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Withdrawing from Iraq prematurely based on arbitrary timetables could reverse the undeniable gains made by the “surge” strategy. And should Obama keep true to his promise of engaging in face-to-face talks with the Iranian leadership, and unwittingly allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, that would be a permanent and irreversible development. Even if Iran doesn’t launch a nuclear attack or provide materials to its favored terrorist groups, the leverage gained by the regime, as well as the arms race it could set off in the Middle East, are consequences that any future American president would have to deal with, whether or not Obama is a one-termer.
But in a larger sense, the idea of having a neophyte such as Obama in charge of the country has disastrous potential should any international crises emerge that aren’t known to us now, as Carter’s handling of the Iranian Hostage situation tragically demonstrated.
AT THIS POINT, it’s difficult to asses both what Obama would be able to accomplish were he elected president, and how much he would be willing to sacrifice his liberal principles for personal political gain.
In a 2003 questionnaire Obama filled out as a Senate candidate seeking the support of a liberal group in Illinois, Obama promised, “In the US Senate, I will be a champion for the progressive agenda…” He kept true to that promise, and racked up the most liberal voting record of any U.S. Senator, according to National Journal rankings.
During the Democratic primary, he took some heat from the left for admiring words he had for Reagan, but his actual point was that he hoped to be the type of president who advanced an agenda. “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not,” he said.
The two Democratic presidents who did the most to advance the liberal domestic agenda — FDR and LBJ — had a lot going for them that Obama did not.
Although Democrats are expected to increase their majorities in Congress this November, Obama won’t enjoy the type of supermajorities that Roosevelt and Johnson had to work with. Furthermore, his Democratic predecessors both had far more experience. Roosevelt was a seasoned politician who had served as governor of New York, which at the time was still the largest state in the nation; and Johnson had been a powerful Senate Majority Leader, capable of cajoling lawmakers to vote his way better than perhaps any politician in American history.
Obama, by contrast, was just two years into his first Senate term when he announced he would run for president. To date, he has been the lead sponsor of 123 bills, but just two of them actually passed: one “to promote relief, security, and democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” and “a resolution designating July 13, 2006, as ‘National Summer Learning Day.’”
ANOTHER GOOD SIGN is that in the early stages of the general election, Obama has reversed his progressive stances on public financing, trade, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and gun control, among others. He has added nuance to his bold vow to meet unconditionally with the leaders of Iran and other rogue regimes, and has even said he may “refine” his proposal to set a firm 16-month timetable to withdraw combat troops from Iraq, even though that pledge has been the cornerstone of his candidacy.
Nobody knows how Obama would actually behave were he elected, since he has such a thin public record on which to evaluate him, but the positive news for conservatives is that Obama is looking more Clintonian by the day. In other words, he is coming across as a leader who will ultimately abandon his liberal policy goals if they are an obstacle to his political ambitions.
Despite all of the problems faced by the current incarnation of the Republican Party, America is still a right of center nation, which explains Obama’s need to abandon many of his liberal positions. Although it’s something I would rather not find out, what this means is that Obama’s ability to govern as a liberal if elected president would largely be a function of how well conservatives can mobilize opposition to him, thus exploiting his inexperience and inclination to do the politically expedient thing. This won’t prevent all bad things from happening under an Obama presidency, but it may spare the nation from the worst-case scenario.
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?