change – “I am black (which is obviously a change)” cf Kennedy the first Catholic president – or does he promise to tinker with parts of the system so as to give his electors a good feeling that change is happening – a “no child left behind” change – or is he offering a revolutionary transformation of American society and America’s place in the world. “I am a Gandhi, a Mandela, a Jefferson (or a Chavez or a Castro!)”. If the latter – surely he should be indicating the lineaments of that transformation, which so far, he seems not to be.
    The colonel is quite right: from Mr Obama’s lips, the word change emerges meaningless, undefined, vague, empty. A tale told by a clever man, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  46. Biscuits says:

    Oops, sorry about that last (non)post. Col. Lang, I mostly just lurk here and enjoy your thoughts and those of the others as well. I think it’s not just “change” that Obama is offering, but also hope. After the last 16 years of extreme partisan nastiness his message is inspirng. We’ve all been so jaded by the past. Will there be change if he’s elected? I’m inclined to believe what has been said by those positive commenters above. Oh, here’s the definition of Hope: The feeling that what is desired is possible, or that events may turn out for the best. I hope that “Hope” is not just for children.

  47. frank durkee says:

    I have come to this post late. I think that a critical point has been missed. Namely, the Bush administration came in with a radical change agenda. Most of the things that exercise the Col. or many of the rest of us are the result of that radical/revolutionary agenda, including the war in iraq. Obama is thus the cconservative candidate of return to the principles of our earlier style of governance. At this moment that is ‘Change’ and something new. Further, if yoou read the Post on Serbia etc in this light then what Abama has caught is another aspect of our national mythos, which the Bush attempted revolutionary had put aside.

  48. Walrus says:

    I note today that security was lifted at an Obama rally in Texas – they stopped screening some of the 17,000 that attended for guns. This was apparently on the orders of homeland security or the secret service.
    It has crossed my mind more than once that there is a considerable body of folk that could not contemplate the idea of a man of color sitting in the Oval Office. I am therefore very concerned for his safety.

  49. Nicholas says:

    Col. Lang, Our foreign policy is broken, the Pentagon is broken, our health care system is almost broken, as is our supply of energy and our currency.
    No one would have any hope of winning a nomination if he or she spoke candidly about our broken policies.
    McCain and Clinton offer incremental change. A few more fingers in the dike.
    I do not know what Obama would do. I do know that he has been endorsed by people with a lot of experience and a record of making tough decisions.
    Paul Volcker’s endorsement is meaningful to me. He clamped down hard on the economy and broke inflation. He restored the dollar. I hope that Obama is talking to him.
    If Obama wins the nomination I hope he’ll take some time to meet you.

  50. Fred says:

    “I am not willing to sacrifice our liberties for the promise of social justice.”
    Pat, neither am I. In fact I’m reminded of a quote by Vice President Alexander Stephens: “Our liberties, once lost, may be lost forever.” Of course he was VP of the Confederate States of America….

  51. Harper says:

    Obama may also be for Karl Rove and the GOP attack machine. Last Sunday, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich were interviewed in the Sunday Times of London, smacking their chops over the opportunity to set off the attack dogs on Obama, whom they labeled a “sleazy Chicago socialist.” Newt and company already have the dossier on Obama’s ties to Tony Rezko, and his past close ties to two Weather Underground figures, Bill Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn, now both Chicago radical-chics, who contributed to Obama’s state senate campaign, and served with him on a local Chicago foundation board for a few years.
    Yes, as Dr. Justin Frank observed, there is a mania around Obama, which is far different than the real man. Obama is not some mythical political giant. He has the backing of a bunch of oldtime Democrats who hate the Clintons, and saw Obama as someone they could use as the best available instrument to destroy the Clinton campaign and the Clinton hold over the Democratic Party. These include such well known “change agents” as Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, Dennis Ross, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy. The last time I looked, these were all has-beens or political failures (Pelosi’s mis-leadership has brought the Democratic Congress into tight competition with George Bush for public rejection in all recent polls), who have latched on to Obama, and have benefited from an equally hateful anti-Clinton media apparatus, led by MSNBC, Rupert Murdoch (whose New York Post endorsed Obama in the NY Democratic primary election), and Lally Weymouth, whose hatred for Hillary Clinton was the talk of the Hamptons last summer.

  52. Everyone’s made excellent points. I have nothing of substance to add.
    So I’ll add this…
    Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.
    -HL Mencken

  53. rjj says:

    Frank Durkee, did he say such a thing, or was that your interpretation of his oracular policy utterances?

  54. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Glad data was useful.
    1. Here is an interesting report on Obama indicating contact with Weather Underground types (circa 1960s) turned Hyde Park supporters (circa 1995):
    “In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
    While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they’re better known nationally as two of the most notorious — and unrepentant — figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement.”
    2. For those younger SST readers who are not familiar with the violent hard left Weatherman (white guys and gals) of the 1960s and 1970s see Wiki at (there is a lot of stuff here): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weatherman_%28organization%29
    3. The Weatherman liked to make bombs. I happened to be in New York City in March 1970 staying with some friends down in the Village near Washington Square. I recall walking down West 11th where there had been an explosion at a fancy townhouse. The police had taped the area off a few days before. This was the townhouse where the famous Weather Underground bomb factory was and in which some of the wannabee terrorists blew themselves up by mistake while making a bomb intended for use against US soldiers in New Jersey.
    “Shortly before noon on Friday March 6, 1970, members of the Weather Underground were building a nail bomb intended to be set off at a noncommissioned officers dance at the Fort Dix, New Jersey Army base that night.”
    4. Here is data on Bill Ayers from Wiki. His is from a wealthy family.
    ” There has recently been some controversy about the extent of the relationship between Senator Barack Obama and Ayers. At the very least, they served together for three years on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago; and, in 1995, Senator Obama attended a political event at the home of Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Recently, Obama’s press secretary has noted that Obama “strongly condems the violent actions of the Weathermen group.”
    5. I said in my earlier posting that Obama himself was not a long time machine member having blown into town from Hawaii via Boston and New York City. His wife, however, certainly is a veteran machine asset and is a native of the South Side and attorney with a City Hall background. You will note her father was a Democratic precinct captain:

  55. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Something that I think is important to remember: The constitution, with two exceptions; age and place of birth, places no restrictions on who can run for president. And now, through the amendment process it places almost no restrictions on who can vote.
    Both of these provide us with the structure necessary for a participative democracy, i.e., one in which all points of view can be expressed even if they’re wrong. Nowhere is it written that the decisions made by the people have to be correct.
    As a result, the constitution, like the rules for any good participative decision making process tolerates the possibility of mistakes but inherently seems to understand, long before the management theorists made the ideas popular, that the more people involved in the decisions the better the outcome will be.
    This, of course, doesn’t make us as individual voters with a stake in the outcome comfortable. No one likes to lose. But it does ensure a much higher degree of acceptance when the final tally is in.
    Fifty percent plus one never really appealed to me. What’s happening currently shows promise of getting rid of that flawed decision making design by offering the country the hope that it can be a united again.

  56. rjj says:

    WRT Harper’s post:
    For a while I thought perhaps Clinton and McCain were using the same strategy, running as outsiders, with Obama acting as Dem trog bait. But our political epistemologists, the media, have not used the word maverick in connection with Hillary, so she can’t be, no matter how many of the invertebrate Dems throw their support to her opponent.
    Richard Cohen’s recent column was carelessly captioned in one paper “Judge McCain by his enemies, and he wins.”

    Nothing commends McCain more than his enemies.

    Poor Cohen, they will never quote him: the same is true of HRC.

  57. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I do not understand why it would be a good thing for Americans to be “united once again.” pl

  58. ckrantz says:

    It’s not my election but it suprise me that anyone would consider Barack Obama anti-establisment. Or anti-washington. On the contrary. He has the support of the democratic party establisment figures and judging by his foreign policiy advisors middle of the road republicans and democrats in the washington national security establisment. He is certainly not an outsider. But there seems to be a trend in american politics every 10-15 years when a new bunch of people arrive with a mandate of change. Or less polite to kick the bums out.
    What worries me is if yet another american president will try to shape the world in moral vision of whats right. A idealistic foreign policy hawk would not be good. Tony Lake, Dennis Ross or Zbig does not inspire confidence in me.

  59. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    re “united once again.”
    The leaders of this country have lost their way. I believe this and so does a majority of voters. The country which still likes to pride itself on the importance of teamwork and pulling together to get things done has been allowed to forget the significance of its founding motto “E Pluribus Unum.”
    We’ve lost our way because we have not had leaders who were willing to either acknowledge their constituents’ concerns or to honestly reframe them in order to seek better solutions.
    I take it as axiomatic that any government or any organization works better when its constituents are united in their belief that they can interact meaningfully with their government to reach solutions valuable to all whether about health care, national security, education, immigration, the economy, a foreign war, or replacing a deteriorating infrastructure.
    I also take it as truth that in the past our country has been able to benefit from the efficiencies this kind of unity affords. I look forward to it happening again.
    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my earlier comments.

  60. James Pratt says:

    Sen. Obama has great academic and communication skills but what really impresses me is that he used a very short time in the US Senate to gain better advice, better campaign strategists and better field organizers than Sen. Clinton or Edwards, who were on the national scene years before him. George W Bush and the jacobin cabal created a demand for something completely different,Barack Obama prepared well for the opportunity.

  61. Scott says:

    Dear Mr. Lang;
    Change? The 2004 election was about 60’s and the Vietnam war; swift boats and silver stars. McCain attacked Clinton as the hippie anti-war, chick, about the Woodstock memorial and, in the same speech, reminded us of his Vietnam war imprisonment. Then, he debated with Castro about Cuba’s support for North Vietnam in the 60’s. Cheeney and Rumsfield said we needed to invade Iraq because an easy win would get this country over Vietnam. On and on about Vietnam from one election to the next. Obama offers a small chance of change because with him maybe, just maybe, we can leave behind our “who lost Vietnam,” not view a Iraq “victory” as necessary to erase the “defeat” in Vietnam, and quit believing that all the world can be just like the citizens of Arizona and Texas if we just kill enough of them as would have happened if we had “stayed the course” and not “cut and run” in Vietnam. That would be a change, eh?
    Lew Scott, age 66, from the Vietnam generation

  62. arbogast says:

    Mish Shedlock believes that Obama will good for the country economically. I believe he is a Libertarian. He certainly is a very respected economic writer frequently consulted by The Wall Street Journal:

  63. JT Davis says:

    Unfortunately I come late to this thread and Obama’s rhetoric aside there is no question that his supporters are “enthusiastic”. But I think you can rest easy, Colonel. He’s really no different than any other mainstream Democrat today: Politically he’s essentially a moderate conservative. He probably won’t even go as far as Truman’s proposals on healthcare, which is a shame. It’s high time we caught up to the rest of the world’s modern industrial democracies. The people are ready for it and even the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is finally talking about it. In fact, I’d say Obama is more “centrist” than Hillary on some domestic social policy, judging by the advisors he’s got on healthcare, but there’s not much difference there.
    Mass transfer of wealth from one group to another maybe?
    And yet, we’ve just seen one of the greatest greatest mass transfers of wealth from one group to another in our history. This is always a tricky subject and economics isn’t my forte but I question the inevitablity of this kind of choice, even on the politically charged grounds of economic justice. Why can’t you have liberty and social and economic justice?
    I am not willing to sacrifice our liberties for the promise of social justice. pl
    Franklin knew you could not sacrifice liberty for security. But he might argue the contention that one can have liberty, or social justice, but not both. Even Jefferson might argue that point. The very first libertarians were as concerned with social and economic justice issues as with individualist concerns:
    The first known use of a term that has been translated as “libertarian” in a political sense was by anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque[21], who used the French term libertaire in a letter to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1857.[22] The word stems from the French word libertaire (synonymous to “for liberty”), and was used in order to evade the French ban on liberty publications.[23]
    That’s Proudhon, who coined the phrase “Property is Theft!”
    Some of the founders, aside from Thomas Paine, knew that property in land was somehow different.
    God gave the world in common to all mankind. Whenever, in any country, the proprietor ceases to be the improver, political economy has nothing to say in defense of landed property. When the “sacredness” of property is talked of, it should be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property.
    John Locke

    Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.
    Adam Smith

    All property, indeed, except the savage’s temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it.
    Benjamin Franklin

    … legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property… Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.
    Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to James Madison), 1785

    While it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from Nature at all… it is considered by those who have seriously considered the subject, that no one has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land … Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society.
    Thomas Jefferson

    Private property … is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt.
    Benjamin Franklin

    I don’t think anyone will be coming for your homestead any time soon, no matter who gets elected.
    Perhaps we can revisit this on another thread. I’m sure the issue will come up again and the election is a long way off. However “enthusiastic” Obama’s supporters are, they don’t hold a candle to the Pauliacs. I was rooting for Hillary, and now that she’s the underdog, even more so.

  64. JT Davis says:

    Sorry about the double post, Colonel.
    I should just like to add that I’d pity the poor souls who did try to come for your homestead.

  65. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Obama somehow “independent” and “outside the establishment”?
    It would be nice to dispense with bed time stories for children.
    Perhaps some “reality based” homework on Chicago politics and Mr. Obama are in order.
    The man has emerged from the Chicago Democratic Party machine. Bill Daley is behind him. Obama’s wife and father in law have been part and parcel of the machine politics of the South Side and she worked for City Hall.
    For his foreign policy views, why not check the DATA available as a start?
    Here is some DATA as presented by the Council on Foreign Relations, who ought to know:
    His speech before the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC)? Just go to the AIPAC website for the official full text in PDF format:
    Some analysis-comment re Middle East:
    “But Obama’s gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had “been courting the pro-Israel constituency.” He co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government. Among his early backers was Penny Pritzker — now his national campaign finance chair — scion of the liberal but staunchly Zionist family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. (The Hyatt Regency hotel on Mount Scopus was built on land forcibly expropriated from Palestinian owners after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967). He has also appointed several prominent pro-Israel advisors.”
    “”My view is that the United States’ special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction,” were Obama’s words to Haaretz last week. Today, he sounded as strong as Clinton, as supportive as Bush, as friendly as Giuliani. At least rhetorically, Obama passed any test anyone might have wanted him to pass. So, he is pro-Israel. Period.”
    “As Obama hires an operative to prepare the groundwork for a major Mideast policy speech, perhaps before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, his less-known Jewish connections are beginning to surface in the media: Gerald Kellman (“Marty Kaufman” in Obama’s semi-autobiographical “Dreams From my Father”), a practitioner of Saul Alinsky-style community organizing, was Obama’s first mentor in Chicago. Jay Tcath, director of Chicago’s Jewish Community Relations Council; Robert Schrayer, a leading Chicago Jewish philanthropist; and Judge Abner J. Mikva are among Obama’s fans. David Axelrod, his media maven, lost relatives in the Holocaust.” http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6647.shtml
    “”He was on the line of Peace Now,” said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, of KAM Isaiah Israel, who lives across the street from Obama in the University of Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park, one of the country’s most liberal electoral districts. “He was a moderate peacenik.”
    Rabbi Wolf, himself a longtime dove, said that today Obama is “very, very cautious — with AIPAC, excessively cautious….But Obama, who has rocketed from an obscure state senator to a presidential candidate in little over two years, was until recently known to those involved in Middle East issues in his Hyde Park base on Chicago’s South Side as a man of considerably bolder views….For at least some, the jury appeared to still be out. But Obama has already started to garner pro-Israel financial support. A review of donations to his campaigns for federal office since 2000 by the Center for Responsive Politics showed Obama had received more than $110,000 from pro-Israel sources through last June. Prominent among his backers are the Chicago-based Pritzker family, which owns the Hyatt chain of hotels. Lee Rosenberg, AIPAC’s treasurer, is also a backer, and a member of Obama’s finance committee.”

  66. rjj says:

    … better campaign strategists and better field organizers than Sen. Clinton or Edwards, who were on the national scene years before him.” J. Pratt.
    That was remarkable. But it only shows what enthusiasm and pulling together can do.
    Democratic Party discipline is an oxymoron. Hot button social activism (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) enables the Republicans to preserve their networks and organization between elections. Apparently some of these have been captivated by the Obama Faith-Hope theological virtues message. (repeat link to republicans for obama)
    Hell, even Richard Mellon Scaife seems to have a soft spot for the guy.
    And John Podhoretz leaps to his defense, in an inspired slip of the keyboard, with the cry demagougery! (sic)
    Such breadth of appeal suggests much, much too much meant-to-be-ness.
    [links all from LJ’s No Quarter.]
    free association: Didn’t Farrell quote something from the Odyssey about false hopes and “the ivory gate”?

  67. Mark Gaughan says:

    Don’t worry, be happy. Barack Obama will be a fine president.
    PS: Have any of you read “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein

  68. David W says:

    Here is Daniel Ellsburg weighing in on Obama and ‘change’:
    I think Obama offers hope not only on the basis of his appearance, but because of the uncertainty of what he’s saying. I do buy into his hopes. I don’t know what he’ll do, but maybe he’ll do something right for a change. We know that McCain is not an agent of change and when Obama says Hillary Clinton doesn’t sound like an agent for change, he’s right. She sounds very hawkish to me. She says she’s equipped to stand up immediately and be the commander in chief. What are her qualifications to say that? She was the wife of the commander in chief? If those are qualifications, then Laura Bush is more qualifed than Obama. Obama is on good ground with regard to Iraq. He showed much better judgment than Clinton. There’s hope in that.

  69. pbrownlee says:

    Sadly, elected officials (and everyone else) have to be selected from those who are available and, especially, those who wish, however ironically, “to serve”.
    Plato may have been right in suggesting that anyone who seeks only to govern is disqualified since they cannot properly understand or undertake what they seek to do — “Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils, — nor the human race, as I believe — and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day” Republic 473c tr. Jowett.
    It is possible that a reasonable person might believe that Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton is by no means a healthy or desirable sequence for “the State”, particularly one whose citizens have an appetite for depicting it as a republic and a democracy.
    Another reasonable person (or, perhaps, the same one) might wonder how such an oligarchical succession could possibly be tolerated in a self-styled republic and democracy from 1988 to, possibly, January 20 2016.
    Are we now to look forward to a Chelsea vs. Jenna/Barbara contest?
    A plague — or, at least, a few sharp shots of realism, humility and philosophy — on both their houses.
    Would Bush the Unready have had even the dimmest prospect of being elected to any office if he had had a different surname?

  70. pbrownlee says:

    Sorry — reference should have been “Republic V.473c”.
    As Jowett himself said, “always check your references “.

  71. Fasteddiez says:

    Lew Scott:
    I don’t know why McCain and Cheney (The Shootist) are still riding this Vietnam “Dolchstoßlegende” Nag to death. Are the the people who witnessed and approved this bad movie, lo these many past years, numerous enough to cause an electoral Colossus?
    I think not. Besides, it is a well recorded fact that Poppy Bush used the Gulf War victory as the rhetorical last nail in the coffin of the Vietnam treachery. Which proves that Cheney (who worked for Poppy), and Georgie Porgie Dubya (who had Oedipal issues) did not approve of Poppy’s pronouncement. Maybe they continually use the stab in the back shtick to compensate for their inadequate manhood.
    Feminists of the sixties love that last rationalization, as do I.

  72. son of liberty says:

    Although race issues have not been openly discussed on this blog before that I know of, the “reality-based community” will probably split along, well, real lines in this regard. Comments here hint at this, and comments are not thoughts, but filtered thoughts.
    I am happy that one of the wisest voices of this “community” does not fall for vacuous rhetoric, ESPECIALLY when they are coming from “the first BLACK president with a MUSLIM name”, as one of the first commenters noted.
    America has not come to grips with racial issues lurking beneath the surface. Slogans of “change” will not change human reality. Recent Serbian events (not to mention South Africa) show how human nature operates when individual rights are not guaranteed. The strong protections of and the deep appreciation and understanding of individual liberty in America has prevented it from descending into violence. Precisely “someone who has so clearly benefited” from the tinkerings with the American core constitutional thrust should be received very skeptically talking about even more “change”.
    I pray that America will revert back to its individualist core instead of expand and encourage racism through legal measures.

  73. A major criticism is that Obama’s all talk and no substance.
    This NPR radio spot covers the importance of a candidate’s actual voice:
    Do Voices Give Candidates Presidential Timbre?

  74. frank durkee says:

    When you examine bush’s domestic agenda it was clear that he sought to be a transformational president. Moving from a welfare safety net to “an ownership society” for individuals. in international policy his policies are departures from much of the last few decades of US policy as much disussed on this blog’s posts. He sought a major break with the past both domesticaly and after 9/11 in international affairs. He sought to transform both policy and electoral politics, to un do The New Deal and inagurate a new era from his own and close advisors words.
    The level of dislocation in the last 7 years in not incremental it is designed to be permanent wwhen that can be obtained.

  75. Arun says:

    Col Lang : I am not willing to sacrifice our liberties for the promise of social justice.
    Your other choices are McCain – who will continue the Bushian sacrifice of our liberties for the illusion of safety, and Clinton, who will support getting us into the wrong war if it aids her political career.
    The following analysis of Clinton’s and Obama’s legislative record in the Senate may add to this discussion.

  76. rjj says:

    WRT: voices. Yes.
    Needs some ethology.

    Overheard in some nashville bar: “I can’t vote for George McGovern, he sounds like Liberace.”
    Dick Cheney’s conference table charisma would be considerably diminished without his enchanters voice.
    During the 90s some of the republican women (Tilly Fowler IIRC, and someone from Texas) had voice training – they were more modulated, less nasal, and had much less accent.
    Ditto Bubba. From time to time he lapsed into his less than appealing natural voice and accent.
    And W, if he did not have that peculiar Texas accent Dubya, would come across sulky, bratty, whiney, nasty, and short.
    OTOH, Jack Kennedy. not only the voice, but the accent. Aargh! Good thing he had TV and his dad’s old Chicago business associates to help.

    BBC had a good series on voice recently. Must have inspired the NPR folks.
    [end caffeine-fueled tangent]

  77. rjj says:

    I hope I said “whiney, petulant, nasty, brattish and short.”

  78. Charles I says:

    Over at Counterpunch Joshua Frank writes a short piece on the O’s legislative history describing how Obama gutted a nuclear safety bill he introduced, apparently, quel surprize, because lobbyists and donaters helped rewrite it:

    There’s an excellent dissection of McCain’s competence and ethics by Alexander Cockburn there today too.

  79. Dear Pat:
    Let’s see here … who do I wish to throw in with?
    “I will be ready to lead on the first day that I am the president.” (Hillary Clinton.)
    or …
    “Friends. When I’m your president …” (John McCain)
    or …
    “Change WE can believe in.”
    I’ll roll the dice on the chance of a “boundless future.”
    Sincerely, a crusty cynical ol’ sextigenarian “child.”

  80. charlottemom says:

    When Obama speaks of change, I hear “throw the bums out” as USA needs to chart a new way. Do you dispute that the current way isn’t working and an overhaul is needed?
    I don’t think Obama will be able to live up all expectations if elected, because voters will be expecting so much. But there will be more stakeholders to hold government accountable. And that is a good thing.
    All the Obama doubters are wringing hands and declaring him dangerous. What about the irresponsibilities of the current administration — those aren’t dangerous?!? Or look at the Obama alternatives — corrupt, perpetual “commander in chief” McCain, or a dynastic coronation of Clinton. Look at the dead-enders that he’s running against.
    Thanks for the warning about Obama. It’s heart-warming that you are striving to save us from childish selves. He’s a terrible manager after all just look at his failing campaign. He has no ideas (use “the Google”; its your friend).
    Man, get a grip. BTW — you offer up a rebuke of obama, but I wonder who you’d advocate for.

  81. W. Patrick Lang says:

    There seems to be some confusion here over what Obama and his wife are saying. She says that we have “holes in our souls” and he is going to fix that and that he is never going to let us revert to our “old ways?” Are you sure out there that you are really listening to what this man is saying?
    Do not let your frustration over personalities lead you into a mind set in which you are willing to be someone’s “lab rat.”
    Is the present system “broken?” No. It is not. Policy and personalities are one set of things. Tinkering with the basic structure of our law is another.
    What “system” would you prefer after this “broken” one is abandoned?
    Oh, by the way. If you tell me to “get a grip” again, you know the consequences. pl

  82. ~
    Dear Pat:
    Lab rat?
    We’re beginning to stretch a wee bit, aren’t we?
    It’s time for me to ‘weigh anchor and let the sheets fill with the wind.
    ps: I’ll check back in, possibly within the decade …

  83. Mark Gaughan says:


  84. optimax says:

    We will never allow ourselves to be governed by Plato’s Philosopher/King, for we are a democracy where the citizens value intuition over rational thinking.
    Obama is charismatic and I’m sure that is all some people see (whether for or against) and like most reasonable people I fear the rise of a demagogue to the Presidency. But just because Obama appeals to people emotionally is no reason to discount his ability to lead.
    First, I don’t see him exploiting people’s prejudices the way a demagogue does.
    Second, I see him as the only viable candidate who would base his foriegn policy on self-confidence and not fear. F.D.R. and Bush are both examples of these extremes of management philosophy. A super-power needs to be self-confident in order to be respectful of other nations. But this administration acts like the world’s bully, and everyone knows bullies act out of fear. Too much influence of people like Kissinger, Pearl and Wolfowitz who were probably picked on as children.
    Three, domestic policy needs to change from a survival-of-the-fittest to we-are-in-this-together paradigm. Obama is the only one talking about renegogiating NAFTA and stopping tax loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move overseas.
    Charisma in high places can be a terrible thing but I think there is more to Obama than smooth talk.
    Since we never know what a person will really do as president (look how 9/11 changed George) we have weigh the candidates positions and then go into that voting booth and take that leap of faith.
    Good luck, America.

  85. matt says:

    Dear Col.:
    On rhetoric:
    “Michael Kazin argues, persuasively in my view, that effective rhetoric is a really important part of being an effective politician so it makes little sense to castigate a rival as offering rhetoric rather than results. Obviously, rhetoric alone won’t make the country a better place (it could be effective rhetoric in pursuit of bad policies) but it’s an important element of an effective politics.”
    -the above from Matt Yglesias
    On deeming anything that a candidates wife says being even remotely substantive from a policy standpoint:
    On being a lab rat:
    I’m quite certain that “the village elders” will not let this happen. Especially the Republican Senate minority.
    best regards.

  86. ErossNice says:

    Here is an example of how people live in Russia.

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