Tag Archives: obamisms

At least there was no sniper fire!

Barack Obama is a typical politician, though he brings to mind nothing more than “Bush III” with his “Obamisms.”

The Obama Gaffe Machine – WSJ.com
Take the Auschwitz flub, where Mr. Obama erroneously claimed last weekend in New Mexico that his uncle helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp. Reporters noted Mr. Obama’s revised claim, that it was his great uncle who helped liberate Buchenwald. They largely downplayed the error. Yet in another, earlier gaffe back in 2002, Mr. Obama claimed his grandfather knew U.S. troops who liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka – even though only Russian troops entered those concentration camps.

That hardly disqualifies Mr. Obama from being president. But you can bet that if Hillary Clinton had done the same thing it would have been the focus of much more attention, especially after her Bosnia sniper-fire fib. That’s because gaffes are often blown up or downplayed based on whether or not they further a story line the media has attached to a politician.

When John McCain claimed, while on a trip to Iraq in March, that Sunni (as opposed to Shiite) militants in Iraq are being supported by Iran, coverage of the alleged blunder tracked Democratic attacks on his age and stamina. (In fact, Iran may well be supplying both Sunni and Shiite militants.) Dan Quayle, tagged with a reputation as a dumb blond male, never lived down his misspelling of “potatoe.”

Mr. Obama, a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, has largely been given a pass for his gaffes. Many are trivial, such as his suggestion this month that America has 57 states, and his bizarre statement in a Memorial Day speech in New Mexico that America’s “fallen heroes” were present and listening to him in the audience.

Some gaffes involve mangling his family history. Last year in Selma, Ala., for example, he said that his birth was inspired by events there which took place four years after he was born. While this gaffe can be chalked up to fatigue or cloudy memory, others are more substantive – such as his denial last April that it was his handwriting on a questionnaire in which, as a state senate candidate, he favored a ban on handguns. His campaign now contends that, even if it was his handwriting, this doesn’t prove he read the full questionnaire.

Mr. Obama told a Portland, Ore., crowd this month that Iran doesn’t “pose a serious threat to us,” saying that “tiny countries” with small defense budgets aren’t much to worry about. But Iran has almost one-fourth the population of the U.S. and is well on its way to developing nuclear weapons. The next day Mr. Obama had to reverse himself and declare he had “made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave.”

Last week in Orlando, Fla., he said he would meet with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez to discuss, among other issues, Chávez’s support of the Marxist FARC guerrillas in Colombia. The next day, in Miami, he insisted any country supporting the FARC should suffer “regional isolation.” Obama advisers were left explaining how this circle could be squared.

In a debate last July, Mr. Obama pledged to meet, without precondition, the leaders of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba. He called President Bush’s refusal to meet with them “ridiculous” and a “disgrace.”

Heavily criticized, Mr. Obama dug in rather than backtrack. He’s claimed, in defense of his position, that John F. Kennedy’s 1961 summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna was a crucial meeting that led to the end of the Cold War.

Not quite. Kennedy himself admitted he was unprepared for Khrushchev’s bullying. “He beat the hell out of me,” Kennedy confided to advisers. The Soviet leader reported to his Politburo that the American president was weak. Two months later, the Berlin Wall was erected and stood for 28 years.

I make a fair bit of typos, and don’t always speak eloquently. It’s refreshing to think that if Obama does win, we won’t be in any danger of having a President any smarter or more careful than, say, this blogger.

If BHO as Bush III works out as well as GHWB as Bush II, an Obama administration would be great for the country.

Bush’s Third Term

We now here from Barack Obama that wars will be against symmetric enemies whose success or failure will depend on their military budget, and it is impossible to get an American steak in Japan.

In a way, these Obamisms make me happy. It may be better to have a wise leader over a foolish one, but I’ll take an incompetent idiot over a resourceful one any day.

Not that Barack H. Obama (or the man he resembles most in style, George W. Bush) is an idiot. Both BHO and GWB survived the dangerous world of American politics with a combination of short political careers (lest time for career ending blundres), unearned benefits (the affirmative action hire, the legacy pick). Both also enjoyed a political base more interested in ousting the other party than in presenting a coherent set of policy initiatives.

While there certainly was a time when the “best and brightest” went into politics (Richard M. Nixon and George H.W. Bush being prime examples), that day seems to be past. Politics is a poorly paid ghetto of the professional world, while global business increasingly lures those who want to change the world… and make money doing so. We are then left with the question: how should be choose politicians, if we know they are sub-par?

Clearly, we want to minimize the harm they can cause. If our leaders are going to be more foolish than in the past, we can at least guarantee they are odius and gaffe-prone enough to make it politically costly to engage in any new or original policy. Senator Obama fits this description closely, and without the political courage of his opponent, comes with the additional benefit of not being able to take a punch.

Is is that question of political courage which is the main stylstic difference between an Obama presidency and merely giving Bush a third term. As seen in the Iraq War, Bush would rather see his program through victory than enjoy broader political support. Obama’s done nothing to imply that degree of political bravery. Considering what we have seen of Senator Obama so far, that is a good thing.

Update: I had just finished this post when I read that Barack Obama voted for the farm bill. As G.M. Groff writes, “The farm bill is absolutely absurd and economically hurtful. I’m glad McCain voted against it, and disappointed that Obama voted for it.”