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What Does Obama Believe? Norman Podhoretz Gets it Right

Before we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012, we need clarity on what he stands for, so we know how to make arguments that resonate with the American people, and so we oppose him accurately. Today, the conservative movement’s most formidable intellectual, Norman Podhoretz, weighed in with his estimate of what precisely our president believes.

Writing in the weekend Wall Street Journal, the long-time former editor of Commentary essentially made the case that Obama is a leftist and an advocate of a European style social-democratic state for America. Podhoretz starts from the common acknowledgement on both Left and Right that Obama’s star no longer shines. The Left and the trade unions are fed up with him, since except for ObamaCare, he was not able to give them what they hoped he would accomplish almost immediately. They see him as a compromiser, a poor politician, and a man afraid to fight their conservative opponents.

Podhoretz puts it nicely in this paragraph:

In short, the spell that Mr. Obama once cast—a spell so powerful that instead of ridiculing him when he boasted that he would cause "the oceans to stop rising and the planet to heal," all of liberaldom fell into a delirious swoon—has now been broken by its traumatic realization that he is neither the "god" Newsweek in all seriousness declared him to be nor even a messianic deliverer.

But contrary to those who think that Obama does not know what he believes or is simply an opportunist who will do anything to get re-elected, Podhoretz stands firmly with observers like Stanley Kurtz -- whom he does not mention -- who have for a long time been arguing the case that our president indeed is a serious leftist, who developed intellectually and politically in the left-wing culture of his time and who believes deeply in its goals and its programs. Democrats have denied this, he writes, but do so only by ignoring or dismissing what Mr. Obama himself, in a rare moment of candor, promised at the tail end of his run for the presidency: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Like others, Podhoretz points to Obama's long association with Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi. When Kurtz and many others documented these ties, they were ridiculed or ignored. Many bought the phony argument that the president was only eight years old when Ayers planted bombs. While that was true, they completely ignored his many ties with Ayers and the Left while Obama was an adult and living in Chicago. And that the president took the title of his own memoir from a Wright speech, was close to the reverend, and was a member of his congregation for years. Evidently, the press bought the lame excuse that when Wright made his most contentious comments, Obama was not present and knew nothing about them.