Barack Obama: International Man Of Mystery

Well, it took some serious digging, but folks have finally found a single article apparently written by Barack Obama while he was editor of the Law Review at Harvard. oddly enough, it’s tangentially related to abortion — it’s about whether or not a fetus has legal standing to sue its mother. (Unfortunately, this was written in 1990, before John Edwards could have told us what the fetus was thinking and feeling.) Obama sides with the consensus of court decisions, and says “no.”

This, however, highlights the incredibly skimpy paper trail Obama has left behind in his life.

Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, and only apparently wrote one unsigned article.

He spent years as a professor of Constitutional Law at a law school, and authored not one scholarly paper.

His record as an Illinois legislator is largely unknown, and his office records from that era have disappeared.

His billing records and whatnot from his days as a practicing attorney have vanished. (Has someone checked Hillary Clinton’s living room?)

He was barely into his first term as a United States Senator when he started his run for the presidency, and has no real accomplishments there to talk about.

He spent seven years on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, four as chairman, and those records are only now coming to light.

On those last records, I don’t expect any real surprises there. They have had two good opportunities to clean them up and purge anything embarrassing.– first, when the Challenge shut down; and second, when people started looking for them — and I doubt anything really juicy will survive.

The question remains: what sort of person is Obama? What sorts of things has he done in the past, what stances has he taken, what does he hold important?

I am reminded of the nomination of David Souter to the United States Supreme Court. (I hold special memories of that — Souter being a fellow New Hampshirite. And no, I’m not especially proud of that fact.) One of Souter’s strengths for confirmation was a lack of a “paper trail” of rulings and decisions and statements that outlined his judicial philosophy. That, in contrast to Robert Bork, for example, gave his potential detractors nothing to go on when opposing him.

And look how well that turned out. Souter turrned out to be a great disappointment on the bench.

Obama, it seems to me, has carefully crafted himself to be the ideal presidential candidate. He is a “Rorshach blot” candidate, allowing voters to project on to him whatever they choose to see. He’s kept himself as much of a blank slate as he can, a “tabula rasa,” avoiding anything that can polarize voters.

That concerns me. That concerns me mightily.

In an earlier piece, I dismissed the arguments about vice-presidential nominees where their ability to “help the ticket,” to shore up constituencies needed to win elections. Some see it as a necessary evil, but I am enough of an idealist that I want the first criteria of a vice president to be “this person is best qualified to serve as president should anything happen to the president.” That has happened 8 times in our history, and gave us Presidents John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford.

Likewise, I don’t like choosing a president on their “electability,” their ability to win the presidency. I want to look beyond November, to January 20, and see how that candidate will govern.

With Obama, I simply don’t see anything. I hear his words, but they have no deeds to back them up. I don’t see what ideals and principles and ideas he considers worth fighting over. I don’t see where he draws lines in the sand. I don’t see what principles guide him and shape his decision-making process.

I do see the sorts of people he cites as influences, and those he chooses to associate with, though, and those trouble me. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers — three people whom I find utterly detestable and loathsome (two of which I think should be locked up), and three people who Obama chose to hitch his star to.

Somewhere, at his core, I’m sure Obama has his rock-solid principles. He has his ethics, his beliefs, his issues where he simply will not compromise, his convictions that he holds most dear.

But he’s spent literally decades keeping them out of sight, no one has any way of telling what they are.

And that is something we ought not gamble on.

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