Why Obama Models Dukakis - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Why Obama Models Dukakis

“This election isn’t about ideology, it’s about competence.”
— Michael Dukakis, 1988

“The choice in this election is not between left or right, it’s not between liberal or conservative, it’s between the past and the future.”
— Barack Obama, 2008

Why? Why do liberals who capture their party’s presidential nomination say things like this? Why are they so afraid to say, “I’m an out and out card-carrying liberal and I’m proud of it!” Why do they try and hide their liberalism behind “competence” and screeds about “the past and the future”?

There is a reason. There are lots of reasons, as a matter of fact. Liberalism did not become a laughing stock overnight. It took a while since it began to rule the political roost in 1932 for Americans to understand that what once was considered an honorable philosophy had come to represent repeated and vivid lapses in common sense and good judgment. So the past Senator Barack Obama wants Americans to ignore will do nicely for illustration purposes. It is — how could it not be? — a mere update of why then-Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis tried the same denial routine once he secured the Democrats’ nomination in 1988.

What exactly is in the liberal past that makes these people want to run from liberalism when the presidential campaign spotlight goes on? For Dukakis it was furloughed murderer Willie Horton and a disdain for fighting for the Pledge of Allegiance, to name but two liberal ideas that brought Dukakis to his proclamations about competence over ideology. But what is it that drives Obama to say essentially the same thing in 2008? Why would he be concerned that a voting majority would flee modern liberalism — and his candidacy — if they understood, as they did twenty years ago, what it was really all about?

Let’s look in just one policy area that we are all acutely aware of and use one of America’s most famous actors to illustrate precisely why Obama wants to run from liberalism just as Dukakis did in 1988.

Energy is the issue. Leonardo DiCaprio the actor.

How exactly did we get in this place where the cost of energy is doing such damage to Americans? Why are you paying so much for gas at the pump? For running your air conditioner or heating your home? What is the connection between Obama’s liberalism and the reality of your life? Here’s an example of liberalism at work on five critical energy issues. Our actor friend Leo is involved with the very first one.

* Building refineries: This story is as reported on July 10, 2008 by CNSNews.com senior editor Susan Jones:

Environmental Group Sues to Block Oil Refinery Expansion

(CNSNews.com) — An environmental group on Wednesday filed a lawsuit intended to stop the expansion of a BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana. A shortage of oil refining capacity is often mentioned as one reason for soaring gasoline prices.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is challenging air permits granted to the refinery by the State of Indiana.

OK. Stop right there. Liberalism alert in Indiana. Here we are in this major energy crisis, which Americans are reminded of every single time they pull up at the gas pump. As this news story correctly says, a shortage of refinery capacity in the United States is one of the culprits in sending the price of gas at the pump skyward. But why do we have a shortage of refinery capacity in the first place? Who, very specifically, is out to stop the expansion of this particular Indiana refinery? Why, the Natural Resources Defense Council, a longtime liberal special-interest environmental group. And who sits on the board of the NRDC? Yes indeed, America’s favorite Titanic star, Leonardo DiCaprio himself.

THIS IS BUT ONE REASON why Senator Obama wants to brusquely dismiss the idea that this election is about “liberal or conservative” and re-make it Dukakis-style to something else — the future versus the past. Were the American people ever to fully understand that it is liberal political philosophy in action that is directly responsible for high gas prices, well, can you say President McCain? But don’t think for a moment that I’m picking on just poor Leo here. OK, rich Leo. Here are other recent examples of liberalism at work in causing America’s energy problems that don’t involve a rich liberal movie star:

* Building nuclear power plants: Here’s an AP dispatch from July 9, 2008:

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — An environmental group has filed a petition with federal regulators, seeking to block Duke Energy Corp.’s plan to build and operate two nuclear reactors near Gaffney, S.C.

In its filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said the cost to build nuclear power plants and the inherent dangers of operating them outweigh the benefits of increased power generation.

* Drilling for oil: This story is an Associated Press report from December 2007:

Environmental and Native Alaskan groups asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to block Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plans for exploratory drilling near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Lawyers for the groups challenged the U.S. Mineral Management Service’s decision earlier this year to allow the energy giant to drill up to 12 exploratory oil wells in the Beaufort Sea off the northern coast of Alaska.

The attorneys told a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal agency failed to adequately consider the impact of Shell’s exploratory activities on endangered bowhead whales and other marine mammals.”

“An oil spill in this area can have a potentially devastating impact that could linger,” said Dierdre McDonnell, an attorney representing the Alaska Wilderness League, Sierra Club and other conservation groups.

* Drilling for natural gas: Here’s a July 11, 2008 story from the Denver Business Journal:

Ten environmental groups filed suit in federal court Friday, seeking to block new natural-gas leases on western Colorado’s Roan Plateau until federal officials evaluate alternative ways to develop the area’s energy resources.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, names as defendants U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the US Bureau of Land Management, an Interior Department agency that administers the Roan Plateau, and two regional BLM officials.

The suit asks that the BLM’s resource-management plan for the Roan be set aside and that the agency be barred from leasing drillin g sites on the plateau on Aug. 14 as planned.

* Mining for oil shale: Here’s a May 15, 2008 story from the Rocky Mountain News about the response of U.S. Senate liberals and the Democrat who is Governor of Colorado. Need it be said that Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) is the conservative in this story?

The Senate Appropriations Committee today narrowly defeated Sen. Wayne Allard’s attempt to end a moratorium related to oil shale development in Colorado.

It was a big day for Colorado energy issues on Capitol Hill as Gov. Bill Ritter testified before a Senate committee asking lawmakers to move cautiously on oil-shale development until more is known about the environmental impact and other issues.

Meanwhile downstairs, the appropriations committee was considering a massive Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill. Allard, a member of the committee, attempted to insert an amendment that would reverse the moratorium that lawmakers approved late last year.

The moratorium prevents the Department of Interior from issuing regulations so that oil companies can move forward on oil-shale projects in Colorado and Utah. Allard said the moratorium has left uncertainties at a time when companies need to move forward and in the long term make the United States more energy independent.

“If we are really serious about reducing pain at the pump, this is a vote that would make a difference in people’s lives,” Allard argued.

But in a 14-15 vote, the committee spilt strictly on party lines and rejected the amendment.

Day in and day out for decades liberals have actively pushed some version of the above when it comes to energy policy. Their activist groups sue to block the construction of refinery plants, as Leo DiCaprio’s group is doing right now in Indiana, or nuclear power plants, as another liberal group is doing in South Carolina. They refuse to allow oil shale mining, as they are doing in Colorado, or they won’t go along with drilling for either oil in offshore Alaska (note: this isn’t even ANWR) or natural gas in gas-rich Colorado.

Is there any wonder Barack Obama echoes Dukakis in saying this election is not about being liberal or conservative? When it comes specifically to just one issue, the energy issue, it is liberals — as environmental activists, as lawyers, as Hollywood celebrities, as governors, presidents, legislators and judges — who have insisted for decades on the very policies that now have a stranglehold on your personal economic windpipe.

LEO ISN’T ALONE as a liberal Hollywood celebrity on that NRDC board, either. Laurie David, the famous liberal activist and ex-spouse of comedian Larry David, he of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame sits there as well. Ms. David, of course, was behind Al Gore’s slide show-as-movie An Inconvenient Truth and has given bucks to every liberal candidate out there, Obama included. Both Leo and Ms. David are, according to the FEC, also financial contributors to MoveOn.org., that famous home of Obama supporters.

One could go on endlessly connecting these dots between specific liberals known and unknown and their active efforts to shut down the U.S. energy supply according to liberal philosophical guidelines. They have sued, legislated, voted, and judged us all to the exact moment America is at today in terms of energy.

The point here is really quite simple. How much did you pay for gas today?

Do you think Senator Obama wishes to acknowledge that the liberal philosophy he and his liberal (and frequently very rich) friends champion has gotten us to this exact point in American energy history? Of course not. If the American people figure out the connection between the price of gas and liberalism, they won’t put a liberal in the White House. Which is why Obama, as with Dukakis, has to hide his liberalism. Connecting the dots between what we see in our everyday lives and illustrating the folly of whatever liberal idea got us here is what the rest of us have to do.

Can we do it? Ask former President Dukakis.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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