Will the real Barak Obama please stand up
By John D. Turner
3 May 2008

The bloom is off the rose. Barak Obama, far from being a “new” sort of politician, you know, one we can trust, has revealed himself as just another in a long line of politicians like the ones we vote for or against every election.

You know, the ones you can tell are lying to you because you can see their lips move?

In a way it is a relief. Perhaps now EMS will have less to do at Obama rallies; hopefully there will be fewer women swooning for them to have to take care of. Maybe now we can dispense with the Christ-like posters with Obama’s likeness on them, and maybe Chris Matthews leg will stop giving him problems, and he can go back to simply reporting the news like he is paid to do.

Whereas many of the faux pas concerning Hillary have been downright comical (at least to me), I can’t think of much I have seen in the Obama campaign that I could call humorous, at least in the same way. Far from funny, much of what I see on the Obama side is downright scary; which is interesting because I started out thinking that perhaps this was a Democrat I could vote for. In the absence of a Republican candidate who represented my political views, I was at least willing to give him a shake, as opposed to Hillary. Now, if it were between the two of them, I think I would vote for Hillary. At least I would know what I was getting. I wouldn’t like it, but there would be no mystery.

The more I learn about Obama, the less I like him. Having the most liberal voting record in the Senate speaks volumes. More liberal than Ted Kennedy. More liberal than John Kerry. More liberal than Hillary Clinton. More liberal than Harry Reid. And on, and on. That takes some doing; it’s interesting to hear him try and nuance his way around it.

Of course, that’s when he actually deigns to cast a vote, affirmative or negative, in the first place. Unlike those who do not cast votes because they are absent, Obama, while a member of the Illinois state Senate, frequently failed to cast votes when he was there, voting “present” over 130 times in the 8 years he served. Were he able to do the same in the U.S. Senate, he would no doubt do the same. But he does the best he can; 96.7% of the time he votes with the majority of Democrats. Not too surprising I guess as he is a Democrat, although that seems pretty lockstep to me. However he has missed 40.2% of the votes that have come up during the current Congress.

I suppose one could make the excuse that he is running for President. Must be a nice job, being an elected official. I can just imagine what my boss would say if I missed 40.2% of my work days, and gave as an excuse that it was ok because I was simply looking for another job. I expect that my boss would quickly help me expedite my search by allowing me to spend 100% of my time doing so – without pay and without job as well!

In the interests of fairness, the same numbers for Hillary Clinton are: Votes with party – 97.2%, Missed Votes – 29.7%. John McCain: Votes with party – 88.3%, Missed Votes – 58.4%.

Obviously we are paying these folks an awful lot of money (not to mention donating them an awful lot of money) to not do their job. Kind of like farm subsidies; you know, paying farmers not to farm. Perhaps that is where they get the idea for things like farm subsidies in the first place. Of course, one could make the argument that it is good that they are not back in congress voting and stirring up trouble…

As an aside, it is also interesting to note that the “maverick”, John McCain, still votes with his party 88.3% of the time. The “votes with party” numbers serve to illustrate just how polarized the political process has become at the top; someone who votes with their party nearly 90% of the time is considered a “maverick.”

Barak talks a good talk. But there is little evidence that he actually walks the walk. At least, the walk he puts up before the voters. He claims that he is the man to bring change to America; and I believe him. I am just not sure that I am going to like the sort of change he brings.

I am not sure how much I can trust a man who sits in the pews of a church for 20 years and doesn’t seem to have a problem with his pastor spewing invective and racial hatred from the pulpit. A pastor who accuses the United States first of creating the AIDS virus, and then specifically doing so to destroy Africa and kill African Americans; a pastor who honored Louis Farrakhan, whose diatribes against Jews (Satanic blooksuckers), whites (anti-Christ blue-eyed devils), and America (there is no wicked nation in the past that approaches the evil that is practiced in America on a daily basis) are well known, with a lifetime achievement award, “lauding him as one of the giants of the African-American religious experience in the 20th and 21st centuries”, and hailing him as a “great American”. [1]

It’s little wonder that Obama’s wife has never in her adult life been proud of her country – listing to Rev Wright’s sermons for 20 years, who could expect it? So how about Barak, who, unless he has been dozing in pews all along (or has just been “present”), has been there for 20 years listening as well; how does he feel about America?

Barak says that this man is his spiritual mentor. He officiated at his and his wife’s wedding. He baptized his daughters. He obviously does not think such sermons are ones his young children should not hear. Could it be that he actually agrees with Rev Wright’s point of view?

It would help explain Barak’s unwillingness to wear an American flag lapel pin. Now as it happens, I agree with Barak on this one; wearing an American flag lapel pin does not make one a patriot. Likewise, not wearing one does not make one un-American. However when you couple it with Rev Wright’s diatribes and Michelle Obama’s lack of pride in her country, you have to start wondering if perhaps Barak has other reasons for not wearing the pin besides those he has put forth in public. Does anyone in Rev Wright’s congregation wear an American flag lapel pin? Given his sermons, why would anyone want to?

One has to admire Rev Wright’s ability to take a church, which when he first became pastor had only 87 members, and grow it in 36 years to a membership of over 10,000; the second largest church in the mostly white United Church of Christ. That is an outstanding achievement. Obviously Rev Wright, and his message are very popular among many blacks in Chicago. And what are some of the messages he preaches?

Rev Wright says blacks should not sing “God Bless America”, but rather, “God Damn America”. Rev Wright says that the U.S. government is racist, that it created the AIDS virus specifically to kill Blacks, and that it is flooding black neighborhoods with drugs. Rev Wright says that the United States of America is really the “U.S. of KKK-A”.

It is hard to see how this sort of rhetoric can possibly bridge the racial gap that still exists between some whites and blacks. It is how to see how this sort of rhetoric brings whites and blacks together in harmony. It is hard to see how a man who claims to be that bridge could sit in a congregation for 20 years by choice, listening to such rantings (even given that this was not Rev Wrights standard weekly fare), and subjecting his family to the same. It would be like a man attending KKK meetings for 20 years, then claiming that “yes, I was there, but I don’t really agree with all that stuff.”

It’s sort of like having a subscription to Playboy, and claiming that you only buy the magazine for the literary articles.

Rev Wright says that Obama “says what he has to say as a politician.” What am I supposed to take away from that? That Obama, like most politicians, will lie to you in order to get your vote? But Obama is supposed to be a “new” kind of politician. If he is in fact, just cooing in my ear and telling me what I want to hear, how do I separate fact from fiction? Where is the “real” Barak Obama? Is the real Barak a disciple of Rev Wright?

If so, what will President Obama’s political agenda look like? What domestic policy will he pursue? How will that outlook color his relationships with our European allies? With our enemies abroad? With Africa? What philosophies would a President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees espouse? What is Obama’s stand on reparations? Rev Wright sounds like he is more into retribution. Would that be President Obama’s stance as well?

Who knows? After first stating that he could no more repudiate Wright than he could repudiate the Black community, now Obama states that he “tried to give Wright the benefit of the doubt”, but that Wright is no longer “the man I met 20 years ago.” Now he says that he finds Wright’s comments “appalling”. This after Wright condensed his 20 years of rants at the pulpit into a single interview at the National Press Club, making his position on the controversial issues crystal clear to the American public and forcing Obama to take note of what he claims he missed during all the time he has been attending Wright’s church.

If 20 years represents Obama’s OODA loop, can we afford a chief executive in today’s fast-paced world who responds to events more in terms of a geologic time scale? Or is Obama, in Wright’s terms, just “doing what politicians do” by finally throwing him under the bus?

Then again, perhaps Obama truly is disgusted with Wright’s ranting. Perhaps it has been Obama’s membership in Wright’s church itself that constitutes “doing what politicians do.” Perhaps that itself was the window dressing; being seen by his constituents, “fitting in” to the community to garner the votes necessary to get him elected first to the State Senate, then to the Senate of the United States, and finally to the highest office in the land. And perhaps that is where the problem lies. Obama may have been unsure until now, exactly who he needs to pander to. While Rev Wright’s church may have been the ideal venue to appear as “just folks” for a local campaign among a mostly black constituency in south Chicago, it is unlikely that Wright’s black liberation theology will appeal as much to mainstream America, particularly white America.

And (hopefully), mainstream black America as well.

So now Obama has two problems. If Wright’s church really does reflect his views, what does that mean for the country if he is elected President? If they do not, and his membership in that church was simply to further his local political ambitions, then what indeed are his true beliefs? This brings up that nagging question again of how much attending a Muslim school in his early youth really did influence Obama the man. Is he really a Muslim “sleeper”? Is he the Manchurian candidate? Can we, a nation at war, afford to find out after we elect him that he may indeed be sympathetic to those we are fighting?

This is the problem with doing what politicians do. It makes it hard for us, the electorate, to find out where they really stand. The scriptures say “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Indeed, it is only by their deeds that we can truly judge, for they can (and do) say anything in order to get elected.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Obama, those deeds are few and far between. And those which are coming to light are either negative, or leave us with more questions than they do answers.