Freedom Of Association


Thomas Sowell

HERE'S A FUNNY parody of the Facebook culture, but with a twist. It's called BarackBook, and if you're not careful, it will set your pants on fire. But don't take my word for it. Step into the light. Noted columnist Thomas Sowell last month scored a direct hit in pointing out that the gist of the Barack Obama candidacy is his rhetorical flair which often borders on sheer wizardry except for those times when his teleprompter hits a glitch. Then we are offered a glimpse of the hollow man behind the curtain where designer campaigns are made. In his essay, Idols of Crowds, Sowell quotes the 20th century French philosopher Jean-François Revel:

"A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence."

Revel was not referring to the United States when he wrote those words, nor to his own France, but to human beings in general. He was certainly not referring to Barack Obama, whom he probably never heard of, since Revel died last year.

To find anything comparable to crowds' euphoric reactions to Obama, you would have to go back to old newsreels of German crowds in the 1930s, with their adulation of their fuehrer, Adolf Hitler. With hindsight, we can look back on those people with pity, knowing now how many of them would be led to their deaths by the man they idolized.

The exultation of the moment can exact a brutal price after that moment has passed. Nowhere is that truer than when it comes to picking the leader of a nation, which means entrusting that leader with the fate of millions today and of generations yet unborn.

A leader does not have to be evil to lead a country into a catastrophe. Inexperience and incompetence can create very similar results, perhaps even faster in a nuclear age, when even "a small country"—as Senator Obama called Iran—can wreak havoc anywhere in the world, when they are led by suicidal fanatics and supply nuclear weapons to terrorists who are likewise suicidal fanatics.

Barack Obama is truly a phenomenon of our time—a presidential candidate who cannot cite a single serious accomplishment in his entire career, besides advancing his own career with rhetoric.

He has a rhetorical answer for everything. Those of us who talk about the threat of Iran are just engaging in "the politics of fear" according to Obama, something to distract us from "the real issues," such as raising taxes and handing out largesse with the proceeds. Those who have studied the years leading up to World War II have been astonished by how many people and how many countries failed to see what Adolf Hitler was getting ready to do.

Read it all.

Of course, this may explain the Obama mystique, but says nothing about the McCain-Palin draw. I'll take a shot at laying out the difference. Common wisdom dictates that putting trust in the McCain-Palin ticket is just a politics as usual afterthought, but more and more, while neither McCain nor Palin have done much of a job articulating a clear vision of what they intend to accomplish in the next four years, the decision of supporting the Republican ticket for many of the independents is most likely an anti-Obama impulse.

Outside of the party diehards, most people simply feel safer with the Republicans, right or wrong. The Democratic ship of state is crawling with fever-carrying rats. Senator Obama is largely a political unknown, propped up by the MSM protecting with secrecy the damaging radicalism of his life. Frankly, if Obama would step up with full honesty to address his whole biography, he might turn a few more heads. Unfortunately for his ambition, full disclosure might sink his campaign for the presidency, forever. Then again, it might not. But dishonesty will catch up to him sooner or later.

For his family's sake, let's hope he loses this election cycle. That would give him time to regroup and rethink his approach in real leadership, his association to the truth, in abandoning this mystical carpet ride he seems to have floated this season. But from all I've learned from Democratic Party front liners during this extraordinarily long campaign, Barack Obama believes he has already arrived like a thief in the night. Lord help us all.

Senator, I've read a few books myself, and you sir, are no Huey P. Long.

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