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“We wanted to be mindful of our place,” Robert Gibbs, [Obama’s] spokesman, told me. Even on the issue of Iraq, which dominated 2005, Obama, an opponent of the invasion from the beginning, passed up the chance to speak out. “He could have been the moral voice, the moral authority on Iraq,” one of Obama’s closest advisors told me. “But he was just a freshman senator. It would have been presumptuous of him to take the lead.”br> So, to recap: Obama’s speech opposing the Iraq War when he was a state senator in Illinois is to be taken as an act of moral courage and extraordinary foresight, yet to expect him to have followed through on his convictions during his early years in the U.S. Senate, when he actually had the power to affect the national debate and the direction of the war itself, would be “presumptuous.” Obama calls the war in Iraq a “tragic” mistake at every possible opportunity. Is showing deference to an ongoing tragedy audaciously hopeful or cynically pragmatic? It doesn’t take a Clinton opposition research operative to recognize Obama’s (presumably not presumptuous) re-adoption of outspoken anti-war rhetoric roughly corresponded to the rise of public dissatisfaction with the war.
Worse was a tedious, meandering discussion as to what would and would not be on the table when President Obama saves Social Security. It’s a typical Obama campaign moment: First, he accuses Hillary Clinton, in the abstract, of being obtuse (“You don’t present tough choices directly to the American people for fear that your answers might not be popular, you might make yourself a target for Republicans in the general election”) — I’m assuming when he says “you” here, it is not referring to either myself, Tim Russert or, well, you — proceeds to tout himself as a straight-talking savior (“It’s not sufficient for us to just finesse the issue because we’re worried that, well, we might be attacked for the various options we present”), and then, finally, finesses the issue presumably because he’s worried he’ll be attacked for the various options he presents. What is Obama’s plan? It’s to “convene a meeting” during which “we” — who? — will “discuss all of the options that are available.”
Obama hasn’t presented the “tough choices” yet. He hasn’t even presented any concrete bold options, although he assures us he has “strong opinions.” He just promises one day he will present tough choices and options. And this is different from what Hillary is saying how?
IT’S A PROBLEM THAT stretches beyond the issues. When Russert asked Obama about his wife’s recent statement that, “If Barack doesn’t win Iowa, it’s just a dream,” Obama laughed, and then, while acknowledging he does have to do well, he cautions against taking any early primary state proclamation too seriously: “Keep in mind when Michelle goes to New Hampshire or South Carolina, I think she says — you know, she probably says the same thing there.”
Certainly a candidate’s path to the nomination is much easier if they are able to win all states, but this does have a telling-the-people-whatever-they-want-to-hear flavor to it. Maybe we’re all equally important. Or maybe some people need to think they’re more important for a little while to allow Obama the opportunity to save the country. Maybe when a war is unpopular, we’ll be against it. Maybe when it’s popular, we wouldn’t want to be presumptuous. What other presumptions is Obama hiding from us now?
IN THE FINAL LINES OF THE prologue to The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes of an encounter on Capitol Hill with a friendly reporter who mentions she read Obama’s first book and then muses, “I wonder if you can be that interesting in the next one you write.”
“By which she meant, I wonder if you can be honest now that you are a U.S. Senator,” Obama explains, adding, “I wonder, too, sometimes.”
Finally, a question the Obama campaign has actually given us a straight, coherent answer to.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?