The more I hear about Barack Obama and his slogan of “Change you can believe in,” the more I realize that it’s being used by the wrong candidate.
John McCain’s most defining feature has to be his “maverick” label. He has a decades-long history of turning away from his party, of reaching across the aisle, of — in general — pissing off the Republican base to achieve his goals and maintain his principles. I happen to think that that is often a mistake, as he picks the damnedest wrong-headed positions to defy his party, but it’s hard to call him a “typical Republican” or “Bush III” or “party hack.”
Barack Obama, though… he really doesn’t bring much “change” to the party.
One of the more disgusting scandals of the Bill Clinton administration (and there were a lot to choose from) was the last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. It was one of the last acts of President Clinton before he left office, and not only did the pardoning process completely bypass the standard processes, but — by an astonishing coincidence — corresponded with Rich’s ex-wife making some very, very hefty donations to Clinton’s presidential library. (It also corresponded with several visits to the White House by the quite attractive — and zaftig — ex-wife in question.)
Well, one of the key figures in getting Rich his pardon was Eric Holder, who was the #2 man in the Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno. It was Holder who directed that the normal pardon process (including consulting with — or, at least, notifying the officials who were directly involved with the case against the pardon-seeker, or that the subject of the pardon make the request themselves, or that the proposed pardon not mess up any current cases) be bypassed and Rich get his pardon.
Rich, of course, went on to take his second chance to get heavily involved in the United Nations’ “Oil For Food” program for Iraq, which Saddam Hussein used to funnel literally billions of dollars into bribes all around the world to get the sanctions against his regime lifted — a goal that was most likely barely foiled by President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.
I wonder if Mr. Holder lists his involvement in the Rich affair (pun partly intended) on his resume?
Well, Mr. Holder is now one of the troika that is advising Barack Obama on who should be his vice-presidential candidate. Alongside a fellow named Jim Johnson. Mr. Johnson is a bit more qualified to do this, as he helped pick two other Democratic vice-presidential nominees — Geraldine Ferrraro and John Edwards. Maybe they think the third time is the charm or something.
Several of Obama’s top foreign policy advisors is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as National Security Advisor for Jimmy Carter — where he helped shape the foreign policy that we’re still paying the price for, in many ways, today.
Obama is the junior senator from Illinois, and he worked his way up through the Chicago political machine. Now, I won’t say that Chicago’s Democratic apparatus is the most corrupt in the nation (I strongly suspect Louisiana could give them a run for their money), but it’s legendary for its corruption. And Obama was part and parcel of all that.
Obama worked closely with convicted political moneyman and fixer Tony Rezko, but insists he never saw any signs of the man’s corruption.
And the Chicago apparatus has done yeoman’s work in helping Obama. In his first race for the state legislature, an astonishing thing happened: every single one of Obama’s rivals for the Democratic nomination was disqualified after enough of their signatures on petitions discarded until Obama was the only one left.
Later, when Obama was running for the
state US Senate nomination, he was running against a guy named Blair Hull. Obama was way behind until his staffers put enough pressure on reporters to dig into Hull’s sealed divorce records. They eventually got them opened and found a never-proven allegation of domestic violence by Hull against his then-wife, and that was it. Hull was history, Obama was the Democrats’ nominee. (corrected — thanks, david)
Then, when he was running for the US Senate, he was running against a Republican named Jack Ryan (no connection to Tom Clancy’s superhero). Ryan was also divorced (from actress Jeri Ryan), and once again the press went digging and unsealed Ryan’s divorce and child-custody records. There was nothing as repulsive as violence, but there were some deliciously lurid allegations of a sexual nature that came to light — and Ryan quit the race, leaving Obama virtually unchallenged in the race.
“The new politics of hope and change?” Sounds pretty damned old-school to me.
Another bit of old-school politics are the radical bomb-throwers of the 60’s. One of the most prominent of those groups were the Weather Underground. Two absolutely unrepentant veterans of that group are Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, are among Obama’s staunchest supporters and long-time friends and allies.
Well, that’s the past. What about the future?
Seems to me like most of Obama’s policies are reruns of Carter-era policies — and the most disastrous ones. Make nice with the nutjobs that run Iran. Punish the oil companies to bring down the price of energy, in the lines of the ever-popular “the beatings will continue until morale improves” signs. Tax the rich and deprive them of their incentives to better themselves and add to the growing economy. And all done with an air of idealism that trends towards sanctimoniousness.
I first started becoming politically aware during the Carter administration. I have some pretty vivid memories of that time. And I really, really, really don’t want to go through those again — mainly because now I’m old enough to have to face it directly, and not through the buffers of parents and elementary school.
I find myself wondering how things would be different if Barack Obama was Barry O’Brien, a charming, gifted public speaker (but not off the cuff) who came up through the Chicago political machine and had no real track record. Would Senator O’Brien have been taken seriously as a presidential contender, let alone the nominee?
I dunno. We’ll never know. But I think it’s an interesting question.