Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Choice: Democrats

Taking an especially jaundiced view of the election, here is a profile of the Democratic ticket:

Barack Obama

Barack Obama has a thin record of accomplishment at virtually every elected office he has ever held. This can be traced back to his days at the Harvard Law Review, where he seems to have written nothing and presided over a volume of work only notable for the infrequency in which it has been cited.

His political career, meanwhile, was launched in 1995 at the house of William Ayers, founding member of the Weather Underground that bombed the Pentagon and US Capitol. Among the very first political contributions ever given to Obama was two $2,000 checks from food companies owned by Tony Rezko, who is now in jail on fraud and bribery charges.

Obama then won his first election the following year by having all of his opponents thrown off the ballot through technicalities. Now a member of the Chicago Democratic party establishment, Obama did not use his position to promote reform or take on the status quo. Indeed, as recently as 2006 Obama refused to wield his influence to support a left-wing reformer in a primary against Cook County Board President John Stroger, a machine boss whose tenure resulted in federal investigations.

In the general election Obama backed Stroger's son, who replaced his deceased father. Only last year Obama backed incumbent mayor Daley for re-election even after, as David Fredosso notes, "several of his top aides and appointees had received prison sentences for their corrupt operation of Chicago's city government."

The politics of hope and change indeed.

While in office as a state senator Obama's most high-profile accompishments were legislation on racial profiling, death penalty reform, and ethics and health care laws. A US Senator for less than 4 years, Obama has sponsored 136 bills, 2 of which have become law -- one that set up a website so that the public can better follow federal expenditures and another that expanded the Nunn-Lugar Act meant to address "loose nukes" and nuclear proliferation. Much of the rest consists of small-bore legislation such as the "Healthy Places Act of 2006" and the "Pigford Claims Remedy Act of 2007."

This, it would seem, is adequate preparation for the White House. Claims of bipartisanship, meanwhile, would seem to be undermined by a voting record that National Journal deemed the most liberal in the Senate last year (outdoing, it would seem, leftist luminaries such as Ted Kennedy).

Lastly is Obama's association with radical preacher Jeremiah Wright. I'll outsource this bit to Tucker Carlson, who scripts a possible attack ad:
The spot opens with the familiar yet still shocking tape of Wright pounding the pulpit and looking crazy:

Wright: “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

Narrator: This is the man Barack Obama has called his spiritual mentor. In 2006, Obama gave Wright’s church more than $22,000 as a gift. Here's what Obama's mentor had to say about our country in the days after 9/11.

Wright: "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye…America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Narrator: For 20 years Barack Obama sat in the pews, even brought his family, as Wright preached hate. Obama never said a word, until he was caught. Then he defended Wright. Barack Obama: Divisive. Dishonest. Dangerous.

An alternate version might contain footage of Wright accusing the U.S. government of manufacturing AIDS in order to kill black people, or of spreading drugs in the ghetto, or it might show Wright dismissing murdered Alabama teen Natalie Halloway as a drunken slut. There's a lot of footage to choose from and it's all on YouTube. A seasoned media consultant could have that ad ready in a couple of hours. It'd be the most famous spot of this political year, and probably the most powerful.
And this is the candidate that will promote racial conciliation?

Joe Biden

Joe Biden was first elected to the US Senate at age 30. He's now 65, which means he has spent more of his life inside the halls of Congress than outside. That has to give someone a rather weird perspective on life. As he so often likes to mention, Joe was born in Scranton but his family left when he was 10 years old. Having driven through Scranton, I can't blame them.

Citing a history of alcoholism in his family Biden claims that he has never touched a drink, and he has a reputation as something of a drug warrior for both creating the office of the "drug czar" as well as authoring the Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy (RAVE) Act.

Where Biden has made his name, however, is in foreign affairs. Indeed, many observers believe that Biden was brought on board the ticket in large part to shore up perceived vulnerabilities by Obama on foreign affairs. Despite convincing many in Washington that he is an expert, some of his more notable votes include opposition to the Reagan defense buildup and the Gulf War. Becoming perhaps more hawkish in later years to make amends, Biden supported bombing in the former Yugoslavia and voted to authorize the Iraq War. Wielding his foreign policy expertise with all the acumen and subtlety of a blind elephant, Biden proposed dividing Iraq into three separate country -- a solution whose stupidity was about the one thing all Iraqis could agree on.

Biden has been in politics so long that he actually ran for president over 20 years ago -- but had his campaign short-circuited when he was caught plagiarizing in his speeches.

While Sarah Palin has caught considerable flak for gaps in her knowledge, Biden has managed to avoid such criticism through a combination of falsehoods and bluster. For example, Biden, who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee mind you, stated during the vice presidential debate that "we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon" -- something that occurred only his imagination. Biden, who chaired the Judiciary Committee for 8 years and is a trained lawyer, later did the following:

The constitutional law professor scornfully mocked Dick Cheney because the vice president "doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president. That's the executive branch." Wrong. Article I defines the Legislature, Article II the executive branch. Both define the role of the VP.

Yeesh. This is how wikipedia describes him:
During his years as a senator, Biden has amassed a reputation for loquaciousness, with his questions and remarks during Senate hearings being especially known for being long-winded. He has been a strong speaker and debater and a frequent and effective guest on the influential Sunday morning talk shows. According to political analyst Mark Halperin, he has also shown "a persistent tendency to say silly, offensive, and off-putting things"; The New York Times writes that Biden's "weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything."
And those are the two guys that are widely favored to win.

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