Beware: Obamutopia

April 21, 2008

Barack Obama, stubbornly clinging to his right to be charismatically shallow, at first complained that Hillary Clinton was unfairly criticizing him for being all flair and fluff with no substance. Now he’s upset that Clinton and the media won’t let him discuss substance. Based on some of his speeches lately, I’m thinking he ought to be grateful for the diversion because his policy proposals might not survive serious scrutiny.

Maybe it’s unfair to interpret literally Obama’s repeated stump speech assertion that we Americans aren’t perfect but are “perfectible” and conclude he possesses a New Age or secular humanist worldview rather than a Christian one, which clearly rejects the notion of man’s perfectibility.

Then again, his policy proposals do sound strikingly utopian — almost as if he’s saying we truly can achieve perfection, end poverty, eradicate health care problems, establish universal harmony, legislate away all corruption, and attain wholesale energy independence without, by the way, liberating ourselves from the shackles of enviro-policemen, who forbid us from exploiting our own resources.

Obama’s pitch to fawning audiences is so hopelessly idealistic and his promises so painfully unrealistic that it’s amazing he’s taken as seriously as he is.

If George W. Bush were to deliver the pap Obama routinely includes in his speeches, he’d be laughed off the stage. “Saturday Night Live” skits would be hard-pressed to exaggerate the vacuousness of his utterances. In fact, I’d be surprised if sympathetic journalists weren’t cleaning up Obama’s quotes before publishing them. But YouTube isn’t so forgiving. “We believe we can change, and that’s the kind of hope I’m talking about.”

Obama says he understands that solving our problems “won’t be easy,” but when you listen closely, you get the sense he really does believe that with minor governmental tweaks, the problems will magically disappear.

When discussing the corrupting influence of money in politics, he implies that if we would just neutralize lobbyists, legislators would attend to the “people’s interests” rather than “special interests.”

But this fallaciously presumes there is a basic consensus among Americans as to what is in their (and the nation’s) best interests.

Our differences are not just born of corruption or process. We don’t always agree on what the problems are, much less their solutions. Even if it were possible to eliminate money corruption from politics, we’d still have the red-state/blue-state divide. We’d still have people in small towns, Mr. Obama, holding fast to their religion and their guns, and we’d still have an urbane coastal elite looking down their noses at them.

Purging the lobbyists would not usher in a new era of harmony; ideological differences, which proceed largely from worldview, have always existed and always will. If Obama were actually committed to unity, he could promote something less ambitious than ideological nirvana in America. He could encourage his fellow liberals to quit polarizing people on grounds of race, economic status or gender. Indeed, Obama contributes to poisoning those waters when he blithely states we’d do a better job of addressing our education problems if we didn’t look at the plight of black and Latino kids and say, “That’s not our problem.”

Please speak for yourself, Mr. Obama, for it is liberals such as you who oppose school vouchers aimed at freeing kids from entrapment in inner-city schools.

Instead, Superintendent Obama will decree that government “invest” in early childhood education, presumably so Big Brother can begin the indoctrination process earlier. He’ll make public schools put more emphasis on art, music, science and poetry. He’ll make college more affordable to everyone.

Obama’s unrealism also dominates his approach to foreign policy. He insists he doesn’t just want to end our involvement in the Iraq war but “end the mindset that gets us into war.” He admonishes us not to focus on the “common enemy,” but on restoring “a sense of diplomacy.” Employing a stunningly novel concept, he’d try to resolve our differences with other nations without resorting to war.

Setting aside that George Bush did exhaust all realistic diplomatic avenues before attacking Iraq, Obama’s recurring theme rears its naive head again: We can all get along — even terrorists — if we remove the arbitrary barriers against believing in man’s perfectibility and that even terrorists and tyrants aren’t evil.

Obama’s health care proposals are similarly fantastic. He would provide every American with coverage that’s at least equal to that of members of Congress. With his executive wand, he would reduce everyone’s premiums by $2,500 a year and outlaw exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Dr. Barack would also mandate that the health care industry focus more on prevention and primary care. But wait, there’s more: He’ll accomplish all this by the end of his first term.

This is just a sampling. But what’s scarier than Obama’s far-fetched promises is that people — in droves — believe them. We must hope others are paying closer attention.