Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Untested Obama is risky choice

February 20, 2008


"Hope is a dangerous thing," says Red to Andy in the 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption." Red, played by Morgan Freeman, means that Andy, played by Tim Robbins, risks despair if he hopes to get out of prison.

The sentiment is worth considering when it comes to politics. Can too much trust in a politician also be dangerous and lead to despair, even cynicism? Those old enough to recall the political scene in the '60s when first John F. Kennedy and then his brother, Robert, were assassinated, know the dangers of hope and what can happen when such hope is crushed. In the '60s, crushed hope produced rebellion, even anarchy, along with despair.

Now we're told (by members of the Kennedy family, no less) that Sen. Barack Obama is the reincarnation of the hope that was lost when Jack was murdered in 1963 and Bobby was killed in 1968. And we watch as another generation of the young, informed by their history books and black-and-white film of those days, become disciples of another young and handsome politician with a pretty wife and cute children. Will history repeat? God forbid. But will another generation be disappointed when the one in whom they are placing so much hope cannot possibly deliver?

This is where mature and experienced adults can steady the enthusiasm of the young and inexperienced. The Washington Post Magazine recently carried a cover story by Jeffrey Birnbaum titled "How Lobbyists Always Win: Dispatches from Washington's Relentless Growth Industry." It is a reminder of how, no matter who is president and which party controls government, lobbyists are part of the permanent class and very little can change without their participation and approval. Numerous "reformers" have come to Washington in the past, promising change. As often happens, they don't change Washington; Washington changes them.

One of the Kennedy campaign songs in 1960 was "High Hopes." The original lyrics of the song include the line "He had high apple pie, in the sky hopes." That could describe Barack Obama.

Hope must be grounded in objective truth; otherwise it quickly becomes wishful thinking. I might hope my team wins the championship, but if the players lack the talent, it isn't going to happen. I might hope to win the lottery, but I don't play; and if I did, I'd have better odds of being struck by lightning than taking home the jackpot.

Placing hope in politicians absolves too many of us of our responsibilities. In 1994, when Republicans were on the verge of returning to power in the House for the first time in four decades, one of the books making the rounds was "The Tragedy of American Compassion" by Marvin Olasky. The book traced the history of compassionate behavior and found that most of it came from individuals and religious institutions. The religious institutions offered hope by dedicating themselves to changing the lives of people whose bad choices had put them in need of help. Changed lives produced changed behavior and, thus, changed circumstances, leading to a more hopeful future. Olasky wrote that tragedy occurred when government began to occupy the space once dominated by religious and personal charity, displacing hope and leading to despair.

The "hope" being sold by Obama and his true believers is misplaced. Obama cannot deliver, he cannot save, he cannot improve individual circumstances by redistributing wealth and talking to America's dictatorial enemies. He is selling snake oil.

The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews says that, "faith is being sure of what we hope for" (Hebrews 11:1). What we see in Barack Obama is a man with great rhetorical skills who is untested in battle. Many are projecting their hopes on him because he makes them feel good. What commander would put a low-ranking officer in charge of all troops during wartime? We are close to making Obama our commander in chief with no hint of how he might perform, other than to withdraw troops from Iraq.

A President Obama might be worth the risk in peacetime, but with crafty enemies seeking to destroy us, can we afford to make what might be a fatal mistake by electing someone upon whom too many of us gave projected, ungrounded hope?

- Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


ctutgo 10 years, 3 months ago

I read somewhere that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action, over and over again, expecting a different result. Young? Yes. Untested? Not as much as those, such as Cal, would have us believe. A chance for a real difference? Absolutely. A chance is all I need, Cal, just a chance. Try to imagine if Bobby had lived. Something HAS to change, and soon. Why not give him a chance? Our time is now, Cal. Yes we can!

chet_larock 10 years, 3 months ago

So, basically, what Cal is saying is there's no hope to change Washington. Nice sentiments, Cal. Same old s**t from you, you old windbag.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago

Cal does have a point here. Obama has surrounded himself with the all the old players of the Elite. If he does become President, his inexperience will immediately allow him to corrupted and manipulated by the Elite and used as their puppet (see George W. Bush).

Obama represents nothing but superficial change and false hope.

christy kennedy 10 years, 3 months ago

Wow. The anti-Obama crowd is really reaching, but this has got to be one of the dumbest "arguments" yet. Don't have hope because you will be disappointed? And anyone old enough to have been disappointed is "wise" enough to know this and should explain it to naive individuals who seek change? Good lord. We've been living with dashed hopes and despair for 7 years now. Hope for change is the most important thing we've got.

EXks 10 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

moderate1 10 years, 3 months ago

I like his approach to getting lobbyist out of the white house, but what about all of them in congress and every where else? Hillary hasn't even touched on that topic.

staff04 10 years, 3 months ago

I find Cal's (and the Republicans in general) fear of Obama quite fun to watch.

In VA last week, during the primaries, many registered Republicans chose to vote in the Democratic primary (VA has open primaries) so they could vote for Hillary...they know she is the weaker candidate.

It's fun stuff!

kugrad 10 years, 3 months ago

Most qualified president: Probably James Buchanan (not a great one). Least qualified presidents: Abraham Lincoln, JFK.

There are NO great orators I can recall who were poor presidents, interestingly enough. The great orators who made great presidents include: FDR, Lincoln, JFK, Reagan. There is something to be said for the ability to communicate and Obama has that, much moreso than Cal Thomas.

Speakout 10 years, 3 months ago

The real problem in Washington is the lobbyists, period. If the congress was free from outside influence and the buying of votes, members of congress could vote their true feelings and represent their constituencies, not vote to keep a lobbyist or PAC happy. America is the only country on earth that does things against her best interests.

I hope Obama can stop the the outside influence and make America like the real America again.

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

Interesting mind candy on Myers-Briggs personality analysis of Obama, Clinton, and McCain:

lounger 10 years, 3 months ago

Whatever Cal. Wake up and realize you have been brainwashed by many things so please get with us in 2007!!! Obama in 2008-fresh, new and willing to talk to our enemys. Talking to the other side is a very important ingredient in solving problems-its also very aldult like!! What do you think that says about George W. Bully???

BigDog 10 years, 3 months ago

Vote for Obama ..... that way his wife can be proud to be an American for twice in her adult life.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago

overplayedhistory: "Not voting for the War took fortitude that few battle drone politicians ever have."

Obama did not vote against the War...he wasn't even in the Senate at the time! After he did get elected to the Senate he voted in favor of funding the war many times until May 25th, 2007 when him and Hillary both voted against funding.

"The more crap the establishment tosses at him, the more people will fall in behind him."

What are talking about? The Establisment is propping Obama up, they love him, he is their new puppet!

Jeesh, it's depressing how many young kids and older folks think they are voting for an anti-Establishment candidate...just sad.

Obama scares me, almost more than Hillary or McCain and it has everyting to do with this illusion that he is not one of the bad guys. This is the worst possible situation for actual change to happen....because the dumb masses already think they are achieving change while accomplishing nothing. Then everyone who has started to wake up due to the blantant crimes of G.W. Bush will conviently go back to sleep thinking the big bad wolf has been defeated and all is well in Camelot yet again.

At least with Hillary or McCain the majority of people will realize that evil is still alive in our sham oligarchy of a former Republic.

moderate1 10 years, 3 months ago

You can't always talk problems out (nazi's, Imperial Japan, Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait in the 90's) but diplomacy should always be use first.

1029 10 years, 3 months ago

I laugh at Cal Thomas ever since he wrote an October 2006 column in which he guaranteed that, at absolute worst, republicans would still hold a 51-49 advantage in the senate after the '06 elections. If I recall correctly, his own prediction was 53-47. He implied that anyone who thought differently was simply not as informed as he was. The guy is an idiot. Sometimes when I read his columns I get the feeling that he secretly hates the United States and wishes it the worst.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 3 months ago

Who runs the country? It sure as shootin' ain't the president. It's the lobbyists for old wealth which is now multinational and more consolidated. Who CARES who gets in...same old...same old... Money talks and the presidents walk its walk...or take a hike to nowhere There more to meaningless than meaning, more or less.

OK. I admit to being on cold meds!~)

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 3 months ago

Oh, lets not have a president who inspires hope and courage. Let's get someone who wants to remind you constantly that terrorists are out to get you, and the only solution is to invade a country which didn't have many terrorists (until after the war), and ignore the country that was harboring terrorists, so the Taliban can take control again. Why does the Taliban even exist anymore?

Anyone with brains is already aware of the dangers out there, but we don't need someone who inspires us to cower and let the soldiers shoulder the load for us. Roosevelt and Churchill didn't do this during WWII, or Hitler would have won. We need someone to inspire us that they are going to try and wrest control back from the lobbyists(bribers) and put an end to this war trying to use diplomacy. And catch terrorists (ie criminals) by using intelligence gathering. We have raised the status of someone who is just a common criminal. We didn't do that with the American jerk who blew up the fed building in OK. We tried him and executed him. And I refuse to raise his status by purposely forgetting his name. We didn't declare war on those people who secretly supported his values. Give me hope over fear and hate any day, even if he isn't successful. If I don't have hope that we can turn our government around, you can let the nukes go off now. Can someone explain why hope is bad?

Clickker 10 years, 3 months ago

Regardless of his being untested, Barack Hussein Obama would be one of the worst things to happen to our economy since Jimmy Carter.

beatrice 10 years, 3 months ago

Hold on a cotton-picken second! Am I reading this correctly??? Cal Thomas isn't supportive of the likely Democratic nominee???!!! I'm shocked, I tell ya, simply shocked!!!!

Next thing you know, Cal will tell us that one plus one equals two. Shocking!!!

I figured out why Rush Limbaugh doesn't like John McCain. Rush is afraid that at parties Cindy McCain will beat him to all the good drugs.

ndmoderate 10 years, 3 months ago

What!? His middle name is Hussein?! Well. I'll certainly not vote for him anymore. I'm glad some bright individual with a solid grasp on the current presidential campaign brought up the fact that Obama's middle name is....arabic sounding.

(puking in own mouth)

(end sarcasm)

Clickker 10 years, 3 months ago

is:.arabic sounding..... that you mention it....and it would still be one of the worst things to happen to our economy since Jimmy Carter. Utter disaster.

1029 10 years, 3 months ago

nice racist comment, clickker. if there were only more racist bigots like yourself, republicans would never have to worry about losing elections.

1029 10 years, 3 months ago

i think clickker should add another 'k' to the middle of his/her name.

1029 10 years, 3 months ago

whoa, my bad! i thought that was an insensitive joke

1029 10 years, 3 months ago

Google first, then post comment. Google first, then post comment..............................

Charlie Naramore 10 years, 3 months ago

My favorite part is where Cal misplaces being a 'good' leader for 'effective,' and 'tried' with 'able and willing.' If it's so hard to get around the lobbyists, then how is Bush doing such a good job? Wait, he caters to them... so what Cal is saying is the country isn't run by an executive but the lobbyists and bureaucracy. Why then, Cal, should we vote for anyone else? At least we would be voting in a man who lacks the experience of being submissive to interest groups. Or is it because he's not submissive enough to religious interest groups?
End-all-situation: Obama--assuming he's overpowered by lobbyists--could implement his power through 'Executive Privilege."

guesswho 10 years, 3 months ago

If Barack is elected president the economy will tank.

Unfortunately, the same is true no matter who is elected thanks to the current administration running such a huge deficit.

Clickker 10 years, 3 months ago

"Proof, please? Can you back this statement up with facts? No, you can't. And you'll ignore the question, because that is what liars do." Please dont call me a liar. Barack Hussein Obama recently said, "let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country's middle class again."

Funny how he said it at a time when Detroit automakers have been laying off unionized workers by the tens of thousands, while Toyota has been hiring tens of thousands of non-union American automobile workers.

So by having the Unions effectively set the price of labor, some workers who are perfectly capable become "unemployable" only because of wages artificailly set above the level of their productivity. That is one point. Another thing is that he is for "alternative fuels". What is that? He doesnt have a clue about the prices of those fuels or the implications of those prices. You think Mogas is high now, wait til we start restricting supply.

And dont get me started about how he will handle "predatory lenders" who have provided a service to high risk borrowers.......basically money will transfer from (possibly ) you and definately ME, to those who made poor decisions in either the lending of the borrowing. Just a few thoughts.

beatrice 10 years, 3 months ago

Why isn't the title of the article "Conservative nutjob thinks Untested Obama is risky choice"?

To just read "untested Obama is risky choice" makes it sound like fact, which is obviously isn't -- at least no more of a risky choice than any other candidate. Honestly, don't we wish we could foresee the future before we voted in any election? If so, somehow I don't see W. Bush winning. But maybe, as Gore might have sold us all to the Matrix as a re-usable energy source.

google28 10 years, 3 months ago

A good public speaker does not equal a good president. A man who has his speeches fed to him does need equate to change. You're all being fooled by his rhetoric. We need an intelligent president (after all these years of stupidity). And Hillary is clearly the most intelligent of all candidates. And though I often don't agree with Cal's opinions, it is true that Obama lacks the experience to get the job done most effectively...and truly bring about change.

EXks 10 years, 3 months ago

You're right R_T, Queen Hil is showing her true colors. I mean, the woman can't even congratulate Barry O's TEN primary wins.....tsk, tsk.

Now we'll have to wait for Johnny McCain to show is true colors and have a melt down, complete with dropping the F-bomb, just a matter of timing don't ya think?

Keith 10 years, 3 months ago

"I want them to go through a nasty divorce and maybe one will run over the other with a Hummer or something."

Careful there light_thinker, your family values are showing again. And after you've carefully lectured us on how intolerant the liberals are.

gogoplata 10 years, 3 months ago

I agree with Cal that Obama is a risky choice. But McCain and Clinton are also risky. Once again there is no good choice, just big government liberals or big government conservatives. Pick your poison.

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