In some ways, he has seemed too good to be true, this spectacular Democratic star named Barack Obama, this honest, moderate, nonpartisan, interest-shorn, unifying candidate for president, this harbinger of change, this vessel of hope.
And the truth is he is not that good, that he has sometimes been a scheming, manipulative panderer, that he divides to conquer, that he scrapes and bows to special interests and that the change he offers is more collectivism, not fewer of the bad old Washington ways.
Remember how he first came to national attention? It was in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention when he gave a speech saying we should not think of ourselves as Red States and Blue States, but as "one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes." His tone was one of reconciliation, of finding the middle way, of coming together, but that’s not what he’s about, not a minute of it.
For what we have here is someone who has voted with his party in the U.S. Senate 96 percent of the time, whose record is the furthest to the left of any of the Democrats and who has not crossed the aisle on any major legislative venture. His associations include an unrepentant domestic terrorist and his diatribes against Republicans include calling them "social Darwinists," which is to say, people who think the disadvantaged among are unfit for this planet.
Maybe he’s ignorant of the phrase’s history and full meaning, but he cannot claim he didn’t know what he was doing when he took the extreme position of opposing any and all restrictions on abortions.
He does say he’s against a large-scale redistribution of wealth, but his proposals testify otherwise — he wants hefty increases in cash credits to workers who pay no taxes and hopes to increase their numbers by millions.
The array of other tax credits and expanded or new programs he seeks would give us a semi-socialist, unaffordable, economy-wrecking welfare state of the kind that France and Germany are now trying to shrink for survival’s sake.
Obama has played unending "kissy face” with the middle class, promising that something like 95 percent of us will get tax cuts, even as he has excoriated corporations, beaten up on CEOs and pledged to squeeze tens of billions a year from those who have the highest incomes. There are no significant spending cuts in all of this, meaning the budget deficit would balloon while some of his demagogic ideas could deliver body blows to the very people he pretends to adore.
Raise taxes on corporations, as he wants, and they become less competitive, they produce less, they hire fewer people and they raise prices that middle-class consumers pay. Raise capital-gains taxes and you lessen the values of stocks that have already plummeted disastrously, costing middle-class retirement plans trillions of dollars. Hit Big Oil with windfall profit penalties, and you weaken these firms, hurting people at the gas pump and increasing our energy peril.
Ah, but the man can take care of us because he is independent of special interests, he says as he simultaneously promises unions to renegotiate trade deals providing tens of thousands of jobs in the export business while keeping prices down on products the middle class purchases. He’s in bed with the ethanol industry, which is raising our food prices, and he voted for a budget-bloating, unnecessary farm subsidy bill that just happens to cripple third-world farmers who can’t then compete.
This supposed saint backed a surveillance bill he said he was against, went back on his word about accepting public finance, has told incredible lies about John McCain’s stances on immigration and Social Security, and has evaded any halfway workable proposal to deal with the coming entitlement crisis.
His press minions cheer. The public should not.
(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)