Tuesday, July 1, 2008


In much the way that Ulysses had to bind himself to the masts of his ship in order not to succumb to the Sirens’ call and remain on course, sensible voters in 2004 had to force themselves not to listen to what John Kerry said and did in order to remain steadfast in their determination to vote for him against George W. Bush. It is fast becoming that way in 2008 with Barack Obama. If his public appearances these past few days are any indication, not paying attention to the content of Obama’s “inspiring” muttering will be necessary not only for voting for the lesser evil, but even for keeping down one’s lunch.

For political philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, patriotism can be something more than “the last refuge of scoundrels.” But not for the flag waving, lapel button wearing “patriots” Obama pandered to yesterday in Independence, Missouri (not incidentally, the “Show Me” state). Their “thinking” may not be out of line in the Land of the Free, but the fact remains: their patriotism is stupid. But it’s one of those things – there are many others – which Democrats feel obliged to encourage. [Another is “supporting the troops,” which is code for keeping the Bush wars going and keeping the economic conscripts who fight them in harm’s way.] We owe this nauseating spectacle to the fact that the Party of Pusillanimity, the POP, much like the country at large, never quite assimilated the real lessons the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon war against Vietnam (and then the rest of southeast Asia) taught. If it had, it would be unthinkable now that a John McCain might be the one to extend the Cheney/Bush presidency for yet another dreadful term.

The POP has also not learned from its real mistakes in 2004. Instead, it focuses on its imaginary mistakes; thus its determination to turn itself into the party of the godly. After Karl Rove mobilized Christian fundamentalists to clobber Kerry in 2004, it has become a Democratic axiom that, in their obsessive pandering, they must not forget evangelical Christians. It seems that, since 2004, they’ve learned (or at least convinced themselves) that evangelicals are not all the same; and that some of them can be won over (or won back) to “progressive” positions – by which they mean saccharine Democratic positions. Thus today, according to news reports, Obama will tell evangelicals in Ohio that he favors “faith based initiatives” of various sorts. With the primary season over, it’s evidently not enough that he and Hillary Clinton meld together. He now seems to want to go all the way – assuming the God-fearing mantle of George W. Bush.

To be sure, Obama has a problem. In our debased political culture, where the likes of Fox news help set the agenda, a disturbingly large number of very ignorant people believe that Obama is a “secret Muslim.” To this “charge,” a slightly more “audacious,” but still God-fearing Obama could reply: “I’m a Christian, but there’s nothing wrong or ‘un-American’ with being a Muslim” That would at least inject a little oxygen into some moribund brains. But NO. Obama prefers to deny the “charge,” letting the slight to Muslims go uncorrected.

Of course, in a saner possible world, being a Muslim would indeed be a reproach, as would being a Christian or a Jew. But that isn’t the universe Democrats choose to inhabit. Nevertheless, there are some well-meaning but deluded people, some of whom surely know better where godliness is concerned, who find Obama’s stance “pragmatic.” [In their ignorance, these good liberals have turned Sidney Morgenbesser’s quip about pragmatism inside out. Morgenbesser famously, and very wisely, said that “pragmatism is true in theory, but in practice it just doesn’t work.”] “Pragmatically,” Obama is now positioning himself as the candidate of God and Country, while liberal Democrats either cheer him on or turn a blind eye. Thus, like him, they reveal themselves to be the scoundrels they are.

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Speaking of which, Obama and his liberal supporters have dealt yet another blow to truth telling. This time, the one in trouble for stating the obvious isn’t Jimmy Carter, whom the liberals would love to go away, or Jeremiah Wright or Ralph Nader, whom the liberals love to bad-mouth: it’s Obama’s own “surrogate” -- General Wesley Clark. Like Jay Rockefeller before him, Clark pointed out that being shot down in an airplane and then held as a POW is not exactly a qualification for being Commander-in-Chief. Were he not a military man and a Democrat, he might have added that volunteering to drop bombs and napalm on a civilian population fighting for its independence isn’t much of a qualification either; or at least that it shouldn’t be. But through some convoluted reasoning, Obama and his handlers felt obliged to rebuke the good General – confounding his truth telling with an attack on John McCain’s “patriotism.”

In the seventeenth century, Blaise Pascal pointed out that when a point is carried to its extreme, it turns into its opposite. “Too much light blinds us,” Pascal wrote. Perhaps we’ll see another example today in Ohio. Or is it too much to hope that the next time Obama castigates someone for stating the obvious, he’ll confound their temerity not just with leveling charges about the patriotism of others, which Clark’s adventure in truth telling plainly was not, but with an attack on faith. Or will no Democrat dare state the obvious about believers (except, of course, the Islamic variety).

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