Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama: Charismatic Demagogue, Enigma

This piece by Mark Levin on National Review's The Corner blog is a must-read. I'll probably refer back to it during the course of this next week, but for now I want to get it out here. Excerpt:
There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff. [...]

But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The "change" he peddles is not new. We've seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama's appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the "the proletariat," as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich." The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The "hope" Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.
Do read the whole thing; Levin is identifying something important, here, something which has caused me to worry about an Obama presidency in a way I never really worried about Clinton (though I found his policies deplorable and his person despicable, to say the least).

Bill Clinton was, and seemingly still is, a deeply flawed person whose social liberalism and big-government politics were frequently upsetting to conservatives like me. But I don't recall schoolchildren chanting for Clinton; the media was sympathetic to him but no where near as brazenly partisan in his favor as they are in regards to Obama; and when all was said and done we may not have liked Clinton at all, but we did know who he was and what he stood for (even if some of us would sum those things up as "small-time crooked politician who hit the White House jackpot and carried on like a younger, slightly slimmer Boss Hogg the whole time he was there).

We are one week away from the election, and we still don't know:
-why Obama held dual citizenship (U.S. and Kenyan) until his 21st birthday,
-whether he ever actually practiced the Muslim religion, even as a child (which most of us wouldn't consider a disqualifier, but shouldn't we know?),
-why none of his student records including his senior thesis have ever been released,
-why the only samples of his writing extant before his polished, highly literate first autobiography was published are some extremely bad poems,
-what his involvement with Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers and his wife, Rev. Wright, and other mentors or important figures in his life actually means,
-why he has continually lied about the import of his BAIPA vote, even when records demonstrating the truth have been made public,
-why he so often voted "present" instead of taking a stand on the legislative matters before him,
-what exactly he means by "change," and just how much taxes are going to go up for people whose incomes are between $50,000 and $250,000--because if you believe he intends to keep his promise about lowering taxes...well, that's another topic.

And these are just for starters. And we have a little over a week to go.

I'd appreciate a little feedback from readers who are so inclined: can you think of a single presidential candidate in your lifetime about whom so little was known just a week or so before the election? Because I can remember a few elections, now, and I can't think of anyone who revealed so little about himself but created such an aura of inevitability about his candidacy.

Like Mark Levin says, it's really rather frightening, when you come to think about it.


Anonymous said...

I was doing some volunteer work at my local Republican headquarters today--something I have never done in any other election because I never felt so passionately before. As I was leaving, I mentioned to my coworkers that there were previous candidates that I did not want to see elected, but I never feared them the way I do Obama. Your mention of Clinton is a perfect example. I did not agree with his policies, particularly on abortion, but, within his own party, he was fairly centrist. His aim clearly was not to remake society. But Obama is something completely different. There has never been anyone else like him. He is, as you say, a total enigma. And yet, with his extreme voting record and alliances with dubious figures, we actually do know a lot about him. At least those of us who are interested take the time to know. Others are just hypnotized and acting like sheep. My fellow volunteers today said that, sometimes when they are registering voters on the street, passersby will give them the Nazi salute. How ironic when one considers the fascist tendencies within the Obama camp--the near deification of their leader. I hope this can be turned around in 10 days. I really believe our future is in the balance. Thanks, Red, for saying what many of us are thinking but fear to say to others.

Anonymous said...

Are we scared? Are we concerned? Absolutely. How about this, I never imagained I would have a conversation with someone about owning a gun, if it is registered or not (b/c if things go like they are going ours registered will be taken away) how to buy bullets, etc. There have never been a time I can remember having conversations like that. NEVER. Oh sure, we didn't like Clinton either, but we weren't scared.

Wendy in VA said...

If Obama has nothing to hide, then why the bizarro secrecy about his past? Maybe he's heard the old saying, "Show me your friends, and I'll tell you what you are."

Everything I've read about his plans -- such as his "Zero to Five Plan" to move states toward "voluntary, universal preschool" and emphasizing "infant education" -- screams socialism to me. And his attitude toward the unborn is pure evil.

I also find it odd that someone who has been heralded as such an "accomplished" writer has nothing else in print or available for public consumption. He was president of the Harvard Law Review -- shouldn't he have some papers out there somewhere?

If he were short and had a high-pitched, nasal voice, would people still be falling all over themselves?

I believe that if Obama wins, there will be big changes in our country, and none of them will be for the good. Our family is starting the Rosary Novena tomorrow, and I will be fasting through election day.

Anonymous said...

Mr. M. Levin, publishes his stridently vociferous views in national media for all to read, however in this particular article he makes points in a very similar fashion to Mr. B. Rudnick, who as a political consultant was let go after sending out e-mails to Jewish voters last Thursday that likens a vote for Mr. Obama to events that leading to the Holocaust. (AP). Fear tactics are very effective in a world of the unknown when we cannot predict Pearl Harbor and 9/11, nor plan effectively for Black Friday and economic disasters. Fear tactics are very effective when we live in an insular society. What if it were true that Mr. McCain would prefer that the country keep its head in the sand when it comes to open communication with world leaders, and limit knowledge to usury of the third world?

The major direction of the election was toward a change in attitude and 'gimme, gimme, me first', from the fantastic displays of bawdiness, Tailhook, and graft brought about electing public servants whose interest in power was purchased by undue influence from political corruption and cronyism. Not only was a private persona repugnant, many countries considered Mr. Clinton's policies not befitting world image of the U.S. If only the privileged can become our political leaders, then this is class warfare.

When mentioning socialism as a form of government, doesn't our Constitution limit that? What has been done already with propping up the banking industry. If socialism was required to limit the 'hit' that governmental improvidence passed onto the middle-income taxpayers, then that is that.

Volunteering in election offices, I spoke often to those of non-voting age. I doubt that their 'chanting' is similar to Jesus' Palm Sunday ride through Jerusalem. What do kids know?

As for the things that Mr. Levin doesn't know. Perhaps he doesn't know about citizen arrangements for a child born in the U.S. of one parent that does not have American citizenship, allow the child to be considered a citizen of the other country, or in some cases—probably between Israel, Canada, UK, etc., may be allowed dual-citizenship. So, a legal matter. A child that probably traveled between Indonesia, and other countries would have immigrant bookkeeping matters, that might require up-dating when coming of age.

Bespeaking, in more civilized manner, possibly, of Mr. Levin's Jewish heritage, or any Jewish heritage for that matter, cultural ethnicity is often tied closely with a defined religious preference. I don't know Mr. Levin's heritage, but looking at his name, based on my wide experience in our American culture, I can would deduce that someone in his ancestry was Jewish, and therefore then, I can understand that he might share a cultural identity with what could be defined as membership in modern Jewish community, which, because of their millenia of wanderings is not localized to any particular place in the world, except what was taken from the Palestinians in the Zionist movement in Israel. With Mr. Levin's particular heritage, then one can well imagine why he thinks a Muslim childhood is of significance, especially, if in his definition, Islamism is to be 'feared' in the U.S. or in his fear-mongering stage, to be 'questioned'.

I have gone to school many years, and can draw a very high salary in the health industry, however I am dependent on my employer for health insurance for myself and family. Because of pre-existing medical conditions, I have already been denied health insurance from private companies. Excellent health habits for family members limit their health costs to preventive/maintenance check-ups in the main, but I think costs for our long-term chronic illnesses prevention costs are unreasonable, because my health insurance doesn't cover necessary healthcare providers, and I must pay cash for their dental and vision check-ups. I have a retired friend that was told by her husband's physician two years ago that he needed a neurology consultation for a diagnosis, and treatment for Alzheimer's disease, but because the neurologist did not accept Medicare assignment, she had to choose that appointment not be made and that he couldn't receive the medication.

I must I have several written opinions that I submitted to professors for grades in classes, but the measure of my performance in my chosen profession is not in written publications. I doubt if anything I have written outside of personal letters that I've sent to mother and sisters (which I certainly do not have) survives. I do have college transcripts, but unlike Mr. McCain's issue where he announces that he graduated in the bottom of his class and B.S. programs such as in English, journalism or political science, once enrolled in a professional program (and, I imagine is the same situation in law, engineering, nursing, dentistry, medicine—for which there is tremendous competition to even enter requiring prior evidence of high grade-point averages, and SAT scores, etc. as to constitute evidence of academic success), a student is required to pass the core classes, and the licensing examination. Mr. Obama is a lawyer. He gained entrance to college on his merits, graduated law and passed his Boards. Why is there need to look at his college transcripts?

Of significant tangential interest to those of us of Catholic faith is the peculiar idea that one presidential candidate will have greater influence on the definition of life—an issue that deserves national debate, reflection, 40 day marches, and the luxury albeit completely affordable of providing adequate information to the public. Photographs of humanly recognizable fetuses greater than four weeks are certainly graphic renditions of pre-babies, as well as the telemetry strip from a young accident victim's whose vital organs are being prepared for harvest.

From my point of view, there is are wrongs in our society that cannot be fixed with ideas in line with the present political situation, from inadequate insurance provision for workers and their dependents, middle-managers to lure companies to subscribe to their insurance companies, to Johnny-come-lately points of view regarding sacred stewardship of our resources, our leadership position in the world, and such ideas as selling contracts for State highway maintenance to Dubai to failure of downtown Minnesota bridges, and losing face in the Space Race.

As for BAIPA, I'm sure everyone is aware that Neo-con is a very popular form of birth control. What is BAIPA, and what does it codify?

Mr. Levin does have a lot of opinions to be sure, but just exactly what has he done for himself in analyzing how the published policies of the two candidates will affect him and his friends, as well as the guy standing behind him in line to pay his gas bill, see the broker at the bank, pay for prescriptions at the pharmacy, or for groceries at the supermarket?

Rebecca said...

I have been thinking recently of something Tocqueville said, less than 200 years ago--he said that Americans love freedom, but they love peace and security a little more than they love freedom. He said that our weakness, as Americans, would be into selling our freedom to a demagogue and becoming sheep for the sake of a perceived safety and comfort level. This excerpt from Levin really echoes that to me. I am frightened of Obama, but I am even more frightened that so many Americans can fall for him so easily and thoughtlessly.