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Obama Still Telling Americans "Be Like Republicans"

Last Saturday night, when both John McCain and Barack Obama were interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren, one of the questions intrigued me: what do they consider America's greatest moral failure? That one got me thinking, and I decided to limit it to just actions taken during my memory.

My answer would be those times when we have given our word to other people, not kept that word, and watched them suffer for the folly of depending on us. The greatest example I can give is in the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf War, when Iraqis under American encouragement rose up to overthrow Saddam Hussein -- and were slaughtered when our pledged support never materialized. It reminded me of the way we left Viet Nam and the Bay of Pigs incidents, and we should remember those incidents with shame.

Obama's answer, though, bothered me:

I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me, and that notion of -- that basic principle applies to poverty. It applies to racism and sexism. It applies to, you know, not having -- not thinking about providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class. There's a pervasive sense, I think, that this country, as wealthy and powerful as we are, still don't spend enough time thinking about the least of us.

(hat tip: Ed Morrissey of Hot Air)

As Ed noted, Americans are astonishingly generous when it comes to charitable contributions. So, how do the presidential candidates stack up?

Well, thanks to their having released their tax returns, we have a pretty good idea.

In the years 2000 through 2007, Barack Obama donated between 0.4% and 6.1% of his net income to charitable causes.

McCain released his 2006 and 2007 tax returns, and in those years he gave 28.6% and 27.3% of his income to charitable causes.

So it seems to me that Obama's saying that America should be more like John McCain, and less like Barack Obama.

Personally, I'm a hell of a lot closer to Obama's donation pattern than McCain's. But that's because I tend to live paycheck to paycheck (if I'm lucky). I make my good works a bit more direct -- I'm a frequent blood donor. Well, not so much in the last couple of years, but I'm getting back into the swing of things. I did the "double donation" of pure red blood cells last Friday, and I'm planning on going back once I'm eligible in December.

I got started on that back in college, when I met a woman who was in her early 40's who had a five-gallon pin. I swore I'd beat her, and I got my five gallon pin shortly before my 30th birthday. I slacked off after that, and I've lost count of my donations, but I know I'm very close to gallon # 7 -- I'll have to check with the Red Cross.

I also shanghaied a couple of my friends into donating on a few occasions. In fact, my slacking off might even have given one of them enough time to pass me -- I should check with him and see where he stands.

He's on the far side of three gallons. Phew. I can maintain my lead.

In fact, I'd encourage everyone who can to donate blood. It doesn't take that long, it doesn't hurt that much (after 50+ donations, I STILL can't watch the needle going in), and it's amazingly meaningful -- it's one of the most direct ways you can help someone in truly dire need.

But back to my point. I suspect Obama would count his works as an elected official as charitable, and I tend to not agree with that. For the most part, steering government money to worthy causes qualifies as "being generous with other people's money." Further, it's almost always far less efficient than private funding.

If only more Americans were like John McCain.

Update: I can't believe to mention that Obama's charitable donations don't seem to cover such things as supporting a school he pledged to help, and was renamed in his honor. I take a bit of pride in saying that I've given more money to the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School than Senator Obama has.


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Comments (32)

"I think America's greatest... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me,"

Gee I wonder if he includes the babies, that were breathing after the abortion failed and he decides they should be allowed to die, as on of the "least of my brothers".


More typical liberal "do as... (Below threshold)
Linoge Author Profile Page:

More typical liberal "do as I say, not as I do" nonsense. It should not really surprise me that Obama is part of the same mindset, but it does surprise me that so many people continue to support this charlatan.

Kudo's on the blood donatio... (Below threshold)
al:

Kudo's on the blood donation. I've been giving 3-4 times a year for over 20 years (it helps that we have blood drives at work 4 times a year). I wish more people would take the time to give. We have over 2000 people at work and over 2 days we're lucky to break 100 donors.

As for charitable giving - I'm somewhere in between Obama and McCain when it comes to percentage of income. this year will be a little less than usual. Next year is shaping up to be a lot more. Giving is easy once you start.

An elected offical's action... (Below threshold)

An elected offical's action can be counted as charity if they receive no payment for their time/services

Americans' supposed "lack o... (Below threshold)

Americans' supposed "lack of charity" toward the poor and disadvantaged has been a standard talking point of left-wing religious ideologues (Tony Campolo, for example) for decades, and I've never understood why. Why is it that the trillions of tax dollars we've spent on anti-poverty programs and the additional billions (annually) of private charitable contributions doesn't register with them?

The more we give, the more they complain that we don't give. It's as if they've willfully blinded themselves to the facts.

Americans are very generous... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

Americans are very generous with their time and treasure. Such stuff just doesn't get as widespread coverage in the "if it bleeds, it leads" media. Quiet service and quiet donations, whether through religious or secular organizations, is often quite stunning.

I was on a board of directors for a charity for about 4 1/2 years, and have been on the business end of numerous United Way and food drive campaigns, and I can tell you that the American capacity for compassion with their time and treasure is beyond compare.

Obama is way off base, and, methinks, is doing just a little bit of projection.

It's not necessarily a Republican or Democrat thing, either. It's an American thing. We have more money and other treasure than most people on earth, and the vast majority of Americans freely share it.

We have more money and ... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

We have more money and other treasure than most people on earth, and the vast majority of Americans freely share it.

While it's absolutely correct that there are those among us who do, is 'vast majority' really accurate? A good friend of mine falls into the lower-middle class quintile with his and his wife's income put together, and yet they donate about 15% of their income to charity and their church, while spending two nights a week working in that church's poverty outreach (there is an ulterior motive, of course - bringing those poor into the church - but they of course see that as selfless). I don't get the impression that a vast majority of Americans are similarly engaged. Lord knows I'm not.

In the years 2000 through 2007, Barack Obama donated between 0.4% and 6.1% of his net income to charitable causes.

McCain released his 2006 and 2007 tax returns, and in those years he gave 28.6% and 27.3% of his income to charitable causes.

I'll submit that Senator Obama's personal charitable contributions has no bearing on the validity of the point of whether the United States does enough to provide opportunities for its poorest. You can argue that he's wrong, but not based on whether or not he's a hypocrite on this issue - that part is irrelevant with respect to validity.

For <a href="http://www.can... (Below threshold)

For the record: Conservatives give more time, give more money, AND have better sex than liberals. Sure, they're richer, but it's still perplexing why they're so smug; as far as I'm concerned we win on every important metric.

I wish I could still give blood. I got a false positive for hepatitis, and even though I went to my regular doctor and had the test redone to show I don't have it, I'm blacklisted. My daughter is now picking up my slack.

What world do you live on P... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

What world do you live on Parthenon? Tsunami relief, the US beat them all. Katrina relief, more then generous. AIDS treatment for Africa, US wins again and those are just recent issues where the US rises above all. Of course, Michelle O wasn't proud of our country then. In the past, Farm Aid, The Marshall Plan, etc. The US has much to be very proud of. My taxes and my fellow citizens rose to the challenge. Polls and statistics is what moves liberals, well statistically, conservatives are more willing to give then liberals.

So, to stick to the post, I am not surprised by Obama's lack of giving. Liberals expect others and the government to be their morality compass. ww

This again boils down to th... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

This again boils down to the simple truth: "People do not see the world as it truly is, but rather as they themselves truly are".

So of course leftists are going to fail to recognize the uprecedented and unequalled generosity of the United States.

The same could be said about Obama's answer to the Rev. Waren's question about evil. While Obama did not hesitate to answer (which was rare for him) that it does exist, he gave one relativly minor example of evil existing in Africa then a littany of examples of evil existing within the United States (ironically enough most of those examples were of evil being perpetuated by those who will most likely vote for Obama.)

Also Obama never said that evil should be defeated (he did say "confronted" but never "defeated"), while "Defeated" was the first thing McCain said emphatically and without hesitation.

The Saddleback forum was replete with examples like these of the stark differences in the character of Obama and McCain. I wish all Americans were required to watch the entire thing before casting their votes.

That's some good points WW.... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

That's some good points WW. Maybe as a student I just don't personally move in those circles where people have the resources to donate, but it's early and my brain wasn't willing to produce for me the aid granted to tsunami, Katrina, Sept. 11 victims, and so forth. Is it possible, though, that our wallets open up for a massive catastrophe that's the sexy story in the media for a few weeks, and that we are less generous when it comes to 'slow-bleed' issues?

Also Obama never said that evil should be defeated (he did say "confronted" but never "defeated"), while "Defeated" was the first thing McCain said emphatically and without hesitation.

Do you think this maybe is a little oversemantical? Are we going to analyze their pronoun usage next? Do you actually think Sen. Obama believes people who do 'eeeevil' things ought to be confronted by not defeated?

Jay, like you, my husband a... (Below threshold)
Tammy:

Jay, like you, my husband and I tend to live "paycheck to paycheck." I do get a lot of joy out of giving though. As for donating blood, I have given and do need to more often because mine is sort of rare. However, I can't always give due to extremely (too low) blood pressure, and I haven't been able to recently due to prescription drug use. Have you ever done apherysis (sp?). I did several months ago because it had been so long since I'd been able to give. It's just where you give two pints and they give you back your fluids somewhere in there.

I don't get the im... (Below threshold)
I don't get the impression that a vast majority of Americans are similarly engaged. Lord knows I'm not.

Sure they are, and so are you. It's called taxation. Money is forcibly extracted from you by agents of the government and put into anti-poverty programs (and many other things as well). So I'd say you're engaged whether you want to be or not.

I miss giving blood. It's ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I miss giving blood. It's one of those things a person can really feel good about, not only because you are helping someone, but because blood is something for which there is no substitute. Money, time worked at a charity, and so on are all useful, but if you need a blood transfusion, nothing else will do. Sadly - sigh - my cancer diagnosis put a sharp and permanent stop on my donations. And so I feel like something is missing when a blood drive comes around and I cannot donate.

Jay, I don't really think t... (Below threshold)

Jay, I don't really think that being charitable is a real trait particular to any one political party, but it is a trait that is the opposite of a selfish nature.

Last week a handicapped guy I know called me up telling about a trailer that he would sure like to own and how much it would improve his life, so I simply decided to buy it for him as a gift.

And I've repaired hundreds of electronics and TVs for Jewish and Christian charity organizations such as for Hadassah International which operates the totally free medical services provided to both Israeli Jews and Palestinians at the Hadassah Medical Center in Israel and worldwide medical outreach. I've also offered similar help to Roman Catholic ST. Vincent De Paul Society Thrift businesses as well turning broken electronics into repaired items they can sell for a good price in their stores to support programs that offer food and housing to the poor or those in emergency circumstances.

Often I used to bring poor renters home for dinner from my building where I ran a TV shop on the ground floor. Often these renters were very poor and ran out of money and food near the end of the month, so I used to often help them out.

Certainly I'm a flawed personality myself and far from the Holy nature of God, but it sure was very good to hear some Jewish community leaders or a Catholic Priest praise some of what little I tried to achieve for others. But in your heart you just know that some things are the right thing to do. It becomes a question of what would a compassionate Rabbi like Jesus do in the same circumstances.

The louder he bragged of hi... (Below threshold)

The louder he bragged of his virtue, the faster we counted our spoons.

Oyster,The reason ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Oyster,

The reason I feel that holding men responsible is the key to ending abortion comes from numerous discussions I've had with women on this issue. Basically their point boiled down to women not being able to stop themselves, or stop the man, after a reaching a certain point of sexual arousal. I can't argue that point because I am not a woman and have never felt what a woman feels or been under the influence of predominantly female hormones. Plus the women I'm referring to had demonstrated to me that they were generally genuine and honest so I had no sound reason to not believe what they said.

But I am a man, and while I may be unique (or nearly so) for my gender, I doubt that that is the case. I know as a fact that I have always been able to stop myself when the consequences of my actions were potentially so dire that I deemed those actions unacceptable or when the woman told me she wanted to stop. But that's just me and I could be wrong here. Perhaps most (or many, or even some) men have no more ability to control themselves when presented with the opportunity to have sex than do buck rabbits. I do strongly doubt that, which is why I believe what I do.

Still I'd really like to hear the argument to be made against holding the father liable.

(Sorry about # 17 - wrong t... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

(Sorry about # 17 - wrong thread!)

"Do you think this maybe... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Do you think this maybe is a little oversemantical? Are we going to analyze their pronoun usage next? Do you actually think Sen. Obama believes people who do 'eeeevil' things ought to be confronted by not defeated?"

Listen to the interviews in their entirety and you'll see the point I'm making, Parth. It's way beyond semantics (or nuance for that matter).

Gosh you'd almost think McC... (Below threshold)
jmc:

Gosh you'd almost think McCain married an heiress for the kind of money he is giving away. Must be a good write off for his seven houses.

bitter much, jmc?</p... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

bitter much, jmc?

@Oregonmuse Your r... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

@Oregonmuse

Your reference at sixteen went over my head. Bit of help for the ignorant unwashed?

@P.Bunyan

I gather that there is a difference of philosophy with respect to engagement of enemies, non-combative but hostile types, and neutral non-allies between the two candidates, which probably reflects the difference in said issue between the two major party's programs. I see your point that the use of the word 'confronted' rather than 'defeated' could reflect that different attitude, but I don't feel it does necessarily (that I had the time to peruse the interviews, I could feel much better informed, but alas).

My sticking point with this is that Senator Obama has made clear on several occasions that he is not opposed out of hand to the use of measured, responsible military force, presumably to 'defeat' an enemy where necessary. He probably feels as many liberals do, that speaking in terms of 'good' and 'evil' often oversimplifies the foreign policy dialogue to the point where it's difficult to make a responsible decision.

Your reference at ... (Below threshold)
Your reference at sixteen went over my head

That's probably a good thing, since it wasn't pointed at you.

My sticking point with t... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

My sticking point with this is that Senator Obama has made clear on several occasions that he is not opposed out of hand to the use of measured, responsible military force, presumably to 'defeat' an enemy where necessary.

Let's rephrase the above. "I'm not TOTALLY against using appropriate military measures, if I'm convinced they're needed."

Just mostly against it, and where would he set the bar on 'necessary'? And why do I get the feeling his 'measured, responsible' military force will be too little, too late, and too poorly supplied - while being stuffed to the gills with CNN camera crews broadcasting our every move?

That's probably a good t... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

That's probably a good thing, since it wasn't pointed at you.

I figured it was directed at Mssr. Hooson, but I was still curious what it meant.

I'm surprised you can't see... (Below threshold)

I'm surprised you can't see the connection. Perhaps you're viewing his comment more charitably than I am.

My sticking point ... (Below threshold)
My sticking point with this is that Senator Obama has made clear on several occasions that he is not opposed out of hand to the use of measured, responsible military force

This is an empty statement. After all, who isn't in favor of "responsible military force"? Do you know of anyone who has claimed to be in favor of irresponsible military force. Even that evil neo-con warmonger George Bush is in favor of responsible military force. Everything depends on what you mean by "responsible."

If a politician asked for your vote because he was in favor of "good government", would you give it to him?

In the years 2000 throug... (Below threshold)
Brian:

In the years 2000 through 2007, Barack Obama donated between 0.4% and 6.1% of his net income to charitable causes.
McCain released his 2006 and 2007 tax returns, and in those years he gave 28.6% and 27.3% of his income to charitable causes.

A very disingenuous comparison, Jay. McCain could give away 100% of his earnings to charity and not even feel it. Hell, he could give away 200%! Things are a lot different for you when your $100M wife is paying the bills.

But then, you already knew that, and just pretended not to to score a cheap hit. Or are you suggesting that it's typical for Republicans to give away 28% of their income?

How much did you give brain... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

How much did you give brain-less?

"Senator Obama has made ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"Senator Obama has made clear on several occasions that he is not opposed out of hand to the use of measured, responsible military force, presumably to 'defeat' an enemy where necessary"

He also made it clear on several occasions that he beleives that his own country must be defeated if he dosen't agree with the man who was President at the start of the war (or the opinions of most of the elected member of his party at the start of the war for that matter.)

Well, not in those words, but if you read between the lines...

"I STILL can't watch the ne... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"I STILL can't watch the needle going in" -- Mr. Tea

I NEVER watch the needle go in, through all the gallons of blood that I've donated.

Did you ever see someone st... (Below threshold)
Myronhalo:

Did you ever see someone step in dog poo and then wipe it on his pants? I think Obama just did that when he said:

"I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me, and that notion of -- that basic principle applies to poverty."

And then has a half brother living in a shack in Africa. He can't say he didn't know about it because he visited him a couple of years back. You can talk about charity and loving others and helping the poor, but if you can't help your own brother, at least a little, then you are a phony when you talk about helping the poor.




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