McCain certainly vitiated the age issue last night. His energy, command of specifics, and memory for names made him look quite vigorous. I agree with John Pitney that there were missed opportunities, but McCain was masterful in distancing himself from an unpopular administration without running away from a conservative approach to foreign policy.
Still, the McCain campaign has not yet done is most important job: showing the world what a true leftist Obama really is. This month’s Commentary has a good piece by Josh Muravchik providing chapter and verse. Here is an excerpt:
Entering the national political scene eight years later, Obama did not, to be sure, appear as a radical, but he still bore the earmarks of the world in which he had been immersed for twenty years. He called himself “progressive,” a term of art favored by veterans of the hard New Left, like Tom Hayden, as well as by old-time Communists. Early this year his wife Michelle, lacking his tact, would kindle controversy by saying that his success in the presidential primaries made her feel proud of her country for the first time. The comment, a faux pas that she was soon at pains to explain away, flowed logically from her view, expressed in her standard stump speech, that our country is a “downright mean” place, “guided by fear,” where the “life . . . that most people are living has gotten progressively worse.”
This year, Obama appeared before Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (whose official slogan is “no justice, no peace”) to seek its support. The candidate praised Sharpton as “a voice for the voiceless and . . . dispossessed. What National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up.” Given Sharpton’s long career of reckless racial demagogy, it might seem shocking that a mainstream candidate should be seeking his blessing, but in this, at least, Obama was not unique: all of the 2008 Democratic aspirants did so. He did, though, strive to separate himself from the pack:
If there is somebody who has been more on the forefront on behalf of the issues that you care about and has more concrete accomplishment on behalf of the things you’re concerned about, then I am happy to see you endorse them. I am happy to see you support them. . . . But I am absolutely confident that you will not find that, because there is nobody who has stood fast on these issues more consistently each and every day, than I have. That is something that I know.
Even after declaring his candidacy, and despite a certain inevitable sidling rightward, Obama still reflected the presuppositions of a radical worldview. In one notable remark, he said of voters in economic distress that in their desperation they “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” Chastised for his condescension, he responded: “I said something that everybody knows is true.” This was elitism of a very specific kind—the mentality of the community organizer, according to which people in the grip of “false consciousness” need to be enlightened as to the true nature of their class interests, and to the nature of their true class enemies.
The same suppositions are again evident in Obama’s stances on international issues. Iraq, as he sees it, is only a symptom. “I don’t want to just end the war . . . I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.” And what would that mindset be? In a 2002 speech that he frequently cites, he said the war resulted from
the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors . . . to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne . . . the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income . . . the arms merchants in our own country . . . feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.
In this litany of global perfidy, the issues of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship, of American security, of the future of freedom, shrink to inconsequentiality next to the struggle of the oppressed against their American capitalist overlords.
When it comes to Iran, Obama has acknowledged that the regime presents a problem. But his actions—he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization—as well as his rhetoric imply that the greater danger emanates from George W. Bush (who is allegedly seeking “any justification to extend the Iraq war or to attack Iran”). Likewise on defeating terrorism, where he rejects the America-centric focus that Bush has given to the issue; instead, in the words of his aides, Obama’s main goal is to “restore . . . our moral standing”—that is, to put an end to our aggressive ways.
Even the events of 9/11 could not shake Obama from the mindset that the enemy is always ourselves. The bombings, he wrote, reflected
the underlying struggle—between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together; and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us.
In this reading, the lessons to be learned from the actions of Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta are that we must accept multiculturalism at home and share our wealth abroad.
I would make an ad that combines some of what’s in this article with Obama’s closing statement last night about children around the world no longer looking up to America. Coming from the far left milieu he does, Obama really believes that America is reviled around the world — because she is reviled by the people with whom he allied himself from the beginning.