The Candidate of the Gaps

Gerard Baker writes about the gap between what Obama says and what he’s actually done. He claims to represent a new form of politics that transcends traditional divides, but he’s never actually deviated from the party line.

The essential problem coming to light is a profound disconnect between the Barack Obama of the candidate’s speeches, and the Barack Obama who has actually been in politics for the past decade or so.

Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government’s effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,

Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.

Speechmaker Obama talks about an era of bipartisanship, He speaks powerfully about the destructive politics of red and blue states.

Politician Obama has toed his party’s line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. His one act of bipartisanship, a transparency bill co-sponsored with a Republican senator, was backed by everybody on both sides of the aisle. He has never challenged his party’s line on any issue of substance.

Speechmaker Obama talks a lot about finding ways to move beyond the bloody battlegrounds of the “culture wars” in America; the urgent need to establish consensus on the emotive issue of abortion.

Politician Obama’s support for abortion rights is the most extreme of any Democratic senator. In the Illinois legislature he refused to join Democrats and Republicans in supporting a Bill that would require doctors to provide medical care for babies who survived abortions. No one in the Senate – not the arch feminist Hillary Clinton nor the superliberal Edward Kennedy – opposed this same humane measure.

Here’s the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man’s stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.

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