Obama fans don’t know what they’re voting for

Don’t talk to Barack Hussein Obama about the fact that he was not a federal senator when they voted for the Iraq war; just accept his claim that he would have voted against it. The rhetorical wizard from the elitist Ivy League school of Harvard hath cast his spell and thou shall obey!

His supporters decried the media’s lack of skepticism about the government’s case against Iraq. They even accused the government of using fear to get its way. But demands for a critical media vanished when their savior ascended from below. Is not Obama using our passion to get his way? Is not Obama using a new form of demagoguery? We must ask ourselves if we truly know enough about him and his plans to make an informed decision.

The last debate against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., highlighted his lack of substance. However, I refused to believe anyone could run a successful campaign without solid policies. So I decided to do a little investigative journalism by visiting his local office at the edge of the Third Ward. The staffers and volunteers I spoke to gave me vague responses about his plans, but had heaps of adjective-laced praise for his personality and character. One of the volunteers, Tim Smith, even admitted that "[Obama] is not out there as much with his policies".

When a Clinton supporter asked why he was against universal health care, his supporters replied that he did not want to force people to pay for it. So she rephrased her question, "Why can’t he just use taxes to pay for a universal health care program, the way he would pay for college tuition?" This was met with embarrassing silence.

I also contacted a member of the Students for Obama group here at UH. Her response was that the senator was trying to inspire people to vote, rather than give us concrete policy dialog.

The problem is that Obama’s supporters have no clue about his "plan for change" beyond the rhetorical one liner. Alarmingly, this problem is not confined solely to his average supporters. MSNBC’s Chris Matthew recently interviewed Texas Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who has endorsed Obama. He was asked to recall anything the presidential hopeful had accomplished as a congressman. You could hear the crickets in the awkward silence before he apologized for being unable to answer.

This may not be damning evidence, but it certainly raises a titanic red flag. To be fair, I did come across an inch-and-a-half thick pamphlet at his Third Ward office. It was titled "Blueprint for Change" and contained detailed information on his policies.

Apart from the annoying, repetitive sound bites, his American Opportunity Tax Credit plan caught my eye. Details of this particular policy were repeated under the education and services sections of the pamphlet. Not surprisingly, those passages were convoluted and seemed contradictory. Eager to make sense of the first real chunk of substance I had found on Obama, I asked around the office for clarification. Communications Director Ashley Etienne was unavailable for comment. She said she would forward my questions via e-mail to the head office in Austin. The volunteers, on the other hand, referred to his Web site which yielded more word play and hocus pocus.

Obama plans to increase the size of AmeriCorps, a national service, from 75,000 to 250,000 members. I happen to be a member, so I know a thing or two about it. His Web site didn’t mention that AmeriCorps offers a tuition grant of $4,000 at the end of a 10 month, 1,700 hour service contract. Who in their right mind would join the expanded AmeriCorps program under Obama, if he is offering $4,000 for merely 100 hours of service through his American Opportunity Tax Credit? Is he trying to fool us or was this merely incompetent research?

His Web site also detailed his plans to give 150 million middle-class Americans $500 in tax credit per person and $1,000 per family. Yet on Friday, Reuters reported that Obama does not plan on increasing the overall tax rate for corporations.

Even by conservative estimates his plans entail a $100 billion tax cut to the middle class, in addition to an annual $4,000 in extra tax credit per student, without increases in corporate tax rates. He has not explained how he will fund these grandiose schemes. Perhaps he does not have an explanation and is hiding the technical impossibilities of his promises under his mesmerizing oration.

Obama’s wizardry also has supporters thinking that he is above negative campaigning. But is he really? On Saturday, ABC News reported that he had put out two mailings in Ohio disparaging Clinton for her health care plan. Iowa voters don’t favor negative campaigns, and so he was cordial to her in that state’s primary. But Nevada voters favor negative campaigns, so Obama was found making fun of her on stage, according to a Jan. 18 CBS News report.

The fact is, Obama is a cookie-cut politician. Though not all politicians necessarily spin and doublespeak.

Sen. John McCain, R-Az., is different. He is a straight talker – the complete antithesis of the rhetorical wizard. In fact, McCain has often shot himself in the foot for telling it like it is, but in my mind his blunt honesty is his greatest asset. For example, McCain refused to inspire a crowd of automotive workers in Michigan with false promises. According to the Detroit Free Press, he said, "I know how difficult the economy has been here and how tough it’s been on the families of this state. And I’ve got to look you in the eye and say that some of those jobs aren’t coming back." The difference between McCain and Obama could not be starker.

Obama is like a menthol cigarette: he feels unique and refreshing when on fire, but is as fundamentally carcinogenic to our country as most other politicians. Consider this your surgeon general’s warning.

Leave a Comment