February 14, 2008


The Wrong Stuff (James Bowman, 2/12/2008, American Spectator)

The other week, Barack Obama came up with what he doubtless saw as a snappy comeback in answer to Hillary Clinton's oft-repeated boast that she would have the experience to be ready to govern "on Day One" by saying that "it is important to be right on Day One." I hold no brief for either of these candidates, but this, clearly, is exactly wrong, and a reinforcement of Mrs. Clinton's attempts to portray Mr. Obama as callow and inexperienced rather than an answer to them. For being "right" is no more an option for a president than it is for anyone else. Doubtless he will be right sometimes, but he will also be wrong a lot of the time. That is not something he can promise not to be without appearing either to be a fool himself or to be fooling the electorate. It is tantamount to a promise not to make mistakes. How can we take a man seriously as a potential president who would make such an unwise -- indeed, mistaken -- promise?

But Mr. Obama is surely aware that his claim to electoral advantage on the grounds of being right is an appeal to a particular constituency that is sure to be influential in the selection of the Democratic nominee -- and in the enthusiasm with which he (or she) is supported and campaigned for in the November general election. This is the MoveOn constituency, the "Not in Our Name" crowd. Above all it is those with the bumper stickers about a village somewhere in Texas which has mislaid its idiot. For such people -- and, to a disturbing extent these days, the Democratic Party as a whole -- pride of intellect is politically debilitating. They have no political philosophy or program apart from not being so stupid as they are now so heavily invested in representing George W. Bush as being. [...]

That he has not been laughed off the national stage for such foolish presumption is one measure of the eagerness in his party to welcome a political savior, a fantasy figure and superhero who can put everything right. My impression is that this eagerness, this willingness to see a one-term senator from Illinois as an object of veneration, as if he had accomplished some great deed instead of just promising "change," exists not just on the media fringe but among people who would once have scorned such childishness. Oh how certain sorts of Democrats want to believe in their infallible superman! It's the closet utopian in them who desperately need to believe that if you're smart enough -- as, in effect, Barack Obama is promising them he will be -- they won't have to fight anybody! They believe, as utopians of all descriptions have always believed, that peace and prosperity will come at the bidding of the smart.

As Eric Hoffer put it, "The intellectuals and the young, booted and spurred, feel themselves born to ride us."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 14, 2008 12:50 PM

...with itself.

Posted by: Luciferous at February 14, 2008 2:39 PM

Ah, but the old have the best revenge (don't they?): Social Security and Medicare. If you want societal division, just wait until the SS tax is raised by 5% and Medicare by 10%.

As for Obama, John Lewis and another CBC guy from the South have dumped Hillary and are now going to vote for Obama in Denver. I guess Hillary is a polarizing figure after all.

Posted by: ratbert at February 15, 2008 8:52 AM