Kathryn Lopez

There's a lot we don't know about Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. But there's also a lot we do. We've been in this presidential election swing for more than a year now, and I've been watching him since his big speech at the 2004 Democratic convention. We have his record in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois state legislature. In other words, he wasn't born yesterday. We ought to start paying attention to what information we have and stop projecting our hopes and dreams into his frequent, energizing -- but empty -- rhetoric at campaign rallies. Consider what we do know about Obama. He says he'll "immediately" pull American troops out of Iraq.

He took his daughters to hear the Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright preach. He and his wife chose to make Wright a part of their family's life and career; it was only after Wright was invited to Obama's campaign announcement that the offer was reconsidered and taken back.

Obama has the most liberal voting record in Congress, according to National Journal.

As the president of the United States, he would sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, one-third of the original "Axis of Evil."

Obama has said: "Listening to the views, even of those who we violently disagree with, that sends a signal to the world that we are going to turn the page on the failed diplomacy that the Bush administration has practiced for so long."

This all points to one thing: Obama is a radical left-winger, however saccharine much of his rhetoric is.

When the National Journal ratings came out in January, an Obama campaign spokesman tried to explain his score away: "As Sen. Obama travels across the country, and as we've seen in the early contests, he's the one candidate who's shown the ability to appeal to Republicans and the ability to appeal to independents." Liberal congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California said: "Instead of focusing in on what divides us, it's focusing in on what can unite us. People are sick of the divisions. Republicans I know -- and I know quite a few -- are very enthused by this guy."

Surrender does not unite our country. (We may not like the war in Iraq, but we also do not like losing.) Higher taxes will not unite America. Wright does not unite America.

Obama is not a savior, for black, white or any other American.

As much as the Obama campaign would like to think it is a problem in their past, the Wright issue will continue to be a problem for Obama. And it should be.

Recently, on Bill Bennett's radio show, Gary MacDougal, who was chairman of the Illinois Governor's Task Force on Human Services Reform and is the author of "Make a Difference: A Spectacular Breakthrough in the Fight Against Poverty" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2005), pointed out the depressing danger of Obama domestically: He gives a boost to the likes of Wright; people who damage communities by holding back others from attaining the American dream.

In the Washington Post, MacDougal wrote: "Imagine getting up each morning to go to work in a society that doesn't want you, doesn't respect you and seeks to hold you back. Your spiritual leader has told you this, after all. ... If this is the message you got from your mentor, would you expect that you could succeed? Would you try very hard, if at all?"

Further, MacDougal, who's worked with Obama, says his experience echoes the National Journal rating: Obama's a man of the Left.

Also on Bennett's show, former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber said of the now-presumed Democratic presidential nominee and his presumably Democrat-majority Congress: "They're going to raise the capital-gains tax.

They're going to severely impede trade policy. ... The regulations that we're going to see as a result of the Democratic approach to climate change are going to truly be burdensome and costly." Acknowledging business leaders who have endorsed Obama, Weber observed that some of them are succumbing to the same thing folks at Obama rallies are: "Business doesn't like Washington. They don't like politics. They don't like partisanship." Weber concluded: "We're headed toward a big left turn in economic policy if this guy is elected president." Listen to Obama. Look at his record. It's time to believe he's the liberal we know him to be. The change we need is a reality check on the road to Jan. 20, 2009.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.