Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Obama's Radicalism - A "Bottom-Up Socialism"

A debate between Ramesh Ponnuru and Andy McCarthy at National Review on Obama's "radicalism" that I think will give the reader a shiver down his / her spine as one gives consideration to McCain's liberalism in the clear, bright daylight of Obama's overt Leftism:

Ramesh Ponnuru :

Andy: During this campaign, Obama has taken some extremely liberal positions but few radically left-wing ones. He has not denounced capitalism or America, his tax plan contemplates raising the top marginal federal tax rate on income but leaving it below 50, he recognizes that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own guns, etc. The positions he has taken in this campaign, combined with his past, leave open at least two possibilities. One is that he has quietly ditched his former radicalism for a more mainstream left-liberalism. Another is that he remains as radical as he was years ago but is concealing his basic orientation for political reasons. There is a question mark here, and it is one reason many people ask "Who is Obama?"

Andy McCarthy :

Ramesh, that's all fair enough but I think you've subtlety changed the question and missed the mark on the nature of Obama's radicalism.

First, assuming (as we both appear to do) that Obama has been a radical in the past, I asked which of his past radical positions he has now moderated.  You've responded with new positions he has taken that leave unchanged his old stands — and even the ones you've suggested are misleading.  (To be clear, I don't mean Ramesh is being misleading; I mean Ramesh has cited Obama positions that are misleading — moderate-looking camouflage for his actually extremist positions.)

For example, what he calls his "tax plan" does not account for — to take just a couple of examples — the tax (probably on fossil fuels) that would have to be imposed to pay for the Global Poverty Act he proposes, nor the levies implicit in any cap-and-trade or similar scheme in response to climate change.  And on the Second Amendment, Obama is posing as supportive of the Supreme Court decision with the caveat that the decision leaves plenty of room for gun regulation — a loophole that you can drive a truck through.

Second, and relatedly, Obama's radicalism, beginning with his Alinski/ACORN/community organizer period, is a bottom-up socialism.  This, I'd suggest, is why he fits comfortably with Ayers, who (especially now) is more Maoist than Stalinist.  What Obama is about is infiltrating (and training others to infiltrate) bourgeois institutions in order to change them from within [my emphasis] — in essence, using the system to supplant the system.  A key requirement of this stealthy approach (very consistent with talking vaporously about "change" but never getting more specific than absolutely necessary) is electability.  With an enormous assist from the media, which does not press him for specifics, Obama has walked this line brilliantly.  Absent convincing retractions of his prior radical positions, though, we should construe shrewd moves like the ostensibly reasonable Second Amendment position as efforts make him electable.

This is why Ayers is so important:  it is a peek behind the curtain of Obama's rhetoric.  When he talks about "education reform," that sounds admirable and, given the state of the schools, entirely reasonable.  But when you look at what the Obama/Ayers program really tried to do to the schools (see, e.g., Stanley's work on this), it is radical.  With a guy who speaks in euphemisms — "change," "social justice," "due process," etc. — it is vital to have concrete examples of how these concepts are put into action.

I've been trying my best to get out this message on Obama, but I think it is too late.  The media has facilitated this, and the American voter is in a trance, exacerbated by the current financial panic, but it is my contention that America will awaken on November 7th to discover it has elected and placed into the office of the highest position of the free world a left wing '60's radical, and we will ask, "what in the world have we done!?" But it will be too late.  Way too late.


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