Friday, July 20, 2007

The Glitter Is More Like Pyrite Than Gold

Obama Unplugged

Let's start with the ending: Barack Obama has just finished giving a stump speech to around 200 residents of Washington, D.C.'s impoverished Anacostia neighborhood. Wednesday's speech covered basic principles and dealt with poverty and wealth. Obama has said just about everything a candidate who wants to win the poor vote needs to say, delivering each speech with a healthy serving of what campaign managers call "soul food."

But the applause at the end is miserable. It begins in the first row, where the local dignitaries are sitting. It drags itself over to rows four and five, where a huddle of apathetic young people are lolling around. It struggles to reach row 14 at the back of the room. The man at the podium, who was earlier hailed as the "next president of the United States of America," is surrounded by silence as he departs. The applause doesn't even carry as far as backstage. His shoes make a clicking sound on the wooden floor.

The crowd gathered in the small lecture hall of the Town Hall Education Art and Recreation Center, less than 10 miles from the White House, was not merciless in its reaction, just honest. The senator from Illinois is recognizably not the product which he is being sold as. At the beginning he was described as a rising African-American star. That was back when people were still being modest. Then the political marketing people reached up onto the top shelf, and started referring to him as the new Kennedy, the new Martin Luther King Jr., the first black president.
And he remains Senator Thunderthighs' worst nightmare.

... Obama does exactly what populists like to do most: He compares apples and oranges. A kids project in Harlem that he would like to see extended across America costs $46 million a year -- the kind of money that is spent in just one morning in the Iraq war, he says. Let's invest this money better, he calls out to the audience. The applause speaks for the effectiveness of these kinds of comparisons. But it also speaks against the candidate.

Buying toys instead of weapons is the surest way for America to lose its status as a superpower. The conflict with an aggressive Islam could not be won in this way. Naturally Obama knows this -- that's why in an article for Foreign Affairs he writes that in his opinion the US military urgently needs to be "revitalized." That means more money, more soldiers and more ground forces -- he suggests an increase of around 100,000 men and women. "A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace," he writes.
Get ready, Ron Paul. You're about to inherit the nutroots.
But Foreign Affairs is hardly daily reading in America's poorest neighborhoods. The lack of education bemoaned by Obama the social policy specialist renders valuable services to Obama the foreign policy expert.

The candidate proceeds on the basis that no one in the audience is capable of mental arithmetic. After all, if his speech became government policy tomorrow, then the new president would have to head straight to the International Monetary Fund the next day to ask for a loan.
Not neccessarily. Madame Botox and Harriet Reid will celebrate winning the revolution by including in the budget bill, a minimum 35% reduced-index tax rate on individuals and small businesses; a Progressive tax, so to speak.
Obama is demanding what the Republicans call "big government," a free-spending state. He promises to bring in socialized medicine without mentioning how he will finance it. He wants to found an American bank for the poor based on the concept of the World Bank, he wants to give money to after-school centers and transform the minimum wage into a real living wage, which would automatically increase with any rise in inflation.

Italy had this "mobile scale" for decades. It proved to be a unique program for devaluing the currency, which is why the Italian politicians were so unsentimental in ditching the lira for the euro.
There's much, much more.

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