Middle East studies in the News
A Closer Look at Obama [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Walter Anderson
The meteoric rise of Sen. Barack Obama has many thinking that he is destined for the office of President. Yet less than a year ago he was considered flash in the pan in comparison to Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was thought to have the Democrat nomination sewed up. Well, one by one the other Democrat candidates pulled out as their support and/or their cash dried up, thus leaving Obama and Clinton to fight it out until the first week of June when Clinton "suspended" her campaign. Obama now is the presumed Democrat nominee and the direction of his campaign has turned to defeating Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, in November. Let's take a look at some of his recent statements and activity.
Change à la Obama
Obama has been able to raise bundles of cash. His current cash balance is reported to be millions in excess of the McCain campaign. Up until last week, it was thought that Obama was going to accept the $80 plus million of federal campaign money (he had last indicated thus less than two months ago) and use that for the Presidential run. Suddenly, Obama announced that he was not going to take federal funds as he had promised and would raise funds on his own - giving him the ability to amass plenty of moolah without limitations. Is this "flip-flopping?" His staff doesn't seem to think it is.
One of the major messages of the Obama campaign is that he alone has the ability to change Washington and the way things are done there. Just when he has a chance to prove that change, he goes the way of the Washington politicians! Coincidence? You make the call.
The Obama campaign staff made a major blunder a couple of weeks ago when it barred two Muslim women wearing traditional attire from sitting in the area immediately behind the podium at a Detroit rally where Obama was to speak. When word got out, Obama himself contacted the women, apologized, and said the issue would be remedied. It's obvious as to why this came up, considering the "is he or isn't he a Muslim" flap. How would it look on a newscast or YouTube?
Yet should we really be surprised? The fact that Obama's advance people and his handlers "stack" the audience is nothing new in the world of politics. If he wants to burnish his image with white people, the front rows behind him are filled with mainly whites. If black voters are his target that day, the audience we see on television is made up of mostly blacks. And so it goes with any number of ethnic groups. A number of years ago, I read a book by Patrick Halley entitled On the Road with Hillary. Halley was an advance man for Hillary Clinton as far back as when Bill Clinton first entered national politics. It's a fascinating look into the inner workings of how campaign appearances are set up and even for appearances not directly connected to the campaign. "Stacking" and other methods used in making sure the candidate/speaker comes off in the best possible light to those in the audience and those who may see the video are well explained.
My last article touched on this, but it seems strange to me that Obama has a team of people to vet possible individuals to be his veep choice. Shouldn't it be Obama, who has the "judgment to lead," who knows best what he wants in a running mate? With the limited experience Obama possesses in foreign relations and national security, as well as the military, he may well pursue someone with high credibility in those areas. It is also possible that he may want to place a female (other than Hillary Clinton) in place to assuage the tender feelings that were damaged in the primary against Hillary - at the same time appeal to even more woman voters. In reality, other than having knowledge to cover a weakness in the candidate the only real important reason in selecting a Vice President is to be sure that person would go forward with the ideals and policies of the President and the Party if the President was removed from the picture. It will be interesting to see if Obama sticks to this basic principle.
First Ladies Poll
Questions about Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain should have little relevance in the campaign, with the possible exception of how they may influence their husband if elected. The Rasmussen Reports Group recently ran a poll asking a number of questions and even comparing the two presumptive first ladies to the current First Lady, Laura Bush, who currently holds a 75% favorability rating among voters and has held that position fairly consistently throughout her husband's Presidency. Needless to say, she's a tough act to follow! According to Rasmussen, both potential First Ladies are seen to have quite a bit of influence with their hubbies. And while both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama have similar approval ratings (49% and 48% respectively), the disapproval ratings tell a different story: 29% have an unfavorable view of Cindy, while 43% have an unfavorable view of Michelle. If the First Lady's job is to complement the president, it looks like Michelle has a lot of ground to make up - or not, depending on your view.
Like any seasoned politician, Obama has made promises for numerous things. Yes, in our hearts we know that campaign promises are not expected to be kept 100%, some of Obama's are so far from reality one has to wonder what he is thinking. Here are just a couple of the things he wants to do that have one thing in common...can you guess what that is?
If you guessed that higher taxes - taken out of YOUR paycheck - are the common bond between these two programs, you'd be right. Which brings us to...
Healthcare, Obama Style
Obama's healthcare plan is supposed cover every American and no one will be turned away. How will it function? Basically it is a form of socialized medicine. His idea is to force physicians to accept less than normal rates for their services to patients and he wants to add an additional tax on doctors' earnings of at least 4.0%. His "health commission" would also determine what type of services/procedures and drugs the government would pay for. It sounds a lot like what HMOs currently do, but on a much larger scale, with all the grace and finesse of those other government agencies like the DMV and Post Office - and no chance to go to a different health provider if you don't like your current one. (One need only look at these two cases, on in the U.S. and one in Canada, to see what I mean.)
Are Those Skeletons Rattling in the Closet?
Although numerous questions have been asked about Obama about his background, few of which have been answered, none are so interesting and possibly devastating to his presidential campaign as those centering on the Tony Rezko and Nadhmi Auchi connection. Follow that with his alleged brief (we know differently) association with convicted terrorist William Ayers. Or how about Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian who is vocally anti-Israel and who has been closely connected with Obama in the past as a supporter and fund raiser. Then of course there is the racist, hatred spewing, anti-white, anti-American preaching Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's Pastor and "mentor" for 20 plus years. Wright has traveled to Libya to meet with General Khadaffi and has bestowed honors on Louis Farrakhan.
Who is the real Barack Obama? For many, that question continue to go unanswered.
Moving forward, here seems to be a slight movement of Obama's thinking toward the center Left from the far liberal Left. His opinions on the FISA rewrite and public campaign financing indicate a "change" in tack for his campaign. I'm sure we can look forward to a lot more "change" in the days and weeks to come.
Until next time...
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Walter Anderson has an extensive background in business, served in the Marine Corps, and is experienced in grassroots political activism. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: email@example.com