Sunday, February 11, 2007
The key to understanding Barack Obama's "inspiring" (as it's called) announcement speech is not to take it literally. For instance, the Democratic presidential candidate declaims:
Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this.
Now, a generation is an interestingly nonspecific period of time. Obama is 45 years old. He can expect (if he quits that smoking habit) to live another 40 years. It's certainly possible that within that time, the US economy will generate sufficient wealth to raise all American households up to an impressive level of comfort by today's standards. Even if the Obama presidency should prove a complete economic wreck, the four to eight presidents to succeed him will have lots of time to undo the damage.
But if Obama means that he intends to make a significant dent in poverty in America within the four or eight years of his own hypothetical presidency, it would certainly be interesting to know his plan to accomplish this end. One of the most important sources of the increase in US poverty since 2000 is the arrival of 8 million unskilled migrants, half of them illegal. Yet that, Obama tells us, is off limits to discussion.
[W]e've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We're distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants.
Obama promises universal health care. Won't that be prohibitively expensive? Not at all!
Let's be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy.
I think it is fair to say that there is not a single health expert in Obama's own party who would regard that prescription as anything but unrealistic at best.
Then there is this
Most of all, let's be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we've got. Politics doesn't have to divide us on this anymore - we can work together to keep our country safe. I've worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world's deadliest, unguarded weapons. We can work together to track terrorists down with a stronger military, we can tighten the net around their finances, and we can improve our intelligence capabilities. But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe.
Really? "Confront the terrorists with everything we've got?" Does that include electronic surveillance programs? Monitoring of terrorist bank transfers? What will the Democratic netroots say then? But of course it's all just words - not even words, posture.
I'm glad Obama is working with Senator Lugar to secure "some" of the world's deadiest unguarded weapons. What about the other deadly unguarded weapons - such as those being developed by Iran? With whom is Obama working to secure the US against those? As for exporting American ideals around the globe - what he means to say is "around the globe - except Iraq." From that conflict of course he intends to withdraw as precipitately as possible.
But then, what choice do we have except to interpret this new candidate non-literally? Imagine the headline that would have to be written if we took the man at his word:
BARACK OBAMA ENTERS PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Vows to Abolish Poverty, Fix Health Care.
Compares Self to Lincoln.
You see the problem - unless that is his publishers are prepared to retitle his new book, The Audacity of Ego.
02/11 06:07 PM