Obama on policy: er, Hope! Change!

posted at 9:00 am on May 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Washington Post runs a front-page analysis of Barack Obama’s policy positions today, and they find … nothing much. In fact, what little work Obama had done on policy since entering the Senate in 2005 he abandoned in 2006 as he prepared for his presidential campaign. To the extent that he has any policy credentials, Perry Bacon reports that it doesn’t differ at all from the standard platform of the Democratic Party:

Already famous for his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama entered the Senate with more than the usual aspirations about the impact he could have.

So in 2005, he had his office arrange informal seminars so that experts on health care, the economy, energy and education could brief him. “I’m not running for president,” he told a group of experts at his Capitol Hill office in the spring of 2006. But he said he had a “national voice” and wanted to use it.

When Obama changed his mind and decided to run for president after only two years in the Senate, however, he effectively dismissed the importance of policy proposals, declaring in one speech in early 2007, “We’ve had plenty of plans, Democrats,” and in another: “Every four years, somebody trots out a white paper, they post it on the Web.” He cast his “new kind of politics” in terms of his ability to transcend divisions and his unique biography and offered few differences on issues from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the other Democratic presidential candidates. …

Obama has not emphasized any signature domestic issue, or signaled that he would take his party in a specific direction on policy, as Bill Clinton did with his “New Democrat” proposals in 1992 that emphasized welfare reform or as George W. Bush did with his “compassionate conservatism” in 2000, when he called on Republicans to focus more on issues such as education.

Obama’s campaign is “clearly politically transformative, it’s clearly from a policy standpoint been cautious,” said James K. Galbraith, a liberal activist and economist at the University of Texas at Austin who had backed former senator John Edwards in the early primaries.

Translation: It’s all about the biography. Obama claims to transcend partisanship, but that only accounts for style, not substance. What little substance he has established shows a trend farther to the Left of Bill Clinton.

In one sense, Obama’s candidacy shows the triumph of style over substance. It seems like an age ago when politicians ran on broad philosophical approaches to governance or detailed policy proposals. Even Clinton ran on an economic agenda and a perception as a policy wonk, a man who knew government and had specific ideas to implement policies. In Obama’s case, we get nothing more than platitudes about hope and change, even though as the WaPo reports, he hasn’t brought any change at all to Washington, and shows a concerted lack of interest in the policy mechanism that would bring it.

Bacon notes that Obama largely goes along with the flow on policy — the Democratic Party flow. He doesn’t have any new ideas but instead aspires to put his face on the same old progressive agenda of big-government solutions that the party appeared to reject during the Clinton era. The DLC faction has all but disappeared, and what remains is a McGovernesque, Mondalesque Democratic Party that wants to expand federal power through massive redistribution of wealth. Instead of leading the party on this agenda, though, Obama cheerfully acquiesces to it, in a certain sense selling his brand as a label.

Quite frankly, this is a portrait of a dilettante. Obama doesn’t really have ideas of his own, not even an overarching governing philosophy as a prism through which policy could get made. He just wants to be President, and figures that he can charm his way to the White House.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Quite frankly, this is a portrait of a dilettante. Obama doesn’t really have ideas of his own, not even an overarching governing philosophy as a prism through which policy could get made. He just wants to be President, and figures that he can charm his way to the White House

Exactly. Well put.
And so it is even more depressing that he has so many people behind him. What are they behind? ugh… Whatever this country does, we have got to overhaul our education system.

bridgetown on May 29, 2008 at 9:07 AM

GQ trumps IQ.

jgapinoy on May 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM

It’s obvious that Obama spent all his time in affirmative action college focusing on his speech tone and inflection rather than substance.

tarpon on May 29, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Ford is about to lay off as many as 10% of it salaried workers. GM’s stock is at its lowest level in a quarter century and is also reported to be about to engage in another round of restructuring. Michigan’s Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, pushed through a massive set of tax hikes last year, and yet a new 300 million dollar deficit was announced this week. Can you imagine the impact of Obama’s tax hikes on this already reeling state?

Michigan is a sad experiment in letting Democrats set economic policy. It is also about to become a symbol of their bizarre ideas of political fairness when it comes to elections. Expect the fall’s campaign to center on the source of Michigan’s woes not only as Senators McCain and Obama compete for the state but also as a lesson for the rest of the country on how not to govern. (HughHewitt)

A study of Democrat controlled states “California, Michigan, & Louisiana” tell a very frightening story for the rest of the country. Obama will simply be a puppet on a string; with the DNC (lead by Dr. Evil Soros) pulling the strings.

Keemo on May 29, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Quite frankly, this is a portrait of a dilettante.

Pretty clear for some time now here. And with more than 5 months to the election, should become widely known. My concern is keeping the pressure on McCain once elected.

JiangxiDad on May 29, 2008 at 9:11 AM

He just wants to be President, and figures that he can charm his way to the White House.

He can and he almost has.

AntonDomi on May 29, 2008 at 9:14 AM

I have no desire to help put someone in the White House this year as there is no person worthy of such desire still running.

But I am damned serious about keeping OBAMA and those that control him OUT.

It is all about defense this year.

EJDolbow on May 29, 2008 at 9:16 AM

It’s quite frightening thing to see this man rise to the position of presidential candidate with ZERO credentials. It’s a sad testament of how adults regard the state of this union.

robblefarian on May 29, 2008 at 9:18 AM

(yawwwwwwnnnn) … oh, excuse me. What were you saying?

Jaibones on May 29, 2008 at 9:18 AM

GQ trumps IQ.

jgapinoy on May 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Very clever.

JiangxiDad on May 29, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Quite frankly, this is a portrait of a black guy who white liberals can accept.

If Obama were white, the race would have been between Edwards and Clinton and Hillary would be preparing to accept the nomination at the convention.

Barack Smith, two-year caucasian senator from Illinois wouldn’t have lasted beyond the first debate.

Bishop on May 29, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Bishop on May 29, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Truer words were never spoken.

Oink on May 29, 2008 at 9:28 AM

It’s all about the O —
Obamassiah.

rbj on May 29, 2008 at 9:28 AM

It’s obvious that Obama spent all his time in affirmative action college focusing on his speech tone and inflection rather than substance.

tarpon on May 29, 2008 at 9:11 AM

I read somewhere that Obama spent a good deal of time in college practicing and refining Pastor Wright’s method of delivery so he could retain the mesmerizing quality but pare out the elements which would not play well for political audiences.

But I am damned serious about keeping OBAMA and those that control him OUT.

It is all about defense this year.

EJDolbow on May 29, 2008 at 9:16 AM

Yes, it is. We won’t get a do over. Once Obama is in, Marxism will be part of our economic fabric forever. No mulligans,..they won’t allow it.

a capella on May 29, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Obama’s gaffes display a sense of the “highly educated voter” syndrome. Long on hope and change and short of the facts required to make good policy.

Obama, like many of his like minded elite university educated cohort, has not mastered basic facts. He is a victim of the higer ed generated myth that something called “critical thinking” is more important then knowing the basics. However, critical thinking requires learning basic knowledge but this is no longer deemed important in the social sciences save perhaps economics.

The bottom line is that how can someone who doesn’t know the difference between Memorial and Veteran’s days and World War II history be qualified to make the big policy decisions requried by high office.

jerryofva on May 29, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Translation: It’s all about the biography.

… and he can’t even get that right.

he hasn’t brought any change at all to Washington

… or to Chicago, or to Illinois …

yo on May 29, 2008 at 9:38 AM

The only real policy initiative that he has which separates him from other Democrats is meeting with Iran at the presidential level without preconditions. I can’t think of any other issue he has presented that makes him stand out among Democrats. Now we see that even that policy proposal is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors as he constantly redefines what he meant.

Seixon on May 29, 2008 at 9:41 AM

The bottom line is that how can someone who doesn’t know the difference between Memorial and Veteran’s days and World War II history be qualified to make the big policy decisions requried by high office.

jerryofva on May 29, 2008 at 9:32 AM

He won’t be; those decisions will be made by Soros and other makers of the modern day Democrat Party. Soros will be a great case study in the future “how one man brought down the USA.”

Keemo on May 29, 2008 at 9:41 AM

If such a conservative bastion (sarc) as the Washington Post has written that Obama “effectively dismissed the importance of policy proposals” and has “not emphasized any signature domestic issue, or signaled that he would take his party in a specific direction on policy”, haven’t they outed Obama as an empty suit to their numerous readers? That might not matter to die-hard liberals out there, but what about undecided centrists who read the Washington Post?

William Shakespeare must have seen Obama coming–he is “Much Ado About Nothing”. But this needs to be made clear to the American people before November.

Steve Z on May 29, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Well, look like a new direction to me…a candidate with no plans, not even a bad one. That is something different, no one has ever ran on that platform.
“Obama…not a negative, and nothing to add”
“Obama…same ol, same ol”
“Obama…the answer my friends is blowin in the wind”
“Obama…never a misdirection, just a no direction”
“Obama…siezure of the day”
“Obama…don’t blame him, he hasn’t done anything”

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 9:51 AM

He just wants to be President, and figures that he can charm his way to the White House.

Here endeth the lesson.

Typhoon on May 29, 2008 at 9:55 AM

Discussing Obama’s lack of accomplishment and leadership is clearly a distraction and borders on racism.

lets get back to the important issues such as how many times Obama can say “hope” and “change” in a single speech and watch his followers nod their heads and faint.

I fail to see how these kind of critiques help Michelle’s children at all.

Now back to the Re-writing of History show with this weeks special guest, Scott McClellan.

Baxter Greene on May 29, 2008 at 10:02 AM

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Obama…c’mon, I wanna be President, and it’s a black guy’s turn.

AZCoyote on May 29, 2008 at 10:17 AM

He cast his “new kind of politics” in terms of his ability to transcend divisions…

He doesn’t need to learn or know anything, he just has to dictate speak. The force of his personality will make the trains run on time.

Akzed on May 29, 2008 at 10:29 AM

I still think Changey McHopeNChange will choose the word change as is running mate.

BohicaTwentyTwo on May 29, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Policy positions? Obama don’t need no stinkin’ policy positions! He’s gonna personally meet with all the world’s crazy dictators and Islamofascists and dazzle them with his brilliance and charm. They’ll feel faint, get tingly feelings in their legs, and immediately agree to whatever Obama proposes.

AZCoyote on May 29, 2008 at 10:35 AM

GQ trumps IQ.

jgapinoy on May 29, 2008 at 9:08 AM

Ha!

Alden Pyle on May 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Heather Higginbottom, who runs Obama’s policy office at the campaign’s Chicago headquarters, cited education as one area in which Obama offers ideas that are not traditionally Democratic, arguing that the problem is not all about schools or funding, but about parents who let their children watch too much television.

I’m sorry, but ROFL. Is that really the best she can come up with? And even that will fade after the we-must-fund-PBS crowd gets to him.

Quisp on May 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

And just look at all of the idiots who will vote for such an empty suit. We deserve what we get if we put this poseur in the White House.

D2Boston on May 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM

Obama, like many of his like minded elite university educated cohort, has not mastered basic facts. He is a victim of the higer ed generated myth that something called “critical thinking” is more important then knowing the basics. However, critical thinking requires learning basic knowledge but this is no longer deemed important in the social sciences save perhaps economics.

jerryofva on May 29, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Interesting how a once-decent concept like “critical thinking” has been turned on its head by the doctrinaire demagogues who control the education system.

Critical thinking used to mean knowing enough facts, generally, to make informed guesses about specific things you may not know in detail – like questioning the veracity of a story involving the American army liberating Auschwitz. Because it’s in Poland, and the Soviet Union is east of Poland, and the Cold War and Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II and all… y’know…

Not anymore. Because all that’s taught at elite universities is race, class and gender, what passes as “critical thinking” should more properly be called “unquestioning feeling.”

Gilda on May 29, 2008 at 10:47 AM

“It’s about competence, not ideology.”

Dukakarama!

Nosferightu on May 29, 2008 at 10:48 AM

And just look at all of the idiots who will vote for such an empty suit. We deserve what we get if we put this poseur in the White House.

D2Boston on May 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM

Since “we” will not be voting for Obama, “we” will not be putting him in the White House, so please don’t tell me that “we” deserve what we get.

Buy Danish on May 29, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Gilda on May 29, 2008 at 10:47 AM

well stated!

D2Boston on May 29, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Do you think he didn’t really expect or plan on winning the primaries when he first began, but just wanted to get into the national spotlight? Then suddenly he began winning, and felt in over his head, then decided to own it and convinced himself that he really was ready?

Nah, he’s just a snake-oil salesman.

p40tiger on May 29, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Bacon notes that Obama largely goes along with the flow on policy — the Democratic Party flow

This is precisely why I think the Democratic leadership in congress are supporting him. He’d be an extremely weak president that can be easily controlled and manipulated by congress.

jasnell on May 29, 2008 at 11:01 AM

One constant that is emerging from his camp is the subtle opposition to free speech. They have become skilled in setting rules about who can talk about what. I would expect to see much of an Obama administration focused on stifling free speech. But this isn’t policy it’s just a path to more power.

snaggletoothie on May 29, 2008 at 11:15 AM

WeThey deserve what we they get if we they put this poseur in the White House.

D2Boston on May 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM

Please, don’t include me in Obama’s camp.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Heather Higginbottom, who runs Obama’s policy office at the campaign’s Chicago headquarters, cited education as one area in which Obama offers ideas that are not traditionally Democratic, arguing that the problem is not all about schools or funding, but about parents who let their children watch too much television.

I’m sorry, but ROFL. Is that really the best she can come up with? And even that will fade after the we-must-fund-PBS crowd gets to him.

Quisp on May 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Nearly 50 years of running every inner school district in the U.S., and this is there plan to “eliminate” poor education, cut back on T.V. time.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM

Nearly 50 years of running every inner school district in the U.S., and this is there plan to “eliminate” poor education, cut back on T.V. time.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM

Democrats must love it because it absolves the teachers union and the lefty congress and courts of any responsibility.

snaggletoothie on May 29, 2008 at 12:11 PM

In summation:

The United States might soon elect the most inexperienced and unaccomplished man to ever get a party nomination solely upon a manufactured biography built on a series of lies that the candidate can’t even be bothered to keep straight.

Chuck Schick on May 29, 2008 at 12:16 PM

Time for Hillary to run as an independent…Go Hillary, don’t let them steal the election from you.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 1:28 PM

I’ve long believed that the so-called problems with our schools aren’t really problems with our schools, but were instead societal problems. However this

arguing that the problem is not all about schools or funding, but about parents who let their children watch too much television

is not the societal problem. Detroit doesn’t have a 24% graduation rate because kids want to stay home and watch Days of our Lives or play video games.
I’d venture a guess that more kids spending too much time watching tv would be a plus in the gang-ridden inner cities.

MayBee on May 29, 2008 at 1:33 PM

Lets cut to the chase; enough with the lack of critical thinking when postulating why Obama is where he is!

1. Race: via some yet to be defined logic – skin color alone predisposes any requirement for tangible experience, substantive capability and moral integrity (thank you Tom Hanks for that breathtaking Obama endorsement)

2. Liberalism: We continue to see the woosification of America due to changes in work/living/recreation, physical and mental toughness have become a choice and not a requirement for our survival. The Kumbaya crowd deplore any and all confrontation in which they personally may suffer defeat be it an intellectual, emotional or physical beat down. If you don’t agree with their perspective you’ll demonized or could end up being the worst person in the world! A valued mentor told me years ago, “its easy to be nice, it takes hard work and commitment to be an asshole”.

3. MSM: is a commdity and as such should be far more reflective of the consuming public. I am having a hard time trying to understand how media outlets that are so openly bias can remain viable businesses without some sort of nefariuos external support. Though, it is somewhat revealing to see FNC owns the cable news market yet again.

So we have the perfect storm of political insanity being born out of racial manipulation, strengthened by the sea of gutless minions to whom subjugation is preferable to confrontation and being portrayed as a sunny day at the beach for all Americans…surfs up dude!

dmann on May 29, 2008 at 1:48 PM

He just wants to be President, and figures that he can charm his way to the White House.

That’s pretty close. I’d say he figures that he can BS his way into the White House.

Obama is just like the kid in school who is ahead of his peers in writing ability, and learns that he can use it to his advantage: the teachers are so grateful to read a literate exam paper, book report or essay that they’ll tend to overlook some playing fast-and-loose or “winging it” with the facts. That goes double when the person doing the communicating is a racial minority who’s “Hooked on Phonics” instead of “Hooked on Ebonics.”

In short, probably early in his life Obama figured out that as long as he was “articulate” and “clean” he could sell quite a lot of vacuum to people eager to use him as a way to soothe their own guilty liberal consciences. And this wink-and-nudge symbiotic relationship has served him well right into the Senate.

What he’s discovering on the national stage, however, is that being all flash and no bang doesn’t work as well as it does in a more friendly (i.e., solidly liberal) environment; just like the author who wrote of Oakland, California, people come to realize that there’s no “there” there.

He’ll remain a formidable, and perhaps victorious candidate not so much because of who he is — it’s pretty clear by now that he’s “The Emperor Has No Clothes” freshened up for the 21st Century — but rather due to the nature of those who will promote and vote for him:

– “My skin color right or wrong” blacks;

– Willfully ignorant, “Voting for Obama proves I’m not a racist!” white liberals;

– The majority of the media, who see their role not as informing the electorate, but of getting the donkey candidate past the electorate; and

– Moonbats/Yellow-Dog democrats who’d vote for a canned ham as long as it was running against a Republican.

We’ll know soon enough whether this “coalition of the willing” is enough to drag their guy past the finish line.

Spurius Ligustinus on May 29, 2008 at 2:49 PM