How to Criticize Obama

by Stanley Kurtz

Don Surber makes some good points in the course of arguing that “attacking Obama as a radical doesn’t work.” Certainly, conservatives are divided on this issue.

Many feel, and rightly so, that the mainstream press has refused to report important information about President Obama’s radical past. If we can just break through the media barrier and finally reach the broader public with the truth about Obama’s hard-left history, they believe, the president will lose his luster. Others, like Surber, see Obama’s radical past as a loser issue, legitimate perhaps in substance, but doomed to failure nonetheless. After serving nearly a full term as president the only workable strategy, they say, is to criticize what Obama has actually done in office.

I don’t quite hold with either view. The debate is miscast, both because it treats the past and present as sharply different, and because it assumes we actually know and understand what Obama has been doing these last three-and-a-half years. I disagree. Many aspects of Obama’s present–to say nothing of his plans for the future–are as guarded and mysterious as his radical past. In fact, the poorly-known side of Obama’s world makes the clearest sense only when you combine research into his past and present alike.

This is what I’ve been up to these past months, as I’ve been working on a book about Obama that will appear in early August. Among other things, my book will show that the differences between ways of criticizing Obama aren’t as clearly drawn as they now appear to be.

There are many aspects of Obama’s current policies that the public knows little or nothing about, and seemingly familiar things that are still poorly understood. When you put the total picture together, the links between Obama’s present and past can be drawn much more convincingly than many now imagine. At any rate, that is what I’ll be arguing in August.

I believe that many of the things I’ve dug up, along with the dots I’ve connected about Obama’s transformative ambitions–past and present alike–will be genuinely disturbing to voters far beyond the Republican base, including moderates and independents. Sweeping judgements about how best to criticize Obama are premature.