Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reading List for Friday's Debate

The first of the three presidential debates for 2008 is on Friday in Mississippi. So in addition to everything Harold and I have written on this blog (see the tags "McCain," "John McCain," and "Barack Obama" or just go to "2008 election" and "2008 primaries"), here is a reading list. Get to it. There'll be a quiz on Monday. (No. Sorry. What was I thinking?)

Investor's Business Daily has a series of essays they entitled, "The Audacity of Socialism." Harold Kildow deals with it below in "Nightmare Scenario."

Barack Obama has styled himself a centrist, but does his record support that claim? In this series, we examine Senator Obama's past, his voting record and the people who've served as his advisers and mentors over the years. We'll show how the facts of Obama's actions and associations reveal a far more left-leaning tilt to his background — and to his politics.

We've seen many comparisons between Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, but Christopher Hitchens in Slate gives us, "Is Obama Another Dukakis: Why Is Obama So Vapid, Hesitant and Gutless?"

By the end of that grueling campaign season, a lot of us had got the idea that Dukakis actually wanted to lose—or was at the very least scared of winning. Why do I sometimes get the same idea about Obama? To put it a touch more precisely, what I suspect in his case is that he had no idea of winning this time around. He was running in Iowa and New Hampshire to seed the ground for 2012, not 2008, and then the enthusiasm of his supporters (and the weird coincidence of a strong John Edwards showing in Iowa) put him at the front of the pack. Yet, having suddenly got the leadership position, he hadn't the faintest idea what to do with it or what to do about it.

Stanley Kurtz at the Ethics and Public Policy Center is finally able to share with us what he found digging through those papers that Obama's friends worked so hard to prevent him seeing. Read "Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools" in today's Wall Street Journal.

Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.

The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.

On the McCain side, in "McCain Loses His Head," George Will wonders if John McCain is temperamentally fit for the presidency.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

John Podhoretz at Commentary joins in drawing attention to McCain's combustible character, and in that way his unpredictable behavior, in "McCain's Challenge."

Substantively, this has been the worst week of John McCain’s campaign — and I mean since its beginning, in early 2007. With a perfect argument to make on his own behalf — that he saw the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and called them out in 2005 while others were still angling for their largesse, and that therefore he possesses the experience and demonstrated the kind of leadership and insight that are required for the presidency — he instead flailed about. Calling for the firing of Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Chris Cox? Right there, in that act, we got a glimpse of why senators so often make bad presidential candidates. From time immemorial, senators haughtily acts as though the dismissal of executive branch officials is a form of policymaking when it is almost always the opposite — an act of scapegoating.

Harold Kildow wrote when he drew my attention to this short article, "We could be one election away from a slide into fascism...and only a maverick senator standing in the way. Or maybe he'll help usher it in. That's the problem with mavericks--you never know what you're going to get. "

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