Bench Memos

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That’s Obama-na-Bull!


NRO’s web briefing yesterday linked to this transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s insightful remarks about Barack Obama’s appeal.  An excerpt:


Barack Obama, ladies and gentlemen, is a blank canvas upon which anybody can project their fantasies, or their desires.…  He’s saying nothing.  He’s saying nothing better than anybody in my lifetime ever has.  The reason he says nothing so well is because everybody thinks that he’s saying what they want.  So they’re able to project onto Obama their fantasies.…  Therefore, I would like today to announce a tentative decision, I’m stilling thinking about it, to endorse Barack Obama, since everybody is asking who am I going to endorse, and here’s why.  Barack Obama is pro-life.  Barack Obama is a Constitutionalist.  Barack Obama believes in limited government.  Barack Obama is in favor of health care savings plans.  Barack Obama loves free markets and wants to protect them.  Barack Obama is strong on national defense.  Barack Obama is a tax cutter extraordinaire.  Barack Obama makes my leg tingle when I hear him speak.  Barack Obama will end the designated hitter rule.  Barack Obama will establish a college football playoff once and for all so we will genuinely have a champion.  Barack Obama will get to the bottom of Spygate.  Barack Obama will offer free beer Fridays.  Whatever you want Obama to be, folks, he’s a blank slate, he’s an empty canvas, and this is the nature of his appeal.  Whatever people fantasize about, whatever they want, they are confident Obama supports it, too.


Nicely illustrating Limbaugh’s point is this, er, curious Slate essay by former Reagan administration lawyer Doug Kmiec arguing—or, rather, dreamily imagining—that Obama “is a natural for the Catholic vote.”  (Ramesh Ponnuru has more here on The Corner.) 


Another illustration is provided by this New Republic essay (subscriber-only) by Jeffrey Rosen on Obama’s views on civil liberties.  Among other things, Rosen seems to accept the proposition that in Obama-world “there is no overriding tension between liberty and security; instead, each value strengthens the other.”  (One can, of course, agree that the tension is sometimes overstated, or can be finessed away, without embracing the very different proposition that liberty and security are in all fundamental respects mutually reinforcing.)  Rosen takes seriously the “deliberative democracy” rhetoric that Obama uses (in his book The Audacity of Hope) to camouflage his embrace of liberal judicial activism.  And he declares that “Obama’s commitment to building a national consensus on civil liberties trumps ideological stridency” and that “Obama’s entire career has uniquely prepared him to offer” political leadership on civil-liberties protections.

Tags: Whelan


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