CLOSING THE DEAL
A Roadmap for Campaign 2008’s Homestretch
By Guy Benson (www.guybensonshow.com) and Mary Katharine Ham (www.weeklystandard.com)
Editor and Contributor, Ed Morrissey
WHO ARE WE?
Allow us to put our cards on the table at the outset: We are two young conservative journalists—both in our 20s. Unlike many of our peers, we are not swept up in Obamamania and would prefer John McCain to win the election. We’ve teamed up with seasoned blogger extraordinaire, Ed Morrissey, whose careful and thoughtful pursuit of the truth—even when it benefits his political opponents—is respected across the blogosphere. In that spirit, we are not at all interested in perpetuating lies, rumors, and innuendo about Barack Obama. Promoting such information does America a disservice, allows Obama’s supporters to justifiably cry “smear,” and damages our own credibility.
What follows is by no means comprehensive, but it does shed some much-needed light on a number of Obama’s positions, statements, and associations about which he has been less than honest. We’ve attempted to boil each issue down to a succinct explanation with an accompanying, brief video clip—often starring Barack Obama in his own words. Before pulling the lever for someone who hopes voters will ignore his paper-thin resume, unsavory associations, and hard-left voting record, each citizen has a duty to do his due diligence.
In short, we hope this “closing argument” is compelling and clear, and we encourage you to share this essay with undecided or wavering family members, friends, and co-workers.
If recent polls are to believed, freshman Senator Barack Obama has a better than average chance of becoming America’s 44th President, the Commander-in-Chief of the planet’s most powerful military, and the proverbial leader of the free world. It’s worth mentioning that just four years ago as President Bush and Senator John Kerry were vying for the White House, Obama was still a part-time State Senator representing a liberal district in Chicago. Before that he was an attorney and, famously, a community organizer. In 2008, Obama has positioned himself as a post-partisan, thoughtful moderate with the superior judgment required to lead the country. These are lofty promises from a man with precious little executive experience, and a Senate career that lasted exactly 143 legislative days before he launched yet another campaign for higher office. No one can deny his ambition. In fact, if Obama wins on November 4th—and serves one full term in the Oval Office—the Presidency of the United States would be the longest consecutively held full-time job he has ever held without seeking another.
Barack Obama promises “change,” which is an appealing concept to an American public weary of a beleaguered administration and worried about the future. They are faced with a candidate who promises them everything: Tax cuts for 95% of Americans, universal healthcare, peace, saving the planet, and—according to his wife—the “healing” of Americans’ souls. As the saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Questions abound: Is this man prepared to be president? Does he hold mainstream values and policy preferences? Who has influenced his thinking, and where does he want to take the country? Has he been honest with the people from whom he seeks votes?
Barack Obama is out of the political mainstream on abortion. Don’t take our word for it, just listen to Sen. Obama’s own statements. In his final debate with John McCain, Obama asserted that “nobody is pro-abortion.” If you don’t have the time to read Princeton University professor Robert P. George’s detailed argument that Obama may actually fit that description, consider the candidate’s own record. In the clips below, you will hear Obama say three things.
First, he tells an audience that if his own daughters experienced an unexpected teen pregnancy, he wouldn’t want them “punished with a baby.”
Second, he pledges to a Planned Parenthood gathering that the very first thing he’d do as president is sign the Freedom Of Choice Act, which—according to the bill’s own supporters — would abolish bans on partial-birth abortion and parental notification laws nationwide while implementing tax-payer funded abortions. All three positions are wildly unpopular with the vast majority of Americans, yet they are Obama’s top priorities—just ask him:
Finally, Obama argues against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act as an Illinois Senator in 2002. Despite Obama’s protestations otherwise, he voted three separate times against this legislation, which was designed to require life-saving care for infants who survive botched abortions. This is a matter of record. Not only did an identical bill pass Congress without a single dissenting vote, the explanation Obama has offered for years to defend these votes has been exposed as a lie. Furthermore, Hot Air has a long list of supporting posts on this very subject:
- Infanticide, revisited
- Yes, we can … elect a guy who votes for infanticide
- There are a lot of things above Obama’s “pay grade”
- Team Obama acknowledges infanticide lie
- Obama camp: He only voted against that born-alive abortion bill because it might actually have an effect
- Obama’s support for infanticide breaks into mainstream media
- Obama: Bill unnecessarily burdened doctors with … babies; Update: AOL Hot Seat poll added
- McCarthy: Obama’s moral failing on infanticide
- Obama’s ad lies about infanticide vote
Listen to Obama complain that providing care to these accidentally-born infants would place an undue burden on the woman and her abortionist:
Americans of good faith are divided on this issue. Many are pro-life, and many are pro-choice. Obama’s extreme record should horrify the former group, and should even give significant pause to the latter. Ask yourself, are babies “punishment”? Would you vote for the Freedom of Choice Act and against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act…three times?
As a skilled rhetorical magician, Obama presents himself as a tax-cutter. Even though he’s voted dozens of times to raise taxes, he assures Americans that 95% of us will have our taxes slashed under his plan. The Wall Street Journal isn’t buying it. Once again, though, the best way to assess someone’s positions is to listen to his own language. Note the two telling exchanges that follow:
First, Obama tells newly-minted national celebrity “Joe the Plumber” that his tax hikes on the so-called rich are designed to “spread the wealth around,” which Obama explains is “good for everybody.” Does that sound like a genuine tax-cutter to you?
Second, Obama is challenged by ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson at a primary debate in Pennsylvania. Gibson asks Obama why he insists on raising capital gains taxes (which affect millions of American investors) even after history has proven that raising said taxes actually decreases government revenues from the taxes, and cutting capital gains taxes actually brings more revenue into federal coffers. Obama has no answer, other than to blow off all the evidence, and say that raising taxes is the fair thing to do—practical consequences be damned.
Someone so obsessed with the concept of “fairness” is unlikely to be a friend to taxpayers. Obama’s record over his brief legislative career confirms his tax-and-spend impulses.
FILE: RADICAL ASSOCIATIONS
Barack Obama does not want anyone talking about his radical associations. He’s even sought criminal prosecutions against those who have dared to speak out on issues that make him squirm. Average Americans are judged by the company they keep, and our leaders ought to be held to the same standard.
Even though Obama says the issue is resolved (and John McCain refuses to raise it) voters must consider the case of Jeremiah Wright. Think of it this way: Barack Obama has himself estimated that he attends church twice a month. He spent twenty years at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ under the leadership of Rev. Wright. Within this metric, a rough calculation concludes that Obama sat through approximately 500 sermons at that church. 500. Still, he claims he never heard outrageous, racist, or anti-American comments from the pulpit. Watch the following clips—you probably saw them back when this controversy erupted—and ask yourself if you believe Obama’s self-serving selective deafness. The man featured in these clips is the same man who performed Obama’s wedding and baptized his children. Notice that his unhinged rantings did not elicit stunned silence from his congregation, but approving cheers. Is Obama’s “this isn’t the Jeremiah Wright I once knew” a credible excuse? Can you imagine anything like this being said at your church or house of worship—much less applauded?
Bill Ayers is another name many Americans have heard by now. He is a former terrorist who detonated bombs at federal buildings and plotted to blow up an army dance at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. He remains proud of his actions, and only regrets not having bombed more. Obama has been personal and professional friends with Ayers for more than a dozen years. When confronted with this association, Obama has said Ayers is (a) just a guy in his neighborhood, (b) a local professor, and (c) someone with whom he’d served on a charitable board. These are all true statements, but they obfuscate a much deeper relationship about which Obama is not being honest. In fact, the two served together on two boards—The Woods Fund and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, where together they funneled huge sums of money to a who’s-who leftwing causes. Obama’s 1995 political coming-out party took place in the home of Ayers and his wife, a fellow unrepentant terrorist. Obama now denies this, but it’s a matter of record, confirmed by individuals who attended the party. Investigative journalist and Ethics and Public Policy Center Fellow, Stanley Kurtz, has written many thorough and indispensable articles on Obama’s substantial ties to Ayers. If you don’t have time to read them, consider the following videos.
First, CNN looks into Bill Ayers and the Obama connection. The report concludes that “the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama says.” It also confirms the 1995 political party Ayers hosted for Obama.
Second, Obama repeatedly states that Ayers’ violence took place 40 years ago when he was just eight years old. This is true, and it’s irrelevant. Would you shake hands with, let alone work comfortably with, someone who bombed the US Capitol and Pentagon, and remains proud that he did so? It is implausible that Obama didn’t know about Ayers’ sordid past, just as it’s implausible that he was unaware that Ayers’ hatred of this country continues to fester to this day. The following video features a 1998 ABC News interview with Ayers and his wife that showcases their continued defiance. It also portrays Ayers at a 1960s radical reunion just last year during which he describes the United States as he sees it today. Why did Obama feel comfortable around these people, and is it any wonder that he’s been less than forthcoming about their relationship?
ACORN is a community organization whose fraudulent voter registration activities have drawn indictments and investigations in more than a dozen states. Their intimidation tactics in the 1990s forced banks into issuing unwise mortgage loans to low-income individuals, setting the stage for the recent mortgage crisis that send the economy into a tailspin. Barack Obama has denied any connection to ACORN beyond performing some minimal legal work on their behalf in the distant past. Once again, this is an intentionally misleading understatement. As it turns out, Obama was a top ACORN activism trainer for several years. The charitable boards he and Ayers controlled funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to ACORN. His campaign paid ACORN more than $800,000 to register voters in the primary, but tried to disguise the purpose of those spent dollars in official expense reports. He’s since scrubbed his “fight the smears” website after these untruths were exposed.
This is a complicated issue, so it plays into Obama’s hands: Team Obama’s gameplan of spinning half-truths and muddying the water is in full effect as he tries to “run out the clock” on the election. Although Stanley Kurtz did the heavy lifting , syndicated columnist Mona Charen’s explanation summed up the issue quite well: Putting Obama in charge of cleaning up the mortgage mess would be akin to hiring an arsonist to put out a fire.
As we mentioned above, the Obama/ACORN nexus does not lend itself to quick and easy videos. Nonetheless, two stand out: CNN—not the other cable news channel Obama ritually bashes—filed an investigative report on Obama’s ties to ACORN, and once again found Obama’s explanation wanting. In addition, the McCain campaign produced perhaps the best succinct summary of Obama’s ties to ACORN in a 90 second web ad, the details of which have not been disputed. Watch and decide for yourself:
For fear of lingering too long on the “associates” question, we will refrain from exploring the convicted felonwho helped Obama buy his Hyde Park mansion.
Remember, though, these issues are “distractions.” Nothing to see here, folks.
FILE: FOREIGN POLICY JUDGMENT
Barack Obama gained much of his early traction by speaking out against the war in Iraq. He cites his initial opposition to the war as the crown-jewel example of his judgment on foreign affairs. Although many people credit him for being “right” on the war from the beginning, it’s indisputable that he did not have an actual vote on the war resolution. As a state senator from a liberal, antiwar district, one wonders how much political risk he assumed by speaking out against a Republican-led conflict. Regardless, after he was elected to the US Senate, Obama was faced with an actual vote on a controversial issue: The surge. John McCain and others said the strategy was the only way to salvage the war and recover from our missteps there. History has proven them correct. Obama not only opposed the surge, but actually predicted it would make matters worse. In other words, he was spectacularly wrong on his biggest foreign policy judgment call since joining the Senate. He stubbornly refuses to admit he was wrong. This may be the kind of judgment that’s expected from a partisan rookie Senator, but not a Commander-in-Chief:
During the CNN-YouTube debate in the summer of 2007, Obama unequivocally promised to meet without preconditions with the rogue leaders of America’s worst enemies—all within the first year of his administration. Hillary Clinton and John McCain have called this approach reckless, expressing concerns that Obama may be playing into our enemies’ propagandistic designs. In October 2008, the Iranian government announced its own preconditions for one-on-one meetings with the Unites States: Pull all US troops out of the Middle East, and abandon support for “Zionist” Israel. These absurd demands further expose Obama’s very poor judgment vis-a-vis a regime that is actively aiding and abetting terrorists in Iraq who are killing US servicemen. Iran’s “preconditions” prove that negotiating with bad-faith actors who hate Americans and Jews would accomplish nothing other than handing their regime a PR coup. In recent months, Obama’s campaign has continually claimed that he didn’t actually make the promise that he did. The tape does not lie:
FILE: DISDAIN FOR THE HEARTLAND
Barack Obama was rated the most liberal United States Senator in 2007 by the non-partisan National Journal — farther left than Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders. He rarely mentions this extreme voting record as he campaigns throughout the heartland, just as he refrains from telling middle America what he really thinks of those who live there. Obama waits until he’s in San Francisco to do that. At a chic fundraising dinner, Obama sniffed that average Americans get “bitter” and “cling” to their guns and religion—as if these were shameful crutches. He may look down his nose at you, but he still wants your vote:
Obama also expressed disapproval of Americans’ (apparently) selfish way of life, scolding his fellow citizens for doing awful things like driving SUVs, heating their homes to a comfortable temperature, and eating as much as they’d like. Note the return of John Kerry’s “global test” in his remarks. If this is how he lectures Americans while he’s still pandering for votes, one wonders how preachy a President Obama might get:
FILE: THE RACE CARD
Millions of Americans oppose Senator Obama’s candidacy for many different reasons. For a small number of bigots, one of them is almost certainly race. That being said, Obama’s surrogates and media supporters have shown very little reluctance to ascribe racism to virtually anyone who supports another candidate. This is shameful. Worse still, Obama has personally played the race card several times, accusing Republicans in general, and the McCain campaign specifically, of whipping up race-based ugliness. When McCain’s objects, Obama has disingenuously denied he was referring to race in his initial comments. Really? On one occasion, Obama accused Republicans of trying to “scare” voters by mentioning that he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” At another rally he made a similar claim, adding “…did we mention he’s black?” to his interpretation of the GOP’s supposed scare tactics. As someone who presents himself as a unifying figure, what does it say that he shamelessly injects racial politics into the campaign, casting aspersions on his opponents’ motives? Watch and listen for yourself:
With the exception of one time each by the Washington Post and ABC News (on their blogs), the media did nothing to expose this tactic by Obama and his campaign employed on these occasions:
FILE: LACK OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
After an embarrassing exchange on a talk show, the Obama campaign scrambled to arm its surrogates with talking points about Obama’s grand legislative record. What did they come up with? Two bills—and Obama talks about them endlessly. One deals with securing loose nuclear weapons and was so uncontroversial that it passed on a voice vote in the Senate. The other created a “google for government” system, allowing citizens to track government spending. Both were laudable efforts for a wet-behind-the-ears legislator, but Obama wants to be President. Beyond those two meager accomplishments, what has he done? It’s a question that has baffled official campaign surrogates and regular Americans alike:
All three of us have written many, many times on all of these issues. Taken individually, most of them would create doubt about the readiness and honesty of any political candidate. Put together as a narrative, we believe this paints the picture of a man who has few real credentials for the office he seeks beyond the Constitutional minimum, and a politician who has succeeded in obfuscating his hard-Left ideology.
Perhaps if Barack Obama had taken more time to build his resumé – especially with executive experience – he might have made a more compelling candidate, and might have demonstrated at least a little of the moderation he has claimed. Instead, Democrats want America to support at once the most radical and least qualified candidate for President in at least a century. They have tried to conceal this with the complicity of a pom-pom-waving national media that has shown much more interest in the political background of a plumber from Ohio than in a major-party candidate for President.
America deserves better than that. Voters deserve the truth from the press, not vague cheers of “hope” and “change” while willfully ignoring or air-brushing Obama’s record. We hope to set that record straight with our essay.
Update II: Here’s one video we forgot in our comprehensive argument. Barack Obama offered his insights into his military policy in the middle of a war — cut everything that might make us secure:
He’ll cut missile defense, new weapons systems, and just about everything he can.