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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Is Barack Obama a good man?

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the charismatic and popular 35th President of the United States, was a war-hero who'd managed to get his PT boat cut in two by a Japanese destroyer. He was the son of a mob-connected bootlegger, and he won the presidency in one of the closest elections in American history — his margin of victory came from manufactured votes in Chicago and dead people voting in alphabetical order in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. A compulsive adulterer (despite being the father of young children and husband of one of the most beautiful women in the world), he deliberately and rigorously concealed from the American public both his infidelities and his very serious health problems, the latter of which included him secretly taking drugs that could have affected his mood and perception.

His foreign policy was a dangerous farce. By approving, and then withdrawing American support in the middle of, the Bay of Pigs operation in April 1961, he created an impression of irresolution and ineptitude, which he then promptly reinforced in a disasterous face-to-face summit with Soviet premiere Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961. Khrushchev, in response, escalated the long-simmering tensions over Berlin by throwing up the Berlin Wall in August 1961 and then securing the rest of the Iron Curtain borders with the West, followed by increased Soviet support for the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, and then by the installation of offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962. The resulting crisis, including an American naval blockade of Cuba, brought us closer to nuclear war than we've ever been before or since. To secure the missiles' removal, Kennedy had to make a secret promise to withdraw American missiles from Turkey and a pledge that the U.S. would not invade Cuba to overthrow Castro's government there — thereby selling the Cuban people into communist oppression and guaranteeing an anti-American Soviet client state 90 miles off the coast of Florida that has, in fact, outlived the Soviet Union and persists to this day. JFK's inconsistent policies in Vietnam also led to the Diem assassination in November 1963, in connection with which the most competent elements of that struggling ally's army were also purged and several years' progress against the Viet Cong lost; as a result, LBJ was obliged to intervene more dramatically, with vastly more American ground troops, in 1964 and 1965.

Domestically, JFK succeeded in passing some tax cuts, but most of the rest of his "New Frontier" agenda, including the civil rights portion of it, was bottled up in Congress. Arguably, the greatest success of his entire administration was his support for the nascent American space program, which in May 1961 he committed to the goal of a moon landing by the end of the decade. Cynics will say that even that had disguised motives — a backhanded way to re-label money that otherwise would have been called part of the defense budget, something to bribe and occupy LBJ, and a series of tailor-made TV appearances and ticker-tape parades that would reflect glory on JFK.

We'll never know whether Jack Kennedy would have become a more effective president because he was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. I was a first grader then, in a heavily Democratic state but with Republican parents who'd voted for Nixon in 1960. Yet if asked, I would have said then, without hesitation, either on the day before or the day after he was shot, that John F. Kennedy was "a good man." Of course, I know much more about him now than I did then. I recognize that he was sharp, energetic, patriotic, and a great leader despite his many failings, but overall, I do not much admire John Kennedy. I no longer think that he was anything close to being a good president, much less the "great president" that the circumstances of his death pumped his already inflated reputation into.

Despite all that, however, I still think John F. Kennedy was, on balance, a good man.

I could write a similar series of paragraphs about Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter, respectively the 37th and 39th Presidents. In both of their cases, I'd end up concluding that they started off as "good men," but then went so far astray that I could no longer make that claim for either of them. (In Carter's case, that would actually be based on his post-presidential conduct.)

I likewise will readily conclude that — to move forward from JFK as an arbitrary starting point — LBJ, Ford, Reagan, Bush-41, and Bush-43 have all been "good men."

And I have no doubt at all that despite his political skills and brilliance, Bill Clinton was, and is, a bad man — easily as bad as Nixon ended up becoming, and worse than Carter.

Your mileage may vary. This is obviously a very subjective subject.


My blogospheric friends Jeff Goldstein and Patrick Frey are engaged in a debate over whether Barack Obama is a "good man." They are both fine advocates, and each makes good points. I think that Jeff's passionate opposition to Sen. Obama, however, has taken him into territory where Patrick and I aren't yet willing to go.

I do not know, for example, if John F. Kennedy personally authorized the details of the voter fraud that was committed on his behalf to get him elected in 1960. I think it's unlikely that he did, although it's likely that he probably was generally aware that there was something crooked being done and that he failed to investigate or interfere. But if it were proved to me that he'd known of and authorized the exact actions, or given a clear authorization that included such actions, then I would change my opinion of him. He had ethical responsibilities that which he clearly failed to fulfill, but I don't think that he was guilty of any actual crime himself, and while that certainly is a black mark in his record, I don't think it outweighs all the other good things that would lead me to conclude that, overall, he was still a good man.

Similarly, if I were to learn that Barack Obama made the decision to turn off his campaign website's credit card anti-fraud measures — an action that cannot be explained on any basis other than an intention to facilitate campaign finance fraud — then I would join Jeff in arguing that Obama is a "a con man and a thief." I am disappointed that Sen. Obama has not yet publicly identified and fired the person or persons who did make that decision, and I would agree that puts his entire new administration under an ethical cloud, just as was the Kennedy Administration by virtue of the voter fraud in Illinois and Texas in 1960. I just don't have the facts I need to draw further conclusions beyond that yet.

But on a sliding scale, with Adolf Hitler and Jesus at either end, there's an awful lot of room in between those ends, and an awful lot of room even between either end and the half-way mark. (NB: I don't intend to define "good" here in a strictly religious sense, and I picked Jesus as someone who I hope is a familiar and noncontroversial exemplar of a righteous and good life; but substitute an Old Testament prophet of your choice, or Buddha, or a hypothetical "maximum goodness" figure if you wish.) Jeff allows that Obama is (or at least he appears to us all to be) a "good politician, sure[, and a] dedicated husband and father." Even if the former isn't worth much territory on my sliding scale, the latter is. So is patriotism. So is a willingness to work hard.

This is an interesting debate, but it's not terribly productive. It's pretty Keith Olbermannesque (and yeah, I'll agree that he's a bad man, although mostly he's just an annoying one). We certainly ought not let this argument generate any hard feelings among those who remain — as I think Patrick, Jeff, and I all are — political opponents of the prospective Obama Administration. Obama's already making decisions that deserve scrutiny, even before January. It's not like we're short of blogging topics.

I still very badly want an answer to my question about the credit card anti-fraud protections: What did Obama know, and when did he know it? And I agree with — and incorporate by reference, as if fully set forth again here — Patrick's many reservations about Obama and his bad policies. I'll add to those that I think Obama has knowingly, and inexcusably, chosen to associate with some bad people — among whom I'd certainly include twisted dollop of evil scum Bill Ayers and convicted politician-buyer Tony Rezko. Obama's decisions to associate with those folks, and with several organizations who shelter and attract bad people, would lead me to agree that Obama has consistently demonstrated very bad judgment.

But "bad man"? Naw, I'm just not there yet. Might get there, but not there yet.

I don't think that's because I'm being "noble," and I would vigorously dispute that it's because I'm being naïve. I'll go so far as to concede that I'm deliberately giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on some of his associations, to call that merely "bad judgment" as opposed to evidence that he, himself, is also a "bad man." And I respect Jeff, and others, who disagree, and I credit them with good faith in making that decision (at the same time I urge them to return that respect to those who haven't).

That's where I come down, anyway. I don't think the president-elect knows or would much care. And you might not either — but hey, nobody forced you to visit this blog, eh?

Posted by Beldar at 12:56 PM in Obama | Permalink


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(1) Dan Collins made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 1:17:06 PM | Permalink

Meh. Obama's just a douchebag.

(2) Christoph made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 1:36:46 PM | Permalink

This is what Patterico wrote just after the election:

“he is still, for a politician, a basically decent guy, trying to do what he thinks is right for the country.”

This is what he wrote just before the election:

"Look again at the picture of the 18-week-old fetus. Are you comfortable with stabbing that creature in the head with a pair of scissors and sucking out its brains? When statistics show that most such abortions are not done for physical health reasons?

"Bottom line: Obama has pledged to sign legislation that will bring us that unnecessary horror again."

Now Patterico calls Obama "decent". Good in essence. Wonderful standards those.

An offense to good men everywhere whoever they may be!

Oh, then there's everything else we know about Obama.

(3) Daryl Herbert made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 1:38:06 PM | Permalink

I'm 100% ready to start calling Barack Obama a bad man. Giving us the middle finger before his victory was enough to remind me how immature and partisan he is.

But I will hold back . . . and wait for him to start screwing up, first.

Sen. Obama: you have a chance to be my president.

If you wreck our economy, I will call you a fool.

If you use your office to suppress our freedoms, I will come right out and call you a bad man, and say that you are not my president.

If you use your office for personal gain, or to benefit corrupt aides, that's okay with me. I would rather you spend your political capital on enriching your cronies than on impoverishing me with new entitlement schemes. The same thing goes for sex scandals. You can have any woman (or man, or combination of women/men) over 16 for all I care.

(4) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 3:29:50 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: This storm baffles me. In the Goldstein-Frey squabble, Goldstein has all the arguments on his side, with the best one being the comparison of McC telling everyone, "Look, the press likes me, they're my buddies," while being far too witless to realize the press was toying with him in contemptuous affection. Then, when it looked like McC might actually pose a threat to The One, they beat hell out of him. So, too, with the Frey thesis that Obama is a good man. The question is vague enough to be meaningless. There has not been a "good" man as Prez since William McKinley. Why so many on the right seem to feel the need to blubber in the Frey style, that The One is a "good" man is a great mystery. Stick with this adaptation of Stephen Decatur's line:

"My President, may he always be right, but my President, right or wrong."

That's all that's needed, not long maudlin blubberings that invite contempt from the corrupt press.

I would be interested about WHY you think Lyndon Johnson was a "good" man. He was capable of colossal swinishness, and far too many of those close to him ended up as doormats whose lives were derailed, if not destroyed (see e.g. Walter Jenkins, or Gene Latimer)

I"m also baffled why you would advise Sarah Palin to run for any Senate seat. She's already marked for future preferment. Putting her in the Senate is putting her in an arena, hands tied behind her back, just beneath the bull's eye. Imagine what such vermin as Sullivan would do in a case (watching Sullivan twist and squirm as The One trashes conservatism while Sullivan roars that he is the only true conservative, will be a never=failing source of cynical amusement.) More, what would Palin learn by being in the Senate? Foreign affairs? Reid will make dam sure she's kept off the Foreign Relations Committee, and will use her for target practice. How can she defend herself in that situation? She can't. No, stick to Juneau, run for a second term in 2010, and see what happens. That will be a full time job. The collapse of oil prices is going to squeeze hell out of Alaska. No refund checks for Alaskans next year.

The real question for me is whether the McC campaign has damaged Palin, by getting out all the lurid lies (see Sullivan for a loathesome sample---to my mind, he and Ayers are twins separated at birth lest they both scare each other to death) that can, and will, be used, to assail her. Look for Alaska's share of pork to vanish under The One. Anything that makes Sarah look bad.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(5) Snowbunnie made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 3:56:55 PM | Permalink

Beldar: I followed you here from Hugh's site where you have been guest blogging. In the waning days of the campaign I read often your articles and Hugh's.
Reading your complete article here about past presidents and whether or not they were either good or bad men, I was interested in your speculation about whether or not Kennedy knew about the fraud in Illinois and Texas. Even if he did it would not have made a difference and in that respect, I think Obama is the same. Kennedy, as Obama is now, was the front man for much more ambition and chicanery that to a large degree remains hidden.
For Kennedy it was his father Joseph. Devasted with the loss of Joe Jr. who had been groomed for the presidency, Jack was his substitute and he would not be denied. He got together with Daley and the mob and they rigged the vote. Even at that it was less than 1%. Such a squeaker but Nixon did not contest as Gore did. In those days, the press was in the tank for the Kennedys ( covered up the womanizning and even assisting at times in the clandestine visits to the White House)how much more they colluded is anybody's guess for in those days we never found out about it.
We do know now that it was a bought election. Just as todays. Does Obama know about the details of all the vote rigging , credit card fraud?
I think Kennedy knew little. I think Obama knows everything. He is just not interested in the details. It is the attainment of the ultimate goal that is important to Obama. And he and his supporters and backers have now achieved that goal. It is payback for them. As Moveon.org stated yesterday: "We gave you 88 million dollars and we will have our way'.
Obama did not hang out with the characters he has for no reason. NO person hangs out with that crowd if they love America and all she stands for. The signs, literally are all there: Would not hold his hand over his heart for the pledge. Refused to wear the flag pin
Put up his OWN logo until the uproar then changed his logo to look something OTHER than the existing Presidential Seal.HIS allegience is to himself. The arrogance of the man knows no bounds. He once offered this advice to McCain : "You do not know what you are up against. I do NOT intend to lose!"...
So, even if we give the man the benefit of the doubt, his very own words make it clear that he knows everything and intends to implement his Marxist views. Mr. Obama is the front man for very powerful forces but unlike Kennedy he knows who he is and why he is there and intends to make sure he gets what he wants. President Kennedy was a good man inasmuch as he was a war hero and although rich beyond measure chose to serve, or shall we say forced by his father to 'serve'.
It has often been rumored that Joseph Kennedy,Sr. while Ambassador to England was VERY cosy with Nazis. Joe Jr. died in that conflict. Jack was wounded.
Perhaps he felt America owed him one of his sons the presidency.Regardless, he was willing to pay for it and get his connections in the mob to help him do it.
For President Kennedy, his youth and inexperience in foreign policy nearly got all of us killed and he was far more experienced than this blank page Obama. What will be written on that blank page and what will it cost America and all her citizens? What will it cost the world?
As Joe Biden said: "Mark my words, within six months there will be a 'manufactured crisis' in which Obama will be tested" It took people 70 years to throw off the shackles of communism.
We are America. It might take us a generation to fix what is about to happen.
I offer you this today: Rham Immanuel is now his Chief of Staff.
That says it all.

(6) craig mclaughlin made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 4:09:58 PM | Permalink

So you're not ready to say that Obama is a bad man. Okay, fair enough. Are you ready to say that he is a good man? Because that's what Patterico did. Sorry, I'm with Goldstein on this one.

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 5:44:06 PM | Permalink

Mr. McLaughlin, that's an interesting distinction.

I don't think Obama is consumed by evil, although I can respect and appreciate the viewpoint of those (like Christoph above) who believe that Obama supports at least one thing, abortion rights, that lead to evil deeds. Christoph's view is based on the premise that the 18-week-old fetus is a human life — a premise that abortion rights supporters generally dispute — and if that alone is enough to make Obama evil, then there are at least tens of millions of other Americans who also must be so described.

I also don't think Obama is wicked under the terms of his own version of morality. I think that moral code includes elements that are dangerously naïve. But I think, for example, that he and I both probably believe in the "Golden Rule," even though we would quite possibly differ sometimes as to how it ought to be applied on the same set of facts.

Where I have the hardest time forming a judgment is with respect to his willingness to rationalize or otherwise overlook very bad things done in his name or on his behalf. Obama's main flaw, perhaps tragic flaw, is hubris — and I think he is in very serious danger of becoming so convinced of his own value to the nation (by his own lights) that he may well be, or have been, too willing to make those rationalizations, too willing to compromise his integrity.

All that said, I admit that it's harder for me to write with enthusiasm that "Obama is a good man" than it is for me to write "Obama is not a bad man." I guess I'll leave it at that for the moment. I do genuinely respect your contrary view, and Jeff's. And — this will disgust some readers — I could cheerfully argue either position as an advocate, were that my role. I'm not trying to be anyone's advocate at the moment, though.

Mr. Koster: From everything I've read and heard, including from some folks with first-hand knowledge as participants in his administration, LBJ was quite often a colossal S.O.B. He, too, was serially unfaithful and often casually cruel to a wife who deserved far better. He was a grudge-holder and and enthusiastic wielder of both political carrots and sticks, and as you aptly point out with specifics, he caused real hurt to lots of people. But he also had a great, great heart — one fully matched by his own ambition — and he lived a life full of purpose that also uplifted many millions of people. He, not JFK, is the greatest civil rights president of the 20th Century. He was a great man with tragic, mostly obvious flaws, and I continue to find him simultaneously inspirational and repulsive, but always utterly fascinating.

As for Gov. Palin and the Senate, my advice is entirely cynical. I'm just talking about campaign expediency. I do not think that four years in the Senate would do very much to further prepare her for the presidency, and indeed from that standpoint she would probably be better off, as you suggest, remaining as her state's chief executive. (They'll still do fine with oil at $60/bbl, by the way, but if it drops to $30/bbl, that's another story. I don't think it will.) Four years in the Senate, however, would be enough to deprive her critics of ammunition for the claim that she lacks foreign policy experience. I know, I know, that's bunkum — I'd trust her judgment on foreign policy matters today in a heartbeat over Joe Biden's, or that of many other members of the World's Greatest Ego-Massage Deliberative Body. I agree that the Dems (be it Reid or Hillary) won't permit her to actually pass any legislation, but I don't think they can veto GOP committee assignments, can they? Perhaps most important: I think the connection she has to middle America would not be substantially eroded by four years in Washington, or even eight.

(8) Milhouse made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 5:45:20 PM | Permalink

There is no chance that Obama was involved in the decision to turn off the safety checks on the credit cards. That's just not the sort of decision that a candidate is ever involved in. It's like involving the candidate in deciding where to buy copier paper; Bill Clinton would have involved himself in that, but any other candidate, including Obama, leaves that to the people the people he hired hired to handle it. If it turns out that instead of buying paper they stole it from a warehouse, it's bad for the campaign, but the candidate isn't personally responsible.

But I do think Obama is a bad person. You wrote a while back that you could not be in the same room as Bill Ayers without wanting to punch him in the face. I think any good person would feel the same way, whether or not they managed to control themselves. A good person could not be friends with Ayers and Dohrn; even if he had to work with them he'd keep the relationship professional, and never darken their door. The same applies to Khalidi and Said; the fact that he regularly had dinner with them, without anyone forcing him, means that he's not a good person.

(9) Milhouse made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 5:50:20 PM | Permalink

Palin should stay away from the Senate, but she should certainly start buffing up her foreign policy credentials. Obama didn't know much about foreign affairs before he became a Senator; everything he knows about it, he learned in the last four years. Palin can do the same.

(10) Greg Q made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 6:37:11 PM | Permalink

Milhouse and Beldar,

Do I think Obama was intimately involved in the technical details of how his campaign allowed fraudulent donations? Probably not.

Did he know that his tech weenies were going to set things up so that fraudulent donations could be accepted? Yes, I believe he did.

And that's what matters on that.

Beldar, you left out an important name: Reverend Jeremiah Wright. IMHO, there's no way a good man could have spent 20 years with Rev. Wright, let alone expose his kids to the hate spewed at that "church".

I think he's simply amoral. He wants power, or at least position, and nothing else matters.

All the charm in the world can't make up for that.

(11) Windy City Gardener made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 7:01:56 PM | Permalink

So do you think Obama was just naive when he let Rezko pay for half of his lot. Or was he naive when Rezko's friends son went to work in Obama's senate office. Shortly after Obama accepted a campaign contribution from that friend. When it was found out the kid quit. Just naive. This seems to be Obama's excuse for everything.

(12) jdb made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 7:06:57 PM | Permalink

Ah, JFK. Here's a little tidbit...

A friend of a friend was one of the Air Force One pilots when JFK came in. He was also a devout Christian.

After a couple of months of debauchery (naked women running through the plane, intoxicants of every type, etc.), he could take it no more and resigned. JFK himself tried to talk him out of it and asked him why he was resigning. He wouldn't say until basically ordered to do so - at which point he told the President of the United States that he was the most immoral man he'd ever met.

Needless to say, he was quickly ushered out the door. :) Serial adulterer doesn't begin to cover it...

(13) Beldar made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 7:39:22 PM | Permalink

Windy City: The Rezko deal is also extremely troubling to me, yes, although I don't think your paraphrase of the deal is accurate.

From everything I've read, Obama got a $300k discount off the asking price for his house and lot while Rezko paid full price for the undeveloped side lot. I have a hard time believing that Obama is that much better a negotiator than professional real estate buyer/seller/developer Rezko. Should Obama have never done this deal? Of course he shouldn't. Did he benefit, to the tune of many tens of thousands of dollars (if we assume that in unconnected arms-length fair-market transactions, someone in Rezko's position would have insisted on sharing in some proportionate measure in the discount off asking price that Obama was getting)? Of course Obama benefitted. Was the later deal whereby Obama bought back from Rezko a strip of property adjoining his lot to expand their garden also crooked? I have a harder time seeing that. Do I think the transaction where one of Rezko's other lawyers bought out the balance of the property from Rezko (or, technically, his wife) was another arms-length transaction, or was it instead intended to further some other purpose, probably nefarious? Obviously, the latter.

Do I suspect that Patrick Fitzgerald is still looking at further potential indictments in connection with this whole deal, if Obama doesn't sack him when he takes office in January? You're damned right I suspect that. Has Rezko fingered Obama yet — by saying, for example, that Obama was fully aware of and in agreement with the mis-valuation of the two properties, so as to make Obama a co-conspirator to the making of fraudulent statements on the federally guaranteed mortgage that Rezko's wife took out on the side lot (and perhaps on the Obamas' own mortgage), since such mortgages routinely require statements made under penalty of perjury that there are no "side deals" or undisclosed agreements? All I'm reasonably sure of on that front is that Fitzgerald is the kind of prosecutor who'd do his best to play it by the book, and if his instinct was that he doesn't have enough yet to ask a grand jury to return that indictment, he wouldn't leak or spring it prematurely notwithstanding the election and inauguration timing.

Like the credit card deal, the best scenario I can imagine for Obama is one in which he was willfully ignorant of crimes being committed by others on his behalf. One can draw inferences about what he knew or should have known, but inference is a fancy word for a plausible guess. I'm not yet aware of evidence from which a jury could convict Obama on the Rezko/Obama house deal, nor on the credit card campaign finance deal. So I guess I'm giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on those, for now.

Greg Q: The fact that no one from the MSM has pressed Obama at all on the credit card fraud enabling makes my blood pressure soar. That's the question that should have been shouted at him from the tarmac at every airport, and from the sidewalk at every building entry or exit, for the last two weeks. The reporters who are ignoring this are unprofessional prostitutes, plain and simple. But the only place this whole issue continues to get any play at all is, as far as I know, my blogging and that of maybe a few other right-of-center bloggers, and not even very many of those. It makes me sick at heart.

The stuff we've all heard from Rev. Wright was awful. I agree that it's hateful, bigoted, spiteful, divisive, and unlike any Christian philosophy to which I could ever subscribe. It's profoundly misguided. It's not criminal, though. And it's the kind of thing that I can understand how people talk themselves into believing, even though I think that's a horrible mistake on their part. I also think one has to keep in mind that all of the clips we've seen cumulatively amount to only a few minutes; and while I suspect there would have been other things from Rev. Wright that I would have found objectionable on almost any given Sunday, I think it's almost certain that not much else of his preaching was as incendiary as what was in the video clips. And I am also willing to credit Wright, and that church and its other members, with doing good works in the community — things that weren't overtly political — and those things must be offset against Rev. Wright's hate-speech. Ultimately, I'm frankly less willing to pass a harsh judgment on some other listener for his failure to storm out of church based on what's come from the pulpit than I am of most of Obama's other associations — certainly including those with Ayers and Rezko, probably with Khalidi, and maybe with others. Again, I respect others who disagree with me on that, and I understand the counter-arguments.

(14) bains made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 7:57:14 PM | Permalink

I followed the conversation between Patterico and PWisdom with interest as both sites occupy high spots in my bookmarks. What fascinates me more that the specifics however, is the essence of the argument.

Patterico seems to be arguing to a MSM fed jury, using language that the left deems acceptable. Jeff is saying that the very language that Patterico insists is necessary to placate the left (and the MSM) is utter BS, constructed wholly to place the uninitiated in a losing situation. How can you have a rational conversation with someone who views Republican as a synonym to racist... How can you put on a good face for a group that has long ago built in effigy, a caricature of you to burn in perpetuity?

Actually, were I Patrick, I would take most offense at the implication that I was sounding like David Brooks, or Peggy Noonan.

(15) DW made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 8:17:07 PM | Permalink

Thanks for another fine post, Beldar. I believe that JFK probably accomplished more in death than he did, or ever might have, in life. His popularity/approval had begun to decline in 1963, and there were doubts that he would be re-elected. LBJ wisely harnessed the horror of Kennedy's tragic death and the country's sorrow over the event to push through legislation that otherwise may have failed.

And George Will perhaps best described Clinton as "not the worst president the republic has had, but [he is] the worst person ever to have been president."

(16) Windy City Gardener made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 8:39:17 PM | Permalink

The problem I have with the property deal is. Why would Rezko want to buy a lot he had no intention of building on ? I think the only reason he sold it back to Obama was the deal was discovered. I don't think Obama ever intended to pay. I know Tony and he does not do favors for nothing. The most disturbing thing about Rezko is his connections to Farrakhan.
You're right about Fitzgerald. He's very careful. Before Governor George Ryan was indicted the press kept asking the feds if he would be indicted. The feds would make no comment so about one month after he was reelected the indictment came down. The people of Illinois were not happy with the feds. There needs to be a better way of informing the public before these guys are elected.
I'm thinking Rezko is talking. He has two sons and a wife that is accustomed to high maintenance. If he's going to do the time Rita will not stick around.
Also we have another trail coming up with another big Chicago political contributor
Chris Kelly. He's
Blagojevich's guy. But it would be hard to believe he hasn't also contributed to Obama. Word is he's also squealing to the feds. Chicago politics, the gifts just keep coming.
Fitzgerald said they would never have enough money or men to clean up this city.

(17) rls made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 9:16:37 PM | Permalink

Words have honor. Or to put it another way - linguistic integrity. I really believe to call Obama a good man is akin to never calling another man good. What would the use be?

It is something so simple, as is done countless times every day in countless restaurants across the country. When the server or the cashier asks how the meal was, the invariable, unconscionable answer is something like, "great" or "wonderful" or "excellent". Done simply without thinking of the harm one is doing to the real infrequent "excellent" meal.

If all of ones meals are excellent, what word does one use to describe that rare extraordinary meal? Super excellent?

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging adequacy using the word "satisfactory"..one may be the recipient of some blank stare, but try it some time. I have gone as far as using the word "marginal" when it is appropriate.

It is the same as telling every person you date that you love them. What word do you then conjure up to describe that emotion when it becomes real?

I don't have the the linguistic ability of a Jeff Goldstein, but I know, for the most part, when a descriptive word is inappropriate.

By the way, your post was more than satisfactory.

(18) Terry Gain made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 9:19:07 PM | Permalink

Patrick Frey seemed to be saying that Republcans must say nice things about Obama or risk being perceived as nasty.

It was a convoluted argument. There's no need to say anything but congratulations and would you explain why the AVS system was disabled?

As to the 18 week old fetus, if it's not a human life, then what kind of life is it?

In fact the precise reason the life of that fetus is being ended is because it is human.

(19) Bill Lever made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 9:55:07 PM | Permalink

When Richard Nixon visited the White House early in the Clinton administration, I remember seeing the "photo op" picture and thinking to myself: "There are two men who understand the abuse of power perfectly."

(20) JS made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 10:00:33 PM | Permalink

This is a joke, right? A racist is a good man? (David Duke and that idiot Byrd don't get the same benefit of doubt, and rightly so). A man who befriends a terrorist who's only regret in life is that he "didn't do more" (to kill more Americans), is a good man? A man who attends a party celebrating an Islamic terrorist is a good man? Are you just trying to generate traffic? Do you really not know the answer?Are you that afraid of blacks? Sadly, yes...

I give up. The guy all of you hate is right: this whole thing is the government-media complex in action.Hitler is the only guy you can judge to be a "bad man"? Pathetic

(21) JS made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 10:09:09 PM | Permalink

Sorry. Left out the most important point (this may remind you of your pal Hitler in some small way): A man who fights to deny a new born baby the right to survive; who fought to ensure that that new born BABY would starve, and freeze, and dehydrate to death, IS A GOOD MAN? In what way are you confused? The only thing that will convince you that this racist piece of America hating garbage is not a good man would be proof that he rigged the election? That is why America is doomed. This idiot has laid out the case against himself in BIG BOLD LETTERS, and you refuse to see it. You truly have no honor.

(22) jc made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 10:42:54 PM | Permalink

I am struggling with some personal questions at this point.

Have I just been fooled by Repubs using scare tactics to try to win an election? If so, it sure worked. What should I do to keep myself from being manipulated in that manner again? If it is all just scare tactics, maybe I should have an open mind about the guy.

Or, is Obama really a marxist? If so, I can't seem to remember a single marxist who gained power without making a play to be a dictator. What are the proper decisions to make given such concerns? At a minimum, careful, precise and circumspect speech is required.

Are the election reports of financial and voter fraud real? If so, we have elected a person who at best is on a moral par with Nixon. It could be far worse than that. What milestones should one look for in case we are really in the kind of situation these questions suggest? Recognizing milestones is a must because the highest probability is that the situation will be way too far gone to reverse if action is delayed too long.

Since the press is entirely complicit, what are the appropriate tactics going forward? A reasoned discussion is probably a waste of time. In the face of the fairness doctrine, gun grabs, ammo bans, asset seizures, or IRS abuses, etc., what is appropriate for patriotic citizens to do without a functioning 4th estate?

Our representatives probably have no hope of success in the current political and press environment. It will be far too easy for the democratic machine to intimidate any individual senator or congressman if we citizens will not show some kind of courage and willingness to sacrifice along with those representatives. Should general strikes and other nonviolent actions be at the ready so that our representatives actually have a real chance? Should those actions be organized starting now so that they are already in place as each negative milestone comes into sight?

I wish I had answers. What I know for a fact is so small and what I fear as a likelihood is so large.

(23) Beldar made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 10:55:56 PM | Permalink

JS: I welcome opposing viewpoints, when expressed with civility. I have acknowledged that people may have very different viewpoints from mine on this particular topic.

But don't come to my blog and expect me to pay for the bandwidth to empower you to accuse me of having no honor, or of being a "pal" to Hitler.

Go elsewhere on the internet, or start your own blog. You're not welcome here.

(24) Another Drew made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 11:29:15 PM | Permalink

Over at PP, you remarked that the Palin staffers who have leaked the "bathrobe/towel" story should be horsewhipped. Personally, I like the 'old West' variation on that, particularly for the weasels who have betrayed their confidences in this campaign:
They should be horsewhipped, 'cause hangin's too good for 'em.

Their dishonor needs to be heralded wide and far, and by name.

(25) Christoph made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 12:51:32 AM | Permalink

You remind me, Beldar, of why when over 1 year ago I was finally banned from Patterico's for calling you a moron, I should wear this as a badge of honor.

And Beldar? You're not a friend of Hitler.

You're a friend of the guy who warns us of how awful and barbaric Obama is, and then days later when Obama actually wins the election, tells us everything's cool, Obama's really a good guy, don't look at the charismatic wizard behind the curtain.

Ignore all that we know about him, all that your commenters (and Patterico!) have raised, and much that they haven't... for the meaning of "good" has now sunk down to this level.

[Edited to remove all caps and boldface. — Beldar.]

(26) Beldar made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 1:05:02 AM | Permalink

Christoph (#25), please be civil, or go away. Here's a clue: When your comment includes bolded all-caps, you're probably not being civil. Calling either the host or other commenters here "morons" isn't considered civil either.

Patterico is indeed my friend. Neither of us is saying that "everything's cool." Your arguments don't become more persuasive, but rather less so, when you fabricate things or put words into others' mouths that they have not used.

Neither of us is attacking you for your opinion about Obama. But if you can't be civil, you'll have to express your views elsewhere. Last warning.

(27) Christoph made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 1:14:36 AM | Permalink

By "everything's cool" I mean "has the best interests of the country at heart".

A highly dubious proposition, if the country is the one founded on the U.S. constitution, which he disdains, but will falsely swear to uphold.

(28) Beldar made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 1:49:44 AM | Permalink

Okay, that's a civil comment, Christoph (#27, yay for new comment numbers!). Thanks.

I agree that Obama doesn't have the "best interests of the country at heart" as I would define those interests. To the contrary, I think some of the interests he holds dear — spreading the wealth, for example — are absolutely contrary to the country's best interests. I think I've made my opinion of that very clear in my pre-election posting, and I'm not retracting any of that.

However, I also recognize that reasonable people can differ on what's "best." In fact, I'd go farther and say that people can have unreasonable views about what's "best" without thereby becoming "bad people." Misguided people, they may well be (and Obama is one); dangerous people, also (and Obama is that too). But by their own lights, they're not being unreasonable.

Now, I'm very skeptical of cultural relativism. I believe there are some things that are absolutely right, and some that are absolutely wrong. To pick an extreme example, I believe that giving fissile materials that can be used to make nuclear weapons to Iran would be absolutely wrong, and that anyone who thought otherwise, even if they are sincere in their beliefs, is still a bad person. That's how I choose to characterize former Pres. Jimmy Carter as a "bad person" — I think he's become so dramatically anti-Israel and pro-Islamic terrorist (not just pro-Palestinian people) that he has effectively endorsed terrorism, including the killing of Israeli innocents. And I'm certain that S.O.B. thinks that he's right by his own lights. I don't care.

You, my friend, have very strong views on the right to life of unborn children. I respect that view. I've moved much closer to it as I've gotten older. I admire Gov. Palin for what I think is the intellectual and moral consistency of her position, which doesn't vary for the product of incest or rape since the unborn child isn't responsible for that. I still find this to be a very, very difficult issue, though, and I'm much closer to being able to agree that all abortions are "evil deeds" than I am being able to take the next step of concluding that all who support abortion rights are evil people.

Obama did indeed stake out a position to the left of even most committed pro-abortion-rights Democrats. I wrote about that; so did Patterico; and I thought, and think, that was among many, many other good reasons not to vote for him. Does that mean that if he had been passing by the Chicago hospital linen closet where Jill Stanek found that born-alive infants were being left to starve to death without medical care, he would have thrown open the doors and strangled any such baby he found there? I don't think so. Might he have continued walking if he heard a baby crying through that door? I don't know. But were I to guess, I'd still guess that he wouldn't keep walking if confronted with that situation in real life, and that in casting his contrary votes in the Illinois legislature, he was acting out of a craven political desire to ensure that no pro-abortion rights group would ever be able to fault him for taking anything less than the most extreme position. He certainly knew that his vote was not going to change the outcome. Does that wholly excuse him from what ought to have been the political consequences of that vote, including the criticism that Patterico and I and many others leveled? No, of course not.

But does it make him evil? Again, I respect those who reach that conclusion, but I'm just not ready to go that far yet. I hope folks can respect that.

Even if you don't, that's fine. You're entitled to hold an opinion disrespecting me, or Patterico, or whoever. Just know that I'm not going to shell out every month to continue buying the bandwidth for you to express disrepect here.

(29) jc made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 3:40:59 AM | Permalink

a "civilian" national security department with budget, manpower, and equipment equal to the Pentagon?

ever since Ceasar, thuggish leaders have tried to have armed forces that are loyal to them instead of their country. U.S. armed forces swear to uphold the constitution. What will Obama's force swear allegiance to?

(30) Peg C. made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 7:52:50 AM | Permalink

I know people who won't call Saddam Hussein a bad man. Co-workers defend Bill Ayers to me and quote that ridiculous terrorist-freedom fighter equivocation.

Too many of us are unwilling to make judgments. Are Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter good men? Are all politicians and former presidents good men? I say no. Yes, it is subjctive. Many people believe there are no bad people. I disagree unconditionally.

For me, Obama is a bad man and a horrific man, for too many reasons to list. There is no evidence his heart is in the right place, that he loves this country, that he is capable of being a good Commander-in-Chief, that he can be a symbol of upstanding morality to this country or to the world. His history, what we know of it, is close to execrable.

For me he is not, never was and never will be a good man.

(31) A.W. made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 8:44:25 AM | Permalink

I think Obama can be described as a fundamentally feckless man, at worst, in the face of evil.

I mean he comes to Chicago, finds out this Trinity United was the best church in town to join for his political career. So he does. And you have to think at some point he figured out that this church was a den of racists, who want God to be “against white people.”

Did he stand up and say, “this is wrong, this is unchristian. I am not going to sit quietly in a church that tells me that God has to hate my own mother!”? No, he stayed and even exposed his young children to this hate.

As his political star rose, he started to interact with a man name William Ayers. At some point he must have learned what his crimes were. Did he say, “you attacked the nation I love, you tried to affect changes by violence when you should have done so at the ballot box. Until and unless you repent of this conduct, I will have nothing to do with you.”? We know the answer to that question.

As he worked in the state legislature, he learned that fully born children were being murdered, either intentionally, or by neglect. Did he say “abortion is one thing, but killing a fully-born child is infanticide!” Again, we know the answer to that, too.

During the campaign, he spoke about Iraq, predicting that as we left there might be a bloodbath. Despite that he remarkably advocated a precipitous withdrawal from that country.

And now when Iran declares that it wants to wipe Israel off the map, and while it reaches for a nuclear eraser, we are hoping he will decide it was time to do something about that evil? Geez, I hope he will, but I don’t see a lot of evidence that he is likely to do so for anything but expediency’s sake. Maybe now he has the prize, he will shift his attitudes. I mean oddly his decision to bring in a lot of clintonistas is comforting (although it makes a mockery of his change mantra) because it suggests frankly he was never as radical as his friends. But I’m not feeling terribly optimistic about the whole thing.

No, I won’t call him evil, but so far he has seemed uninterested in opposing evil. And if there is one thing history has taught us, it is that evil can only succeed if good men do nothing. Obama may think everyone will love him if he emulated James Buchanan; but to this day Buchanan is considered one of our worst presidents and his successor, who recognized that there could be no neutrality in the face of evil, is considered our greatest.

Its an open question whether Obama will ever be anything more than just the first black president. He could be remembered as a Hiriam Revels, who was the first black senator, but otherwise a senator of little note. Or he could be remembered as a Jackie Robinson or a Thurgood Marshall, who was the first in their professions but also a standout among them. (I mean even as a relatively conservative guy, I had to admit Marshall was one of the better Supreme Court justices.) I assume whatever he does, Chris Matthews will declare he is the greatest ever, but for the rest of us, we will see.

(32) stan made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 10:13:27 AM | Permalink

Obama is not a good man.

I reject the argument that he is moral as he understands morality (e.g. it is OK to commit vote fraud because Republicans are evil).

Obama's support of Acorn over the years is unconscionable. His financial support for Wright and Pfleger and all the hate-filled, America-hating, left-wing whackos that he gave CAC money to cannot be reconciled with his being a good man.

He enabled vote fraud and campaign contribution fraud. He authorized thugs to try to shout down journalists. He lied extensively about his past. He slandered American troops. He slandered his opponents.

He's not a good man.

Beldar -- JFK called Mayor Daley a number of times on election night and well into the early morning. Daley kept assuring him that he would deliver Illinois. Even lefties like Tom Wicker were convinced that JFK stole the election. Given all the phone calls JFK made to Daley, it seems silly to argue that he didn't know what Daley was doing.

As for LBJ, Caro's account of the massive vote fraud in the Texas senate race in 1948 is jaw dropping.

(33) WindyCityGardener made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 10:39:01 AM | Permalink

Read John Kass of the Chicago Tribune today. He has a great article in Emanual.

(34) Bench made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 2:57:55 PM | Permalink

I don't know how anyone can be a serial adulterer and be called a "good" man. You think that kind of guy has some individual moral code that tells him that's ok? Or does he ignore what he knows is right because he's having too much fun?

A moral code that tells you it's ok to be cruel and disloyal to the closest person in the world to you, to whom you have made vows and promises is a code not worthy of respect.

Further, Beldar made the distinction between a "good" man with very bad judgment, and a bad man. I don't see a practical difference. Aren't we good or bad based on the things we DO? If I do bad things for bad reasons, but some good comes out of it,am I a "good man"? If so, the term has no meaning.

(35) Wince and Nod made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 3:41:07 PM | Permalink

Cost posted from Patrick's site.

King George III was also a good man. (He really did try hard to be a good King for The British Empire, before his madness, and He was greatly mourned at his death.) His government did tyrannical things, like close the port of Boston. I think the Freedom Of Choice Act is worse than closing the port of Boston. Our Founding Fathers called King George and Parliment tyrants. So, Beldar, would you ethically call President-Elect Obama a tyrant?


(36) JS made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 7:02:48 PM | Permalink

Hold on. He loves the idea of babies dying for no reason at all (once "out" they aren't much of a threat to mom's life are they?) so much that it was the only thing he really fought for his whole political life. Yet because he never actually killed a baby, he doesn't qualify as "bad". Good Lord. I suppose the driver of bank robbers is ok too. As was the guy who mixed the Kool aid, but didn't actually pour it down anyone's throat. We like you Barry! Please don't "Fairness Doctrine us! It wasn't us, we swear!!

(37) anthony natale made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 9:26:39 PM | Permalink

Beldar - I think Obama is a bad person - he stated he would approve the abortion of his grandchild to save his children from the inconvenient hardship of raising a baby. Yes, there are many bad people out there who think like Obama. Adoption would be a better choice. Inconvenience is not a choice for abortion.

(38) A.W. made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 11:05:25 PM | Permalink


I think you have a valid counter point, but I stand by my original argument.

(39) Greg Q made the following comment | Nov 8, 2008 3:35:35 AM | Permalink


I think you're being overly optimistic if you thing a Black Liberation Theology preacher like Rev. Wright managed to avoid saying things like "God damn America" on a regular basis. It would be nice if you were right, but I'm dubious.

Watch and listen to the crowd when he says "God Damn America", or "Chickens coming home to roost". They don't find those comments surprising. In fact, they're all in agreement. IMHO, they'd respond differently if those were atypical comments by the Reverend.

(40) JS made the following comment | Nov 8, 2008 10:41:40 AM | Permalink


Fair enough. I just see "questions" such as this one, IF the writer is being sincere and not trying to generate controversy for controversy's sake, as a perfect example of why this country is in such trouble. We bend a thousand ways in our effort to avoid saying nearly anything is wrong. Just because you believe in liberal/ socialist ideas and ideals, doesn't necessarily make you a "bad" person - I get that; fighting to ensure that babies born alive will die a horrible death? My God. If that doesn't get you pushed into the "bad" column, if that doesn't allow even the biggest fan of moral equivalence the perfect opportunity to finally take a stand on something, then, we are done...

(41) A.W. made the following comment | Nov 8, 2008 4:14:43 PM | Permalink

In my mind the person who committs the act is the real monster. The person who protects that person in order to suck up to a certain constitutency is a putz, but not evil.

I mean the same could be said about Stephen Douglas, who declared that he didn't care if slavery was voted up or down. Wrong headed, but not evil. The evil one was the person who kept others in chains.

(42) JS made the following comment | Nov 8, 2008 7:59:37 PM | Permalink

Sorry A.W. but that is, in my opinion, way wrong. How can a person who knowingly not only allows another to commit murder, but fights for that very same thing (and it is murder, btw. You have a living baby being starved, dehydrated, and denied even so much as warmth), be called anything other than evil? (I'd upgrade bad...) A putz? ONLY if he were duped into his position-he had no idea what the outcome was, and was too stupid too bother to find out. Obama fully knows what is going on here, and relishes it.

Also, anyone who declared that he didn't care if slavery (owning a human being? Good God Almighty) was voted up or down is also evil. The idea that the only people who can be declared evil are those who actually perform evil acts, is ridiculous.

I suppose you also find it wrong that the guy who drives the murderer to the murder scene, fully aware of what his roll is, and that a murder is going to take place, is punished just as hard as the guy who pulls the trigger. He didn't do the killing himself, he just "helped things along', and therefore, he is not evil? You seriously do not see this? You do not see the difference between that, and say, some guy giving a ride to a guy whose truck just broke down , or so he was told?

Go Obama, I guess. Not me. He is an evil, and a bad person. No one with a soul would fight for the "right" to kill a baby.


(43) A.W. made the following comment | Nov 9, 2008 12:01:12 AM | Permalink


I think our philosophical discussion has petered out, but why do you keep pretending i am boosting Obama.

Its is percisely these moral failings that pursuaded me to vote for McCain, not to mention Obama's utter lack of experience, so forth and so on. McCain was a weak candidate, but i have seen potted plants with a better sense of right and wrong than Obama. And it is not enough for President to "do no harm" but he (or hopefully eventually she) has a positive duty to protect us from other, particularly the suicide bombing types. This was not even a close call for me this election. and i am really pretty stunned that the American people actually elected this moral midget to the position in america with the greatest power, and thus requiring the greatest sense of moral imperitive.

So to sum it up, just because i refuse to call Obama evil at this time doesn't mean i am on any level glad he is our president.

(44) JS made the following comment | Nov 9, 2008 9:29:41 AM | Permalink


Was not implying that you are an Obama supporter. If it came through that way I'm sorry. I was speaking only in terms of the "evil" stuff, and the pass I see him getting on yet another issue.

(45) A.W. made the following comment | Nov 9, 2008 2:17:27 PM | Permalink

Apology accepted. I think the best way to sum all of my feelings up is i think of him as a Chamberlain when we need a Churchill, a Stephen Douglas when we need a Lincoln.

Here's hoping that as he gets into office, and learns about the kinds of things Presidents are told that we are not, that he realizes the error of his ways. Or all that fecklessness was phony and suddenly he decides to care about the things he should care about. But i ain't holding my breath.

(46) Richard R made the following comment | Nov 9, 2008 10:33:55 PM | Permalink

To me it's obvious that Obama is a bad man - much like JFK (pbuh), LBJ, Nixon and Clinton. But all of them were better Presidents than Carter, who was a very good man and an awful President.

I don't think we've had a President yet who was genuinely evil. A truly evil President would simply have the opposition's judges and Congressmen killed, then pardon the killers. If they try to impeach him - have those people killed as well.

The disquieting thing about Obama is - I'm not SURE he's not evil. Too much of his past is either troubling (the links to the middle east in his college days) or simply disappeared (like all of his college transcripts). Maybe he's just working the system brilliantly. Maybe he's a marxist/islamist who'll set up the re-education camps Weather Underground's planned for all those years ago. I simply don't know.

His appointment of Emmanuel as chief of staff was reassuring. The reported consideration of Gorelick for attorney general is not.

(47) Bungalowlife made the following comment | Nov 12, 2008 11:56:36 AM | Permalink


Love your blog and the insightful commentary. That's why I'm surprised by what I take to be your naivete vis-a-vis JFK and the 1960 election. Perhaps it's because my family and the Kennedy's have interacted in Boston's Irish community for over 100 years that I have no illusions about what he did or didn't know. The history has been written. Even the idiot younger brother, Ted, was dispatched to West Virginia (don't leave out that State) with bags of cash to buy the vote from corrupt Dem leaders. No surprises there. Again, thanks for the interesting writing.

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