Monday, July 21, 2008

Your opinions, please!

I got another phone call Saturday morning seeking my opinions related to the presidential race. This one was from a political research group at Quinnipiac University. I wasn't sure I really wanted to answer their questions. All the way through, they wanted me to choose one of two possible answers: "Which: This or that?" --And I kept saying, "Neither. I prefer _____." --And I'd mention a third alternative. Or something in between.

"Obama or McCain?" --"How about Barr . . . or Paul? . . . But if you force me to choose between Obama or McCain, I guess it's McCain . . . holding my nose."

"What should the president promote: development of renewable fuels or oil drilling?" --"Ummmm. I'm not convinced that's the president's responsibility. But if I have to, . . . Oh, good grief! . . . How about both?!"

"Renewable fuels or nuclear energy?" --"!!!!!"

Another McCain/Obama preference question. --"Y'know, Obama really scares me. Actually, it's not so much Obama himself. It's the American people who are all ga-ga over him . . . for what? He reminds me too much of certain other historical figures who were voted into office on popular euphoria only to cause unimaginable havoc. . . ." --I was thinking of Hitler, in particular. But there have been others.

Charles Krauthammer, as usual, wrote an insightful piece first published in various national news outlets on Saturday. (Our Rocky Mountain News didn't run it till this morning. But I think he's nailed it when he spoke of "Obama’s elevated opinion of himself."
There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements? Obama is
  • a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name,

  • a former Illinois state senator who voted “present” nearly 130 times.

As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever
  • produced a single notable piece of scholarship?

  • Written a single memorable article?

His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly.

In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history — “generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment” — when, among other wonders, “the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

--Sorry. Politics generally bores me. I didn't see Obama's performance. But if Krauthammer is expressing anything near the truth, I would have to agree: Obama's opinion of himself is beyond amazing. It's quite scary, actually. Guys like this don't need anyone else. They know their destiny . . . and if we, the people, aren't willing to stop them early, they will ensure we participate in the destiny they have waiting for us.

Are you ready to meet yours?
As economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, “Moses made the waters recede, but he had help.” Obama apparently works alone.

Obama may think he’s King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

After all, in the words of his own slogan, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” which, translating the royal “we,” means: “I am the one we’ve been waiting for.” Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his podium, until general ridicule — it was pointed out that he was not yet president — induced him to take it down. He lectures us that instead of worrying about immigrants learning English, “you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish” — a language Obama does not speak. He further admonishes us on how “embarrassing” it is that Europeans are multilingual but “we go over to Europe, and all we can say is, ‘Merci beaucoup.’” Obama speaks no French.

As with other dictators and tyrants of recent memory, perhaps the American people should pay attention to what Krauthammer notes about Obama the stern taskmaster. Should he become president, he will require much of us. And of himself? . . .
His wife assures us that, . . . “Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism ... that you come out of your isolation. ... Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is? We are getting to know.

Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

And then there's this from "Little Green Footballs": "Obama Shunning Foreign Media."
Christoph von Marschall of Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel says the Barack Obama campaign has been making sure Obama doesn’t have to answer any real questions from the international media: Snubbed by Obama.
Barack Obama is on his way to Europe, where an adoring public awaits. But I wonder if the reception would be quite so enthusiastic if Obama’s fans across the Atlantic knew a dirty little secret of his remarkable presidential campaign: Although Obama portrays himself as the best candidate to engage the rest of the world and restore America’s image abroad, and many Americans support him for that reason, so far he has almost completely refused to answer questions from foreign journalists. When the press plane leaves tonight for his trip, there will be, as far as I know, no foreign media aboard. The Obama campaign has refused multiple requests from international reporters to travel with the candidate.

As a German correspondent in Washington, I am accustomed to the fact that American politicians spare little of their limited time for reporters from abroad. This is understandable: Our readers, viewers and listeners cannot vote in U.S. elections. Even so, Obama’s opponents have managed to make at least a small amount of time for international journalists. John McCain has given many interviews. Hillary Clinton gave a few. President Bush regularly holds round-table interviews with media from the countries to which he travels. Only Obama dismisses us so consistently.

This spring Obama allowed at least one foreign reporter on trips to Ohio and Texas. But as the campaign has progressed, access has become more difficult for foreign correspondents. E-mail inquiries get no reply, phone calls are not returned. My colleagues and I know: We are last in line. We don’t matter.

My take: his staff is desperately worried that the candidate will make a gaffe, as soon as he ventures into uncharted territory. Foreign reporters tend to ask questions about ... you know ... foreign stuff.
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