The Defining Difference
So Julia Steiny gave me a change for which to hope in an Obama presidency:
Last summer, presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the National Education Association’s annual convention, by way of video stream projected onto a big screen. …
But then, without changing his tone of voice, he enthusiastically endorsed charter schools. The crowd was eerily silent, and stayed that way as he proudly proclaimed his career-long support of public-school choice. …
And then, without apology, he swore that he would support allowing districts to “reward” teachers who take on extra responsibilities, or work in hard-to-serve areas, or perform consistently well in the classroom. He doesn’t use the words, but this is none other than union-loathed “merit pay.” The assembly outright booed the man. Loudly. He responded by saying “I know this wasn’t necessarily the most popular part of my speech last year, but I said it then, and I’m saying it again today, because it is what I believe.”
The video is as Steiny describes it, although I’d note that Obama, that masterful architect of speeches, positions his declaration of belief as the down-note from which to declare that he’ll “always be an honest partner to you [union educators] in the White House.” Moreover, it cannot be ignored that these were mere words — and delivered via streaming video, so the impact of the live audience could not be felt.
That extrapolates to my continuing unease about others’ faith in Obama. He drops a hopeful hint from time to time. He’ll speak beyond his audience periodically, giving nods to those outside of the room, metaphorically speaking. But that’s all it is: talk and nods. Kyle-Anne Shiver describes her measure of our next president thus (all emphasis in original):
My opinion was gradually set in steel as I read and studied and pored over Obama’s own books. The incongruous details of his race-obsessed memoir — the invented episodes, the composite characters, the utter lack of humility and true introspection — all bespoke a man of innate dishonesty and a lack of healthy shame. His audacious book on politics did nothing but hammer home his lack of principles and values, as he equivocated every single position, until the reader could determine absolutely nothing coherent about the writer.
Barack Obama has lived 47 years. In all that time, he has presented himself in public as a multi-dimensional symbolic figure, self-anointed as far more special than any of his actual deeds have ever — even in a single instance — validated as reality. If ever there was a more enigmatic figure in American public life, I have yet to discover him.
I don’t suspect that Obama intends to reach the Oval Office and throw off the veil, as it were, proving all of conservatives’ darkest fears within those first 100 days. Rather, he’s likely to try to perpetuate the practice that has gotten him where he is: He’ll try to speak music to every ear and act with enigmatically enough to disallow stark assessment.
Even in that, though, I fear that my exuberant friend Rocco DiPippo is correct in his assessment of the reception that Obama’s self-representation is likely receiving in the arid fever-swamps of terrorist enclaves:
From his promises to hold non-conditional talks with America’s enemies to his promises to strip funding for America’s military, they smell weakness. For instance, Obama’s trademark “gender neutral” hazy blue motifs — the ones that grace his website and his campaign merchandise — put forth a message of softness, femininity and oozing pliability. Our enemies read signals like those and strategize accordingly. …
Be prepared, you Obama and media-snookered fools. You have elected a weakling, a pacifist in a time of war against a determined, ruthless enemy who wishes death to all of you.
Prepare yourselves to have the blood of innocent Iraqis on your hands — and to have America’s broken promise of a peaceful, terror-free Iraq on your consciences when your false Messiah abandons 25 million souls to the beheaders and the rapists and the torturers and the mass murderers. All in the name of “Change.”