Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama Declares for Presidency--Outdoes Biden in Glib "Mis-speak"

When Senator Joseph Biden announced his candidacy for President last week he immediately wrapped his mouth around his foot by delcaring that Senator Barak Obama was,
the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.
Since declaring his own entry into the Presidential race on Saturday, "Mr. Clean" Obama has bitten his own foot twice.

The first was at Iowa State University, on Sunday, when Obama averred that,
We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged--and to which we now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.
Later, in an interview, he apologized for the remark by saying,
The sacrifices (troops) are making are unbelievable. I meant to say that those sacrifices have not been honored by the same attention to strategy and diplomacy needed to be successful in Iraq.
Call me a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe that Obama accidentally and inadvertently dropped 20 or more words of clarification from his comments at Iowa State.

When Obama uttered the word "wasted" he meant it as a rhetorical device to stir up the support of the anti-war crowd that had gathered to hear him speak. As he spoke that word he was not thinking of the bravery of our troops or of their sacrifice. He was not thinking of the mission that they are committed to achieving in Iraq or the value of their sacrifice to our nation or to their families.
Whether intentionally or not Obama slipped into demagoguery as he played to the Iowa crowd. A person aspiring to the office of President of the United States should not allow him/herself to become that undisciplined.

A slip such as this does not disqualify Obama from his candidacy, of course, we all have found ourselves using a word that we later wished we had not spoken. It is, in part, a human mistake and should be forgiven.

Insofar as it allows us a small glimpse into the inner-workings of his deeper convictions, however, it does not bode well for the good Senator from Illinois. Mel Gibson allowed some of his inner demons to emerge during a DUI arrest last year and was widely condemned for what he said.

Obama, from what I can tell, was not drunk at the time he supposedly "mis-spoke" at Iowa State.

A second, but more telling moment came with Obama's response to a unfortunate and inappropriate international personal slam from Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who (in the midst of his own heated national election campaign) stated,
If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.
(Memo to Mr. Howard, You are a great friend of the United States and a bold and courageous ally in our united fight against Islamist terrorism. Having said this, however, please keep out of our domestic politics. How would you like it if an American President made public comments attacking your re-election ambitions, huh?)

Obama's retort to Howard was as follows,
I would . . . note that we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my understanding is Mr Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is ... to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.

"Otherwise it's just a bunch of empty rhetoric.
I'd say that it is a grave sin of an over-inflated ego for Obama to think himself either equal or superior to John Howard as a political heavyweight.

Obama somehow diminished himself with this reply both by his failure to demonstrate proper respect for a head of state (and an strong American ally at that) and by his gratuitous dismissal of the political, military, financial and personal sacrifices of Australia and Australians in their own struggle with this vast and complex matter.

If Barak Obama hopes to become President of the United States someday, he would be best advised to begin speaking as though he was already the President of the United States . . . at least insofar as is necessary for him to prevent the undermining of the same diplomatic and respectful dialogues with other nations (both friend and foe) he so passionately claims to advocate.

There may well be a true and noble greatness in Barak Obama. But it is clear that even at his best (and this past weekend must be viewed as a sincere attempt for him to be his best) he is still more than a little "rough around the edges" and in need of some grinding and polishing before he will be truly ready for prime time.