Barack Obama has pulled off one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of Presidential elections. Starting from a stirring rhetorical triumph at the Democratic National Convention four years ago, this relatively young U.S. Senator has reversed eight years of Republican control of the White House and led a Democratic sweep of all three elective branches. Naturally, his victory has generated immense joy among millions of people, won over by a combination of political savvy, boyish charm and a reassuring manner. Millions of others are not at all pleased at this result.
I am not concerned that Republicans will not accept it. I am more concerned about the Democrats, who have behaved as if they were entitled to this victory and have shown disquieting signs that they will take full advantage of it, not only by ramming through new laws to increase taxes and spending, micro manage the economy and privilege labor unions, but by demonizing their opposition as fascists and worse, bringing back the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" in radio broadcasting (the "Hush Rush" campaign) and bringing criminal charges against Bush Administration officials for carrying out policies Democrats disapproved of.
This odious Democrat specter threatens not only to make life miserable for Republicans but to generate a hateful and vindictive spirit across the land. For now comes the hard part, the troublesome question of what to do after victory had been achieved.
Over the last two years the nation has seen two Obamas, Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside. The first is full of platitudes, trite phrases, endless repetition of focus group themes and what Obama’s running mate, Joseph Biden, referred to earlier this year when he was competing for the same office, as his "clean" image.
This exterior image has won the day. Given the massive public rejection of both President Bush and his party, it was just what the doctor ordered, in what by all indications was going to be a Democratic year. Obama knew what role he had to play and he played it as well as any man could have.
If Bill Clinton gave us the "permanent campaign," that is, a governing style that makes no distinction between running for office and executing the office of President, he could not avoid the constitutional requirement that he set forth his goals for the country in an Inaugural Address, his more specific objectives in a State of the Union Address, and his priorities and their price tag in the proposed budget for 2010.
These tasks now face President-elect Obama. He cannot perpetually play the role of the nonthreatening alternative to the dread Mr. Bush. Mr. Inside will have to emerge. He will have to risk the unity he has emphasized by spelling out what the "transformation" of America is about. Those who paid attention to Mr. Inside will more likely to be helpful on this score.
Unless Obama was living in a fog for all of his adult life, his common cause with black nationalist Rev. Jeremiah Wright, terrorist William Ayers and crooked Chicago pol Tony Rezko were indications of his character and his views. While he may not have exhibited the disreputable dispositions and predilections of those men, he evidently did not feel uncomfortable spending many hours and days with them.
It is possible that Obama voted merely "present" in the Illinois legislature and U.S. Senate many times because he is man of weak convictions, but more likely it was because his reputation was more important to him than his voting record. Even so, nonpartisan journals report that his was the most liberal.
Liberals today prefer to be called "progressive," ever since Ronald Reagan won by a landslide over Walter Mondale in 1984. But this is merely old wine in much older bottles, for progressivism was founded more than a century ago by academics and politicians who rejected the U.S. Constitution as outmoded and the Declaration of Independence as a "salad of illusions." The "progress" they seek is toward more government control of commerce and trade, and worse, a loosening the family bonds by removing all restrictions on abortion and gay marriage.
Those who object to such socialistic policies as universal health care, redistribution of income and subsidizing "soft" energy will be vilified as selfish, unpatriotic and mean spirited. This will come as a surprise only to those who somehow failed to notice that that is precisely how conservatives have been vilified for years with those epithets.
The Constitution that established our form of government has survived many shocks, and there is reason to believe that it will survive Democratic party governance. But no Constitution is self enforcing. Good men must uphold the law, outside the government as well as in it.