Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Obama's early years

No, I'm not talking about his life at Harvard, or growing up in Hawaii. I'm referring to his early political years. Stanely Kurtz has a piece in The Weekly Standard about those missing years of 1995-2004. It doesn't appear that Obama is the post-racial candidate he claims to be. That discussion on race we're supposed to have (sometime in the future, please not know) is going to have lots attention to affirmative action and racial set-asides. That is, if were are to go by Obama's past. Which, in truth, is what we're supposed to go by, right? Can't we assume that the issues he addressed a young politician (as in, his political career up to the point he started running for the highest office in the country) are his core issues?

In 1999, for example, he made news by calling on the governor to appoint a minority to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), a body that had previously attracted little notice among Chicago's blacks. In 2000, the Chicago Defender named Obama one of a number of "Vanguards for Change," citing him for "focusing on legislation in areas previously unexplored by the African-American community including his call that a person of color be appointed to the ICC." Obama did bring a somewhat different background and set of interests to the table. Yet the upshot was to expand the frontiers of race-based politics.

Oh, but there's more:

When the 2000 census revealed dramatic growth in Chicago's Hispanic and Asian populations alongside a decline in the number of African Americans, the Illinois black caucus was alarmed at the prospect that the number of blacks in the Illinois General Assembly might decline. At that point, Obama stepped to the forefront of the effort to preserve as many black seats as possible. The Defender quotes Obama as saying that, "while everyone agrees that the Hispanic population has grown, they cannot expand by taking African-American seats." As in the casino dispute, Obama stressed black unity, pushing a plan that would modestly increase the white, Hispanic, and Asian population in what would continue to be the same number of safe black districts. As Obama put it: "An incumbent African-American legislator with a 90 percent district may feel good about his reelection chances, but we as a community would probably be better off if we had two African-American legislators with 60 percent each."

Kinda ironic, given that the man announced, at the keynote adressas the DNC of 2004 that "There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America-there's the United States of America. Yea, sure there is O-man.

There's more to the O-man, though. He's racial politics PLUS progressive policies. "When you combine  .  .  .an energized African-American voter base and effective coalition-building with other progressive sectors of the population, we think we have a recipe for victory." Oh yummy. But, that's exactly what he's done with this election. He's got 95% of the black vote (no racism there, thankyouverymuch) and has built upon that with his progressive-can-do spirit. HOPE! CHANGE!

You gotta read the whole piece. My summarization can only go so far. But, I will quote Kurtz this one last time.

Obama's overarching political program can be described as "incremental radicalism."On health care, for example, his long-term strategy in Illinois was no secret. He repeatedly proposed a state constitutional amendment mandating universal health care. Prior to the 2002 budget crisis, Obama's plan was to use the windfall tobacco settlement to finance the transition to the new system. That would have effectively hidden the huge cost of universal care from the taxpayer until it was too late. Yet Obama touted his many tiny expansions of government-funded health care as baby steps along the path to his goal. The same strategy will likely be practiced-if more subtly-on other issues. Obama takes baby-steps when he has to, but in a favorable legislative environment, Obama's redistributionist impulses will have free rein, and a budget-busting war on poverty (not to mention entitlement spending) will surely rise again.

And, when those windfall tobacco revenues went away, the regular old taxes go up. That's the way they backdoor these things into existence. See, it's not painful! We're not going to raise taxes to pay for this new government freebee! We've got it paid for ....

Don't fall for it.