Friday, October 24, 2008

The Trojan Donkey

Over at Hot Air, I encountered an article which eerily echoed some of my own recent thoughts on the candidacy of Barack Obama. The article is by Rich Lowry, at the National Review Online.

...And right there, I can feel any Liberal readers out there checking out and glazing over. "Oh geez; the National-Freakin'-Review?! No need to even consider the content of such an article; the source tells me all I need to know."

Interestingly, therein lies my point. The superficial appearance of a thing can prevent one from seeing into its substance. In the case of Obama's campaign, that appearance is one of a steady, moderate Uniter, an emissary to a New Era of post-partisan, aisle-crossing Change, with a side of enlightened Hope. Comparisons arise to the campaigns of Bill Clinton...but they are at best skin deep:

Obama’s campaign has some of the trappings of Bill Clinton’s winning 1992 and 1996 campaigns. Obama is like Clinton in 1992 in that he’s running against a deeply unpopular incumbent president (although George W. Bush isn’t on the ballot) and brandishing a middle-class tax cut. He’s like Clinton in 1996 in that he’s burying an older opponent in an avalanche of paid advertising, while branding himself a centrist.

Clinton had earned the right in 1992 to run as a “new kind of Democrat” by confronting liberal interest groups in the primaries. Obama simply showed up the day after he won the nomination and declared himself a centrist. Everything since has been couched in reassuring, moderate terms in brilliant salesmanship worthy of the best minds at the American Marketing Association.

For the most part, Obama has uttered the cant of centrism and reasonableness with admirable consistency. It is an image which a cooperative mainstream media has taken no pains to conceal its collusion in promulgating. But, from time to time, the mask has slipped (an exchange with a certain plumber comes to mind...). More fundamentally, his actual record (such as it is) has been that of a hard-core Progressive, voting with a leftward-lurching Democratic party between 96 and 97% of the time, landing him to the left of Ted Kennedy (!) . Even the New York Times has called into question the extent to which such a creature of the hard Left can realistically be expected to govern as anything even remotely resembling a "moderate."

Yet, this is the image which he has pushed in his campaign, and a slim majority of the American electorate appears to be falling for it, hook, line, and sinker.

I could sit here and go through Obama's specific positions, policies, and statements, picking them apart and laying out the pieces for all to examine...but that burden has already been borne by more capable hands than mine. Rather, I feel compelled to highlight the aspect of an Obama Presidency which scares me above all: the prospect of an undivided government with an activist bent.

If elected, Obama will return to Washington with expanded and emboldened liberal majorities in both the Senate and the House. Congress was the un-doing of his two Democratic forebears. Carter was stiff-necked with a Democratic Congress, and that made it nearly impossible for him to govern; Clinton accommodated his Democratic Congress in 1993-94, and it pulled him to the left to devastating effect in the 1994 congressional elections.

For a President Obama, moderation could no longer be merely a pose that represents the path of political least resistance; he’d have to fight for it every day with partisan colleagues who are older and tougher than he is.
If you take nothing else away from this post, I most strenuously urge you to reflect on this prospect: all three branches of this government (assuming that at least one Supreme Court Justice retires or expires, to be replaced --all-but uncontested-- by very Liberal-leaning jurists), operating in lock-step, with no serious checks on their ability to experiment with everything from the tax code to the business of National defense. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want either party to have that kind of power. It flies directly in the face of the intent of the Constitution's framers, who were justifiably quite wary of such unchecked hegemony.

Yet, this is the very thing which an Obama Presidency would offer, despite the high-sounding rhetoric of bringing people together and governing for the good of all. It sure sounds good, and the outward appearance of it is pleasing indeed. But history abounds with examples of some very sharp rocks lurking under such seemingly beatific waters.

Advocates for the kind of revolutionary social change which is the clarion-call of the Democratic party these days would do well to consider the lessons of previous attempts to re-create society at a run. The French Revolution's spasmodic response to tyranny led inexorably to the Terror of Robespierre and the Jacobins, and a straight shot to Napoleon. I have no histrionic illusions that such a fate awaits the US, should Obama win the White House, of course. However, neither do I underestimate the damage that even 2 - 4 years of unaccountable social engineering could wreak on our Republic. I've been riding around on this planet long enough to have concluded that the most we should ask of government is to do as little damage as possible, while society evolves at its own pace.

The promise/threat of a self-styled Transformational Figure like Obama is one that we would do well to examine very closely...particularly when it rolls up to the gates in the form of a boon too good to be true.

I've peeked inside of that gift, and it scares me mightily. Fortunately, there is an alternative.

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