Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama At The Bat

Abe Bernstein , For The Bulletin

Sports fans, always hopeful, are nevertheless realistic in their expectations about the home team's standings. They know that batting averages or pass completions and prior performance counts. Their passion doesn't override their objectivity.
But something happens to that objectivity when it comes to politics and politicians. In politics, we Americans tend not to look at batting averages, prior performance or history. A politician, however limited his experience, can come to the plate, point to center field and most of us will then stand up and cheer in advance of that certain home run. It's particularly true today. Barack Obama has come to the plate with no batting average, no RBIs, no runs scored. His prior experience was as a utility infielder in a Class C minor league (community social worker and then Illinois legislator). But he has been called up to the majors, as a senator and now as the apparent Democratic nominee for president.

Let's consider his voting record in the U.S. Senate as his batting record. In the last 90 days,(April through June) the Senate voted on 80 bills or amendments. Mr. Obama didn't cast a vote on 50 of them. That's consistent with his absentee record as an Illinois legislator. What were some of those bills he wasn't around for?
* He speaks of the sanctity of the environment but doesn't show up for a vote providing clean energy tax incentives (HR 3221).
* He's a no-show for a vote on renewable energy tax credits (Amndt 4387).
* He's not there for a vote on providing educational assistance for our armed forces (HR980).
* Missing in action for a vote holding oil companies responsible for price gouging (S3044).
* No where in sight for a cloture vote on Medicare extensions (S3101).
* AWOL on promotions for Generals Petraeus and Odierno

And what does he do his first time at bat in the majors as the presumed Democratic nominee for president? He points to center field! He's the Babe Ruth of international diplomacy! By virtue of his charisma, he is going to reason with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and persuade Iran to stop building the bomb ... he's going to remove our troops from Iraq and convince the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds to live in peace ... he is going to persuade the Sudanese government to stop the murder in Darfur and, while he is against murder, he nevertheless agrees with the NRA that the right to bear arms is a constitutional right ... and while he also supports a woman's right to choose, she may not choose in a late term pregnancy ... and most significant of all, he promises to turn out the entrenched Washington insiders but has refused to participate in public election funding (after first pledging that he would) and will continue to solicit contributions from these same Washington insiders.

His speeches are marked by a rhetorical art unlike any since the days of Adlai Stevenson. And he uses that art to convince Americans not to look at his batting average or his RBIs. With virtually no executive experience, no prior political leadership at a state or national level, no legislation with his name on it, no consistency or conviction in his recent policy declarations (he has flip-flopped on virtually every major issue), he wants to be president of the United States. And he has convinced millions of Americans to disregard his absentee voting record, disregard his lack of experience, disregard his choice of religious pastors, his choice of friends, his choice of big money contributors, disregard his inconsistencies ... and make him president of the United States!

And these same passionate citizens who would never tolerate a .150 hitter in the clean-up spot of their home team ... these savvy fans are going to vote for Obama for president! Holy cow!

Abe Bernstein is a retired business executive and a Philadelphia sports fan.

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

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