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November 03, 2008

What Kind of President Would Obama Be?

We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics…they will only grow louder and more dissonant ……….. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

The Princess slipped daintily from the arms of Morpheus in the wee hours of this morning fairly a-tingle with anticipation to see Senator Obama's latest standing in the polls. She lives for this sort of thing, doncha know; it being unthinkable these days to wait upon such tawdry means as actual vote counts to decide who will become the next President of these United States of the World.

Surely there's an exit poll out there? Somewhere? Anywhere?

I find myself a tad alarmed at what I am reading these days in the blatherosphere. I'm still hopeful for the election, though admittedly things don't look good. The press and the pollsters have done their level best to throw cold water on the prospect of a McCain victory, but then they both predicted a Kerry victory in 2004. Both were wrong.

What's more important than who becomes President on November 4th is the question of how we as Americans will react. I'm not referring to the frankly overblown talk about blood running in the streets. I leave such perfervid prognostications to Erica Jong and her vibrator.

I'm talking about what happens afterwards. It's an important question, because though I fully intend to pull the lever for John McCain tomorrow, I've had a few reservations about his candidacy. I have absolutely no doubt McCain would make a better President. But I think David Broder neatly described the biggest thing holding his campaign back.

John McCain, though he may well have deeply held beliefs, is a man uncomfortable with grand visions: the very antithesis of the ideologue. After 8 years of George W. Bush, this country may well be suffering from vision fatigue, but you can't defeat hope and change with talk of earmarks; nor does offering a negative portrait of the other guy inspire voters to climb on your bandwagon. When times get tough, a leader needs to offer people something to root for. Something positive:

Like Jimmy Carter, the only Naval Academy graduate to reach the Oval Office, McCain had an engineer's approach to policymaking. He had no large principles that he could apply to specific problems; each fresh question set off a search for a "practical" solution.

... McCain was handed a terrible political environment by the outgoing Bush administration -- a legacy of war, debt and scandal that would have defeated any of the other aspirants for the nomination. But because McCain could not create a coherent philosophy or vision of his own, he allowed Obama and the Democrats to convince voters of a falsehood: that electing McCain would in effect reward Bush with a third term.

A similar ambivalence clouded his relationship with the Republican Party. Neither rebel nor defender of the party's doctrines, he won its nomination because of smart tactics and lucky circumstances in three primaries -- New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida -- without ever establishing himself as its legitimate spokesman.

Obama, on the other hand, is quite sure of what he believes. He may have been wise enough to cloak the specific details of his vision in the comfortingly fuzzy language of hope and change, but I rather doubt that anything other than a coherent set of principles animates him, once you penetrate the fog. The trouble is, those core principles are dead wrong for this country.

This was the true significance of the string of troubling associations the media labored long and hard to cover up: they all shared a common world view, and it's one most Americans would not find at all congenial. The real question, as Stuart Taylor notes, is whether he will summon the courage and political will, should he gain the Oval Office, to enact the shared policy positions of the mentors Barack Obama voluntarily sought out:

When John McCain and many other Republicans ask, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" there is an implication that maybe he is somehow sinister or extremist.

I don't believe that. But I do think that there are two very different Obamas. Both are extraordinarily intelligent, serene under pressure, and driven by an admirable social conscience -- albeit as willing to deploy deception as the next politician. But while the first Obama would be a well-meaning failure, the second could become a great president.

An ultraliberal in moderate garb? The first Obama has sometimes seemed eager to engineer what he called "redistribution of wealth" in a 2001 radio interview, along with the more conventional protectionism, job preferences, and other liberal Democratic dogmas featured in his campaign. I worry that he might go beyond judiciously regulating our free enterprise system's all-too-apparent excesses and stifle it under the dead hand of government bureaucracy and lawsuits.

This redistributionist Obama has stayed in the background since he set his sights on the presidency years ago, except when he told Joe the Plumber that his tax plan would help "spread the wealth." This Obama seems largely invisible to many supporters. But he may retain some attachment to the radical-leftist sensibility in which -- as his impressive 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, explains with reflective detachment -- he was marinated as a youth and young man.

Obama spent much of his teenage years searching for his black identity. He was mentored for a time by the poet Frank Marshall Davis, a black-power activist who had once been a member of the Communist Party, and who was (according to Obama's book) "living in the same Sixties time warp" as Obama's mother, a decidedly liberal free spirit.

In college, lest he be "mistaken for a sellout," Obama "chose my friends carefully," according to his book: "The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets." After college, his social conscience steered him to become a community organizer and "organize black folks" in Chicago, from 1985 to 1988.

It was then that Obama met the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who as head of Trinity United Church of Christ did many good things but had a now-famous penchant for America-hating, white-bashing, conspiracy-theorizing, Farrakhan-honoring rants. A central theme of the first Wright sermon that Obama attended -- the one titled "the audacity of hope" -- was that "white folks' greed runs a world in need."

After graduating near the top of his Harvard Law School class in 1991, Obama could easily have landed a prestigious Supreme Court clerkship and gone on to a big law firm where partners make well over a $1 million a year. Instead, he followed his social conscience and political ambition back to Chicago, joining a small law firm.

Obama became more than casually acquainted with Bill Ayers, the Weather Underground bomber with whom he served on the boards of two Chicago philanthropic groups. In 1995, Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn -- the same Dohrn who in a blood-curdling 1969 speech had cited the Charles Manson gang of murderers as role models for the Weather Underground -- co-hosted a political fundraiser for Obama at their home. By then, the still-unrepentant Ayers had become a respected member of an academic establishment in which far-left views are fashionable.

I dwell on these much-debated associations not because I think that Obama sympathizes with what he has called Ayers's "detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8" or identifies with Wright's wild ravings. But I do think that Obama has understated (at best) his involvement with Wright and Ayers. And I wonder about the worldview of a man who was so comfortable with such far-left extremists and whose wife, Michelle, asserted earlier this year that America is "just downright mean" and "guided by fear" and that most Americans' lives have "gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl."

Obama's voting record as an Illinois and then U.S. senator is not extremist or radical. But it is not a bit bipartisan, either. He has hardly ever broken with his party, and he famously had the most liberal record of any senator in 2007 (although not in 2006 or 2005), according to National Journal's vote ratings.

This Obama has endorsed a long list of liberal restrictions on free enterprise that could end up hurting the people they are supposed to help, along with the rest of us: statist remedies for our broken educational system; encouraging unionization by substituting peer pressure and an undemocratic card-check process for secret ballots; raising the wages of women or lowering those of men who have dissimilar jobs that are declared by bureaucrats to be of comparable worth; renegotiating NAFTA; and more.

I wonder how far Obama wants to go down the road suggested by his lament in that 2001 radio interview that the civil-rights movement had failed to engineer "redistribution of wealth" and "economic justice." Would he be content with the moderately redistributive, Clintonesque increase in taxes on high-earning Americans that he proposes now? Or would he end up pushing for confiscatory taxes that could stifle entrepreneurship and job creation?

And would Obama's declared desire to appoint judges and justices driven mainly by "empathy" for "the powerless," rather than by fidelity to the law, lead to judicially invented constitutional rights to welfare, to ever-more-rigid preferences based on race and gender, and to other novel judicial overrides of democratic governance?

Taylor goes on, in the second half of a thoughtful essay, to show us another Obama: the pragmatic power seeker who bends to pressure and has demonstrated a willingness to reject extremist positions if there is sufficient public outcry.

This is a good point, and one conservatives would do well to heed. It is a point this author has made before regarding the Republican base. Any President, once he is elected, represents not just his base but all the people. So, too (at least if they wish to retain their seats) do members of Congress. One of the most disappointing problems faced by the current President was the lack of reliable support in Congress.

If Obama wants to change America, he would not be the first President to try. He would also not be the first President to fail for lack of support in Congress. Bill Clinton rode into office in the 1990s with what he thought was a mandate and great plans for instituting national health care and overturning the ban on gays in the military. Both initiatives failed.

If Barack Obama has a character flaw, it is his unwillingness to go to the mat; whether it be for a long-time mentor or the redistributionist ideas he champions, and then backs away from in the same breath:

On the stump this week, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has pushed back against Sen. John McCain's description of his tax policies.

"The reason that we want to do this, change our tax code, is not because I have anything against the rich," Obama said in Sarasota, Fla., yesterday. "I love rich people! I want all of you to be rich. Go for it. That’s the American dream, that’s the American way, that’s terrific.

"The point is, though, that -- and it’s not just charity, it’s not just that I want to help the middle class and working people who are trying to get in the middle class -- it’s that when we actually make sure that everybody’s got a shot – when young people can all go to college, when everybody’s got decent health care, when everybody’s got a little more money at the end of the month – then guess what? Everybody starts spending that money, they decide maybe I can afford a new car, maybe I can afford a computer for my child. They can buy the products and services that businesses are selling and everybody is better off. All boats rise. That’s what happened in the 1990s, that’s what we need to restore. And that’s what I’m gonna do as president of the United States of America.

In the very next breath, Obama assures voters, "That's not socialism."

Conservatives see that as evidence that he's trying to deceive voters, and they have a point. It is socialism if you take money from those who have lawfully earned to make sure that people who have done nothing to earn the money to buy a computer, a new car, or the chance to go to college have those things. We trade our labor for money to buy those things, and it is unjust to reward people who do no labor with the earnings of those who do choose to work. This is the problem with forced redistribution of income beyond that needed to ensure a subsistence.

But they miss something, too. Deception implies the deceiver fears disapproval or exposure.

And this gets me to a question a Democrat friend of mine asked last week: what will Republicans do if Obama is elected? Will they stop attacking him and get behind their new President?

My answer to her was simple. I hope that we will use our power wisely, for we do have power. I hope we will not squander it in foolish and childish attacks which make it easy for us to be labeled racist, or obstructionist, or simply malicious. For we have a real opportunity here.

If we are smart, and if Barack Obama is elected on November 4th, and if the worst of our fears are realized, there could hardly be a better opportunity for conservatives to launch a national conversation about our ideas. There could hardly be a better opportunity for us to make a logical, coherent, principled case for why conservative, free market economics are better for this country than the plans Obama has presented so far.

There could hardly be a better opportunity for us to tell our fellow Americans why we believe people are more productive when they are allowed to keep the fruits of their own labor; to demonstrate empirically how, when taxes are raised on corporations and businesses, that they DO migrate to more friendly environments where the costs of doing business are lower; to ask our fellow Americans why, if Democrats truly believe it is selfish not to want to help the less fortunate, they don't do the right thing voluntarily?

It may well be that conservatives have a very trying period ahead of us. But hard times may be viewed as a burden, or as a challenge which makes us stronger and brings forth our best qualities. At the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, brand new Marine recruits undergo a unique experience called The Crucible:

"We have two missions in the Marine Corps -- to win battles and make Marines," said Col. Bob Hayes, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations and training at the recruit depot here. "The Crucible is one piece of that effort."

The Crucible emphasizes trainee teamwork under stress. "Recruits get eight hours of sleep during the entire 54 hour exercise," said Sgt. Roger Summers, a Delta Company drill instructor in the 1st Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island. "They get two-and-a-half MREs and they are responsible for rationing out the food to themselves. Then we put them through tough physical activities like road marches and night infiltration courses. They march about 40 miles in those 54 hours."

It isn't long before the recruits are tired and hungry, Summers said, but as they keep going they realize they can call on reserves they never knew they had.

"Some of these recruits do things they never thought they could do," he said. "Some of them come from middle-class homes where everything has been handed to them. Others come from poorer homes where nothing was ever expected of them. If they finish the Crucible, they have accomplished something."

A recruit delivers a killing blow while running the bayonet course at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, S.C. The recruit was in the middle of the Crucible, the 54-hour-long climax of Marine basic training.

One recruit put it best. "I am going to finish this," he said. "And when I do, it will be the most positive thing I have done in my life."

There is a reason the Marines are the most respected and feared fighting force in the world. Their excellence is not born of ease and comfort: it is honed in the fires of pain and exhaustion; of stress and fear and sweat. Each Marine is broken down until he is no longer the person he was when he stepped off that bus and reformed; a better, more disciplined person. Like steel in a forge, they emerge harder and stronger: the impurities in their character burned away by the intense heat of repeated trials. They learn, too, that they are stronger as members of a community than they are as individuals.

That is a lesson most conservatives could benefit from, and it is one that perhaps only adversity is capable of teaching. I suppose what I am saying is this:

No matter what happens tomorrow, we have a country to care for. She is still ours to have and to hold, and no matter who is elected our President represents all of us. We have a right to be heard and we should speak up respectfully and responsibly.

And no matter who is in the White House, we owe both the President and Vice President the full respect and dignity due the office. I hope the rancor of this election will be forgotten and we can attempt to do the right thing and work to enact bipartisan compromise as the Founders of this country intended. Without honest effort, government founders. We cannot control what others do, but we can always control our own actions: to act with magnanimity and compassion if we should win and with restraint and dignity if we should lose.

It has to start somewhere. As Grim so rightly notes, character and integrity are not always easy.

They are not the qualities we are born with. They are what we aspire to: our true natures, revealed. Let us be proud, then; for by our actions we will be known.

Posted by Cassandra at November 3, 2008 06:57 AM

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You forgot to say "Amen".

That's what you say at the end of a prayer, "Amen".

Yes, I am being sarcastic.

McCain espoused no overarching political philosophy in this campaign because he had to run to the center to attract disaffected Democrats. whatever those are. Besides, I don't know if he really has one, besides being a "maverick".

The Future:

If the so-called national news media is actually "in the tank" for Mr. Obama as they seem, they aren't going to back down now. In for a dime, in for a dollar.
There will chaos and anarchy, political knife fighting, power grabbing, flouting of the law and principle. And that's just for starters for the Democratic party.
I once read a book years ago by Samuel Lash called "Dealers and Dreamers", an inside look at the New Deal under Roosevelt (and Lash was sympathetic to it all). Not a pretty picture, to be sure.
Cast all this in an atmosphere where the Media is eager to carry water for Obama and you might have a truly Orwellian situation. As things get worse, we will be told that things are getting better (typical of the early New Deal era). As problems arise or confront the Obama Administration, we will be told it is still "Bush's fault". This, the demonizing of the Republican Party, will undoubtedly go on for years. How they attract new voters when they will be culturally criminalized is anyone's guess.

The "world" has passed much of the Republican party by. The battle between big government and small government is over, and big government has won. Face it, the Republicans need more to policy than tax cuts, smaller government and being pro-life and pro-gun rights. I don't care much for David Frum, but he has some points in articulating that Republican/conservative philosphies of government have to grow and evolve.

Conservative - minimalist political philosophy may look better to a lot of people in four years, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it winning any national elections. Republicans continue to lose ground in states that are becoming more urban-suburanized. Republicans can't ever win in New England, New York, California, etc. again. This is lost territory to them. They could also start losing Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, etc. , as these states are filled with ex-migration of people from the other big Democratic states (California in the west, New York in the east).

This is the future. Now we have to deal with it.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 3, 2008 11:08 AM

Yes, we do Don.

Have faith :)

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 12:11 PM

"...get behind their new President?

In a word, No. Not for me, anyway. And it has, nothing -- nothing -- to do with the fact that he's a Democratic. I voted for Clinton the first time around and could have lived with his wife in office this time. But support "that one"? I just can't do it. I may not openly *attack* him, but the reason for that is out of genuine fear of KGB/Gestapo-style retaliation to me, my family and my friends; not any altruistic notion that he's the President now, he'd never do anything to hurt our country. He's already told us he would. I don't trust him -- never have, never will. I certainly cannot be convinced, right now, that should he hold the reigns of power with a supermajority Congress behind him and the MSM covering up his every illegal move and ill-begotten gain that previously unimaginable consequences won't befall those who voice their dissent.
These are the days when I wonder what the hell I was thinking by bringing a child into a world such as this.

Posted by: DL Sly at November 3, 2008 12:15 PM


First of all, I think you may be reading too much into my ""...get behind their new President?"

As I said the other day, there is a huge difference between legitimate opposition (which is always kosher) and criminalizing policy differences (which is not). However, I'm not going to argue with you, Sly, or minimize your fears.

You have a right to your opinion.

I'm just asking you to entertain the notion that the world may not end tomorrow if we lose an election (as Republicans have been known to do from time to time in America). If things were so horrific under the New Deal (so as to be unrecoverable) how did we ever climb out of that morass into the living Hell we endure today (from which we believe we're about to decline into...????). I don't know. I'm kind of speechless.

That is my point, Don and Sly. Not that things can't get worse than they are, but that America as a country is bigger and more adaptable than the capacity of one person or party to completely wreck her. I'm sorry, but I think it's hard, based on history, to argue that (unless you truly believe Barack Obama is the anti-Christ) the world is coming to an end.

We are hardly helpless victims.

We still have the ability to influence the course of events.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 12:54 PM

If things were so horrific under the New Deal ... how did we ever climb out of that morass...????

It took World War II and almost two decades-worth of Presidents who were *not* New Dealers.

Posted by: BillT at November 3, 2008 01:04 PM

WWII occurred while FDR was in office.

And the American people elected almost 2 decades worth of Presidents who weren't New Dealers *after* FDR. So, apparently we learn.

And then we elected LBJ and got the Great Society. Oops. But not too long after that, we elected Ronald Reagan.


Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 01:16 PM

Come on, people.

Buck up. Numero uno, we haven't lost yet.

Numero dos, if we do lose, we will have a lot of work to do, unless we plan to just give up the ghost?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 01:18 PM

Don't make me go all Blog Princess on you :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 01:19 PM

Personally, I'm looking forward to ten more weeks of George W. Bush. After that, who knows.

Posted by: spd rdr at November 3, 2008 01:23 PM

Well now *that's* something I never thought I'd hear on this site :p

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 01:26 PM

Good advice Milady...

The termite inspector dropped in for the annual lookeesee and started up a conversation on the election almost immediately. He was fully of despair so I reminded him of LBJ and Jimmy Carter and how that cold slap in the face brought about two terms of our 40th President.

Besides, just how many adults can the producing class adopt before the whole system grinds to a halt anywho?

Keep your powder dry and NEVER say die.

Posted by: bt_what-me-worry_hun at November 3, 2008 01:42 PM

I don't counsel insanity, anger or hopelessness.

I do think the election of this guy Obama will not work out the way most people think. That includes Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.

Cass, how do you feel about your favorite senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kerry, being Secretary of State? It could happen.

How about Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense? It could happen.

I'm not angry, just very disappointed. And not surprised, either. I don't live in fear of a sinister government in the future. Just one that is increasingly dysfunctional, incompetent and unprincipalled.
I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of a brilliant executive emerging out of a guy who has served 2/3 of one term as a US Senator.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 3, 2008 01:45 PM

I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of a brilliant executive emerging out of a guy who has served 2/3 of one term as a US Senator.

Heh. Me either.

That's why I'm not as worried as many other people are. Because the Presidency isn't nearly as powerful an office as many folks seem to believe it is, and you'd have to be brilliant to effect the kind of sweeping policy changes this guy is promising :p

And I think, if he is elected, he'll find out very quickly that he's walked into a buzz saw.

re: Kerry. I think Kerry has always been incompetent and DoS is a snakepit, so that may well be the least harmful place we could put him.

The thing that scares me most is the SecDef thing. But I wonder if he won't keep Gates on, at least for a while?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 02:05 PM

PS. Harry Truman followed FDR, and he was pretty much still a "New Deal" Democrat.

Followed by 8 years of Eisenhower, who was actually a pretty centrist Republican.

Kennedy campaigned on "The New Frontier", which was an updated "New Deal" in many respects, calling for a whole lot of new government programs. Barry Goldwater thought the whole thing was socialism. :)
Then LBJ who was really a "New Deal" President, as the phrase "The Great Society" was straight out of New Deal politics. And what defeated him was not the socialistic "Great Society", but a war in Viet Nam that he had lost control over.

Nixon was hardly a raging conservative on a lot of issues. He followed up Johnson with actually enforcing school de-segregation, and created the EPA, took the US off the gold standard, among other things. his economic policies created the new word, "stagflation". He was an ardent anti-communist, for which the academic left always has and always will hate him, and therefore make up all kinds of propaganda about him. And that still colors the perspective on him to this day in the minds of much of the public.
Then Carter the bumbler ( I voted for him twice in my mispent youth).
Reagan, the only really conservative president the US has had since Calvin Coolidge, followed by another centrist, GHWB, eight years of Bubba (and what was he all about, anyways?), and GWB, who has also been more of centrist than the historians will ever credit him.

Over and over in the second half of the 20th century, big government has won out over small government. This election is just another vindication of that. As people have more, they want more, and they want it guaranteed for themselves for the rest of their lives. Obama is just another vessel for those sorts of hopes.

That's what I am most disappointed about. There is no candidate for "Liberty", in any sense of the word. I don't feel "unfree", but I certainly don't feel "free" in the broadest sense of the word.

What will surprise and disappoint people is how incompetent Obama will be as a president. And in his clumsiness to exert power, he will certainly curtail a lot of things people count as "freedom", especially the economic kind.

Still, we will get "social justice".

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 3, 2008 02:06 PM

Well, I know a couple of putative Republicans who either already have or may yet vote for Obama. There reason's essentially boil down to: I'm pissed at Bush and Obama *just simply can't* be as radical as he tried to appear.

My fear is that after 4 years with Obama in the White House and Democrat supermajorities in both houses, it'll be too little too late to say "I told you so".

Yes, we have prospered after the New Deal. But how much further along would we be if we had not spent an extra 7 years in the Depression. Economies don't grow in linear fashion, but rather exponentially. This represents a huge loss in opportunity cost that we are still experiencing today. We *are* better off than where we were before and after the New Deal, but we are not as well off as we ought to have been. That loss can never be recovered.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 3, 2008 02:46 PM

What will surprise and disappoint people is how incompetent Obama will be as a president.

They can always hope he'll change. Of course, in the Aviation Safety field, we say, "Hope is not a method."

WWII occurred while FDR was in office.


You asked how we climbed out of the morass of the New Deal. First, the economy had to crank up to full potential -- which it only did when industry retooled and went into War Production Mode -- to break it free of the gummint's floundering efforts to prop it up by spreading dwindling resources over increasing social programs. After the war, industry re-retooled to produce consumer goods.

Vastly simplified, but that's basically it...

Posted by: BillT at November 3, 2008 02:53 PM

Over and over in the second half of the 20th century, big government has won out over small government. This election is just another vindication of that. As people have more, they want more, and they want it guaranteed for themselves for the rest of their lives. Obama is just another vessel for those sorts of hopes.

And the natural brake on that is bankruptcy -- which is coming in the Federal pension/Social Security/Medicare crisis. We will soon reach the point at which even the government can't borrow any more money; and when the programs fail, this socialist bent will finally die. People will find that the government cannot and will not save them, and all its promises were lies.

Any Obama socialism will only speed the point at which we reach this great awakening. I don't worry about Obama's socialistic tendency for that reason; it won't last much longer. The end of Big Government is coming, and there really is nothing they can do to stop it.

What worries me about Obama is his apparent utter disloyalty to anything at all: friends, church, family (not just his barely-known brothers and aunts but the "typical white person" who raised him?), policy, creed, anything.

I see no reason to believe he is loyal to America, because he has shown no sign of being loyal to anything.

I also worry about his basic hostility toward the military, ignorance of military matters, naivete, and so forth; but perhaps he will have good advisors, and perhaps he'll actually listen to them.

Still, the real issue I have with him is that I don't trust him. I don't want him in charge of defending the country (or even its interests). I want a man of honor, not one who has never shown any interest in honor.

But we'll get what we get; and if we get him, I'll be in Iraq helping him enact whatever he finally decides his Iraq policy might be. My oath is to the Constitution.

Posted by: Grim at November 3, 2008 03:14 PM

I agree with you, Grim.

And with Don. The only end to this cycle is the application of pain - this is what I mentioned to spd a while back - a long time ago, during a discussion about the idiocy of Prohibition.

There are some lessons we need to learn, but we dumb humans only learn them though the careful application of a 2X4 upside the head. And in a democracy, that is sometimes exactly what it takes.

But, as my dear old Dad always says, "Pain is a wonderful motivator." Or as I believe spd has observed on more than one occasion, so is a boot in your a**. :p



Posted by: Nancy Hopkins' Ghost at November 3, 2008 03:38 PM

I'm pretty gloom and doom about an Obama Presidency myself but then I look at the bright side. He's never lasted more than about a nanosecond in one office before beginning to campaign for the next. So by about next summer he should be bending all his efforts toward securing the Secretary-Generalship of the United Nations.

Assuming an Obama victory, it will be interesting to see which Obama shows up and I will allow for the possibility that he may be more moderate domestically and stronger internationally than I currently fear. However, even if I were assured that was going to be the case I would still worry about the combination of a heavily Democratic House and Senate with even a moderate President. Nonetheless, I agree whole-heartedly that an Obama Presidency will provide a invaluable opportunity to compare and contrast economic policies and I also agree that the most effective way to do so is calmly, logically, and with respect. (I promise to reserve, “I told you so” only for friends who insisted I had lost my mind when I refused to vote for Obama.)

Posted by: Elise at November 3, 2008 04:22 PM

...but perhaps he will have good advisors, and perhaps he'll actually listen to them.

Well, seeing that his handlers have bragged that he's got 300 foreign policy advisors, if he listens to all of them, he'll only make four decisions during his tenure.

*If* he's elected.

Because he ain't, yet.

Hey, Grim -- pack a sweater. Temps have been going down into the low 80s at night over here...

Posted by: BillT at November 3, 2008 04:32 PM

Thanks, Bill. I'll do that.

Posted by: Grim at November 3, 2008 06:23 PM

Elise -- what a lovely notion. I can't think of a better and more harmless place for Sen. Obama than the SG of the UN. He can make speech after soaring speech.

I do hope he turns out to be somewhat feckless and distracted. I worry about the out-of-control Congress we're likely to get, but I haven't lost hope for 2010.

And who knows, maybe McCain will pull it out and will be there to veto some of the nuttier Pelosi proposals. That 401(k) thing, for instances, just makes me CRAZY.

Here's an amazing thing. The early voting in my county is an astounding 42 percent turnout. Tomorrow should be a busy day. Our one hope for a surprising result is for conservative voters to blow the doors off of all expectations and just get out there and vote in numbers like no one's ever seen.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 3, 2008 06:39 PM

Obama's grandmother has passed away.

As much as I don't like his politics and ideology, from someone who has recently lost someone very close to me, he has my deepest sympathies.

RIP Madelyn Dunham

Posted by: DL Sly at November 3, 2008 06:40 PM

"The Princess slipped daintily from the arms of Morpheus in the wee hours of this morning ..."

Mercy days!!! Does the Spousal Unit know about this?

"If Obama wants to change America, he would not be the first President to try. He would also not be the first President to fail for lack of support in Congress."

But this time, he has a devoted following in the House and Senate. Not to mention legions of wild-eyed, wide-eyed supporters in every nook and cranny, willing at a moment's notice to flood Congress with boilerplate eMails insisting that something or other be passed. We can only hope that the Democrats, in their typically clueless fashion, will continue to be the Disorganized Party (see Will Rogers) and fail to come up with anything really dangerous.

"And no matter who is in the White House, we owe both the President and Vice President the full respect and dignity due the office."

I'm sure that we will treat President Obama (if such be the case) with all the dignity, courtesy and respect that they have given to President Bush over the last 8 years.

On the other hand, like you, I hope we can show ourselves to be above that.

Obama has promised us much; we'll keep track and see how well he delivers.

Like, for example, the Civilian Security Force, as big and as well-funded as the Army.

Like bankrupting the coal companies.

Like going through all GWB's Executive Orders and cancelling out the ones he doesn't like.

Like making his own EOs to insure that we treat the environment with kid gloves. (Faux kid, naturally.)

And so on.

BillT: There's an item Out There - somewhere in the majors, like Instapundit, that FDR's policies made the recession drag on for 7 years longer than they might have otherwise.

"Numero dos, if we do lose, we will have a lot of work to do, unless we plan to just give up the ghost?"

Which is what we should have been doing for the last 10 - 12 years. For some unaccountable reason, conservatism slipped like mercury through the fingers of the Rebublican party. We badly need someone like Bill Buckley to try to keep them in line.

"... his handlers have bragged that he's got 300 foreign policy advisors."

Not good. Remember Harry Truman's plaint: "I wish I had a one-armed economist. Every time I ask them a question, they end up with, "but on the other hand"

300 people can't make policy. There are some things best not made by committee. Soup, for one. Music. Art. Love.

Posted by: ZZMike at November 3, 2008 09:41 PM

For some unaccountable reason, conservatism slipped like mercury through the fingers of the Rebublican party.

I don't think it's at all unaccountable. It's called complacency. Conservatives got too comfortable. It was predictable. Now, they won't be :p They'll have to work if they want their old place back. It's a shame, but it's also the way of a meritocracy. If you stop trying hard, you lose your place in line, and not always to the best contender. Sometimes dumb luck knocks you out too.

Anyway, are you sure Buckley kept the party in line? I wasn't a Rethug so I can't say for certain. Never even heard of the National Review until a few years ago. I think Pile mentioned it to me, or maybe it was spd. Can't recall now. Before that, I never read conservative periodicals. They were too partisan for me - I stayed with more centrist fare. When I started reading TNR, I picked up The New Republic as well for balance. Same initials... heh. Though I will admit to being somewhat less infuriated by The Review. But only somewhat.

Buckley was listened to, but I wouldn't have said the Republican party was ever a bastion of ideological purity. Am I wrong about that?

For that matter, I'm not sure Buckley was either. He vectored out there every now and then, as I think people will begin to recall after the grief of losing him begins to dim.

I think there's always a tendency towards hagiography after we lose an icon like Buckley or Reagan - people see them as larger than life. And so they were in a way. But so were their flaws; outsized, as much as their virtues were. It bugs me, and I think it also lessens them; flattens them and makes them less interesting as people.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 3, 2008 10:17 PM


*frantically Googling definition of hagiography*
Crap, you said there wouldn't be any tests!

Posted by: DL Sly at November 4, 2008 01:10 AM

That thar is what my boys and I used call an "SAT word"

SAT word: one o' them high-falutin' words no one in real life uses, but that you need to score at least a 700 on the Verbal section of the SAT. See also: SAT word shower curtain, ensmarten.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 4, 2008 05:08 AM

There's an item Out There - somewhere in the majors, like Instapundit, that FDR's policies made the recession drag on for 7 years longer than they might have otherwise.

That's what I've heard from a couple of WWII vets, since deceased, who worked in the CCC for five years for a dollar a day, plus room and board.

Room was a tent in the Dakotas and board consisted of whatever they caught skulking around the local dump.

Posted by: BillT at November 4, 2008 06:10 AM

A fair and thoughtful piece Milady.

SAT words eh? If one were to design wallpaper containing SAT words A-F on a roll, G-L on another, etc. and grade specific 1-3, 4-8, 9-12, the wallpaper manufacturers would make out like bandits. Not to mention the fun parents could have sticking their young'un in a bedroom so papered.

"There's an item Out There - somewhere in the majors, like Instapundit, that FDR's policies made the recession drag on for 7 years longer than they might have otherwise."
This work may be the source of that conversation. There is another more recent work, I can't seem to wrap my mind around it at the moment. I'm currently distracted by important stuff, like getting the winter garden planted and such. =8^}

Posted by: bt_what-me-worry_hun at November 4, 2008 11:33 AM

I have to agree on the complacency bit. It's just when you think you've got it made that the pirates show up on the horizon.

"Anyway, are you sure Buckley kept the party in line? I wasn't a Rethug so I can't say for certain."

I wouldn't go so far as to say the he was the helmsman. But he was a Voice. Buckley, Russell Kirk, all the way back to Locke and Hume, tried to keep things in line. But people will be people, everybody thinks he can do better. Some can. Most can't.

The Founding Geezers would not recognize either "conservative" or "liberal", the way they've wandered off the straight and narrow. "Liberal" used to be a Good Thing, just as "conservative" was. The thing about conservatives is that they try to conserve - conserve the tried and true good things. Liberals try to find new things, and in an ideal world, those would be good new things. But todays liberals want to throw it all out - throw out a few thousand years of culture and history and replace it with the not-so-latest failed "ism". And maybe conservatives are trying to keep a few bad old things as well.

I'm not so hard on Republicans. For all the errors they've made in the past few years, they're still our main link with conservatism (one of the not-so-failed "isms"). Democrats are so focused on looking ahead that they won't look back to see what works and what doesn't.

A prime example of that is in Obama's 2001 interview, where he said (my emphasis)

"A just-unearthed 2001 interview with Obama on Chicago public radio reveals as much. Then a law school instructor and state legislator, Obama offered an eloquent indictment of the Warren Court for not being radical enough. While the court rightly gave blacks traditional rights, argued Obama, "the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth." Unfortunately, according to Obama, "it didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution."

Do we really think that when he takes that oath, he won't add "except where I think it's wrong"?

Posted by: ZZMike at November 4, 2008 01:01 PM

Anyway, are you sure Buckley kept the party in line?

Buckley's son or grandson jumped ship for Obama. Buckley's friends and associates loathe Sarah palin.

Buckley didn't so much keep the Republican party in line as Buckley presented a cogent set of literature for Republicans to follow or spread. Sort of like Niccolo Machiavelli, a person who understood leadership and statesmanship but who himself was not a particularly good statesman or leader nor were his followers. The example would more apply to people in Buckley's circle than Buckley himself. The "elite" intellectual Republicans, you may say.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 4, 2008 05:38 PM

Speaking of *party lines*....

Apparently, we're about to get a new spin on the last seven years....

Posted by: DL Sly at November 4, 2008 06:34 PM

DL Sly: At last, someone understands the evil nature of earning and keeping wealth. Why, too, should someone have a house big enough for 20, when some of us have to live in cardboard boxes.

Soon, soon enough, we will be saying, like Yuri Zhivago, "Yes, of course, this is much more equitable". (At the point in the novel where the Communist housing commission moves several families into his parents' home.)

Posted by: ZZMike at November 5, 2008 07:02 PM

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Posted by: drsw at November 10, 2008 02:10 AM


Cassie -- the gamers are spamming you.

I recommend charging each one $100 for the advertising space...

Posted by: BillT at November 10, 2008 06:29 AM


And here I was considering an entire line of posts dedicated to World of Warcraft...

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2008 06:33 AM

Gonna start on Veterans' Day?



Posted by: BillT at November 10, 2008 09:27 AM



Posted by: BillT at November 10, 2008 09:30 AM