When it became clear that Barack Obama was to become a serious candidate for President, even before he declared, I decided it would be a good idea to read his book Audacity of Hope. If you want to know what a person is thinking, where better to find out than in his handwritten thoughts about the world.
You may ask why I would want to spend my time reading over 362 pages of rhetoric from someone I would probably never support. There is a very good reason. It casts back to 1992. I was at my first Republican National Convention and I spent my free time reading Earth in the Balance by Al Gore. I sensed that if this gentleman was the Vice-Presidential nominee, what he thought would bring some value to our campaign.
Now flash forward seven years. It is early 1999. I am in Washington and a friend takes me with him to meet Grover Norquist. I was mostly the third wheel in the room so believe it or not I spent most of our half- hour-plus meeting just listening. The two of them lurched into a discussion of the upcoming presidential election. I asked Grover if he had read Gore’s book. He stated no. I told him he needed to read it. You could go page by page and build a case against Al Gore as he lays out all of his plans and thoughts right there. Interestingly in the beginning of 2000 I saw Grover on a national news show and he was referring to comments made by Gore in Earth in the Balance.
On this basis I picked up Obama’s book hoping to learn what this new “rock star” of the Democratic Party was thinking. I must say I was left nearly empty. It wasn’t until page 162 where he states his first real policy initiative and it had to do with education. He spoke of merit pay and new advancement for teachers based on performance. These are policies I certainly can cheer for if he were to be serious about them. But when reading it I doubted he was really serious. I felt no Democratic presidential candidate would take on the National Education Association (NEA) regarding these issues. Sure enough, when delivering a speech to them this year, he backed down from those issues and they are nowhere to be found on his website. In fact, his positions on education on his website are straight out of the Democratic handbook and probably right out of the NEA’s also.