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The Quality of Mercy

By From the October 2012 issue

You no longer have to take our word for it, now that President Obama has inadvertently declared the death of liberalism, and thus of his candidacy. It was a major theme of his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. “The path we offer may be harder,” he conceded a quarter of the way in, “but it leads to a better place.” And in case anyone misheard, he repeated at the end, “Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place.” Mr. Obama, you’re killing us. Normally when someone dies we console ourselves by saying he’s gone to “a better place.” But Mr. Obama seems insistent that the final reward for the wretchedness he champions is heaven on earth. That’s not really how religion works—but tell that to this Messiah.

Death took many forms at this president’s convention. God Himself was declared dead, until Mr. Obama reportedly had Him resurrected, in one of those olive branch gestures everyone not named Osama bin Laden has come to expect from our commander in chief. Abortion was defended at every turn, under many guises, as in Mrs. Obama’s reference to “our own choices about our bodies and our health care.” The lovely Ms. Sandra Fluke did her usual Vincent Price imitation in prime time.

Then there was Mr. Obama’s speech itself. Everyone commented on how Bill Clinton, the Democratic Mephistopheles, had saved the day for his party, with an oration for the ages. His prepared remarks came in at some 3,150 words. His actual presentation ran on and on for more than 5,700 extemporized words. Compare those with the remarks of the now soul-bereft Mr. Obama the following night. Prepared text: 4,318 words. Delivered text: 4,455 words, the small increase caused not by any sparks of life but by several repetitions of phrase, a few “you knows,” an opening salvo of “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” and—this is priceless—a sweet reference to Joe Biden’s “being a strong and loyal friend.” (Of course, this was before many pundits declared that Biden of all people had delivered a better speech than Obama.) In short, a robot is normally less scripted.

Are we being too hard on Mr. Obama? There are among us those who still expect him to win. They regard Mitt Romney as too inadequate, even in the company of Paul Ryan. Or they consider our culture already too far gone to withstand the media and cultural protections Mr. Obama enjoys as if they were his birthright. With the economy as dead as it is, he should be behind by 10 points, even some liberals say. Yet officially it’s a dead heat, if not a race in which he’s slightly or maybe solidly ahead.

I’m not buying, but then I’m unable to join with those who will settle for Mr. Obama’s re-election as an act of mercy. Could it be that I’m troubled by something about his past? The small fact that he received much of his formative political education at the hands of an inveterate Stalinist? Paul Kengor knows the full story better than anyone. (See p. 34.) Yet those who could look into it prefer not to, all part of the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” as one Hollywood patriot recently put it. Indeed, it’s a national scandal, well on its way to becoming a national tragedy. How can a culture of death, if triumphant, end otherwise.

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About the Author
Wlady Pleszczynski is editorial director of The American Spectator and the editor of AmSpec Online.