Politics & Policy

The Great Lie

America did not see the real Barack Obama last night.

For months, Barack Obama has complained about the poverty his family suffered while earning a mere $200,000 per year. Last night he ridiculed his political opponent for a joke he had made about high-income earners qualifying as “middle class.”

Last night, the man who opposed welfare reform bragged that while serving in Illinois he had “moved more families from welfare to work.”

The man who misled the public for four years about his vote to let a Chicago-area hospital continue leaving premature abortion survivors to die, and who promised that his first act as president will be to re-legalize partial-birth abortion, offered this calm plea to the nation: “We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

The man who is evading legitimate debate by smearing our own mild-mannered, thoughtful Stanley Kurtz as a “fear mongering . . . right-wing hatchet man,” last night called for “a new politics for a new time.”

If you think that Senator Barack Obama stretches the truth, then don’t forget to take his introduction by Senator Dick Durbin with a grain of salt, as well. “To a country weary of the politics of division and deadlock, he has brought a message of unity and change,” said Durbin. “This man, Barack Obama, has inspired America to believe that we can come together and meet the challenges of this new century and rise up to a better place.”

What “better place” might that be? He can’t possibly be referring to Chicago. There must be someone out there who remembers the 2006 election, in which Durbin and Obama together thwarted the efforts of bipartisan reformers who had reached across party lines to clean up their city’s politics. In that election, which I describe in detail in the most recent print edition of National Review, the two senators endorsed, as a “good, progressive Democrat,” a man named Todd Stroger. Both Obama and Durbin knew well that Stroger would continue to use the Cook County payroll as a private fund to support the politically connected — they just didn’t care.

Stroger, a man described by liberal Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn as “an unimaginative legislative drone” and a “machine hack candidate,” won his race with Durbin and Obama’s help. As expected, he went on to shutter health clinics, lay off hundreds of nurses and dozens of prosecutors, and raise taxes — all in order to pay for the hundreds of unqualified but politically connected patronage workers that he and various politicians had “sponsored” for county jobs. John Stroger, his father and predecessor, had even taken the wise step of putting Tony Rezko’s wife on the county payroll.

Obama notes that his opponent, Senator John McCain, voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time. Obama sides with Mayor Richard M. Daley 100 percent of the time, whether in regards to Stroger’s election or anything else that helps keep Chicago politics dirty. That is the real Barack Obama — not the smooth-talking Greek god who plays a reformer on television, but the man who has never met a Daley-backed Chicago pol he could not support. He doesn’t work against politicians for whom Tony Rezko raises money.

The real Obama sides with the Chicago Teacher’s Union 100 percent of the time. Education is a top priority for Obama except when it comes to fixing the terrible school system caused by CTU, and the five-hour, 45-minute school day that the union bosses adamantly refuse to lengthen.

“If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the judgment and temperament to be commander in chief, that is a debate I welcome,” Obama said in last night’s speech. This was meant to be a defense of his foreign-policy abilities, but it is actually an amusingly counter-factual statement about the man’s life and political career. What sort of judgment has Obama shown in his political endorsements? How about his choice of friends, which one might charitably describe as “interesting?”

By what criteria does a man choose his friends and end up with the likes of Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright, and William Ayers? How does he choose his political advisors and end up with advocates of reparations for slavery, fans of Hugo Chavez, and two individuals who have been forced to resign over their alleged connections to Hamas?

When Obama’s poorly chosen friends become liabilities, he suddenly shows a level of cognitive dissonance unworthy of the obviously intelligent author of Dreams from My Father:

This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew . . .

The [Rev. Wright] that I saw yesterday was not the person I met 20 years ago . . .

Thanks to Kurtz’s work, we may soon hear, “That was not the William Ayers I knew . . .

What happens when you put someone like Obama in a room with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? A few years later, after a smiling President Obama’s reassurances about Iran’s intentions prove untrue, you might hear this statement from the White House: “This is not the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad I thought I knew . . .

The man who repeatedly stifled reform, who endorsed and embraced systemic corruption throughout his career in Chicago and Springfield, campaigns as the agent of positive change. The man with no judgment campaigns as the “wise leader.” There is a pattern to all this.

Many voters, similarly lacking in judgment, will be fooled by last night’s speech. If Obama wins, they should not be surprised, three years from now, to hear themselves saying something similar:

This is not the Barack Obama I thought I knew . . .

David Freddoso is a staff reporter for National Review Online and author of the newly released The Case Against Barack Obama.

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