Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama, All Too Human

Several things were striking about Wednesday night's debate in Pennsylvania. The two candidates drove home the point that we have either known for a long time (Hillary) or are coming increasingly to see (Obama) that they are both liars, i.e. ordinary politicians. At one point Obama was saying something disingenuous, and the viewers could hear Hillary burst out with a laugh off screen. That was all she needed to say.

Read David Brooks, "How Obama Fell to Earth" (New York Times, April 18, 2008). "Obama has emerged as a more conventional politician and a more orthodox liberal. He sprinkled his debate performance Wednesday night with the sorts of fibs, evasions and hypocrisies that are the stuff of conventional politics."

Also Kimberley Strassel, "A 'Bitter' Misstep" (Wall Street Journal, Apr. 18/08). "Yes We Can has devolved into Who the Heck Is This Guy?" Obama was stiff, academic, imperious...Kerry-like. He was visibly impatient, even angry, over the attention Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos (and Hillary) were giving to his questionable friendships and what he has said. One might even say he was "bitter."

Obama's view of tax policy was also on naked display that evening. The Wall Street Journal editorial today, "Obama's Tax Evasion," draws attention to Obama's exchange with Charlie Gibson over capital gains tax and government revenue. Obama said he would raise the rate to 28%, it's highest point during the Clinton administration. Gibson pointed out that Clinton lowered it in 1997 to 20% then Bush lowered it to 15%, and in each case revenues went up as a result.

Obama did not to dispute this, but instead pointed out that the goal is "to make sure that our tax system is fair." In other words, taxation is not about raising revenue to pay for government services in an equitable manner. It is first first and foremost about equity. Revenue is secondary. Obama tipped his hand as "a true income redistributionist who prefers high taxes as a matter of ideological dogma regardless of the revenue consequences."

Of course, if Obama is keen on income redistribution, he could start with his own. Last year the Obamas made over $4 million, largely from the Senator's book sales. But they gave just 1% to charity. Typically, liberals are quite stingy in personal giving compared to conservatives, but quite generous with other people's money through government spending. But I digress.

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