Thursday, 02 October 2008

Obama: Messiah?

Written by  Gregory A. Hession, J.D.

Obama at PodiumDemocratic presidential candidate Barack Obama sells himself as being the one who will "change" the country's direction and improve our lives. But does reality match rhetoric?

Barack Obama aspires to run the largest enterprise on the face of the Earth — the U.S. government. From the beginning of his campaign for president, he deliberately positioned himself as a messianic figure, transcending race, and above petty partisanship on issues. The Obama campaign adopted the same mass-manipulation technique — swooning crowds chanting "yes we can" — that worked so well for his friend Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick during Patrick's 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

The strategy has largely been successful. TV personality Oprah Winfrey has called him "a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in unvarnished truth." MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, reacting like a fainting teenage girl seeing the Beatles for the first time, told his audience: "This is bigger than Kennedy.... This is the New Testament. I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. No, seriously. It's a dramatic event." Magazines from Time and Newsweek to Wired to Der Spiegel have featured worshipful cover stories full of similar encomiums. There's even a website — — proposing the possibility that Obama is a divinity. No kidding!

This attempt to foster a transcendent aura around the candidate is not an accident. It is a deliberate decision by his campaign strategist, David Axelrod, to make the campaign about image and not issues. He knew that historically candidates who openly advocated high taxes and big government did not do well. Instead, an image was projected, and the "image," it was hoped, would take hold in people's minds as reality. Hence, photographs are shown with light swirling around the Great Man, and Obama's speeches attempt to sidestep taking positions on controversial matters. Recall his response to the question by Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church forum about when life begins: "That's above my pay grade." If he had expressed his true belief advocating abortion and infanticide, the mostly Christian audience would have recoiled.

Nothing has popped the pretension around the Obama campaign rhetoric more effectively than a satirical YouTube ad called "The One," produced by the McCain campaign, which is quite possibly the best political spot of our era. It links together snippets of Obama's self-aggrandizing speeches, leaving no doubt about his unconstrained ego and ambition.

The ad starts with a deep-voiced announcer saying: "In 2008, it should be known that the world will be blessed. They shall call him ... 'The One.'" Then follows a series of film clips of Obama speechifying about his miraculous abilities, starting with his brag that he will bring about "a nation healed, a world repaired." His oft-repeated mantra appears: "We are the ones we have been waiting for," delivered in the "imperial we." Obama himself actually says: "A light will shine down from somewhere. It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany, and you will say to yourself: I have to vote for Barack." Then we see him in front of a maniacally cheering crowd, modestly saying: "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal." Suddenly, in a clip from The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston as Moses appears, holding his staff aloft, crying, "Behold his mighty hand," as the Red Sea miraculously parts. The implication is that, yes, Barack does control the wind, the waves, and the sea. Devastating is too mild a word for it.

His Uncontested Positions

Obama uses "change" and "hope" liberally in his speeches, without any real specifics or context. One may reasonably ask: "Yes, we can — what? Change what? Hope in what?" He has not been forthcoming so far with answers to those questions, but where he sits on the issues is abundantly clear.

National Journal, a Washington-based non-partisan political magazine, rates legislators on their voting records. Their rating for 2007 places Obama as the single most liberal U.S. senator, as compared to his previous positions at 16th and 10th most liberal in his first two years in the Senate. His running mate Joseph Biden is rated as the third most liberal Senator for 2007. Neither Obama nor Biden have disputed that analysis.

What does it mean to be "liberal"? Obama is on record as supporting high progressive taxation, re-institution of the confiscatory death tax and capital gains taxes, and growth of government into virtually every area of family and community life. He favors government housing, government schools, government control of the money supply and credit, and expansion of government-sponsored trade unions.

On the issue of taxation, Obama has asserted that he wants a middle-class tax cut, and will only raise taxes on "the rich." However, on June 12, 2008, Obama agreed to a Democratic budget proposal that called for raising income taxes from 25 percent to 28 percent on those who make $42,000 a year. I guess that is the new definition of "rich." The National Taxpayers Union gave him a six-percent rating, meaning that he voted against taxpayers almost all of the time according to this group. He has also promised to raise Social Security taxes on those earning over $102,000, and to raise the capital gains tax from 15 percent to 20 percent. Along with that, the National Taxpayers Union calculates that Obama has proposed federal spending increases of over $300 billion.

Regarding his adherence to constitutional principles in general, Obama has scored a dismal 13 percent for the current Congress (to date) in this magazine's "Freedom Index," a congressional scorecard based on the Constitution. Biden's "Freedom Index" score for the current Congress (to date) is a mere 19 percent.

Obama favors radical environmental policies that intrude on property rights, government funding for many facets of the economy such as trendy "green" industries, and complete control of trade. He wants to outright nationalize key segments of the economy, such as healthcare, and regulate most others with stultifying controls, according to a multitude of "plans" set out on his campaign website.

Obama's promises often contradict each other. For instance, he claims that he is going to create jobs in this country through revamping and revitalizing the energy industry. But his focus on "green energy" will likely instead drive companies overseas, owing to the high cost of green energy. With wind power, the energy input required to create a ton of steel, according to the American Wind Energy Association, costs $29.52 (without the government subsidy), and with solar power, per Scientific American, $36.00. With nuclear power — which apparently isn't considered sufficiently green — the cost is $7.74, including fuel, depreciation, waste fuel storage, and eventual decommissioning. Moreover, the high taxes he seeks will surely send companies and jobs fleeing, and his projected large amounts of government growth in spending will require that the country borrow or print money to pay for the outlays, meaning a lessening of the worth of the dollar and more burdens for the poor and middle class.

Obama's actions often don't live up to the rhetoric, even in areas that are politically correct. While decrying "pay inequity" between the sexes, the women on his campaign staff earn just 83 cents for every dollar the men make. His children go to private schools, rather than to the government schools he advocates for the rest of us. "We" cannot be cynical about America, but his longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, can curse America. Even on the politically correct issue of loathing big tobacco: he smokes, mostly secretly.

On other issues, however, his stance is firm. On abortion, Obama has stood strongly, not just for abortion through time of birth, but for infanticide after birth when abortion fails to kill the baby. He invoked his own little girls by saying, "If they make a mistake [and get pregnant], I don't want them punished with a baby." This smacks not only of advocating "choice," but of fanaticism.

His running mate's position on abortion is equally immovable. Senator Biden recently told Tom Brokaw that it is his "religiously based view" that human life begins at conception, yet he will not "impose that judgment on everyone else" because it would be "inappropriate in a pluralistic society." Yet, when have either Biden or Obama ever been reluctant to impose their judgment on everyone else via legislation, except for this one issue?

Obama does not want to protect the right of everyday Americans to bear arms, even in light of the recent Supreme Court case upholding that right. While in the Illinois Senate, he voted against a bill to allow homeowners the right to use a gun in self-defense in the case of home invasion, and voted to uphold the governor's veto of that bill. He even wants to ban the manufacture and sale of handguns. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association was not engaging in hyperbole when he commented that "Barack Obama is not for the right to keep and bear arms. He is out to destroy it."

Obama knows how he wants you to live your life, and he is going to make sure that you listen. His wife, Michelle, summed up his view of government with astonishing candor: "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your division. That you come out of isolation. That you move out of your comfort zone. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual — uninvolved, uninformed." She believes that "our souls are broken in this nation."

And frankly, Obama looks with disdain at anyone who disagrees with him. What he actually believes about ordinary citizens was revealed in a candid moment before a group of San Francisco partisans, when he said: "So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

This conceit and condescension was reinforced recently when he said, "The one thing that I want to insist on is that, as I travel around the country, the American people are a decent people. Now they get confused sometimes. You know, they listen to the wrong talk radio shows or watch the wrong TV network, but they're basically decent, they're basically sound."

The implication of these statements is unsettling: we may be decent folk, but we aren't very bright and are confused because we listen to talk radio, and are thus reduced to bitterly clinging to our guns and religion. Although, with Obama's guiding light, we can (and verily must at his unyielding command) move out of our uninvolved, uninformed comfortable lives, heal our broken souls, and become bright hopeful creatures once again.

Past Projecting Future

Several books have been published recently which purport to investigate Obama's past, his legislative record, his associations, and his core convictions. They have uncovered many alarming facts. One such book, Jerome Corsi's The Obama Nation: Leftist Policies and the Cult of Personality, was so devastating that the Obama campaign felt compelled to issue a 40-page rebuttal entitled Unfit for Publication. (That title is a play on Corsi's previous book published during the last presidential campaign, called Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.) The rebuttal, however, failed to disprove the key information in Corsi's book (see our review on page 31).

Obama has also written about himself. It is clear from Obama's autobiographical tome Dreams From My Father that he has struggled from his youth to come to grips with his racial identity, and with being abandoned by his mother, his father, and his stepfather. Dreams, as we will call the book, is dedicated to his finding meaning in government service, but even more to the search and eventual acceptance of his African heritage as his primary identity.

His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was the son of a reasonably well-off Kenyan tribesman of Kenya's second largest tribal group, the Luo. Owing to some help from an influential politician, Barack, Sr. was able to go to Harvard University and then obtain a substantial position with the Kenyan government, where he worked as a socialist economist. Barack, Sr. met young Barack's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, in Hawaii, where they conceived Barack, Jr. and then married before his birth. Barack, Sr. left the family when the child was two years old, and only returned for one visit before he died in an alcohol-related car accident in Kenya.

When Barack, Jr. was six, his mother, Stanley (named after her disappointed father, Stanley, who wanted a boy), met and married an Indonesian national named Lolo Soetoro and moved with him to Indonesia for four years, after which she divorced Lolo. Barack returned to live with his white grandparents in Hawaii, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, who expended much of their earnings to send him to an elite private academy there for his high school years. Despite their kindness, Barack nonetheless insulted his grandmother during the campaign as "a typical white person."

After a stint at Occidental College, he was able to get into Columbia University in New York on an exchange program. Subsequently, after three years in the south side of Chicago doing community organizing, he went to Harvard Law School, where he was president of the prestigious Law Review there.

Much publicity has surrounded his association with his pastor of 20 years at Trinity United Church of Christ, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright has sermonized on how whites invented and introduced AIDS to the black community to kill them, that the CIA purposely injected drugs into black neighborhoods, that the 9/11 terrorist attack was a "wake up" for the white community, and how he believes we should say "God d*** America" because its "government has given them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing God Bless America."

Wright's racial and anti-American rants have been widely exposed on YouTube and in print, and the tone and angry delivery while dressed in African garb communicate an overtone of racial animus that the words alone don't convey. Wright is also a close associate of Nation of Islam hyper-racist and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, whom even Time magazine has stated "spews racist venom at Jews and all of white America." Farrakhan has preached such bile as: "White people are potential humans — they haven't evolved yet"; "Murder and lying comes easy for white people"; and "The Jews don't like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man."

Accordingly, Wright's church presented Farrakhan with an "Empowerment Award," evidence of which is now scrubbed from its website. Wright also visited Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi with Farrakhan in 1984. When Wright's racial and anti-American sentiments were exposed, Obama defended Wright, and said he could no more dissociate with him than with his own family. However, when the political pressure intensified, he angrily denounced Wright and left the church.

However, potentially far more telling than Obama's ties to the radical Rev. Wright are his apparent longstanding ties to the even more radical Khalid al-Mansour, who can be seen on YouTube videos spewing incredibly venomous anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-American diatribes. Al-Mansour started out as Donald Warden, a radical black attorney in the far-left Oakland-San Francisco politics of the early 1960s, working closely with the Communist Party, Socialist Workers Party, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panthers. After converting to Islam, he developed close ties to Arab and Muslim leaders throughout the world, including Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed. Earlier this year, Percy Sutton, a legendary business mogul and black leader in Harlem (who also is avidly pro-Obama) stated in a TV interview that al-Mansour had come to him in 1988 to ask that he write a letter to help Obama gain admittance to Harvard Law School. Sutton also said that al-Mansour was "raising money" for Obama. Sutton says he wrote the letter to Harvard.

Spokesmen for the Obama campaign have denied that Obama knows al-Mansour or has had any contact with him, but Obama himself has not addressed the issue. In an interview with Newsmax reporter Kenneth Timmerman, al-Mansour indicated he had spoken to Obama and told him he would be keeping a low profile to avoid embarrassing Obama. Did al-Mansour help him get into Harvard? Did he help pay for the hefty tuition at Obama's pricey alma maters (Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard). Obama claims he financed his education through student loans, but the loan amounts he cites fall far short. The voting public and the media should be demanding that Obama fully explain his relationship to al-Mansour.

Obama is so intent on proving his race-based credentials that he told a crowd in Selma, Alabama, that he was born because his parents had gotten together in the confluence of the historical civil rights marches in Selma in 1965. One problem: Obama was born in 1961. He also anguishes in Dreams about the profound effect on him of a Life magazine article concerning black persons who were tragically marred in appearance when they used a chemical to turn them white, which they had used out of desperation because of their mistreatment in society due to their color. No such article existed.

However, Obama is willing to play hardball against other black politicians when it benefits him. His mentor, Marxist black Illinois state senator Alice Palmer, named him to be her successor in 1995, and even helped launch his campaign, when she resigned to run in a special election for the U.S. Congress. When Palmer lost the special election, Obama not only stayed in the state senate race but even challenged the signatures that Palmer had gathered on ballot petitions, knocking her off the ballot. He then used the same tactic to remove his other three Democratic rivals and won the race.

The Company He Keeps

Obama's political life may have been acceptable in Illinois, where they play by so-called "Chicago Rules," but the relationships that he has fostered and relied upon to propel him forward in the political arena can gently be deemed reckless.

Residents of Chicago have been treated to extensive investigative newspaper coverage of Tony Rezko, Chicago slumlord, corporate welfare recipient, convicted felon, and Obama fundraiser for many years. Rezko had obtained a total of $100 million from federal, state, and local governments to rehab 30 Chicago slum buildings, most of which are now either boarded up or foreclosed upon. Although Rezko always got paid, his tenants were left in cheaply repaired, vermin-infested apartments, often without heat in the bitter Chicago winter.

Rezko assisted Obama to obtain his $1.6 million Chicago mansion through a complex financing deal. Called Obama's "political godfather" by local media, he raised over $250,000 for Obama's first four political campaigns in Illinois. Rezko is now in prison, the result of 16 felony convictions related to his property deals.

William Ayers and his wife, Bernadette Dohrn, were also instrumental in launching and maintaining Obama's political career. They are former radical "Weather Underground" members who carried out 30 bombings of the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and police stations in the 1960s and '70s, who have now secured university professorships and a place in polite Chicago society. Ayers explained his goal in the 1970s as "Kill all rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at." His wife, Dohrn, speaking of the murders committed by the Charles Manson family at the time, stated: "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach. Wild."

They remain unrepentant. In an August 2001 Chicago Magazine article entitled "No Regrets," Ayers expresses, well, no regrets. In fact, he says he didn't do enough. The article is accompanied by a photograph of him stomping on an American flag.

William Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn hosted Obama's campaign kick-off party for his first state senate race in their home, and Obama has remained close to them ever since. Obama served on the board of two large non-profit foundations for many years with Ayers, the Woods Foundation and the Annenberg Chicago Challenge, among many other connections. So desperate was Obama's campaign manager to dissociate him from these unrepentant radicals that he falsely stated that their connection only involved their school-aged children, even though the Ayers-Dohrn children are adults.

Obama's campaign has funneled over $800,000 to a radical leftist group called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. Its de facto goal is to promote the welfare state, finance illegal-immigrant activities, undermine capitalism, and elect politicians such as Obama, using government grants to do so. Although the Obama money was allegedly slated for providing "stage, lighting and sound" to the campaign, its subsidiary, Citizen Services Inc., has been doing get-out-the-vote work for Obama. The group has been implicated in multiple voter-fraud schemes in at least 14 states, for which several of its members have been criminally convicted.

Obama spent three years in the 1980s in the south side of Chicago, primarily organizing churches near a crumbling housing project called Altgeld Gardens. He was hired for the task by a group called the Developing Communities Project, headed by Jerry Kellman, a disciple of Saul Alinsky, the now-deceased socialist Chicago community organizer who literally wrote the book on radical community organizing. Alinsky's 1971 book, entitled Rules for Radicals, was dedicated to "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer." Apropos to a handbook dedicated to Satan and his kingdom of Hell, Alinsky's manual says that the community organizer is primarily an agitator, who must: "Fan the resentments of the people of a community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression - he must search out controversy and issues.... An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontentment [sic].... He knows that values are relative.... Truth to him is relative and changing."

Alinsky was the admired subject of Hillary Clinton's senior thesis at Wellesley College, and the guiding light (or, as the Washington Post puts it, "the ideological touchstone") of all Obama's organizing efforts. Those efforts did little to make a difference, based on his own telling in Dreams. The housing project continued to decay, the jobs continued to leave the city, and the corruption continued unabated.

The lesson was apparently lost on young Obama, who continues to believe, against all that he saw and experienced for three years, that government can fix what is wrong in society.

Whither Obama?

In his book Obama Nation, Jerome Corsi quotes former Clinton advisor Paul Begala: "We cannot win with eggheads and African-Americans. OK, that is the Dukakis Coalition, which carried ten states and gave us four years of the first George Bush." By that, Begala meant that Obama is finding his strongest support in the black community and among lefty academic and media types.

Obama has carefully positioned himself as a candidate above the confines of past racial categorization, as one who is able to reach out to all segments of society, transcending all that divides us. However, his actions have shown him to be rigid, and intolerant of any dissent from his radical social and economic views, leaving no possibility of compromise or "reaching across the aisle," as McCain routinely does.

Americans like their heroes and messiahs on pedestals, but they better be strong and true. When one is exposed as a phony, he falls hard and fast (case in point: John Edwards). As the truth emerges about Obama, he may be heading for such a fall.

As David Freddoso says in his book, The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media's Favorite Candidate, "It's not that Obama is a bad person. It's just that he's like all the rest of them. Not a reformer. Not a Messiah. Just like all the rest of them in Washington. And just like all the other liberals too."

(AP Images)

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