Obama: The Diffidence of a Doctrinaire Liberal

For someone who by his book title claims the mantle of "audacity," Barack Obama is a mighty timid guy. Will the MSM look beyond his rhetoric of inclusion and consider his actual positions? If so, they'll find that nowhere has he had the courage to break from the most doctrinaire, predictable brand of liberalism.

For my sins, I went through the text of his announcement speech of yesterday, ignoring the high-flown appeals, focusing instead on the policy implications. Here are annotated excerpts.
  • Of his time in the Illinois legislature, he spoke of "mak[ing] the tax system more fair and just for working families." Liberal code for making taxes more steeply progressive, with "working families" thrown in for good class-warfare measure.
  • Of the founding event of our country, the Revolution, he said "in the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees." Beyond the factual error -- far from being brought to its knees the British Empire survived very nicely for more than another 150 years -- note how he casts the Revolution first and foremost as a struggle against imperialism rather than as a quest for individual liberty.
  • Of the great Depression, he said "we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty." That's a vote for the welfare-statism of FDR's New Deal.
  • He made an undisguised pitch to the teachers' unions: "Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability." Anyone want to bet that when you get down to the specifics, the higher teacher pay would be real and the accountability illusory?
  • Next, an appeal to academia and a proposal for more middle-class welfare: "Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research."
  • Do you want government playing a big role in the internet? Obama does: "Let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America."
  • Next, some good-old fashioned income redistribution: "Let's be the generation that ensures our nation's workers are sharing in our prosperity."
  • No liberal's speech would be complete without some pandering to Big Labor: "Let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country's middle-class again." Translation: strip the ability of workers who oppose unionization of their shops to remain anonymous.
  • Obama then invoked the worst of LBJ's welfare spending of the '60s: "Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this." How many trillions have we already spent on "ending poverty" and with what results? "A living wage"? That's far-lefty stuff that makes proponents of the current minimum wage hike look like pikers. Oh, and government-subsidized child care -- another liberal staple.
  • "Let's be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president's first term." ObamaCare by 2012 or bust!
  • "Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation." Al Gore would be so very pleased.
  • Note that Obama didn't say a word about national security and the war on terrorism until well into his speech, and not before he exhausted his big-government to-do list. Yes, he wants to "work together to track terrorists down," but there was a but: "But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding our alliances and exporting those ideals that bring hope and opportunity to millions around the globe." Let's hear it for the French. And wait a second, isn't exporting our ideals to Iraq exactly what the Bush administration has been trying to do and what he wants to end?
  • Another but: "But all of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq. Most of you know I opposed this war from the start. . . That's why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008." That is a radical call not merely to "redeploy" combat troops within the region, but to "bring them home" within 13 months. There is no way to accomplish that without cutting off funding for the troops. We're talking Dennis Kucinich territory, here.
Consider again the body of Obama's proposals. There is nothing, not one jot or iota, that strays from the most predictable liberal line. Far from the audacity to which he lays claim, this is the platform of a man without the courage, or inclination, to break from liberal orthodoxy in any way.

Will the MSM take notice?

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.