Here in Houston, the time has come to issue judgment on the first hundred days of the Obama administration. Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and Mike Gallagher are coming to the Dunham Theater of the Morris Cultural Arts Center at Houston Baptist University tomorrow night (Wednesday) to offer their critique of the president’s program so far.
The event is sponsored by the local conservative talker, KNTH 1070 AM and has provoked a lot of interest around the city. We expect over 1000 Houstonians to attend, but there just might be a ticket or two left. Here’s the link for the event.
And before the political balance police get up in arms, I would like to add the footnote that HBU is merely providing the forum to the radio station. We did the same for the Holocaust Museum by hosting Madeline Albright several months ago.
I have major policy disagreements with Barack Obama, but I have to admit that I like the way he handles himself. He gets this big left-wing backlash for having Rick Warren give the benediction at the inaugural and his response is pitch perfect. Boiled down to essentials: This is a big country and there are a lot of ideas around. There are going to be many points of view represented by people interacting with the White House.
Awfully good appeal to pluralism in the best sense of the word. Score one for Mr. Obama.
I have been part of an email correspondence group for a couple of years now which includes a number of strong public policy thinkers. One of the best is a man named Francis Cianfrocca (aka “Blackhedd”) who writes regularly at Redstate. He has been spot on with regard to the current financial crisis. I’ve read far better stuff from him in my inbox than I’ve been able to find at CNBC or Fox Business News. All of this is to say that he is plugged in to the financial community and has a strong analytical mind for making sense of it all.
Here is his latest. And here is a taste:
Obama could sweep away a lot of this uncertainty and unreasoning fear with no more than a ten-minute news conference.
He could stand up, with the towering Paul Volcker, the sour-pussed Larry Summers and the sardonic-looking Tim Geithner standing behind him, and say the following:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve consulted at length with my economic team. We’re acutely aware that our economy is facing great uncertainty. We understand that our system is a capitalistic one. We intend to do whatever it takes to get business and capital working again, for the sake of every consumer and working person in America.
We also recognize our critical responsibility to the rest of the world. As the pre-eminent economic power, it’s up to us to lead global markets back to health and prosperity.
I’m announcing the following key decisions, which we will stand by until our markets are back to normal, employment is growing, and our economy is healthy again:
All tax increases on capital, dividends, and business income are OFF THE TABLE.
All protectionist legislation, including increased tariffs and import duties, are OFF THE TABLE.
All new regulations, mandated costs and taxes on businesses, including export businesses, are OFF THE TABLE.
That is all. Thank you.”
If Obama were to give this speech, you’d see explosive market rallies, and everyone would heave a big sigh of relief.
So how about it, Mr. President-elect?
Sounds like some first class “Nixon goes to China” action to me.
I was speaking to a group of students (mostly conservatives) yesterday. Like me, they were a little disturbed about losing the election. There are many good reasons to have reservations about Obama. For me, the most notable has been the friendliness of his voting pattern toward abortion.
However, it would be a mistake morally, spiritually, and intellectually to be against him right from the start. We have to hope and pray that he will be a good and successful president. I can think of few things better than for him to be president for several years and for all to agree that he had served wisely and well.
I pray God will be much with him as he makes his first decisions.
I pray President Obama will search his own soul carefully.
I pray for his success to the benefit of the American people.
Something else. It knocked me off kilter to not have a white man be president. I mean that in a good way. I went to Target where a gracious African-American woman opened up a register to allow me to check out more quickly. I looked at her while I paid for my purchases and thought, “For the first time ever, the president of the United States is one of you rather than one of me.” This has to be a very good time for African-Americans. I am glad for them. This should help heal some legitimately sore old wounds.
Let him be a great statesman from this day on.
Back when I was a student of political science, we spent a lot of time discussing the bell curve theory of American politics. The idea was simple. Americans are supposedly arrayed along an ideological spectrum. The vast majority of voters are in the center, while small numbers lurk out at the edges. So, the theory goes, the winning party will be the one that finds a candidate to plausibly occupy the center position.
I think that theory is out the window.
There is no way rational voters could have looked at the choice offered by John McCain and Barack Obama and concluded that Barack was closer to the ideological center than McCain. Obama had no record of cooperation with Republicans. McCain has passed major legislative packages with Democrats. Obama has never broken with his party other than to go left of his party. McCain has regularly broken with his party to move in with centrist coalitions.
Yet, McCain was beaten soundly.
I suspect that voters are not really rational centrists.
I think voters are highly emotional and I think they are often looking for a narrative they can understand. Barack Obama appealed to both of those things. Disgust with Bush as the author of a long, expensive Iraq adventure that even if effective, feels like castor oil going down. Anger at the economic problems that seem to have no bottom of late. And the narrative, of course, is the candidate of hope. The one who can bring us together, heal wounds, and importantly, who is not a Republican like George W. Bush.
Goodbye bell curve. May political consultants and party bosses everywhere cut you loose.
It has been interesting to observe the public debate over Barack Obama’s associations with individuals whose personal histories can only be categorized as radical. Bill Ayers is a former terrorist. Jeremiah Wright preaches race adversarialism. For the most part, Obama’s friendships with these men has been water off a duck’s back for the electorate.
Imagine a different scenario. There is an evangelical candidate. He is the best evangelical candidate ever. A Rhodes Scholar, a distinguished lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court, astoundingly eloquent, you get the idea. This candidate is a conservative, but answers all questions in such a way as to avoid making anyone uncomfortable. He hits all the right chords.
Further imagine that the record shows this man was once heavily involved with Christian reconstructionists who believe stoning should be re-instituted for adultery. He went to a church for two decades where a Christian reconstructionist preached each Sunday. One of his mentors was part of a group that bombed abortion clinics.
Where would that candidate be right now? And how different would that candidate be in terms of associations from one Barack Obama?
The Princeton philosopher Robert George takes a backseat to no one when it comes to thinking and writing about abortion and the sanctity of life. Professor George has taken the time to carefully parse Obama’s positions on life issues.
I am going to list the more spectacular points. All are direct quotes from the article:
- For starters, [Obama] supports legislation that would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which protects pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of rape or incest.
- [Obama] has promised that ”the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act” (known as FOCA). This proposed legislation would create a federally guaranteed ”fundamental right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy . . .
- Obama, unlike even many ”pro-choice” legislators, opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature and condemned the Supreme Court decision that upheld legislation banning this heinous practice.
- Appallingly, [Obama] wishes to strip federal funding from pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that provide alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need. There is certainly nothing ”pro-choice” about that.
- Senator Obama, despite the urging of pro-life members of his own party, has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies. In fact, Obama has opposed key provisions of the Act, including providing coverage of unborn children in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and informed consent for women about the effects of abortion and the gestational age of their child.
- [A]s an Illinois state senator Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability.
There is much more in Professor George’s article. He has painstakingly put it all together for anyone who wants to make a decision based on all the information to do so.
On October 10, 2008, Christopher Buckley, the son of the great William F. Buckley, author of Thank You for Not Smoking and National Review shareholder/back page columnist, informed the waiting world that he’s pulling the lever for Obama in November. He unburdened himself on a website appropriately named The Daily Beast. Ron Reagan, Jr. has owned the genre of true confessions by sons of famous conservatives, but here we had Chris Buckley, a well-known author in his own right! No matter how unpleasant, surely Buckley the younger would deliver a wallop.
Regrettably, the read is scarcely worth the click. Buckley provides a mundane and unconvincing explanation for his desertion of party and candidate. It is as though he couldn’t quite get his heart into it or worse is like a hostage trying to signal with his eyelids that what he’s saying isn’t true. Because Buckley is justly known as a comic author, one wonders whether he is kidding and simply failed to develop a good punch line. Whatever the reason, the result is disappointment. After all, this is the scion sprung from the loins of the founder of National Review, the mightiest political provocateur of his age. Continue reading
Much has been made by some conservative pundits about Obama being teleprompter dependent and how he racks up the speech pauses when he goes off the cuff. One might recall Rush Limbaugh compiling just the “uh’s” in an Obama appearance for comedic effect or Hugh Hewitt wondering how many of the awkward pauses he would accumulate during the first debate.
I don’t think the issue is that Obama is ‘prompter dependent or that he is inarticulate off the cuff. I followed him closely during the Democratic primary season and found him smooth whether working from prepared remarks or not.
The reason he has begun to seem halting is simple. Obama runs effortlessly to the left because that is his comfort zone. When he can give the “workers of the world unite” rhetoric and promote his reasons for dovish foreign policy, he is at home, talking to his people about what they all believe. That’s why he was so good in the primaries.
But in the general, he faces a different problem. He can’t roll the same way. He has to think carefully about what he says because all kinds of Americans are paying attention. Those pauses are necessary because the wheels do need to turn. He HAS to find the nuance in order to avoid appearing radical.
Just a little note to the moderates . . .
John McCain deserves tremendous credit for maintaining his cool while being repeatedly interrupted by protesters. Somehow, he managed not to lash out or show visible irritation. I kept expecting him to yell, “What the hell did you ever do for your country? Don’t you think I deserve to be heard? Have I earned that much?” He soared above it.
On the other hand, I have to rate the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the speech as weak. It had the same uninspiring feeling of a George W. Bush State of the Union. The laundry list, the calling out of ordinary Americans. When he started naming people struggling with recession, I thought of some campaign functionary looking at the poll results. “Cares about people like me” — Check. The first part of the speech had to be endured, sort of like direct mail that repeats the old pattern and the old tricks. You have to wade through it to get to the meat.
The good news is that there was meat. McCain got through the faux SOTU and began talking about what really matters — who he is, what his life has been like, why he is ready to lead. When he talked about that, the tingle started to develop. You could feel it. The contrast sharpened almost painfully. You realized, “Barack Obama has scarcely held a full-time job and we are about to elect pretty words when we desperately need a veteran.” That’s when John McCain scored. Scored points in bunches. He shook off a tired old cocoon and metamorphosed into the great man when he did that.