Thomas Sowell

Telling a friend that the love of his life is a phony and dangerous is not likely to get him to change his mind. But it may cost you a friend.

It is much the same story with true believers in Barack Obama. They have made up their minds and not only don't want to be confused by the facts, they resent being told the facts.

An e-mail from a reader mentioned trying to tell his sister why he was voting against Obama but, when he tried to argue some facts, she cut him short: "You don't like him and I do!" she said. End of discussion.

When one thinks of all the men who have put their lives on the line in battle to defend and preserve this country, it is especially painful to think that there are people living in the safety and comfort of civilian life who cannot be bothered to find out the facts about candidates before voting to put the fate of this nation, and of generations yet to come, in the hands of someone chosen because they like his words or style.

Of the four people running for President and Vice President on the Republican and Democratic tickets, the one we know the least about is the one leading in the polls-- Barack Obama.

Some of Senator Obama's most fervent supporters could not tell you what he has actually done on such issues as crime, education, or financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, much less what he plans to do to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear nation supplying nuclear weapons to the international terrorist networks that it has supplied with other weapons.

The magic word "change" makes specifics unnecessary. If things are going bad, some think that what is needed is blank-check "change."

But history shows any number of countries in crises worse than ours, where "change" turned problems into catastrophes.

In czarist Russia, for example, the economy was worse than ours is today and the First World War was going far worse for the Russians than anything we have faced in Iraq. Moreover, Russians had nothing like the rights of Americans today. So they went for "change."

That "change" brought on a totalitarian regime that made the czars' despotism look like child's play. The Communists killed more people in one year than the czars killed in more than 90 years, not counting the millions who died in a government-created famine in the 1930s.

Other despotic regimes in China, Cuba, and Iran were similarly replaced by people who promised "change" that turned out to be even worse than what went before.

Yet many today seem to assume that if things are bad, "change" will make them better. Specifics don't interest them nearly as much as inspiring rhetoric and a confident style. But many 20th century leaders with inspiring rhetoric and great self-confidence led their followers or their countries into utter disasters.

These ranged from Jim Jones who led hundreds to their deaths in Jonestown to Hitler and Mao who led millions to their deaths.

What specifics do we know about Barack Obama's track record that might give us some clue as to what kinds of "changes" to expect if he is elected?

We know that he opposed the practice of putting violent young felons on trial as adults. We know that he was against a law forbidding physicians to kill a baby that was born alive despite an attempt to abort it.

We know that Obama opposed attempts to put stricter regulations on Fannie Mae-- and that he was the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae. We know that this very year his campaign sought the advice of disgraced former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines.

Fannie Mae and Raines were at the heart of "the mess in Washington" that Barack Obama claims he is going to clean up under the banner of "change."

The public has been told very little about what this man with the wonderful rhetoric has actually done. What we know is enough to make us wonder about what we don't know. Or it ought to. For the true believers-- which includes many in the media-- it is just a question of whether you like him or not.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate