Change is an effective mantra in elections following two consecutive terms by one party in office. That is especially the case when the current officeholder is unpopular and the economy is weak. Barack Obama has that as a tremendous advantage in this race and recent polls breaking his way show it, but there are some significant factors that could still lead to his undoing.
When you look at the unpopularity of the current administration, the financial crisis that has overshadowed all other issues, the fawning media and the promise of a charismatic young figure offering change, it would appear this race is over. In fact, it would not be surprising if that candidate were leading by twenty points by now. Prospects are certainly looking good for an Obama win at this time, but there are a few factors that can still work in John McCain’s favor. Obama’s liberal voting record, his far left associations and the fact that Democrats control the Congress could all still cause trouble for Obama.
Obama is spending significantly more in my state of North Carolina than McCain, so I see a lot of Obama ads. One I saw several times this week was incredibly reminiscent of some Bill Clinton ads from 1996. I remember the Clinton ads because even though I opposed him, I was impressed by how good and how persuasive they were. Bill Clinton sat in what looked like could be a living room, or perhaps a large homey office, with natural lighting, and talked directly to the camera. He told voters that he was for a middle class tax cut and for “ending welfare as we know it.” I couldn’t argue with either of those ideas. I knew enough about the Democratic party at the time to know it was pretty unlikely that would happen, but I had to admit it sounded good.
When Clinton promised those things, the economy had already begun, and was maintaining, a steady recovery. That didn’t stop him from referring to it as the worst economy in 50 years, though, and the nation bought it. Now we have an economic situation that both candidates agree is one of the most dire our country has faced. In spite of the fact that Democratic policies are largely to blame, the unpopular sitting Republican President and his party are going to be saddled with the majority of the blame. Those in the media will ensure they are, regardless of whether or not they are deserving of it.
In the Obama ad I have seen many times this week, he is sitting in a setting very similar to the one Bill Clinton used in 1996. Also like Clinton, he talks directly into the camera and promises tax cuts for the middle class. Will this approach be as effective for Obama as it was for Clinton?
A big difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is that Clinton could credibly claim to be a moderate. He was a governor from a southern state. Southern Democrats are sometimes just as conservative as their Republican counterparts. Barack Obama is from Chicago and he has an unbelievably liberal voting record both as a state legislator and in the United States Senate. Barack Obama has voted against tax cuts or for tax increases 94 times. Obama has a liberal track record that should set off voters’ alarm bells. Why should anyone believe he would now cut taxes when he has consistently opposed them for so many years?
Bill Clinton promised tax cuts, but even in an economy that was recovering nicely, he came back to voters barely a month in office and said that in spite of working as hard as he had ever worked, he was not going to be able to deliver them. There are certainly many excuses Obama could find to back out of his tax cut promise, but even if he did come through on it, there is another problem with it. Obama’s tax plan is hard on small businesses. Even though many lower and middle income individuals would see less taxes personally, small businesses would face a bigger tax burden. Those small businesses employ lower and middle income people. If voters understand that the same tax policy that might allow them a bit more money in their refund checks could also put them in the unemployment line, they might not be so eager to vote for it. The only way they will know that though is if John McCain can successfully make that point.
The only reason Bill Clinton delivered on his “ending welfare as we know it” pledge was because after vetoing it twice, he was told that he had to pass it or he would lose his re-election. He therefore signed a welfare reform bill that a Republican majority had passed. That brings up another factor that could work in McCain’s favor. Voters favor divided power.
The Democrats currently control both the House and Senate and barring some extreme unforeseen circumstances will not only continue to hold, but most likely increase their margins of control. Barack Obama has the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate. Most far left liberal policies are not terribly popular with American voters, but if the Democrats control the White House and all of Congress, voters will have essentially given them a blank check to do just about anything they want. One only has to look at the extreme liberal voting record of Barack Obama, as well as the liberal agendas and records of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to see what they can expect in an Obama presidency.
It should be obvious to voters that an Obama presidency along with a Democrat-controlled Congress would result in the most liberal policies many of us have seen in our lifetimes or imagined in our wildest nightmares. Add to that the very real possibility that a President Obama would appoint two or three Supreme Court judges. There would be virtually no check on the power held by liberal Democrats and they would feel emboldened by the election to claim a mandate for anything they proposed.
This is a scenario that should frighten all but those in the most extreme left wing of the Democrat Party, but I don’t think it is a scenario that most voters have really considered. Those in the media are not going to write or talk about Obama’s extreme liberal voting record, just as they have not, and will not, investigate his associations with the likes of domestic terrorists, slumlords, and fat cats that fleeced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is up to the McCain campaign to draw that picture for the voters.
Those on the left will say it is fear mongering, even though for years they have warned of the extreme right wing and the fascist dictator state that America would become under Republican governance. They can’t do that with John McCain, who has so often been in opposition to conservatives. Since he would almost certainly have a Congress controlled by Democrats, any attempt to scare Americans with a rightwing fascist state is absurd.
Those on the left can neither credibly argue that a far left agenda would not prevail in an Obama administration. Barack Obama’s voting record is Exhibit One that is exactly what voters should expect. The case against Obama and complete Democrat control of government is bolstered by crooked associates of Obama such as William Ayers, Tony Rezko, and Rev. JeremiahWright. Additional clues to the leftist paradise that might exist under Obama can be seen in the thuggish attempts to silence his critics, whether it be his goons trying to shut down talk radio interviews or his operatives in state offices who are threatening to sue anyone who makes claims about Obama they deem false.
It would be no mystery to voters that an Obama presidency would be dominated by a far left liberal agenda if they were looking at the track records and associates of the candidates. Instead they are largely being shown an illusion of a modern day Messiah who is ready to unite the country and solve all its problems. They are being shown images of adorable children singing songs of worship and praise to Obama who is going to “rearrange” things to make them right. They are being given fluffy, puffy stories about the candidate by those who profess to be news reporters. The veil is so thin, really, if you know what stands behind it. Whether or not the McCain campaign can lift that veil in the final month of this campaign will determine the course of the country in ways we can only now imagine.
Daily Archives: October 4, 2008
Barack Obama is a “decidedly liberal” senator “who was finding his feet, and then got diverted by his presidential ambitions”, according to a frank verdict delivered to Gordon Brown by the British ambassador to the United States
Sir Nigel Sheinwald, ambassador in Washington since last year, delivered his unvarnished assessment of the White House front runner in a seven-page letter to the Prime Minister, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, just before the Democratic nominee’s visit to Downing Street just over two months ago.
The candid letter, marked as containing “sensitive judgements” and requesting officials to “protect the contents carefully” gives a remarkable insight into how the Foreign Office views the political phenomenon who stunned Mr Brown’s inner circle by defeating their favourite, Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic primaries.
Although the picture Sir Nigel paints is a highly complimentary one – Mr Obama’s speeches are “elegant” and “mesmerising”, he is “highly intelligent” and has “star quality” – he also judges that his “policies are still evolving” and that if elected he will “have less of a track record than any recent president”.
The letter’s contents suggest that Mr Brown could initially find it difficult to deal with a President Obama because he remains a largely unknown quantity who “resists pigeon-holing” and the leak is likely to complicate relations.
Last month, the prime minister was forced to backtrack after an article written in his name broke with convention by showering praise on the Democratic candidate at the expense of his Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Sir Nigel traces the ambition of Mr Obama, 47, to reach the White House right back to his 20s or before. “He has talked at least since the 1980s about a shot at the Presidency.”
He also identifies several political vulnerabilities that Sen McCain will seek to exploit in the last month of his campaign against the Illinois senator. The leaked letter will provide him with welcome ammunition.
Mr Obama “can seem to sit on the fence, assiduously balancing pros and cons”, Sir Nigel wrote, and “does betray a highly educated and upper middle class mindset”. Charges of elitism “are not entirely unfair” and he is “maybe aloof, insensitive” at times.
“He can talk too dispassionately for a national campaign about issues which touch people personally, eg his notorious San Francisco comments [in April] about small-town Pennsylvanians ‘clinging’ to guns and religion.”
Mr Obama’s Democratic primary victory over the former First Lady showed that “he is tough and competitive. This is of course the Chicago school.
You don’t beat Clinton without being resilient” but “his energy levels do dip and he can be uninspiring e.g. in debates”.
Curiously, there is no mention of his wife Michelle – a central figure in his rise and his closest adviser – and little examination of his time in Chicago, where he had radical associations, or his background in Hawaii, essential to understanding why “Obama is cool”, as the letter puts it.
Sir Nigel detects a potential clash between Downing Street and an Obama administration over Iran.
“If Obama wins, we will need to consider with him the articulation between (a) his desire for ‘unconditional’ dialogue with Iran and (b) our and the [United Nations Security Council]’s requirement of prior suspension of enrichment before the nuclear negotiations proper can begin.”
But Sir Nigel – who described the Iraq war as “the Iraq expedition” and “Bush’s Iraq adventure” – briefed that Mr Obama’s Iraq policy gelled with Britain’s.
“Whatever the detail, our own proposed transition in south-east Iraq would be consistent with Obama’s likely approach. Obama’s ideas on a more expansive regional framework for Iraq would also fit well with our thinking.”
He wrote approvingly of Mr Obama’s “mainstream team of youthful economic advisers, with strong credentials [who] approach policy with refreshingly few prescriptions”, his “progressive position on climate change” and his ‘pragmatic realism” and “balanced approach to the big security issues”.
Sir Nigel concludes that searching for a deal between Israel and the Palestinians is “unlikely to be a top priority for Obama” and he expresses concern about his protectionist trade policy, while noting that he has “repositioned himself somewhat towards free trade”.
British officials said that since it became clear that Mr Obama would overcome Mrs Clinton, Sir Nigel had worked hard to dampen down what he viewed as “Obamamania” within Downing Street that had become so strong that he feared it might alienate the McCain campaign.
Sir Nigel’s letter, though initially drafted by his political staff, is an intensely personal assessment of Mr Obama and is based largely on the ambassador’s owns observations from the campaign trail.
He has travelled to rallies as far afield as New Hampshire and South Carolina – where he had a personal meeting with Mr McCain – and to the party conventions in Denver and St Paul, Minnesota.
Although he has the lowest public profile of any recent British ambassador in Washington, Sir Nigel has won respect for his range of contacts within the Bush administration and the campaigns.
The letter quotes Tom Daschle, a former Senate Majority Leader and Obama confidant who is hotly tipped to become White House chief of staff should Mr Obama be elected, from a private meeting with Sir Nigel.
There is a strong indication Sir Nigel also consulted Senator Richard Lugar, a Republican who has worked with Mr Obama on legislation and travelled abroad with him.
“Obama’s politics and policies are still evolving,” Sir Nigel wrote.
“His Illinois and US Senate careers give us only a few clues as to his likely priorities in office.
“In the Senate he took a low profile in 2005-6, but was a diligent member of the Foreign Relations Committee, respectful and friendly to the veteran Republican Senator Lugar, with whom he travelled to London in 2005.
“His voting record was decidedly liberal. But the main impression is of someone who was finding his feet, and then got diverted by his presidential ambitions.”
Sir Nigel later reiterates the point: “Although he has been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for four years, and a regular attender of meetings in his first two, there is little Obama track record to refer back to.”
He highlights luck as a key factor in Mr Obama’s rise. “He was certainly lucky in having Democratic and Republican opponents for the US Senate in 2004 who were tarnished. He was lucky that Hillary Clinton had such a bad organisation in the primary campaign, and took so long to respond to Obama’s threat.”
A spokesman for the British Embassy in Washington declined to comment.