Barack Obama

The Story of Barack Obama

Today, Barack Obama became the 44th President on the back of an incredibly powerful story. Some of these storylines are true and unassailable: the historicity of the first African American President. Others are the work of an incredibly skilled campaign team and a candidate who mastered the literary realm (and indeed, used it as the basis of his political career) as Reagan mastered stagecraft. Watching TV today reminds me of an immutable truth of our politics: above all else, we as Americans love a good story.

Oddly, this dynamic does not wind up devaluing issues and policies as you expect it might. When radical policies like the biggest expansion of government since FDR can be cloaked in a tableau of hope, change, and history, they are much easier to get through. Good storytelling is the natural ally of those who would like to see bold public policies -- on both sides.

Again and again in American politics, certain themes recur. And certain storylines are more successful than others. I went back and looked at Presidential elections since 1960 -- generally considered to be the birth of modern Presidential politics -- to see which storylines worked and which didn't, and it's not hard to see why Obama's trifecta of youth, change, and hope -- represented here by optimism, is so powerful: they've won every time they've been tried.

Here are the overall themes. I tried to boil down each candidate to a maximum of two main narratives: 

Year Winner Narratives Loser Narratives
1960 Kennedy (D) Youth, optimism Nixon (R) Continuity
1964 Johnson (D) Continuity, risk Goldwater (R) Opposition, integrity
1968 Nixon (R) Stability, experience Humphrey (D) Continuity
1972 Nixon (R) Continuity McGovern (D) Opposition
1976 Carter (D) Integrity Ford (R) Americana
1980 Reagan (R) Optimism, change Carter (D) Risk
1984 Reagan (R) Optimism, continuity Mondale (D) Opposition
1988 Bush (R) Continuity Dukakis (D) Competence, opposition
1992 Clinton (D) Change, party reform Bush (R) Service, risk
1996 Clinton (D) Continuity, optimism Dole (R) Service, integrity
2000 Bush (R) Integrity, party reform Gore (D) Intelligence, continuity
2004 Bush (R) Safety, continuity Kerry (D) Service, opposition
2008 Obama (D) Change, youth McCain (R)

Service, party reform

Here are the overall standings:

Theme Won Lost Win %
Optimism 4 0 1.000
Change 3 0 1.000
Youth 2 0 1.000
Safety 1 0 1.000
Continuity 6 3 .667
Party reform 2 1 .667
Integrity 2 2 .500
Risk 1 2 .333
Americana 0 1 .000
Intelligence 0 1 .000
Opposition 0 4 .000
Service 0 4 .000

Do We Need a New Declaration?

Podcast Show Notes 

Obama attacks Bush right out of the shoot.

O! Yes. No pranks from the Bush Administration to the new one.

Do we need a new Declaration of Independence

How about a Ministry of Culture? (Hat Tip: Red Hot.)

The results of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe: say hello to the 100 trillion dollar bill. (Hat Tip: Wizbang Blog.)

Say hello to Pro-Life Community organizers.

Pro-abortion try to define abortion as pro-family.

China's One-child policy leads to murder.  

Clueless in San Francisco. (Hat Tip: Don Surber.)

Bush slams the door on well-connected criminals. (Hat Tip:  Outside the Beltway.)

Only 41% of Americans blame human activity for global warming.

Click here to listen, click here to download.

So long George. We're going to miss you.

Well the TV stations have been engaging in an orgy of celebration of the inauguaration.   I read a short article describing the departure of George W. Bush from the White House but most everything else has been Barack, Barack, Barack.

It is Barack's Obama's day and more power to him but I felt more like wearing a black armband of mourning.  People will eventually learn the President Obama is just as human as the next guy and I feel sorry for them for the inevitable disappointment they will feel when they find out their Messiah has feet of clay.

I have never regarded President Bush as more than human but I have always had the greatest respect for him.  He was too slow to use his veto and fiscally could have done better to rein in the budgets that the REPUBLICAN congress sent to him.  But on the big issues he was in the right.   He is a decent and honorable man.  History should treat him far kinder he is being treated today.  I wish him God's blessings and comfort in knowing that he did the right thing.


(Slightly edited to mention the fiscal shortcomings of the Bush presidency.)

Congratulations President Obama

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Though I did not vote for you, you are my president and I wish you well.

Your inauguration represents a watershed moment in our history which I am glad to be alive to see.  While I would have been happier to see a different black man take that historic oath of office today (JC Watts and Michael Steele come to mind), I am glad to see your installation as president as a sign that we are moving even further along the path toward racial equality, a path upon which we have made so much progress in the past few decades.

While I fear some of your policies, I truly hope that your time in office will see America prosper and our freedoms regain their previous stature . . . because that is what would be best for our country.

Party be damned, it's America I want to see do well.

(. . . but that doesn't mean I won't be trying to put someone else in that office four years from now. . . .)

Will Obama supporters break the law in the latest flag flap to hit the campaign?

Barack Obama and flaps over flags are nothing new. It seems every so often he or his campaign do something ignorant and then try to explain it away. Very rarely they are proven correct. Most often, however, they just look like anti-Americans. One has to wonder, “At what point do I stop believing this is all an accidental kerfluffle and begin to see a pattern?”  Bear Creek Ledger tipped me off to the latest one, but first a bit of history.

It started back in October of 2007 when a reporter asked Obama why he didn’t wear a flag pin in his lapel like other candidates. Obama’s response, including a lame definition of patriotism if there ever was one, was less than enthusiastically received by millions across the nation.

A month later came the “hand over the heart” brouhaha at a Tom Harkin event in Iowa. Widely, and incorrectly, reported to show Barack Obama without his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, Americans were outraged that a Presidential candidate would not put hand over heart for the Pledge. Obama is quoted by ABC News dismissing his critics saying,

“This was not during the pledge of allegiance,” Obama said of the picture taken at Senator Tom Harkin’s, D-Iowa, annual steak fry and first published by Time. “A woman was singing the Star Spangled Banner when that picture was taken.

See the original photo by clicking here.

“I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner, you sing!” Obama said.

Obama called the circulation of such pictures a “dirty trick” …

“I have been pledging allegiance since I was a kid,” Obama said.

Obama advised his supporters who receive such emails to ignore them.

“Just tell whoever sent it,” Obama told the crowd, “they’re misinformed.”

Unfortunately, it is Barack Obama who is misinformed. His actions did constitute disrespect for our flag. Hello! The title of the national anthem is, “The Star Spangled Banner”, after all. Here are the lyrics. Additionally, Cornell University Law School notes United States Code Title 36 §301states in section (b)(1)(A), “During rendition of the national anthem … all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart;”

The flap over the removal of the flag from the tail of Obama’s plane after a new paint job before flying to Europe is the only event that doesn’t seem to have held up under scrutiny. Fight the Smears got one right in pointing out that neither Obama or McCain displayed a flag on the tail of their respective aircraft. Each, however, did have one displayed on the fuselage. It was widely reported, including by me here at BCM, that Obama removed the flag from his plane. I both regret and have corrected the error.

Next up, the DNC.  Who can forget the story of thousands of US flags in trash bags to be thrown away?  Some argue the flags were being saved for donation or reuse.  In a weird twist, this is possibly worse than the initial disprespect.  Consider the specifics of how our flag is to be displayed, raised, lowered and stored.  Is anyone else gobsmacked that Democrats would defend stuffing flags in trash bags and leaving them on the ground near dumpsters saying they did it, not to dispose of them but to store them?

Which brings us to the latest flag follies. Michelle Malkin is reporting that there’s a new flag being flown in the NorthEast by some Obama supporters. It is unclear if the flag in question was commissioned by the Obama campaign or others. What is clear is that it is a plainly inappropriate use of the flag. As Malkin reports, the US Flag Code states, “The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.” But, as with other flag desecration, it will likely be dismissed by Obama supporters as “just a piece of cloth” and nothing really meaningful.

The real gem is found if one scrolls a little further down the page to the listing of “United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 3.” There we find any Obama supporters carrying such a flag in DC to the inauguration will be committing a misdemeanor punishable by up to $100 in fines and up to 30 days in jail! Too bad I can’t attend the inauguration with my camera and a cell phone to report crimes in the process of being committed. My guess is there will be plenty.

Unless it’s too harsh to ask Obama, his campaign and his supporters to abide by the law and long standing custom, that is. If I am misinformed and this is yet another instance of my ignorance, I’m sure someone out there will let me know.

Blue Collar Muse

Will the Republicans Have a YouTube Response to the President's Saturday Address?

Okay, so here's a question. Two months ago, Barack Obama made the entirely obvious and predictable move to put his Saturday address as President-elect on YouTube, something we can expect to see continue this week as President. It's understandable that George W. Bush didn't break with eight years of precedent to follow suit, but now that they've had two months to prepare, will the customary Republican response also be by YouTube, or will it be radio-only, setting up an unfortunate contrast between a 21st century President and a 20th century opposition? 

If you think we have more important things to worry about, like the stimulus or health care, I agree with you. I think it's silly to have a debate over whether the address should be on radio or the Internet, and that's exactly what the unforced error of sticking with the outmoded radio address will provoke. Does anyone know anyone who actually listened to the radio addresses anyway? Even when I listened to talk radio, I only ever saw them replayed on cable news, and so a video format would work much better there.

Hopefully whoever is coordinating this, which I assume is some combination of House & Senate leadership, will have gotten the memo now that they've had two months to prepare. At noon tomorrow, we can expect to see the most open ever, likely with a blog and YouTube channel -- with many of the restrictions on Executive Branch web activity conveniently reinterpreted or eventually done away with by Executive Order in a couple of days. Obama will bring the new media savvy of his campaign to the White House, with an eye towards doing to Republicans in governing what he did to them campaigning. We need to be ready.

This isn't the end of the world, but optics do matter in situations like these. Stephen Harper hanging on as Prime Minister in Canada can be chalked up to at least partly to a media flub like this one. At the height of the parliamentary crisis last month when the Liberal-NDP coalition had the votes to oust Harper's Conservatives, Liberal leader Stephane Dion went on television with a poorly produced and widely criticized tape-delayed rebuttal to Harper that was a factor in his early removal as Liberal leader. The new leader, Michael Ignatieff, has been noticeably cooler to the idea of a coalition.

So let's not have a needless round of stories about Republicans being behind in tactics and technology, shall we? Let's keep the focus on ideas by avoiding needless bad publicity and bringing our communications strategies into the 21st century.

Accelerator v. Parking Brake-Obama's irresolute stimulus scheme

One reason I am a pretty firm conservative is my sense that deep down, liberals just aren't very practical. (This may also be why I often find both libertarians and neo-conservatives off target). Instead of worrying first and foremost about the practical concerns of citizens, liberals conjure up dystopias of quasi-fascist police states; platenary environmental degradation; and workplaces all being beyond the world of Charles Dickens.  And in order to prevent anyone's rights being trampled upon, a limitless series of public hearings, impact studies, administrative appeals and lawsuits must be negotiated before things get built, properties get sold or criminals sent to jail.  And of course, honest public servants are on the receiving end of this, and often conclude clock watching never got one's career ruined.

So, unlike many posters on conservative sites, I do have some admiration for FDR and his works.  But I also know well enough that the 21st century thicket of legal requirements makes the good of the New Deal very hard to implement.

Thanks in part to FDR's capital, Robert Moses, was the exemplar of "shovel ready"....he had shovels going in all five boroughs of NYC.  But now, projects of lasting utility like Moses's bridges and tunnels take decades to build, if they can be built at all. So one reason so many contemporary public works projects seem lame may be; well, that's what you are able to build in this environment.

Let's assume we are in need of massive Keynesian stimulus, and restoring American employment and productivity are the absolute most important things we must do.  So what would we do---besides finding things to spend money on ? 

We would look at what could render this expenditure ineffective and suspend it, remove it, or at the very least not add to it.

That's NOT the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda. Instead---it's just liberals in a candy store.

At a  point when businesses are finding it hard to make payroll, it's probably not a good time to write more strigent laws governing alleged gender discrimination , including terms which   "allows workers, for the first time, to collect limitless punitive and compensatory damages." 

Put aside whether federal judges or bureaucrats ought to decide you need to pay your receptionsist more than your fork lift operators, (because men drive fork lifts) irrespective of the marketplace;  more lawsuits mean fewer jobs.

And I think the negative impact of card check on job creation is self-evident to all but the most dedicated liberal.

And when the American manufacturing sector is hurting badly, maybe this is not the year to embark on a crusade against global warming  considering much of the multitrillion dollar price tag will no doubt be borne by energy consumers. Bloomberg news says  "There is no consensus on how the government and consumers would finance the needed investments in renewable energy and other projects to trim greenhouse-gas emissions during a recession" Well, as Nic Sarkozy would  say non merde.....there isn;t going to be $500B/year for this as long we are throwing that mind of dough at the banks.....unless, of course, someone thinks higher electric rates are going to stimulate the economy.  

Even if we delay a full bore green offensive, Francis Cionfrocco persuasively argues the massive proposed federal investment will be way off target.  Perhaps a year or so ought to be taken to determine if trying to force everyone to use electric cars is simply going to exchange blackouts for oil price spikes. (since generators and transmission lines get NIMBYed and BANANAed to death by politicians of both parties)

One also might wonder why we would be spending billions to increase the quantity of "affordable housing" when housing values are dropping like a rock   and one major city has a huge glut of abandoned firetraps.  Perhaps we need to get work to all the underemployed carpenters and roofers out there; building added housing and depressing prices further is a problematic way to do it.

The UAW's diffidence about a rational labor deal with the in extremis domestic auto makers is also going to stall our recovery. Domo Arigato Mr. Gettlefinger

Now one thing that might reduce unemployment of American workers would be to effectively control illegal immigration, which would also act to prop up wages for the less-skilled sectors of the American labor force. So, the Obama Administration plans to hire more border patrol and ICE agents to stop illegal crossings and deport illegals faster? (and, hmm, hiring more Border Patrol and ICE agents, might, hmm, lower unemployment?)

well, in a word, No.

Unless he's gonna throw his DHS pick "under the bus"  

In an 83-page policy questionnaire, Napolitano said she would consider "a broad range of changes" to Bush immigration policies, whose focus on raids, criminal prosecutions and expedited deportation of immigrants has been criticized by immigrant advocates and civil liberties groups as unduly harsh.

Ironically, Hispanic Americans list the economy far ahead of immigration as a pressing concern.  Guess their lobbyist didn;t get the memo to wise up the Obama team.

In the New Deal, the parts that worked (and stuff like the National Recovery Administration didn;t) were focused on simply getting things built and putting people to work. Like Robert Moses's bridges.

The Obama Administration says these are extraordinary times demanding extraordinary federal expenditures. But instead of telling the usual suspects in the liberal coalition to stand down while they go to work to restore our economy, they simply bring all them all along for the ride.

I might well still find much of the Obama spending spree objectionable , if for no other reason the unbelievable scale and manufactered urgency virtually insures inordinate waste and corruption. But had the Obama team made sure that the usual liberal barnacles on the economy were put on hold, I'd give them huge marks for sincerity.

But if this is simply going to be the world's biggest gift to one's political supporters in human hsitory, instead of a real recovery package, well , then I think John Boehner has it right. As Power Line  put it, it's the      Biggest Boondoggle in American History

I want the American economy to succeed no matter who is President. But this car is not going to go very far forward if we are flooring the accelerator with trillion dollar deficits and pulling the "parking break "of liberal special interest laws, taxes and regulations at the same time.  

I hope the "transmission" in the American economy does not "drop"......there's no AAA to call if Obama and company wreck the car not knowing how to drive it. .





I was out tonight and I was given the opportunity to sleep with a random chick were I willing to  praise Barack Hussein Obama and bash George Walker Bush.

As much as I enjoy sex, the simple fact is that I respect the man who will be President for the next three days far more than the new guy.

Make fun of me if you want; the simple fact is that Bush 43 was a damn fine President and Hussein Obama 44 is Anti-American.  USA #1!

Inaugural Double Standards

Podcast Show Notes

Media's reaction to Inaugural expenses: $40 million for Bush is extravagant, $160 million for Obama is appropriate.

Pepsi's Obama-themed inaugural promotion.

Obama's inauguration: carbon disaster.

5 weird pieces of Obama memorabilia .

 Obama: Killing bin Laden no longer essential.  (Hat Tip: Red State.)

Questions we need to ask about the stimulus.  (Hat Tip: Don Surber.)

Americans prefer tax cuts to stimulate the economy. (Hat Tip: Red State.

A bill Obama signed that threatens are economy by opening the door to unlimited discrimination lawsuits.

Immigration Visas for buying houses. (Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin.)

California controller holds back on paying tax refunds.

Profiles in pretention: 5 Democrats who campaigned against the bailout voted to release the 2nd half to President-elect Obama. (Hat Tip: Club for Growth.) 

Germany says nyet to debt. (Hat Tip: Club for Growth.)

Tom Hanks: Mormon political participation is unAmerican. (Hat Tip: Malkin.)

Saggy pants more important than the Constitution. (Hat Tip: Club for Growth.)

Second Amendment Update from Gun Watch.

Music by Caledonix via the Podsafe Music Network.

Click here to listen, click here to download.

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