Sunday, August 17, 2008

Obama's glibness at Saddleback

It sounds like I missed a good debate/Q&A session while I was camping. In my mind, this response from Obama on the abortion question reveals everything you need to know about the not-yet President:

"Whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade."
Bulldog Pundit and many others have stated the obvious: there's nothing above the "pay grade" of President of the United States. But, more seriously, Obama's response revealed a lack of preparation that borders on insouciance for the political process. Did his staff really allow him to go into this debate without preparing for the abortion question? Or did he decide to just wing it?

...after all, how would he have possibly known a question about abortion and the moment of conception would come up at an evangelical leader's faith-based joint appearance?
I'm loathe to use the word "presumptive" but can Obama really be serious when he hints that Clarence Thomas was unqualified for the Supreme Court? Victor Davis Hanson explains the depths of Obama's self-regard:

In tonight’s Rick Warren interview, I don’t know why Obama chooses to insult a Supreme Court Justice at a religious forum, but his comments that Justice Thomas was not qualified to be on the Court were revealing. Why would Obama think, given his own credentials, that he was better qualified for President than Clarence Thomas was for the Supreme Court?
Yes, Thomas was a federal judge, but he was short on "changyness" and "hope-litude." Finally, Jennifer Rubin writes that if this is a warm-up for the Presidential debates, Americans may prefer the paternal professionalism of McCain to the flashy motivational speaker:

What the event suggests is also something much more fundamental and more troublesome for Obama. Of all the opponents he could possibly have drawn, McCain is probably the most difficult for him to handle. Obama’s lack of experience, his glibness, his absence of depth and personal gravitas might not be as noticeable against another type of candidate. These deficits are glaring, shocking almost when McCain is the opponent, in a way they were not against Hillary Clinton and might not have been against one of the other GOP contenders. A side-by-side comparison leaves Obama seeming lighter than air. It will be hard to disguise that from the voters.

And this suggestion is dead on: McCain doesn’t need to wow the crowds; he only needs to remind them that he possesses a seriousness of purpose and depth of experience his opponent does not.
So far, so good.

Extra - In "How McCain won Saddleback" Byron York cuts Obama some slack: "Obama had nothing to win on the question; if anything, he seemed wary of saying something that might anger his pro-choice base." Well, I didn't see the video but it sure sounds like a cop out to me.

5 comments:

Muqtada al-Souter said...

I'm loathe to use the word "presumptive" but can Obama really be serious when he hints that Clarence Thomas was unqualified for the Supreme Court? Victor Davis Hanson explains the depths of Obama's self-regard:

In tonight’s Rick Warren interview, I don’t know why Obama chooses to insult a Supreme Court Justice at a religious forum, but his comments that Justice Thomas was not qualified to be on the Court were revealing. Why would Obama think, given his own credentials, that he was better qualified for President than Clarence Thomas was for the Supreme Court?



Oh, I don't know.... this is a long shot, I admit.... but just maybe Obama made that shocking comment because he was asked directly by Rick Warren which current Supreme Court Justice he would not have appointed.

So, apparently Obama sucks when he gives direct answers, and he sucks when he gives vague answers. Obama sucks when he uses our troops as props, and he sucks when he ignores our troops. Obama sucks when he won't go visit Iraq, and he sucks when he makes showy tours overseas. Q.E.D.!

Meanwhile, John McCain is very serious and respectful and without a trace of self-regard when he says he would discard 4/9ths of the Supreme Court (no bonus points for guessing who).

It seems that certain troublesome "activist" Justices "legislate from the bench." They're wild ones, they are, and not a bit like the strict Constitutionalist conservatives McCain favors. You know, the sober originalists who igmored Supreme Court precedent to overturn D.C.'s 32-year gun ban, or who write that habeus corpus "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed," or who were the majority in the Kelo property rights case.

Best of all, as Senator, McCain voted to confirm all four of the Justices he opposes. He's a maverick against himself!

Eric said...

To rebut one point: Obama didn't put down Clarence Thomas because he disagreed with his judicial reasoning (although this was an afterthought); he said Thomas wasn't experienced enough for the job.

Take it away, WSJ: "Meanwhile, as he bids to be America's Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama isn't yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a "community organizer" and law school lecturer. Justice Thomas's judicial credentials compare favorably to Mr. Obama's Presidential resume by any measure. And when it comes to rising from difficult circumstances, Justice Thomas's rural Georgian upbringing makes Mr. Obama's story look like easy street."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121901817146948231.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks

Anonymous said...

The one-on-one comparison might be relevant if Obama and Thomas were vying for the same job.

Obama didn't put down Clarence Thomas because he disagreed with his judicial reasoning (although this was an afterthought); he said Thomas wasn't experienced enough for the job.

Perhaps Obama wasn't properly awed by Thomas' one year of experience as a Court of Appeals judge.

The other Justices were also less than impressed with Thomas' merits. Once confirmed, Thomas' head clerk Chris Landau was given the nickname "Justice Landau" within the buiding because of the belief that Landau was doing much of the intellectual heavy lifting for Thomas. Court observers have noted that Sandra Day O'Connor began moving in a more "leftward" manner in order to counteract some of Thomas' votes-by-rote. Antonin Scalia is said to have personally cultivated Thomas partly as a tactic to "double" his own decisions.

It takes a gulp of red, red Kool-Aid to look favorably upon Clarence Thomas's pre-SC judicial credentials. Comparing him to Grade-A candidates like Roberts, Souter, Scalia or Stevens can only lead to embarrassment. Each of the other eight sitting Justices, both liberal and conservative, received unanimous ABA ratings of "well qualified," the body's highest assessment. In advance of his confirmation hearing, the ABA couldn't even issue Thomas a rating of "qualified."

But his rags-to-riches story is very inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

You may have a point. It's almost as if the bar was set so low for the black guy, he couldn't help but rise to high office.

Wait...who were we talking about?

P.L.Oikmn said...

Whoever it is, it certainly wouldn't be Thurgood Marshall, the guy whose vacancy was filled by Clarence Thomas in the same sense that Michael Jordan was replaced by Pete Myers.

So let's talk about a Wall Street Journal editorial board. An editorial board that exists to suckle the teat of conservative doctrine. An editorial board that doesn't see how its own rhetoric might be weakened by its reliance upon Clarence Thomas' mediocre resume.

Wait.... did I say mediocre? I meant PHENOMENAL!

Wall Street Journal:
So let's see. By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General's office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's second most prominent court. Since his "elevation" to the High Court in 1991, he has also shown himself to be a principled and scholarly jurist.


Name another former Assistant Secretary of Education, win valuable prizes.

The WSJ's quotes around the word "elevation" are crazy genius. By all means, let's not diminish Thomas' unforgettable patronage job accomplishments. Even HINTING that his years with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were any less challenging than his time on the Supreme Court would be an insult.