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Are US voters rumbling Obama?


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Adam has made the point on a number of occasions that too many people have taken to Barack Obama based on the speeches and appearances. They have not stopped to consider the man’s background, nor fully considered that he is a politician and not the Messiah.

Gerard Baker, US Editor of The Times has written this article entitled ‘Barack Obama the speechmaker is being rumbled’ and suggesting that is why the contest has narrowed, not just because of Sarah Palin.

Baker writes:-

Travelling in Britain this week, I’ve been asked repeatedly by close followers of US politics if it can really be true that Barack Obama might not win. Thoughtful people cannot get their head around the idea that Mr Obama, exciting new pilot of change, supported by Joseph Biden, experienced navigator of the swamplands of Washington politics, could possibly be defeated.

They look upon John McCain and Sarah Palin and see something out of hag-ridden history: the wizened old warrior, obsessed with finding enemies in every corner of the globe, marching in lockstep with the crackpot, mooseburger-chomping mother from the wilds of Alaska, rifle in one hand, Bible in the other, smiting caribou and conventional science as she goes.

He rules the above out, along with racism and other factors.

Again to Adam’s mind this again adds to the thesis that liberals have an elitist view, such that they cannot comprehend why McCain/Palin appeal, see here for example or here, posts where Adam reviews Clive Crook’s thoughts on this..

Baker takes account of a basic political / cultural factor:-

One is a simple political-cultural one. This election is a struggle between the followers of American exceptionalism and the supporters of global universalism. Democrats are more eager than ever to align the US with the rest of the Western world, especially Europe. This is true not just in terms of a commitment to multilateral diplomacy that would restore the United Nations to its rightful place as arbiter of international justice. It is also reflected in the type of place they’d like America to be – a country with higher taxes, more business regulation, a much larger welfare safety net and universal health insurance. The Republicans, who still believe America should follow the beat of its own drum, are pretty much against all of that.

However, he goes further writing:-

But let me try to explain to my fellow non-Americans why Mr Obama’s problems go well beyond that. Even if you think that Americans should want to turn their country into a European-style system, there is a perfectly good reason that you might have grave doubts about Mr Obama.

The essential problem coming to light is a profound disconnect between the Barack Obama of the candidate’s speeches, and the Barack Obama who has actually been in politics for the past decade or so.

Therein is the nub of the issue, as Adam has been suggesting for some time based on what he has read and some of which he has blogged about.

Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government’s effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,

Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.

Baker notes how uncritically Obama has voted with the party line,a true inheritor of the legendary Daley machine noting:-

Politician Obama has toed his party’s line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. His one act of bipartisanship, a transparency bill co-sponsored with a Republican senator, was backed by everybody on both sides of the aisle. He has never challenged his party’s line on any issue of substance.

Obama in this respect is the solid and uninspiring ‘party apparatchik’ who does not appear to think for himself in other words.

Baker closes with:-

Here’s the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man’s stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.

Absolutely this is a problem. In fact is Obama nothing more than an empty shirt making pretty speeches, written for him by others.

Baker summing up with:-

The fact is that a vote for Mr Obama demands uncritical subservience to the irrational, anti-empirical proposition that the past holds no clues about the future, that promise is wholly detached from experience. The second-greatest story ever told, perhaps.

Yet much of the media and blogosphere gave Obama a free ride.

In addition there is probably the fact that Hillary Clinton did not necessarily help herself, although she may well have been the more substantial candidate see Adam’s post here, which links through to an excellent Atlantic magazine piece.

Now rather late in the day some seem to be waking up to the reality of the candidate they have landed the Democratic Party with.

It is worth reading Ryan Lizza’s article for the New Yorker on Obama’s early years in politics which Adam commented on here in a post covering the controversial New Yorker cover and related matters.

One Comment
  1. 13/09/2008 23:27

    The presidency is mine.



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