Why Barack Won't be President -- Hopefully
by Jonathan Rosenblum
May 14, 2008
Rev. Jeremiah Wright did Barack Obama a great favor with his over-the-top performance at the National Press Club: He provided Obama with a second chance to condemn and disassociate himself from a man whom he had said just a month earlier he could no more disown than he could disown his own grandmother. As a result, Obama has all but clinched the Democratic presidential nomination..
No one should underestimate the junior senator from Illinois or the savvy political team he has assembled. That team, in its first national campaign, ran rings around Hillary Clinton's. But Obama is unlikely to be the next president of America. Not because he is black – his tacit offer to white voters of absolution from the sin of slavery is his greatest political asset – but because his values are not those of most Americans.
In the battle for the Democratic nomination. Obama invariably won university towns and state capitals – i.e., the redoubts of the talking classes; Clinton dominated those counties where the majority of voters are what political analyst Michael Barone describes as Jacksonian democrats.
Barone's Jacksonian democrats are typically of Scotch-Irish stock (though many white Catholic males of later immigrant groups fit the profile.) Primary among the core values of the Jacksonian democrats is the belief in liberty, including, crucially, the willingness to fight to preserve that liberty. They are fiercely independent. "Live free or die" might serve as their motto.
Freedom of speech and the right to bear arms rank high on the list of personal liberties that they value. In international affairs, their independence translates into dedication to the preservation of American sovereignty and support for a strong American military.
The Jacksonian values are quintessentially American. The promotion of liberty has played a far more prominent role in American foreign policy than that of any other nation. Americans are far more ready to join the battle against Islamic jihad than Europeans. They are far less inclined to submit to the authority of multi-national organizations, particularly ones dominated by totalitarian regimes, and quick to resist treaty obligations that threaten their sovereignty.
Free speech is better protected in the United States today than in Europe or Canada, where various human rights councils have stifled free political speech in the name of "cultural sensitivity." Only on American university campuses do speech codes threaten freedom of speech.
THE CORE JACKSONIAN VALUES explain in part why the United States is the only country in the world in which Israel enjoys overwhelming popular support. Americans view Israelis as doughty defenders of their freedom, relying on no one but themselves against a host of enemies.
American religiosity – another crucial component of American uniqueness – also helps explain the widespread support for Israel, which for millions of evangelical Christians is the fulfillment of the Biblical promise to Abraham. Religiosity in America tends to reinforce core Jacksonian combativeness. The more one believes that morality is not just a lifestyle choice, the more inclined will one be to fight to protect one's moral values.
Not only in the minds of their enemies, then, are the United States and Israel invariably linked.
BARACK OBAMA is out of tune with America's most cherished values. He consorts easily with many who display a visceral hatred of America. Former Weatherman William Ayers, who laments that his terrorist bombs killed too few "pigs," and who served with Obama on a foundation board and hosted an Obama fundraiser, is one. Even more telling as to Obama's own sentiments is his wife's admission that until her husband's meteoric rise she had never had occasion to feel proud of America.
Obama's world view (which might be termed irrational rationalism) is that of European elites and Ivy League campuses. Its central premise is that virtually all conflicts can be solved by more talk. Thus his signature foreign policy promise has been that he will immediately engage in unconditional talks with Iran, North Korea, and Syria, as if the only problem with these folks until now has been that we weren't sufficiently nice.
In the "rationalists" view, all men basically seek the same things – a bit more power, improved material circumstances – and competition over these goods is amenable to bargaining and re-slicing the pie. Negotiations, signed agreements, peace processes are the means to that redivision of the pie.
Acknowledging only the desires they find in their own hearts, the "rationalists" cannot take seriously the attraction of religious fanaticism, and always see it as a cover for the real issues, like poverty. Their failure to deal with religious fanaticism on its own terms prevents the "rationalists" from believing that Iran is serious about being the vanguard of a renewed caliphate..
"Rationalists" take little account of those things that are not easily measured. For that reason, they consistently underestimate the impact of national will on the fate of nations. That failure is most evident in Barack's call for speedy withdrawal from Iraq without considering the boost that such a withdrawal would provide to the Islamists' belief in their own eventual triumph.
If talk works so well, then military power is just a waste of money. That has long been the European view. Europeans are content to let American weapons and troops defend them. And it is Obama's as well. He promises to cut tens of billions of dollars from the United States defense budget. .
Obama's sole acknowledgment that American might ever need to employ military force was his threat to send U.S. bombers against tribal regions of Pakistan after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. That, of course, was nothing more than flexing for the cameras not a serious policy proposal.
The bankruptcy of the rationalist approach was on full display in Beirut last week, as Hizbullah demonstrated its dominance of Lebanon. Iran is conducting the most aggressive foreign policy since the former Soviet Union – heavily rearming Hizbullah in Lebanon, doing everything possible to sow chaos in Iraq, building up Hamas' capacities in Gaza and the West Bank. And meanwhile Secretary of State Rice is concentrating her energies on the doomed quest for a fantasy peace agreement between Israel and Fatah and busy counting the number of checkpoints Israel has removed.
Neither America nor the world can afford four more years of such State Department fecklessness. And every indication is that Barack Obama would be worse.
This article appeared in Jerusalem Post May 14, 2008
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