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 Mr. Wonderful 

February 21, 2008 
Obama--Mr. WonderfulWhat kind of statism do you want? Not that you’re going to have any choice, of course; I trust you’re not silly enough to believe the slogan “You decide,” as if it were really up to you. This is a bureaucracy, not a democracy, and it is unlikely that you will meet, let alone influence, an actual elected official. Your chances of meeting an IRS agent are far greater than your chances of meeting anyone you voted for.

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WonderfulThe next president of the United States of America will most probably be John McCain, who wants to bomb Iran. But it may be Barack Obama, who is less eager for war, yet has never called for bringing American troops home from the hundred countries where they are already stationed, except Iraq. He does not object in principle to a global American empire; nor does Hillary Clinton, who in fact boasts that her experience makes her fit to run it, even as she loses ground to Obama among Democrats.

Obama--Mr. WonderfulThe sun never sets on our empire, which now threatens the whole world and its traditions (and is accordingly regarded with loathing and suspicion). The American electorate is united on the need for “change,” for a government that can “get something done” (it seems not to matter what), and for an end to the Bush era. It is remarkable that nobody seems to know what Obama stands for, despite his consistently liberal voting record in the Senate. He has become a transcendent symbol of something, but what? Most of his followers can’t specify what he stands for — in that respect he does resemble Jack Kennedy — but who cares? Neither do the pundits who analyze him so volubly. It is a certainty that the U.S. government would continue to expand enormously under an Obama presidency, yet he somehow escapes the liberal or leftist label his record has clearly earned. Is a puzzlement.

Obama--Mr. WonderfulIt is also a situation that would surely have shocked and amazed the Founding Fathers, who, though they had few illusions about human nature and its passions, could presume at least some rationality in the American electorate. They would hardly have known what to make of such a smooth-talking cipher as Barack Obama who speaks of saving the world. He would be as unimaginable to them as a President Bill Clinton, who was bizarre enough. (I assume that when they contemplated impeachment, they were not envisioning such undignified offenses as might involve a Monica Lewinsky; they were picturing the sort of crimes Washington and Adams might commit if they went bad. It seems safe to say that trysts in the workplace were not even contemplated.)

Obama--Mr. WonderfulGlobal warming, to take just one example, was not an issue for those Founders, who would have thought that halting it was far beyond the enumerated powers of the Federal Government. Neither was eliminating racial and sexual discrimination. That is also true of the vast majority of the powers that that government now exercises.

[Breaker quote for 
Mr. Wonderful: The key to Obama]Obama--Mr. WonderfulThe American state has become at once limitless and lawless. Freedom has ceased to be a birthright; it has come to mean whatever we are still permitted to do. This is a profound change, but one so subtle that we are hardly aware of it. It means that we have become slaves of the state. Yet to say this is of course to sound hysterical in “the Land of the Free.” And no American likes to be called an extremist!

Obama--Mr. WonderfulThis is why Obama is so careful to keep his hair short and trim, to speak moderately, and to avoid even slightly inflammatory words. Nothing about his persona is the least bit radical or unsettling.

Obama--Mr. WonderfulNor has he said anything memorable — not even a single aphorism over this long campaign. And the title of his book: The Audacity of Hope — what on earth does that mean? He is always hinting at a substance that is never disclosed to us. He seems to live by raising vague aspirations he never fulfills.

Obama--Mr. WonderfulThe comedians have lots of jokes about both Clintons and most of the Republicans, but they don’t have any standard Obama jokes so far. That will change once they figure out the obvious: that he’s just a fake.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2008 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation.
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