The Corner

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Barack the Dull?


Thomas Sowell dissects some of Barack Obama’s policy ideas this morning, and finds them rather stale. I have to say I had much the same reaction reading Obama’s best selling campaign book The Audacity of Hope a few months ago. His shtick is that he’s fresh and different, but on substance Obama seems like just about the dullest candidate out there (with the exception of Chris Dodd, of course, who will never be outdone for dullness.)

Even the most basic theme of Obama’s pitch—part of the reason he has been described as a fresh voice that could shake up our politics—is actually what pretty much every politician says: our politics are too partisan and divisive, and they’d be much less so if everyone agreed with me. Obama’s twist on this theme is that he’s not very clear about what his own views actually are, so the “agree with me” part can be easier to take, since listening to all those vague generic platitudes it’s easy to assume you probably would agree with him.

But it will be very hard to maintain that conceit in the long run. Even just in the course of the book, having to repeat the “can’t we all just get along” cliché gets increasingly difficult for him (Obama actually seems like a genuinely good writer, and appears uncomfortable simply repeating himself the way most such books do), and in a number of places this leads him into truly ridiculous territory. So for instance, the millionth time he repeats the cliché (on page 57) goes like this:

“Our democracy might work a bit better if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect: if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his gun as they feel about their library books, and if conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of their right to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do of their right to worship.”

Read that again. It’s hard to know where to begin…