I know that the economic times are rough. Unemployment is up and GDP growth is slowing, or possibly reversing. The housing market burst, with government-encouraged bad loans and even worse mortgage backed securities fouling the waters, creating a horrendous market for other business loans. I know that debate over the Iraq war has been belligerent, contentious, and that the war itself has been handled poorly at times. A Republican, George W. Bush, has been in the White House during these seven and a half years, and the buck stops at the top. The Democrats were handed control of Congress two years ago by a disgruntled populace, and if you think that was a start it hasn't been enough. Many think it's just time for a Democrat in the White House. And I understand that sentiment.
But not this Democrat.
Sen. Barack Obama has run a very strong campaign, knocking off first the presumptive nominee when the campaign started, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and now standing on the doorstep of a general election win over war hero and Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. Mr. Obama delivers an elegant speech, professing a politics of "hope" and "change." While both are nebulous concepts at best they do resonate. "Hope" and "change" make him look and sound forward-looking and optimistic. But campaigns do not make the candidate. Rather, the candidate is what he is, and all of the pomp and window dressing and platitudes and Greek columns in the world can't change that.
If that is indeed the case, then what is Sen. Obama? He's only been in the public eye since 2004, when he stepped onto the stage at the Democratic Convention wowing the audience with his speech on his way to the Senate. The media hasn't helped us to know more, failing to scrutinize adequately his many questionable past associations and pronouncements, glossing over some, excusing some, ignoring some. A domestic terrorist and he "crossed paths." A likely inflammatory and damaging videotape remains behind a newspaper's firewall. Chicago politics remain a cipher. College years remain unexplored. The Obama campaign has been allowed to make their spin the final word on each question. We can't know what hasn't been written, so let's look at what we do know.
We know that Mr. Obama has had quite a few associations with Marxists. Yes, I used the word. He has espoused redistributionist economics, in his tax plan where income tax credits can go to those who pay no income taxes, in his discussion of the civil rights movement in 2001 in the now famous tape, and in his off the cuff explanation to Joe The Plumber. It is hard to argue that his economic philosophy is not more socialist than free-market, and even harder to argue that that philosophy will lead to rising incomes, rising GDP, and more jobs. Having seen stagflation before, I don't want to see it again. His energy policy is blind to the need for additional drilling and nuclear power, the latter of which is quite 'green', certainly green enough for France.
We know that he participated as the head of William Ayers' Chicago Annenberg Challenge by distributing large amounts of money to organizations experimenting with leftist indoctrination in the schools. In fact, both Barack Obama and his wife have a yen for community organizing, of a sort, where fine young radicals can be nurtured and encouraged. We know that he spent 20 years in the Trinity Church of Jeremiah Wright and it seems the only reason he left was that the association was hurting him politically. But, talking about Rev. Wright doesn't help Michelle Obama's kids.
We know that, absent a speech in front of 200,000 swooning Germans and some discussions with Iraqi authorities - which may or may not have violated the Logan Act - his foreign policy experience is trace. He was spectacularly wrong in calling for immediate withdrawals of troops from Iraq, which would have had them out by March '08, and the successful surge would never have occurred. He has made misstatements on Israel publicly, which he's backed away from, at times amusingly. He's said he would meet with dictators of rogue nations without preconditions, which he's backed away from. He equivocated at the time of the Russian move on Georgia, three days later coming to the position Mr. McCain took from the start. He famously was against NAFTA before he was for it.
We know that his campaign has been anything but straight on fundraising, associations with ACORN and it's infamous voter registrations, and even some of his staff have registered and voted in Ohio illegally. You see, you have to actively disable the credit card address verification system (AVS) in order for fake names and addresses to be accepted with internet credit card donations. There were solid accusations of caucus intimidation and other irregularities during the primaries, and Hillary Clinton has a right to be incensed.
Like Mr. McCain or not, agree with him or not, you do know where he stands and what he stands for. The media has been in a rush to color him and Gov. Sarah Palin in all manner of unflattering attire, particularly the latter. but McCain and Palin have persisted and are closing gaps in states that matter. While I don't agree with Mr. McCain on his every position, his experience and earnest center-right conservatism are right for a country in a time of war and economic disarray. Ronald Reagan cut taxes against the liberal wisdom of the time, and while that and the defense buildup (and baseline budgeting) led to deficits it also led economic growth and prosperity, a sharp fall in unemployment, and a fallen Berlin Wall. As we saw with Mr. Bush (43), economic growth led, until this recent economic slide, to steadily declining deficits.
Mr. McCain is known, and is solid. What we know of Mr. Obama, other than his hopeful changiness, is problematic. All in all this is not a package worthy of the presidency. Too inexperienced. Too liberal. Too willing to cut election corners. Too soft on foreign policy in a dangerous world. It may be time for a Democrat to reside in the White House. But not this Democrat.
We therefore strongly endorse John McCain for President. Now get out there and vote.
11/2/08 1300: Jay Tea adds Mr. Obama's Curriculum Vitae.