Politics & Policy

Two Cheers for Obama

Not bad for a socialist.

Senator Barack Obama finally captured the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday. For this, he deserves two cheers from Americans from coast to coast.

First, Obama secured this country’s chief domestic priority for 2008: denying Senator Hillary Clinton the presidency. Obama has earned the eternal gratitude of millions of relieved Americans who understand how calamitous a Hillary Clinton administration would have been. She combines ruthless ambition, a pathological sense of entitlement, and the ethical restraint of Richard Nixon’s “White House plumbers” unit.

Clinton and her supporters repeatedly played the race card against Obama. On May 8, Clinton notoriously said that “Senator Obama’s support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again. . . . ”

Former Clinton finance-committee member Geraldine Ferraro said in March, “If Obama was [sic] a white man, he would not be in this position.” When critics bristled, the ex-congresswoman told Torrance, California’s Daily Breeze: “I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?” She also remarked that former Democratic contender “John Edwards must have been shocked to wake up and realize that for the first time in 200 years, being a white man was a disadvantage.”

Former president Bill Clinton dismissed Obama’s January 26 South Carolina primary victory by saying, “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice. . . . Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here,” thus tying Obama’s post-racial candidacy with Jackson’s race-focused efforts.

As author Bruce Bartlett details in Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past, Democrats’ have a long history of anti-black statements and sentiments that far exceed the so-called code words of Nixon’s alleged “Southern strategy,” in which the phrase “law and order” somehow magically converted white resentment into electoral votes. Too bad this primary’s rhetoric was not that benign.

When the race card failed to stop Obama, Clinton played the assassination card, saying on May 23 that she still was a candidate because “We all remember that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.” Clinton survived the ensuing firestorm because few realized that she used RFK’s murder as a crutch not once or twice but four times this year — not only repeatedly returning to it on the campaign trail, but even in an interview with Time back in March. .

Add Clinton’s staggering tactlessness to her thirst for funny money (e.g., disgraced fundraisers Norman Hsu, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung), missing legal documents, abused FBI personnel files, politically motivated IRS audits, stolen antiques, and the multifarious wrongdoing that defined the Clinton White House. Obama has spared America another four to eight years of official lawlessness. For this he merits abundant applause.

Second, Obama has performed an enormous public service as a black candidate of unprecedented elegance and eloquence. Obama demonstrates what results when a young black man works and studies hard and beautifully speaks proper English. This is not “acting white,” as too many in America’s ghettoes disparage such self-respecting behavior. Rather, it is “acting right.” Let’s hope black children find Obama an inspiring alternative to the hydrochloric acid of hip-hop.

So why two cheers and not three? Despite his enormous appeal, Obama is an over-the-cliff-and-tumbling-into-the-canyon-Left, big-government, tax-hiking spendthrift.

For 2007, the National Journal ranked him the Senate’s No. 1 liberal with a score of 95.5 percent. This put Obama to the left of Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Socialist – Vermont) who rated a marginally more conservative 93.7.

The National Taxpayer’s Union calculates that Obama’s policy prescriptions would balloon annual federal spending by $343.6 billion. Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain would boost yearly outlays by a more modest $68.5 billion. Obama recently embraced Congress’s atrocious $307 billion farm bailout. McCain condemned it.

The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund expertly dissects Obamanomics. Among the many warning signs:

‐Obama endorses a 45 percent minimum-wage increase, from $6.55 to $9.50. Why not simply triple it, to $19.65? Employers would love that.

‐Obama wants a “market oversight commission” to monitor and reduce risks to the finance industry. The FDIC, Federal Reserve, SEC, and Treasury already attempt this, whether or not they should.

‐While Obama favors modest middle-class tax cuts, he promises widespread tax hikes. For top filers, taxes on capital gains would rise from 15 to 28 percent, dividends from 15 to 39.6 percent, and personal incomes from 35 to 39.6 percent. Meanwhile, the Death Tax would zoom in 2011 from 0 to 55 percent. “And if you live in a high income-tax state like New York, New Jersey, or California,” Fund adds, “your highest marginal tax rate could go to as high as 60 percent.”

‐Obama would let President Bush’s tax cuts lapse. The Heritage Foundation estimates that this would cost taxpayers $113 billion in 2011 and $133 billion in 2012 alone.

Barack Obama’s agenda is statist and disappointingly unimaginative. It lacks the Democratic Leadership Council’s “Third Way” thinking or even the dreadful-albeit-interesting quality of such ideas as comparable worth or cumulative voting. Obama’s program of tax, spend, and regulate is as innovative as a station wagon.

In contrast, John McCain advocates aggressive tax reduction, an optional flat tax, a free market in individually owned health insurance, and an escape from the Bush era’s fiscal incontinence. As voters increasingly recognize, putting age before beauty is America’s best hope for change.

– NRO contributing editor Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

© 2008 Scripps Howard News Service

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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