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Clinging to Guns and God in Small-town America
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 4/24/08

As I’ve noted before, a long, drawn-out, bitterly contested battle for the Democratic presidential nomination benefits no one but the presumptive candidate of the other party, providing ready-made, gratuitous ammunition for his use against whoever emerges, bruise and battered, to face him. The protracted battle for the Democratic nomination has not been kind to either Democratic contender. The longer it drags on, the harder it will be on the front runner. That would be Barack Obama.

Obama’s star rose dramatically early in the campaign, fueled by youth, enthusiasm, a fresh face, great stage presence and brilliant oratory  reminiscent of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. His words of hope and change resonated with young people and with liberals and independents tired of Washington politics as usual. Who could possibly be against hope and change? Trouble is, it was never entirely clear what he meant be those terms. Nor was it clear as to how a candidate so lacking in executive and government experience would go about effecting change in the world’s most complex and largest bureaucracy whose rules, culture and traditions guarantee resistance to change.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

But these troublesome details were lost in the enthusiasm generated by this charismatic candidate among his eager followers. They saw enough change and hope in his inspiring words and the prospect of the first African-American president. Getting him elected took precedence over everything else. The specifics of change could be defined after the election was won. The media, charmed by his candidacy and charisma, seldom probed beyond the generalities in his message of hope and change.

But as the grueling campaign wore on, the questions and probes were bound to get tougher and as they did, some of the luster began to fade from the candidate of hope and change. Embarrassing revelations surfaced regarding earlier associations. Most embarrassing of all were the racist ravings of family friend, spiritual advisor and former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. Mr. Obama’s response was weak, to put it charitably. He denounced the offensive language but not the man who preached it, while claiming an inability to actually recall hearing such words during the many years he was in attendance during Rev. Wright’s sermons, a claim that strains credibility.

Then came the God and guns speech in San Francisco, where he spoke of bitter small-town Americans who cling to their guns and their God. Say what? Small town Americans who cling to their faith in God and who own firearms constitute no mean percentage of the nation’s voters. It is most unwise of a candidate who seeks to become their president to imply that their faith in God is a result of some sort of bitterness or that it correlates somehow with gun ownership. What was he thinking of? That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. Millions of Americans want to know more about the candidate of hope and change and they have a right to ask.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about what he meant because I wouldn’t vote for Mr. Obama if he were running against Donald Duck. The reasons have nothing to do with race, religion or rhetoric. Quite simply, Mr. Obama is far to the left of mainstream Americans and their representatives. In fact, he is the most liberal member of the senate. Don’t take my word for it. Look at his voting record. Among other things, he voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. He opposed a bill that would have denied citizenship to illegal immigrants and voted for an act that would have allowed them to qualify for lower in-state tuition at state universities. He voted for a bill that would have required the president to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq by July 2007. As an Illinois senator, he voted against a bill to prohibit the transportation of a minor across state lines to get an abortion without parental consent.

All this is history, of course, but his campaign promises make it clear that he will follow a very liberal approach to solving America’s problems meaning bigger government, more taxes and transferring of wealth. He will work to end the Bush tax cuts which will translate to a mighty tax increase for most Americans, not just the rich. His proposal to increase the capital gains tax will affect the 79% of households earning less than $100,000 a year who report capital gains. Like so many liberals, he fails to acknowledge a demonstrated economic truth, to wit: if you increase the tax on capital gains and on businesses, you reduce capital investment and decrease tax revenue. We don’t need four years of this, especially with a recession looming.

Mr. Obama, if he emerges as the eventual Democratic candidate, will be the most radically liberal major candidate since George McGovern. Americans have not elected a radically liberal candidate in modern times. Even Jimmy Carter ran as a moderate. By comparison, Sen. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is a moderate. Hang in there, Hillary. CRO

copyright 2008 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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