PJ Media

That's the Obama I Knew

When Barack Obama burst onto the national scene with his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, his speech was scarcely over before he was being spoken of as a contender for the presidency — despite being a virtual unknown.

Sure enough, Obama began running for president as soon as the dust settled from the John Kerry campaign. It was a primary season that started early and ran long; a brutal slugfest with the vaunted Clinton machine, from which he emerged not only victorious but largely unscathed, in spite of the fact that he remained a virtual unknown.

Obama was successful in large measure because he gave the appearance of being not only personally likable, but politically and temperamentally moderate. His autobiographies deftly painted a portrait of a thoughtful family man, an identity reinforced by his ever-smiling countenance and graceful demeanor.

Yet there were occasional cracks in this facade, troubling signs of a radical core under the centrist package. There were those pesky associations: Bill Ayers, for one, the Pentagon bomber-turned-educator with whom Obama shared responsibilities on a charitable board. Obama downplayed this connection, dismissing Ayers as merely “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.” Slightly harder to explain was the America-cursing, racial separatist preacher Jeremiah Wright, in whose church pew Obama sat and whose lunatic sermons Obama absorbed for nearly two decades.

And then there were the slips of the tongue that betrayed an appalling antipathy towards individual liberty: His plain admission that he would confiscate private property for redistribution (“spread the wealth”); the threat to single out a private company for government-induced bankruptcy because he disapproved of their product (coal producers); informing us that we cannot set our home thermostats where we like for reasons of global fairness.

Why did these associations and admissions not send a collective shiver down America’s spine? For one, an adoring press gave such incidents little play (as when the Los Angeles Times refused to release a videotape of Obama toasting radical anti-Israel activist Rashid Khalidi). But these hints of radicalism also conflicted dramatically with the beautiful, seemingly normal Obama family portrait.

So America shrugged, and he was elected despite the fact that he was still largely a mystery on November 4, 2008. Now, more than 100 days into the Obama era, what do we know about this man and his intentions? A lot, as it turns out. Consider four salient events from April alone:

1. At the G-20 Summit on April 1, after greeting other heads of state according to perfectly standard protocol, Obama bowed deeply to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a shocking gesture of submission and fealty to a foreign head of state.

2. On April 7, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security warned of the dangers of “right-wing” extremists, which it helpfully defines as Americans concerned with specific issues like firearms rights and immigration — essentially labeling half of America (the half that didn’t vote for Obama, coincidentally) a security threat.

3. On April 18 at the Summit of the Americas, Obama vigorously glad-handed Venezuela’s virulently anti-American dictator Hugo Chavez, greeting the communist thug like an old buddy from Hyde Park.

4. On April 21, President Obama admitted that he would be open to prosecuting members of the previous administration for measures undertaken in the desperate race to prevent another attack in the aftermath of 9/11.

These events are troubling, but are they surprising? Is it surprising that someone who entered into a business relationship with a former and unrepentant terrorist would be so friendly with an America-hater like Hugo Chavez? That a man who heard from his spiritual mentor time and again about the evils of his own country would bow before the king of another? That a man who openly praised and promised government thuggery would move to criminalize his political opponents?  And this, clearly, is only the beginning.

For many, President Barack Obama is just now coming into focus. For some of us, he was clear all along.