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Ron Radosh

What Does Obama Believe? Norman Podhoretz Gets it Right

August 13th, 2011 - 2:11 pm

Contrast that with how liberals examine the past ties of their current conservative opponents. In last week’s issue of The New Yorker, correspondent Ryan Lizza dug back deeply into Michele Bachmann’s ties, going to old friends, her pastor, and other associates. He writes: “Her appeal, along with her rapid ascent in the polls, is based on a collection of right-wing convictions, beliefs, and resentments that she has regularly broadcast from television studios and podiums since 2006, when she was first elected to Congress.” He goes through all of them, many quite disturbing, and of course, Lizza’s readers take them into account in evaluating whether or not to support her candidacy. When conservative writers did the same for Obama, they were roundly condemned for dealing in irrelevant smears, and written off completely. I do not recall Lizza, when he was a correspondent during the 2008 election, writing a similar piece on Obama, and engaging in the same kind of legwork about his background and ties. In dealing with Bachmann, Lizza goes all the way back to her associations in the 1970s and 80s, and argues that they are most relevant for understanding how she thinks and estimating what her beliefs are. As usual, liberal journalists have one standard for conservative candidates and another for those on the Left, like Barack Obama.

Returning to the observations made by Norman Podhoretz, I fully concur in his conclusion that after years of failing to get a candidate to their liking, “It was only with the advent of Barack Obama that the leftists at long last succeeded in nominating one of their own.” Why did so many give Obama a pass? Podhoretz thinks it was because he was black, and secondly, because it was supposedly ancient history — as if one’s past has no relationship to what one thinks in the present.

He concludes with this thought:

And so it came about that a faithful scion of the political culture of the ’60s left is now sitting in the White House and doing everything in his power to effect the fundamental transformation of America to which that culture was dedicated and to which he has pledged his own personal allegiance….

He is still the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president, and it is this rather than inexperience or incompetence or weakness or stupidity that accounts for the richly deserved failure both at home and abroad of the policies stemming from that reprehensible cast of mind.

In the coming campaign — one of the most important for our nation’s future — the president’s past will again be put up to scrutiny. This time around, let us hope that unlike in 2008, it will not be ignored.

Addendum: A kindly reader has pointed out to me that indeed, Ryan Lizza did write about Obama’s past, both in  The New Republic and in The New Yorker. But the point of his articles was to immunize Obama from the charges made against him by conservatives, and to ridicule the charges that he was still some kind of radical. In Kurtz’s book, he cites Lizza as being too credulous about understanding the purposes of Alinskyite organizing.

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