Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama 's Philosophy Questioned

I'm elated that this article appears in the New York Times today. It provides a good ground for distinguishing what is going on and the inability of our intellectual guardians to distinguish where Obama is coming from and to pronouce moral judgment on his views.

If you stand in Individual Rights, the fundamental political concept of the Declaration of Independence and the purpose of the Constitution along with Ayn Rand's clarification of the concept, then, and only then, does the conundrum of Obama become available to being sorted out.

You find the secret to Obama in what he DOES NOT SAY. And he does not say it because if he did, his whole house of cards would collapse overnight. He knows damn well that he has to cover the reason as to why he wants POWER is the keystone to his success in winning this election.

I'm just happy, very happy, that people are starting to look at this issue. If it is up to the bloggers from the hinterlands to prounounce the moral judgment, then I happily oblige.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama will destroy America's standing in the world as a moral force. Whatever your position regarding the Iraq War or Russia's invasion of Georgia, America ALWAYS comes down on the side of freedom and democracy. (The detractors always equivocate or become cynical. Obama has flip-flopped and equivocated on both of these cases.) The world absolutely counts on us for that and the dark age that will result if we collapse on that crucial distinction, even if we are muddled, will be devastating for us and the world. This is why Barack Obama is SO DANGEROUS!

The comments in square brackets are mine. The colored phrases are emphasis that I've added to this New York Times article.

Tracing the Disparate Threads in Obama’s Political Philosophy

By MICHAEL POWELL
Published: August 24, 2008

Senator Barack Obama has put a fright of late into some liberal supporters by backing a limited version of gun rights and voting to give legal immunity to the telecommunications companies that helped the Bush administration eavesdrop on American citizens.

Presidential candidates often exude a whiff of centrism as they enter the general campaign. But for Mr. Obama, a relative newcomer to the national stage who will use the Democratic Party’s convention this week to sell himself to voters on his terms, these moves have heightened a sense of his ideological elusiveness.

Much of Mr. Obama’s politics, his opposition to the war and support for raising taxes on the wealthy, and his support of abortion and labor rights, falls squarely in the liberal mainstream of the Democratic Party. But his ideological departures are noteworthy.

He supports the death penalty for some crimes not involving homicides, like child rape, and he favors giving federal money to religious groups for delivering social services.

In foreign affairs, he is a stated admirer of former President George Bush’s foreign policy, often identified now with the so-called “realist” view that the United States should act primarily out of strategic self-interest.

Mr. Obama, an intellectually curious man, is nothing if not pragmatic in the application of philosophy to politics, temperamentally inclined toward no strand of thinking. [This is a false premise] In his books, sentences are pulled taut between opposing viewpoints; a literary critic remarked on the “internal counterpoise” in his writing. [i.e., moral equivalency]

But that leaves a fundamental question for admirers and critics: Is his a consistent philosophy that borrows pragmatically from the center while rooted on the left? Or does he have an expedient slide-step that allows him to appeal to the center without alienating his liberal base?

It is a balancing act not unfamiliar to the Democrats, and likely to play out at the convention in a muted way. Abortion offers a flash-point, as liberal party activists have jettisoned long-held language that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” in favor of a woman’s right to “a safe and legal abortion,” a subtle leftward shift.

Mr. Obama, however, has invited Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, an abortion-rights opponent to give a convention speech. Mr. Casey’s father, then Pennsylvania’s governor, was blocked from speaking at the 1992 convention because of his anti-abortion views.

Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed for this article, appears more intrigued by how to acquire power to push through changes than by adherence to ideology. [This is due to his holding to Alinsky’s dictum that it is POWER regardless of the means of obtaining it that is governing Obama’s tactics here.] Lost causes hold little allure.

In economics, he endorses a redistributionist liberalism but is skeptical of too much government tinkering. His most influential advisers hail from the University of Chicago, a bastion of free-marketers and a place where he taught classes for many years.

In foreign affairs, Mr. Obama stands defined by opposition to the Iraq war and emphasis on “transnational” threats, from global warming to disease and terrorism. But he is no pacifist; in his 2002 speech opposing an invasion of Iraq he emphasized that he was only against “dumb war.”

Mr. Obama would increase military spending and has not ruled out military action against Iran.

Guiding Forces

Mr. Obama’s moral and political outlook is subtle or ambiguous enough (take your pick) that liberal and centrist advisers rarely feel cast out. This is not unusual. Presidents often tack in unexpected directions, and ideology can become unwanted ballast. [The liberals are not able to distinguish Obama’s purpose and underlying philosophy because they agree with many of its premises. You have to stand squarely on the idea of Individual Rights to see Obama’s parsing for what it is.]

But election-year pragmatism also can cloak governing ideology. Mr. Obama would be the first president elected whose worldview took shape in a post-cold war, post-Great Society period. He is fond of reminding audiences he was just 9 as the curtain fell on the 1960s; his suggestion is that he is not captive to old culture wars.

Asked about the writers who influenced him, Mr. Obama chose John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Primo Levi, Graham Greene, Toni Morrison and Doris Lessing, a morally serious grouping that spreads in many ideological directions. [What Obama is leaving unsaid are the ones that MOST influenced him.]

He draws also on the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who crafted the concept of the “just war” and argued for the morality, under certain circumstances, of nuclear armament. [Morality is a decoy for Obama. He uses your morality against you. That is the means of getting your pass for his POWER. He’s counting on you, the victim of your own morality, to be unable to answer him.]

“Obama carries in his intellectual DNA [i.e., his premises] many of the tensions between the left and the middle in American political culture,” said Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College. “He was not involved in the fights of the 1960s, and that makes him harder to define.”

Some critics voice skepticism. They see an ambitious fellow who remains intentionally undefined.

“His philosophy is ambition,” said Fred Siegel, a historian at The Cooper Union in New York. “I see him as having a rhetoric rather than a philosophy.” [True in that Obama is all about POWER. Untrue in that he nowhere stands for the individual. He always speaks from the premise of the government controlling individual lives. This clearly is a philosophy. If it weren’t so, why would he want power? If he had no power to direct individual lives, then as head of state, he would be protecting individual rights. This is definitely not of the slightest interest to Obama.]

Communal Rights

Senator, what is your view of the Supreme Court decision barring the execution of child rapists? The question was standard fare for a politician who has questioned the equity of the death penalty.

But Mr. Obama’s answer set reporters to typing furiously.

“I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes,” he said. “I think the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime.”

The communitarian strain in Mr. Obama’s thinking often surprises liberal supporters. Roughly put, communitarianism holds that individual rights must be circumscribed by the communal, with all the cross-generational, religious and patriotic obligations that implies. Sweeping change must be approached slowly; when government enforces individual responsibilities, a moral crisis looms.

Communitarians also hold that government and corporations are bound by obligations to citizens, like a clean environment, education and health care. [In other words, redistribution of individual incomes.]

Mr. Obama was exposed to such thinking while working as a community organizer in Chicago. Saul Alinsky, the organizer who inspired the group for which Mr. Obama labored, argued for working through cultural bulwarks like churches and synagogues, talking to working class people on their own terms...

Culture rather than government, he says, promotes individual success and social cohesion, and federal courts should tread carefully. [But he means individual success inside his dictates and for the purpose of his dictates.]

“He’s certainly center-left but he has a pretty conservative social message,” said Theda Sckopol, a government professor at Harvard.

This impulse informs his views of religion. A deep current in American liberalism holds that church and state are separate realms.

Mr. Obama does not swim in this river.

He would give federal contracts to faith-based groups to fight poverty. (Unlike Mr. Bush, he would require religious groups to hire nonbelievers for these programs.)

“If we scrub language of all religious content,” Mr. Obama said in 1996, “we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice.” [Why would he say this kind of thing? Somewhere he has considered this. I can’t imagine an individual rights person saying this. Further there is no distinction between the individual and the government. That is why he is saying this. In his world of power over people, this becomes a question and something to deal with.]

Raised in a secular family, he later embraced Christianity. Today a moral argot streaks his language; in Missouri recently he said Darfur reminds him “how sinful we can be.” [Who is “we?” There is no “we” in reality – only individuals who act. This is definitely the language of a collectivist.]

Alan Wolfe, a professor at Boston College, said no one should mistake Mr. Obama for a raging liberal. “During the primaries,” he said, “I used to tell people that Obama, not Hillary, was the real Clinton.”

On foreign affairs, Mr. Obama marries idealism about human rights to an insistent realism. He would not try to chase Russia out of the Group of 8 industrial nations, as his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain suggests.

“We can’t redefine Russia as evil; that’s not in our interests nor will it work,” said Susan E. Rice, a top foreign policy adviser, speaking before Russia’s military incursion into Georgia. [This is flat wrong on Obama’s part. He says this because he cannot stand the individual rights of human beings and the moral judgment that must by our nature permeate our lives. Thus he breaks it down counting on you people to give him the benefit of the doubt as they have to switch to a religious context in order to abide such a statement. This is how Obama so cleverly practices moral equivalence and the sanction of his victim – YOU, an individual human being.]

Mr. Obama gives his ambition great sweep.

“I will say this, what we saw from Europe to the Middle East was enormous hunger for American leadership,” Mr. Obama told a crowd in Virginia.

Some American foreign policy specialists are not convinced that this sounds quite so transformational. Mr. Obama consistently votes for increased spending on the military and often sounds like a familiar American type. [A person who wants power for CHANGE not aligned with our Founding Documents is not likely to undermine the military. He believes in FORCE as the means to shape society. Wars, regardless of what a power-luster may say, are always an alternative attraction - especially in an attempt to temporarily, at least, unite the country. For Obama this is going to be a growing problem should he be elected.]

“He buys into the precepts of American Exceptionalism, which portrays the 20th century as the story of American visionary leadership,” said Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University. “What strikes me is how utterly conventional it is.”

Mr. Obama will define his philosophy, the professor says, by how he practices statecraft.

“I doubt seriously he has a fully formed worldview yet,” he said. “There will be an internal fight for the mind and soul of President Obama.” [Bacevich is absolutely on the wrong track here. He is also disarmed by his lack of a place to stand, namely in the rights of individual to his life.]

Changing Views

Like a cutter holding aloft a stone, Cass Sunstein has viewed Mr. Obama’s thinking from many sides. Months ago, the senator called Mr. Sunstein at the University of Chicago, seeking his counsel on President Bush’s assertion of the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance.

Mr. Sunstein had written that such surveillance could be lawful. For 20 minutes, the men examined presidential war powers. Mr. Obama told him he was against the wiretaps and just wanted to understand his side. But months later, after wrapping up the nomination, Mr. Obama changed sides, saying that the Senate had put in place safeguards and that he would no longer abide by a vow to filibuster the bill. [Again, anything so long as POWER is gained, ala Alinsky.]

Many liberals were infuriated; several legal advisers, like the Harvard professor Laurence H. Tribe, disagreed. “He is pretty pragmatic,” Mr. Tribe said. “But that decision was perplexing to me.”

Mr. Sunstein saw a Mr. Obama who was disinclined to see opponents as constitutional marauders.

“Obama doesn’t like telling people that their deepest theoretical commitments are wrong — he is a visionary minimalist,” Mr. Sunstein said. [Obama’s method is to keep everyone unclear and unable to make choices based on rational and critical thinking grounded in reality. If he gets away with this, it will be because the majority of the populace is unable to distinguish the matter of individual rights, the only moral place to stand. This is an indictment of the philosophy governing our culture right now and how it is played out in education and the news media.]

Although, as more than one adviser to Mr. Obama noted, such a description raises that core question again:

As oil prices spiral and housing prices tumble, as Russia flexes its muscles after a long slumber and China asserts a claim and the globe heats up, will the “visionary minimalist” feel emboldened to offer grand guidance?

“He is not rooted in the way of a lot of politicians; we don’t know what his precise philosophy will be,” said Alan Brinkley, provost and professor of American history at Columbia University. “We just see these interesting shards.” [This is an indictment again of the state of philosophy in America that its intellectual guardians cannot see the forest for the trees. If they pass this it is because they pass the same kinds of issues in their everyday lives.]

2 comments:

Rob Diego said...

This kind of analysis of Obama's mind reminds me of what they must have done to Hitler before he took power. The rationalizations that attributed erudition to a small, barely educated mind are what helped German's convince themselves to support Hitler and justified the atrocities that were to come. This is the kind of analysis you get when an educated mind tries to understand an empty mind; it is what happens when a self-blinded person misinterprets the vacuous ideas of an idiot; he takes them as a new form of understanding...rather than stupidity.

All you have to do is ask a few "educated" questions and you will learn that Obama is making it up as he goes. Yesterday he was a liberal, today a pragmatist, tomorrow a king, eventually he'll get lost in his own bluster and come face to face with his own indecision. This will be the time when change (with which he cannot negotiate) really comes to the fore and millions are slaughtered. Words cannot stop a runaway train, nor can they make the sun rise and rainbows appear or the climate to cool. Words are just words.

Obama would struggle managing a McDonalds franchise.

principlex said...

Today more and more columnists are seeing Obama's anti-individual, pro-socialist/communist basic premises. Obama's message and purpose is a direct attack on your individuality and your greatness, whatever that may be. It is a direct attack on the nature of human being itself. This as profound an evil as one can devise and I don't care what the motives - and I am sure they sound oh so noble to many people's ears - that support this ideal are.

http://www.dcexaminer.com/opinion/columns/MelanieScarborough/Obama_scorns_founders_vision_of_freedom.html