Thomas Sowell

Barack Obama's supporters often try to sidestep questions about his character and judgment by saying that we should stick to what they arbitrarily define as "the real issues." But Senator Obama's record on specific issues is as bad as his record of repeatedly allying himself over the years with people who make no attempt to hide their hatred of America.

Among the so-called "real issues" are earmarks for Senators' pet projects, like the "bridge to nowhere." These are among the most indefensible parts of the inbred Washington political culture, which Obama has so often claimed to be against, as part of his promise of "change" to "clean up the mess in Washington."

Yet Senator Obama not only voted in favor of the bridge to nowhere, he voted against anti-earmark amendments proposed by Senator John McCain.

Obama has had more than two dozen of his own earmarks in the past fiscal year, and he knows the Senate well enough to know that, if he voted against the bridge to nowhere, his own earmarks might get nowhere.

Those earmarks, incidentally, included a million dollars of the taxpayers' money for a facility where his wife works at the University of Chicago. Her salary rose by nearly $200,000 when her husband became a United States Senator-- no doubt a shrewd investment by the university that paid off.

When a highly publicized bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 led Senator Tom Coburn to propose taking money from federal spending on bicycle paths and use it for maintaining and repairing bridges instead, Senator Obama voted against it. The kind of people who vote for him want bike paths.

Moreover, the very idea of taking money from one thing to use for something with a higher priority-- something that we all have to do in our own personal lives-- is foreign to the liberal big spenders in Washington.

When they want more money for some purpose, they simply raise the tax rates. They don't cut spending somewhere else.

The idea that Barack Obama is somehow different from other liberal-left politicians can only be based on his rhetoric, because his actual track record shows him to differ only in being further left than most liberals and at least as opportunistic.

His talk, however, is another story. The speech that Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic convention-- the speech that put him on the national map politically-- was one which has been aptly described as a speech that would have been almost equally at home if it had been delivered at the Republican national convention.

In the world of rhetoric-- the world in which Obama is supreme-- he is a moderate, reasonable man, reaching out to unite people and parties, dedicated to reform, opposed to special interests and a healer of the racial divide.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate