Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Obama's Beliefs and Attitude Bear as Much Reason for Scrutiny as Republicans' Do

A number of pundits have questioned the credentials of Republican candidates because of their religious beliefs ("Republicans Against Science" by Paul Krugman, Aug. 29, and "A Deep Faith in What's Been Proved" by Chrystia Freeland, Sept. 1, among others), with the New York Times' Bill Keller weighing in with a theatrical call for an investigation into the teachings of the churches that such types of people attend.

The first thought that comes to mind is that it might have been good if the mainstream media had spent as much time looking into Senator Barack Obama's beliefs (religious or other) during the 2008 election campaign as it now promises to do with the 2012 Republican candidates. But it would seem that a Democrat's church is not to be second-guessed — especially when, like Jeremiah Wright's, it stresses America's (and Western civilization's) sins, real or otherwise, while promoting victimization and bitterness.

More importantly, Barack Obama may not question "the science of evolution and climate change" and not be a member of the "anti-science party," but so what, if he belongs to the anti-basic-economic-common-sense party and if he is constantly — not just questioning but — dissing and undermining America's free-market system?

Wouldn't it seem that a political candidate's religious beliefs, while far from unimportant, are less so than a candidate's business views? And while it might be true that Barack Obama is ahead of the pack regarding the creation of the world, what are we, more pragmatically, to make of the president's economic policies? His billion-dollar stimulus has wasted a trillion dollars while failing to bring unemployment below 9 percent; at over 2,000 pages, his health care bill is illegible; and on his watch, the nation's debt has risen from $10 trillion to $14 trillion — not to mention that, for the first time in a century, the nation's credit rating was downgraded.

In fact, speaking of worldviews "rooted in faith or ideology" (and the following might have emerged during the 2008 campaign if the media had spent more time looking into the Reverend Wright's teachings), "Obama the empiricist" still seems to believe in the (self-serving) fairy tale that all entrepreneurs from the private sector are nothing if not heartless capitalist pigs (with the possible exception of those who contribute to his election campaigns), exploiting the masses of clueless martyrs, to the aid of whom interventionist politicians like himself must ride — heroically — to the rescue.

This "pragmatic" worldview, incidentally, probably helps explain the "show of seeming disrespect for a sitting president" ("Republican makes Obama cool his heels" by Helene Cooper and Jackie Calmes, Sept. 2, and "Hostility to president surpasses politics as usual" by Jennifer Steinhauer, Sept. 3-4). For years, the man nicknamed the "Uniter" has scolded Republicans and lectured them as if they were symbols of the dark side — he famously never once held a meeting with the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, during the first 18 months of his presidency — apparently because the man called "God" by a Newsweek editor (Newsweek's Evan Thomas on Hardball, MSNBC, June 2009) thinks that his interventionist ideas and theories, or those of the Left, are the only ones worth paying heed to, implementing, and obeying. The new type of politics that Obama promised for Washington has often consisted in making a speech that starts with making a generalization about all politicians engaging in politics and being partisan followed by, when it comes to specifics, castigation of the Republicans alone for the country not going forward (as in early September when he said that congressional Republicans alone "must put their country ahead of their party" — "Obama challenges Republicans on job creation" by the Associated Press).

As David Brooks wrote last summer ("Congress in the Lead, July 26), Obama's appearances are
suffused with that 'I'm the only mature person in Washington' condescension that drives everybody else crazy, [lecturing] the leaders of the House and Senate in the sort of patronizing tone that a junior high principal might use with immature delinquents.
Who, then, is it who is being disrespectful and showing "relentless acrimony"? And who is it who is being arrogant? And what kind of business — in all senses of the word — can one do with a president who is so partisan?