Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Obama: Unscripted and Unprepared

Original Link:

By Ani

Every day, Barack Obama reminds me a little more of George Bush. I can’t help it. The similarities are too striking to ignore: His love for vacations at the worst possible time. And he, like King George, purports to be a ‘Uniter.’ Well, let’s test this claim.

How would you characterize a man who:

has played the race card to great effect repeatedly and with impunity throughout his campaign, and gotten the mainstream press and the Democratic elite to gamely play along;

has insulted or ignored anyone who didn’t vote for him;

is too politically shortsighted to realize that by nixing a roll call for Hillary and not placing her name in nomination, he is probably costing himself the election, further alienating her voters.

Forgive me, but he doesn’t sound very unifying.

More telling are Senator Obama’s unscripted moments – very Bush-like. I know Senator Obama reads a teleprompter well, and perhaps imitates the cadence of Rev. Martin Luther King. But the message underneath rings hollow.

In moments of crisis, and the leader of the free world will encounter many, there may not be time for 20 scriptwriters to pull him together if he himself cannot exhibit the proper leadership to guide this nation. He will not have a long weekend as he did in creating his “scintillating speech on race” to distract from the debacle that was Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Jonah Goldberg’s op-ed in the LA Times yesterday, Obama Without His Script, was a welcome surprise, considering the source – a newspaper that, with rare exception, has given the newbie Illinois Senator glowing coverage. The subtitle…

Judging by his reaction to the Georgia-Russia crisis, Obama’s make-believe presidency isn’t ready for prime time…

…makes it look as though, at least for this columnist, the bloom is off the rose. Mr. Goldberg’s recent columns hit both Obama and McCain pretty evenly, but for the LA Times even to print this, wow! Senator Obama must have made a boo boo:

The Obama campaign has for months pursued the odd strategy of having the junior senator from Illinois act as if he were already kinda-sorta president of the United States. In June, it tried sticking a quasi-presidential seal on his lectern. Then in July, he conducted what seemed like official state visits with foreign leaders and delivered something like a “prenaugural” address in Berlin, inviting comparisons to JFK and Reagan.

If the would-be president can seem plausibly presidential, voting for him might not seem like such a crapshoot. It all makes sense, even if it fosters an air of presumptuousness.

The invasion of Georgia elicited a wan written communique instead of the sort of exciting rhetoric we’ve come to expect from his make-believe presidency. But he did make it in front of the cameras the next day for a rally celebrating his vacation in Hawaii. He promised “to go body surfing at some undisclosed location.”

During Obama’s make-believe presidency, we’ve heard about bold action, about the courage to talk to dictators. When faced with a real “3 a.m. moment,” Obama – who boasts about 200 foreign policy advisors, broken into 10 subgroups – proclaims, “I’m going to get some shave ice.”

Indeed, President Bush’s jaunt to the Olympics as a “sports fan” should also have been cut short the moment tanks started rolling over a country he’d proclaimed a “beacon of liberty” during his visit there in 2005. By Monday, both Bush and Obama were playing catch-up to Sen. John McCain, who seemed to have grasped the gravity from the get-go…

Putting Bush and Obama in the same sandbox and well behind McCain’s much touted handling of the 3 A.M. moment is not the kind of press Obama wants at this point.

But, for once, in the press, the assessment is honest. This country doesn’t need any more versions of someone caught flatfooted reading “My Pet Goat” instead of standing up and taking appropriate action to get on top of the situation.

Referring to Obama’s statement on the crisis, Steve Huntley, in yesterday’s Chicago Sun Times made the point:

It took first-term Sen. Barack Obama three tries to get it right. Headed for a vacation in Hawaii, the presumed Democratic candidate for commander in chief issued an even-handed statement, urging restraint by both sides. Later Friday, he again called for mutual restraint but blamed Russia for the fighting. The next day his language finally caught up with toughness of McCain’s.

Making matters worse, Obama’s staff focused on a McCain aide who had served as a lobbyist for Georgia, charging it showed McCain was “ensconced in a lobbyist culture.” Obama’s campaign came off as injecting petty partisan politics into an international crisis. This was not a serious response on behalf [of] a man who aspires to be the leader of the Free World. After all, what’s so bad about representing a small former Soviet republic struggling to remake itself as a Western-style democracy?

The comparison between the two candidates served to emphasize the strength McCain’s experience would bring to the White House in a dangerous world.

Obama’s favored approach to international issues, diplomatic talks, failed to stop Russia’s invasion. Vladimir Putin, a KGB bull in the former Soviet Union, wants to restore Russia as the supreme power of Eurasia…

However the world’s newest war ends, America’s leadership must recognize and respond to the underlying dynamic of Russia’s resurgent aggressive instincts — the power bestowed on Moscow by its oil and gas riches.

I am not endorsing Senator McCain. I think by now, everyone knows who my candidate is. Hillary exhibited great foresight about this crisis. But Senator Obama is making newbie mistakes all over the place. These are schoolyard games – harping about lobbyists at a time like this? There are far larger issues at stake here.

Mr. Goldberg of the Times further observes:

[Obama] has been playacting at being presidential in order to convince voters that we live in a “new moment” with “new challenges” – and that he is the president we need for this new era.

This moment calls for more than playacting, yet Obama looks lost without a presidential script. Events in the Caucasus – and, for that matter, in Beijing – suggest that the times aren’t so new after all. Two powerful antidemocratic foes are once again flexing their muscles at a moment when America seems weak and distracted.

That is not a new challenge but a very old one. Perhaps this is not a time for a novice spouting grand rhetoric about a new page in history, but for someone who’s actually read the pages of some old, but still relevant, books. Perhaps this is not the time for playacting.

Perhaps it is not the time for body surfing?

Obama presents grave cause for worry. He may actually be na├»ve enough to think that he can just “delegate” the yucky stuff and someone else is going to do the actual clean up.

I have witnessed many of his supporters recite a similar mantra – “He’ll surround himself with great people. Congress does everything anyway. He has really good judgment.” This is the President they want? A figurehead to make a “speech” and leave the rest of the work to the grown ups? This Democratic Congress isn’t doing very well – and after the behavior I have witnessed these past seven months, these are not the people I want ‘running the show.’

Aside from choosing David Axelrod (better known as Axel-Rove) as his slash and burn campaign manager, what were his good decisions exactly? I reference here my earlier assessment of why I cannot support him and his prior ‘boneheaded’ actions. This is another way he reminds me of Bush. Every time I think I have looked into the nadir, Obama does something else to earn my mistrust. I have actually started to get numb and lose track.

His shocking reversal on FISA, for example, from a supposedly dearly held belief in the sanctity of the fourth amendment betrays an arrogant “well, too bad, where else are you gonna go” attitude, taking advantage of and even diminishing the value of his most fervent supporters. Tiresome as it may be, I will remind people once again that Senator Clinton voted correctly on FISA. What happened to the filibuster Senator Obama promised us?

No off-shore oil drilling, anyone? Another one of his campaign promises. To quote Senator Obama, “Words, just words.”

But Senator Obama would be gratified to know a number of those original supporters are still making excuses for him. I would imagine it is getting both exhausting and frustrating for them.

Further, his plan to ‘accept’ the nomination at Invesco Field before an audience of 75,000 smacks simultaneously of hubris and bullying – just squash the competition, the detractors, the protesters with a wall of noise and size.

This is reminiscent of George Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” declaration where, to quote General Wes Clark, Bush “pranced around on the deck of that aircraft carrier.”

I was a lifelong Democrat until two months ago. I certainly hoped we’d have a better choice at this point than to be force fed a man so arrogant and inexperienced; someone who is more interested in image management than rolling up his sleeves to do the work required to deal with the world that is – not the world he wishes could be. Perhaps he really believes that he alone can ‘heal our planet.’ Unfortunately, this is grandiose to the point of being delusional.

Leaders in other countries will not be so easily hypnotized just because our American press has been. Putin, for example, may not get a ‘tingle up his leg’ as Chris Matthews has.

Surely it has occurred to the Party elite that if Democrats cannot win the election in this ‘no-lose year,’ with the Republican brand damaged as it is, the Democratic Party will be over. Not that that would be a bad thing in its current state.

More and more, I remember Hillary’s claim to be ‘ready on day one.’ I believe she is. And we’re going to need somebody who is.

Delusions are not required. Solutions are.


Vadim said...

I agree with you on your criticisms of Obama for the most part, especially FISA... but I'd like to remind you that you're sourcing Jonah Goldberg, the man who equates liberalism with fascism because some members of both groups were vegetarian.

This is pretty amusing to me. You're looking to the worst in right-wing ideologues to support your criticisms of Obama, who, for what is worth is basically identical to Hillary on most political issues of any significance (foreign policy, UHC, free markets).

I'm no Obama supporter. In fact I'm probably voting third party unless he revokes his stance on FISA:

But Jonah Goldbeg... wow. Haha.

Anthony said...

This is pure stupidity at its best. How can anyone who watched the democratic primary have missed the idea the Hillary, Bill, Dick Chaney and almost all of the rich have moved their money out of the U.S. into foreign banks. I small a rat feast and the only one who still is stupid enough or patriotic enough to still have his wealth in the U.S. is Obama.

Google. George Green (The Big Picture-An economic forecast for coming times) and have your eye opened. It's over, America!!!