Victor Davis Hanson: Obama's speech ... Untruth upon untruth—our new Nixon?





Almost everything Barack Obama has said about his relationship with Wright is untrue. He is hardly ‘not particularly controversial’. No one needs to “cherry-pick” his sermons to find in them hatred; in some speeches that venom is the entire theme. Obama mentions Wright’s AIDs work—never that Wright blamed America for the AIDs epidemic. Obama mentions Wright’s positive work on apartheid, not that Wright claimed the U.S. put Mandela in jail. And on and on.

Obama knew of his extremisms as evidenced by past interviews in which he mentioned Wright’s flair (cf. especially his encomium on 6/5/07), by his church attendance for more than twenty years, by his mention in his memoirs of Wright’s take on Hiroshima and other controversies, and by his admission he took Wright’s tapes to Harvard for inspiration.

So here we have it: a candidate who professes racial transcendence is comfortable with a racist; a candidate who preaches a new candor and transparency reflects the worst of the old Chicago politics of dissimulation, and a candidate, after Ohio, in need of displaying moderation to woo white male voters from Hillary, has almost ensured that he will lose them by his very inability to distance himself from someone who by his own testimony despised just that constituency.

I think Hillary will make the argument to the super-delegates that Obama will lose the election in the fall, that the super delegates should concentrate on the importance and size of her states versus his, and that aggregate popular votes should trump delegate counts, many of them acquired through caucuses rather than through plebiscites. Obama’s current disaster will give Clinton greater margins in the remaining primaries and allow her to gain the greater aggregate popular vote and to use that as well as an argument in the brokering to come. She may succeed but it won’t be pretty and will alienate millions. But then he already has as well.

The Healer

Since the Senator has taken up the role of the healer (I mean that without sarcasm), he should hold a brief press conference on race and apprise us of the rules. He states he would fire anyone who like Imus made derogatory racial remarks (e.g., ‘ho’s’), but how would that apply to himself and his continual membership in a church whose signature is racial hatred of whites, the United States, and conservative blacks? So just a few words about the rules of what gets one censured and ostracized, and what does not.

All in all—a mess.

Lost in all this is that the racial healer Obama has probably done more to set back racial politics than almost any recent public figure in memory. His Rev. Wright is worse than Farrakhan whom the reverend praises.

Had a Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice run for President, the black vote would have split 50/50, there would have been no such extremists in the closet to worry about, and race would have been irrelevant. But Obama, who talked about making race as unimportant from the very beginning, through his ties with this racist church, with his pandering to Wright, with his wife’s outbursts, and by his own words in his memoirs, has made racial identity the center of his political existence. The final irony? A Powell or Rice no doubt experienced racial prejudice far more than did the younger, bi-racial Obama who did not grow up as an African-American on the mainland....

Obama is superbly educated, bright, very well-spoken, and politically astute. So what happened? He did not grow up or frequent the proverbial “middle America”, a much different place than the Ivy League or south Chicago. Had he, then the first time he or she started in with that nonsense someone would have set them straight. But being indoctrinated in the abstract by Harvard law professors and in the concrete by Rev. Wright warped his sense of what America is and is about. All America wanted was for Sen. Obama to condemn Wright with the same passion as he rightly did, say, a Don Imus or the Clintonian race-baiting, to hold Wright to the same standard of censure as he does any other abject bigot. And when he failed that test repeatedly, he lost America—and I don’t think he is ever going to get it back.
When he starts in the messianic speeches about healing, and going beyond race, and a new political kindness and honesty, millions will hear in the background only the coarse shouting of a hate-filled Wright “God Damn America!” and the softer falsetto-spoken whispers and excuses of “scholar” and “my pastor” and my “uncle.”...


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William J. Stepp - 4/3/2008

The statistics you cite are composed mostly of left wing-influenced sources, FWIT. Alan Reynolds' recent dissenting work on American incomes is not in evidence. One writer classifies the rich as anyone with a net worth of $1 million. This might have been true 50 or even 30 years ago, but it certainly isn't now.
Most people who own a home are probably worth close to that in 2008, which makes them solid middle class folks but hardly rich.

A more serious problem with raw stats such as these is that they don't address the crucial question of how incomes are earned. A private school teacher making 75k and paying state and local taxes of 20k is a productive member of society and a net tax payer of 20k. A public school teacher making 75k and "paying" taxes of 20k does no such thing; he's a net tax consumer of 55k, which makes him a parasite.

These stats also don't support or even address your contention about the upward movement of subsidies from poor to rich.
The relevant criterion isn't rich vs. poor anyway; it's net tax paying producers vs. net tax consuming parasites.
I used the example of farmers to illustrate what happens when a group with a lot of outsized political clout uses the state to steal from taxpayers. Apparently it went over your head.
By your logic, presumably "liberals" should be opposed to this, given the average income of farmers is $77k, well above the average American income. But if that's the case, why have the various Farm Aid concert participants not risen up against this system? I think we know why.


Dan Stewart - 4/2/2008

Because McCain doesn't attend Haggee's church, it doesn't necessarily follow that he hasn't embraced him, politically, philosophically, or spiritually.

McCain called another whacko, Pastor Rod Parsley from Ohio, his "spiritual advisor"; he made a speech at the "hater" (your words) Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, he sought support from another whacko, Rev. Pat Robertson, who said that 9/11 was God's retribution for homosexuality and abortion.

What’s the difference between saying that 9/11 was the consequence of foreign policies and saying it’s a consequence of gay, feminists and abortionists?

There simply is no difference.



Kenneth Laurence Davis - 4/2/2008

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_class

'the United States has been increasing, with the top 1% experiencing significantly larger gains in income than the rest of society.[4][5][6] Social scientists (such as Alan Greenspan) see it as a problem for society, with Greenspan calling it a "very disturbing trend.'


Kenneth Laurence Davis - 4/2/2008

That's a blown link. My apologies. Try here and scroll down to the graphs titled 'Family Income". Click on figure 3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States


Kenneth Laurence Davis - 4/2/2008

Stepp: 'What services do welfare people in the ghetto provide other than drug dealing and murder for hire?'

'...think of joining the libertarian movement.'

There is no common ground at all on which we can agree and thus form a foundation for understanding. I simply reject your basic premises, as, no doubt, you reject mine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:United_States_Income_Distribution_19


William J. Stepp - 4/1/2008

Mr. Stepp, your example illustrates how wealth is redistributed upward in a liberal system where larger and larger fortunes are not commonly 'earned' but are made via a broker and occasionally protected by a government bailout. Wealth is being funneled upward at a faster and faster rate. An open market favors wealth, but what we are experiencing today is a rigged market with the great preponderance of favor bestowed upon the very wealthy. I'm certain many conservatives of average means oppose this trend, unless they are so enamored with the wealth of others that they see no alternative, though they are not benefitted by such a system.

I didn't make my point very well, so let me clarify and expand it a bit.
You say "wealth"; what you mean is income, although taxing and subsidizing does change wealth holding patterns.
You say that wealth is being funneled upward at a faster and faster rate, but provide no evidence. This might be true, but it paints with too broad a brush to be very useful. Lots of subsidies go to the poor as well, who generally pay no income taxes and certainly no estate taxes, even if they pay regressive sales and other taxes.

I doubt the very wealthy earn more than a small fraction of their wealth from subsidies; certainly Buffett and Gates don't, to name two.
The Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim,
on the other hand, is as wealthy as he is thanks to a monopoly on telecom service provided him by the government of Mexico. Even though he benefits unfairly from a monopoly, at least he provides a service.
What services do welfare people in the ghetto provide other than drug dealing and murder for hire?

You complain in the last two paragraphs about the current system, which has two key components: 1.) tax robbery, and 2.) subsidies.
These divide society into two classes, net taxpayers (guess which group?) and net tax consumers.
If you are seriously opposed to this system, you should oppose taxation and government spending, and think of joining the libertarian movement.


Kenneth Laurence Davis - 3/31/2008

Mr. Stepp, your example illustrates how wealth is redistributed upward in a liberal system where larger and larger fortunes are not commonly 'earned' but are made via a broker and occasionally protected by a government bailout. Wealth is being funneled upward at a faster and faster rate. An open market favors wealth, but what we are experiencing today is a rigged market with the great preponderance of favor bestowed upon the very wealthy. I'm certain many conservatives of average means oppose this trend, unless they are so enamored with the wealth of others that they see no alternative, though they are not benefitted by such a system.

It is no surprise that those who benefit from our rigged system see no alternative, though, in their greed, they sometimes allow that system to fall into disrepute. What is astounding is when those who do not benefit from, but rather pay for such a system, see no alternative as well. They are obviously brainwashed.

So what we have today is public thuggery on a large scale, and it will not end with minor regulatory tweaks and fiddling, which is what will be the upshot of the big talk to 'regulate the market'. Those who benefit never change the system.

Even a leveling of the 'playing field' (battle field is more like it) in an open society would be, in effect, and in light of our current system, a 'redistribution of wealth'.


William J. Stepp - 3/30/2008

It's not about hatred or criticism, what conservatives are and always were scared to death of is a wealth redistribution. That's the core of all US political issues.

There is no such thing as wealth redistribution. Income (and wealth) is either earned on the market, or stolen by private thuggery (e.g. knocking over a little old lady) or public thuggery (i.e., the State via tax-theft).
Where does the money go that is supposedly "redistributed"? According to a recent news article on Federal farm subsidies, one of the recipients of these payments was David Rockefeller, a certified non-poor person. Other farm subsidy grantees included Ted Turner and John Mellencamp, also certified non-poor persons. I don't know if any of Cheney's friends qualified; but I'll bet his buddies at Halliburton did for other payments, presumably for some services allegedly rendered.
The average farmer earned something like $77,000 last year, but then the farm sector is not exactly in a bear market.

Is this the sort of "redistribution" that conservatives oppose? Is this the burning political issue of the day?

Would that it were!


William J. Stepp - 3/30/2008

Exactly, and who is this Wright character anyway? What influence does he have on anyone beyond the couple hundred congregants in his church, who are probably law abiding citizens in their private lives?

Hanson loses it here:

Lost in all this is that the racial healer Obama has probably done more to set back racial politics than almost any recent public figure in memory. His Rev. Wright is worse than Farrakhan whom the reverend praises.

Saying that Wright is worse than Farrakhan is like saying a cockroach is worse than an ant. His badness is irrelevant, except to a vicious neocon warmonger, who wants to do whatever it takes to reelect the War Party.

I'll give Wright this much: he doesn't advocate "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran," like the thug McCain.


Kenneth Laurence Davis - 3/28/2008

While I think your statement is a bit too sweeping, shall we say, I agree that redistribution is a fundamental issue. My comment deals with rhetoric often employed in other contexts.

Speaking of redistribution, PBS ran a program articulating the reality that life expectancy is unequivocably directly linked to social status, i.e., income distribution. Unsurprisingly, the suggestion at the end of the program was that we should concern ourselves with narrowing, rather than eliminating the broad and growing health gap, which is only slightly related to a lack of healthcare, and is intimately related to the level of stress at which one lives. No, a CEO does not live with more, or even as much stress as a janitor.


Arnold Shcherban - 3/26/2008

It's not about hatred or criticism, what conservatives are and always were scared to death of is a wealth redistribution. That's the core of all US political issues.


Kenneth Laurence Davis - 3/24/2008

I don't subscribe to the assumption that is being continually made by conservatives that sharp criticism equates with hate. Criticize the invasion of Iraq, you hate America and Freedom. Criticize Zionism, you hate Jews. Someone saying 'I hate you' is clear enough. Someone saying 'what you are doing is wrong' is a different matter.

Has Wright openly professed hatred? May we assume that Hanson's criticism of Wright is a symbol of his hatred for him?


Tim R. Furnish - 3/23/2008

McCain does not attend Hagee's church, and is thus not his parishoner. That is not even remotely analogous to the relationship between BHO and Wright.


David T. Beito - 3/22/2008

No excuses? Okay....then. How about McCain's active courting that of that "hater" John Hagee?


Steve Lowe - 3/22/2008

Guilt by association is still wrong. I can associate McCain with the Catholic-hater Hagee, just about any Republican since Eisenhower with the Jew-hater Billy Graham, and dozens of Republicans with the America-hating Falwell and Robertson, but none of them faces the kind of scrutiny that Obama does because they don't even go to church!


Irene Solnik - 3/22/2008

Sir: A twenty year follower of a hate filled preacher, is a hater. There are no excuses.


James W Loewen - 3/22/2008

We're not electing Wright, we're electing Obama, Clinton, or McCain.
Obama said important things about the grievances blacks have, on one side of the racial divide, and whites have, on the other. He "nailed" them both. That was an accomplishment.
I look forward to similar accomplishments by Clinton and McCain, and Obama again, and not just on race, but on our slowly increasing economic divide, on our foreign policy, etc.
But then, I am an optimist.