While the Rev. Jeremiah Wright continues to play out in sound bites on cable TV and talk radio, it isn't Wright who might be president. It is Barack Obama who wants that job. Rev. Wright is consistent in his preaching that America bore some responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and in his conspiratorial lunacy about "how the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color," but Obama has been inconsistent in what he has said about issues that will have a far greater impact than the outrage produced by his former pastor.
I am all for a post-racial, nonpolarized society, but Obama has yet to detail how that would work and on which issues he is willing to move toward the center from positions any reasonable observer would have to describe as far-left, even radical.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace tried to get Obama to say where he might find common ground with Republicans when he asked him: "Can you name a hot-button issue where you would be willing to buck the Democratic Party line and say, 'You know what? Republicans have a better idea here.'" Obama offered regulation and charter schools, not exactly hot-button issues. Moving away from his vote against banning partial-birth abortion, as other Democrats have done, would have been a good hot-button issue on which he might have compromised, but abortion is the unholy grail of the left and no Democrat can get the presidential nomination unless he (or she) buys the entire abortion package.
Obama has the right attitude, as in, "My goal is to get us out of this polarizing debate where we're always trying to score cheap political points and actually get things done." That's admirable, so let's examine a few of the things Obama says he would like to do.
On the war, Obama said on Fox, "I will listen to Gen. (David) Petraeus, given the experience that he's accumulated over the last several years. It would be stupid of me to ignore what he has to say." Admirable. But in testimony last September before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Obama is a member, Gen. Petraeus said, "I believe Iraq's problems will require a long-term effort." The day after Petraeus' testimony, Obama called for the U.S. to "Immediately begin to remove our combat troops from Iraq." Which is it, immediate, or heeding Gen. Petraeus and his long-term approach for bringing stability to Iraq?
On Fox, Obama said he would raise capital gains taxes to no more than 20 percent. But on March 27, Obama told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo he would raise capital gains taxes to 28 percent. Obama said his goal is to "create additional revenue." But as The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial recently, lower capital gains taxes have, in fact, historically produced more tax revenue while higher capital gains taxes bring in less, as people are less willing to sell stocks because it will cost them more in taxes.
What about payroll taxes? On Fox, Obama said he's for raising them on Americans earning more than $102,000 annually. But just two weeks ago, Obama said he wouldn't raise taxes on anyone making less than $200,000. When asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos during the Philadelphia debate with Hillary Clinton if he would pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class, Obama responded, "I not only have pledged not to raise their taxes, I've been the first candidate in this race to specifically say I would cut their taxes." Again, which is it?
Obama's view of government is classic liberal paternalism: "...what (the American people) are looking for is somebody who can solve their problems Š who will tell them the truth about how we're going to bring down gas prices, how we're going to bring back jobs," he told Wallace.
No president can solve my problems, or bring down gas prices (those are set by market forces) or create jobs, other than more government jobs. In all of Obama's impressive rhetorical skills, there is nothing about the role of the individual, only the role of big government. His uncertainty and inconsistency on issues ranging from war to taxes reveal his inexperience and youthful stumbling, two qualities that make him unprepared to be president.
And now we return to our regularly scheduled program of the rantings of Rev. Wright.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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