March 27, 2008

What Change?

His Vacuousness made an appearance at a townhall meeting in Greensboro yesterday, which was duly recorded by our local media.

It may come as a shock to some, but the candidate of "change" offered precious little of that miraculous substance during his appearance, instead relying on standard liberal doctrine that is far older than the candidate himself.

"We're at a defining moment in our history," Obama told a packed house at the Greensboro Memorial Coliseum. "We can't wait to fix our schools. We can't wait to fix our health-care system. We can't wait to bring good jobs and wages back to the United States of America. We can't wait to bring the war in Iraq to an end."

But how fresh are Obama's ideas, really? Does he represent change, or just recycling? Let's dissect the excerpts of his speech above.

Fix Our Schools
Hardly a revolutionary idea. As Obama was speaking in NC, perhaps we should look to Charles B. Aycock, North Carolina's first "progressive" governor, who became North Carolina's "Education Governor" during his term from 1901 to 1905. Aycock's role in some other historical moments are probably better left undiscussed, but the fact remains that Obama is recycling an argument almost 110 years old.

Fix Our Health Care
Refresh my memory... didn't the other Democratic presidential candidate work on this a decade ago? Such rhetoric has been standard fare from "progressive" reformers for more than 90 years, and even President Harry Truman had his national health care plan shot down in the 1940s. Obama is recycling ideas between 60-100 years old.

Good Jobs and Wages
Obama is sometimes credited for being a powerful speaker like William Jennings Bryan, and he doesn't mind borrowing rhetoric that echoes down through history from Bryan's 1896 and 1900 presidential runs, either. Change? He's offering rhetoric more than 100 years old.

End the War
Historian Henry Littlefield suggests that Bryan's anti-imperialism phase, which in some ways mirrors Obama's desire for a headlong retreat from Iraq, inspired L. Frank Baum's character of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. Going back a bit further, Obama's rhetoric sounds even more like that of the "copperhead" Democrats of the U.S. Civil War, a faction of "peace" Democrats who were strongly opposed to the war from the beginning, demanded immediate peace regardless of the consequences, and railed about how that the conflict cost too many lives and too much treasure. Obama's recycling the ideas of abandoning a people struggling for democracy because things are just too hard, an argument more than 140 years old, and just as bad then as it is now.

* * *

Barack Obama's campaign is perhaps a campaign for "change," but it is change rooted in revolutionary politics from the 1860s to the 1940s. He echoes "progressive" promises of "change" heard by our great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, and our grandparents (in their youth). He is a new salesman, offering old merchandise.

If he's lucky, Barack Obama can still convince folks that he's "retro," but the fact remains that most of his political ideas are older than the Model T Ford, as relevant in this modern world, and as just as costly to repair.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 27, 2008 12:05 PM

Actually, I wouldn't mind if he was spouting old ideas about the relationship between people and their government. There were some great ones in the late 1700's - a few even were written in an obscure little document called the Constitution.

What's wrong with Obama isn't that his ideas are old, but that they're wrong. What's worse is that because the ideas have been known to be wrong for so very long, he ought to know better.


Posted by: Joe Doakes at March 27, 2008 12:14 PM

McCain is the only way to go in the general election seeing as both Hillary and Obama give nothing but false hope to America. Check out McCain's recent speech on foriegn policy!

Posted by: berly22 at March 27, 2008 01:49 PM

The Copperheads were some 60,000 strong, armed and claiming a willingness to march on the capitol to hang Lincoln in the street. Sound familiar? The world coudn't wait then, either. Not that today's rancor is not bad enough but for those who claim our divisions are the worst in history or, as above, that their ideas are unprecedented and therefore unmoored to the disasters we have seen such sentiments bring in the past, distant and not, this is yet another corrective.

Posted by: megapotamus at March 27, 2008 03:00 PM

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so."

Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Posted by: C-C-G at March 27, 2008 04:01 PM
What's wrong with Obama isn't that his ideas are old, but that they're wrong. What's worse is that because the ideas have been known to be wrong for so very long, he ought to know better.

Amazing. After Roosevelt's New Deal, the country entered unparalleled growth and prosperity. After Johnson's Civil Rights Act, a new era of equality and social justice dawned in America. After Reagen deregulated Savings and Loan practices we got an economic crash. After Bush 43 cut our taxes we watched debt and income inequality skyrocket in America.

Remind me again which party has the ideas that never work.

Posted by: Zifnab at March 27, 2008 05:50 PM

Only a fool would think the New Deal was beneficial to this country in the long run. That, or a brain dead liberal.

Of course, the two are interchangeable.

Posted by: Conservative CBU at March 27, 2008 06:47 PM

When did the Civil Rights Act become Johnson's?

Posted by: Pablo at March 27, 2008 06:49 PM

As one who works in health care, I can assure you that it is the Federal government that broke the system. Actually, it is so far gone that little can be done to restore it to what is was 20 years ago. I would strongly suggest not getting sick and definitley do not loose your insurance.

As to jobs, wages and the whole specturm of our financial system, we are in a depression and don't know it. Sure we have not reached 30% joblessness yet, but that is just a matter of time. What we need is someone who is going to "fix it". That will assure us that we are going down hill just like FDR "fixed" the economy he inherited from Hoover and resulted in 10 years of agony only relieved by WWII.

Our schools are also the result of the Federal government and the teachers union.

Do you see a common thread? We need a new government. Like the one we had before 1860.

Posted by: David C. at March 27, 2008 08:09 PM

Since Obama has been labeled as anti-Jewish, all good Americans should not vote for this person who would dare to place America's concerns ahead of Israel's.

The next president should make his/her decisions first as to what is good for Israel, then think about the U.S.

We might need to go fight some more wars in the ME for Israel, but that's what's good for Israel, so toughen up.

If another 30 or 40,000 of our troops come home in caskets, killed fighting whichever enemy Israel tells us to, we should consider it a blessing that we get to spill American blood fighting Israel's wars.

After all, we're the "United States of Israel" and by gosh, we'll fight for Israel to the last drop of American blood.

Posted by: Greg Bacon at March 28, 2008 02:17 PM

Mr. Bacon, that's not kosher.

Posted by: Pablo at March 29, 2008 09:46 AM

Sewage never was Kosher.

Posted by: Paul at March 30, 2008 11:00 PM

As if this needs to be re-explained: Our interests and Israels are largely congruent in the ME because they are the only free nation and nearly the only free market in the area. Our new ally Iraq is an exception and keeping it that way, yes, certainly benefits Israel. It benefits us too. I think it was a Kurt Vonnegut character who said of all grand "isms", Yes, yes, but that sort of thing always ends up killing Jews and then others, so, ya know...

Posted by: megapotamus at March 31, 2008 11:43 AM