- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2008

His worldview

“Even after declaring his candidacy, and despite a certain inevitable sidling rightward, Obama still reflected the presuppositions of a radical worldview,” Joshua Muravchick writes in the October issue of Commentary magazine.

“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,” Mr. Muravchick said.

“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 mind-set that got us into war in the first place.’ And what would that mind-set 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.”

Community organizers

“What exactly does a ‘community organizer’ do? Barack Obama’s rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here’s a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit,” Stanley Kurtz writes in the New York Post.

“In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes — and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers,” Mr. Kurtz said.

“In other words, community organizers help to undermine the U.S. economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.

“The seeds of today’s financial meltdown lie in the Community Reinvestment Act — a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.

“CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘subprime’ loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers. …

“One key pioneer of ACORN’s subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott — an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae’s mortgage policies.”

Turf battle

“Friday’s debate was an enjoyable, engaging contest. These candidates have such sharply different styles — there were reasons to expect a good show. I for one was not disappointed,” Jay Cost writes at www.realclearpolitics.com.

Barack Obama’s initial answers to Jim Lehrer’s lead questions were strong. He typically contextualized individual issues into a broader framework. Overall, I think this made him seem knowledgeable, which is how he needed to come across, given that the subject of the debate was foreign policy. However, it also made him seem a bit professorial,” Mr. Cost said.

“Watching the debate sometimes reminded me of a college class, as if I should lean over to my wife to ask, ‘What was number two in his four-point plan on Afghanistan? I missed it.’ It would be best for Obama to seem knowledgeable without seeming professorial — but above all he needs to seem knowledgeable.

“McCain’s initial answers to questions tended to be as strong, though not he did do very well in his response to the opening question about the financial situation. Where McCain had a persistent edge was in controlling the agenda of the debate.

“Oftentimes, there’s something to be said for not engaging the other side in a discussion. On many issues, one candidate is going to be a loser and one a winner. It’s a matter of issue ownership. For instance, on Iraq, if the public decides that the crucial test is the surge, then Obama loses the issue. If it decides that the test is the initial decision to invade, McCain loses. So, rather than try to change voters’ minds, each candidate should try to change the topic to more favorable ground. This is one reason partisan talking heads always seem to speak past one another.

“Obama did not do this as well as he could have. He often tried to engage McCain on the latter’s best subjects, which meant he ran into some trouble.”

Lowering expectations

“The upcoming downside for the Obama-Biden campaign is that its supporters became so flustered over Palin’s surprisingly explosive popularity coming out of the GOP convention. They have so successfully mocked, derided and lowered expectations for Palin in Thursday night’s VP debate that if she doesn’t drool or speak in tongues, many millions still open to persuasion will be impressed,” Andrew Malcolm writes in a blog at latimes.com.

Al Gore’s campaign made the exact same mistake going into the 2000 debates. So all Texas Gov. George W. Bush had to do was not lose,” Mr. Malcolm said.

“In that sense, Democrats may have played right into a PR cul-de-sac. Biden, for instance, described Palin as merely better-looking than him. A far better communications strategy would have been to insincerely portray Palin with superlatives as a superwoman, making it harder, not easier, for her to impress. Too late now.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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