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Barack Obama: International Man Of Mystery

Well, it took some serious digging, but folks have finally found a single article apparently written by Barack Obama while he was editor of the Law Review at Harvard. oddly enough, it's tangentially related to abortion -- it's about whether or not a fetus has legal standing to sue its mother. (Unfortunately, this was written in 1990, before John Edwards could have told us what the fetus was thinking and feeling.) Obama sides with the consensus of court decisions, and says "no."

This, however, highlights the incredibly skimpy paper trail Obama has left behind in his life.

Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, and only apparently wrote one unsigned article.

He spent years as a professor of Constitutional Law at a law school, and authored not one scholarly paper.

His record as an Illinois legislator is largely unknown, and his office records from that era have disappeared.

His billing records and whatnot from his days as a practicing attorney have vanished. (Has someone checked Hillary Clinton's living room?)

He was barely into his first term as a United States Senator when he started his run for the presidency, and has no real accomplishments there to talk about.

He spent seven years on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, four as chairman, and those records are only now coming to light.

On those last records, I don't expect any real surprises there. They have had two good opportunities to clean them up and purge anything embarrassing.-- first, when the Challenge shut down; and second, when people started looking for them -- and I doubt anything really juicy will survive.

The question remains: what sort of person is Obama? What sorts of things has he done in the past, what stances has he taken, what does he hold important?

I am reminded of the nomination of David Souter to the United States Supreme Court. (I hold special memories of that -- Souter being a fellow New Hampshirite. And no, I'm not especially proud of that fact.) One of Souter's strengths for confirmation was a lack of a "paper trail" of rulings and decisions and statements that outlined his judicial philosophy. That, in contrast to Robert Bork, for example, gave his potential detractors nothing to go on when opposing him.

And look how well that turned out. Souter turrned out to be a great disappointment on the bench.

Obama, it seems to me, has carefully crafted himself to be the ideal presidential candidate. He is a "Rorshach blot" candidate, allowing voters to project on to him whatever they choose to see. He's kept himself as much of a blank slate as he can, a "tabula rasa," avoiding anything that can polarize voters.

That concerns me. That concerns me mightily.

In an earlier piece, I dismissed the arguments about vice-presidential nominees where their ability to "help the ticket," to shore up constituencies needed to win elections. Some see it as a necessary evil, but I am enough of an idealist that I want the first criteria of a vice president to be "this person is best qualified to serve as president should anything happen to the president." That has happened 8 times in our history, and gave us Presidents John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford.

Likewise, I don't like choosing a president on their "electability," their ability to win the presidency. I want to look beyond November, to January 20, and see how that candidate will govern.

With Obama, I simply don't see anything. I hear his words, but they have no deeds to back them up. I don't see what ideals and principles and ideas he considers worth fighting over. I don't see where he draws lines in the sand. I don't see what principles guide him and shape his decision-making process.

I do see the sorts of people he cites as influences, and those he chooses to associate with, though, and those trouble me. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers -- three people whom I find utterly detestable and loathsome (two of which I think should be locked up), and three people who Obama chose to hitch his star to.

Somewhere, at his core, I'm sure Obama has his rock-solid principles. He has his ethics, his beliefs, his issues where he simply will not compromise, his convictions that he holds most dear.

But he's spent literally decades keeping them out of sight, no one has any way of telling what they are.

And that is something we ought not gamble on.


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Comments (9)

You say: "I don't like choo... (Below threshold)

You say: "I don't like choosing a president on their 'electability,' their ability to win the presidency." Perhaps you're unconsciously thinking of the Peter Principle: "In any hierarchy, each person tends to rise to his/her level of incompetency." Thus, we elect the most attractive campaigner, who may well - especially in the case at hand - have virtually no qualifications for the job to which he is elected.

I have mixed feelings about Sen. Biden as the newly announced running mate. On one hand, his experience and knowledge of foreign policy is in stark contrast to the inexperience and foreign policy naivety at the head of the ticket. On the other hand, he and the presumptive presidential nominee share the same unswerving ultra-liberal philosophy, and Biden led the charge in stopping Robert Bork's nomination for the Supreme Court.

"...and Biden led the ch... (Below threshold)

"...and Biden led the charge in stopping Robert Bork's nomination for the Supreme Court."

And was none too fond of Clarence Thomas.

But Jim Geraghty, as Kim quoted in an earlier piece, was right. It's going to be difficult for many who harped incessantly on McCain as "an old white guy not representative of change".

Obama was the edit... (Below threshold)
Atticus Finch:
Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, and only apparently wrote one unsigned article.

For someone who has never been on a law review, or likely ever even read one page of one, you should have thought twice before putting your own ignorance on public display.

As someone who was Editor in Chief of a law review of one of the top 10 law schools, let me advise you that all E-o-Cs have exactly the same record as Obama at their law review: one unsigned note.

All 2Ls -- which is the first year one is on review -- write a short brief article, generally unsigned, which is published, if published at all, as a "Note." Based on that Note, the performance of other law review duties, and perceptions of leadership, a select group of the 2Ls on the review are elected to the Editorial Board for their 3L year. Members of the Editorial Board then do what editors do: they edit articles written by professors and lawyers and notes written by 2Ls. They don't have the time to, aren't expected to, and never do write articles for publications in their own law review.

Your comments on Obama's law review record is yet another example demonstrating that the chief handicap of stupid people is that they aren't intelligent enough to be aware of their own stupidity.

I'll cop to "ignorance," At... (Below threshold)

I'll cop to "ignorance," Atticus, but not stupidity.

I've held two "editorial" positions in my life, and in both cases I was expected to do more writing than editing. I was unaware that Law Review didn't hold to that standard.

I will stand by my assertion that we have virtually no record of Barack Obama's thinking and beliefs, though. Hell, he's held elective office a lot longer than I've been a part of Wizbang, and my own positions and beliefs and thinking are a lot clearer to the general public than obama's -- and I'm not asking anyone to vote for me for anything.

Thank you for the correction on how Law Review works, Atticus. As for the rest... get stuffed, you pompous, overeducated, arrogant, condescending schmuck.


I will stand by my asser... (Below threshold)
John S:

I will stand by my assertion that we have virtually no record of Barack Obama's thinking and beliefs...

The problem is apparently Obama doesn't have any thinking or beliefs. His core belief is whatever happens he reads off the teleprompter that day. And the bigger problem is we don't know who's writing that script. The DNC? The Chicago Mob? Al-Qaeda? Although I guess those three are redundnant...

Another major area of conce... (Below threshold)

Another major area of concern for me is Obama's much-hyped ability to guide opposing forces together and have them work alongside each other, compromising for the common good.

Is there any record, anywhere of Obama facilitating bipartisan solutions? In Illinois? In the US Senate?

On issues where his voting record has been thoroughly investigated (such as the Born Alive bill) Obama has been staunchly partisan, and while he has allowed testimony from opposing sides to be given to his committee, he never demonstrated any interest in compromise with respect to abortion.

Another thing -- lawmakers who are known to work "across the aisles" on a regular basis are never party favorites. Look at contemporary "mavericks" -- Jim Jeffords, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, Arnold Schwarznegger, Lincoln Chaffee, etc. None of them enjoy broad, deep party support. Obama may try to fake us out by nominating conservatives to serve on his endless committees and panels, but in the end his record (and his exalted status as blessed savior of the Democrats) seems to indicate that his mind will already be made up -- and leaning far to the left -- before any discussions begin.

Thank God Biden is the VP,,... (Below threshold)
Jody V:

Thank God Biden is the VP,,, Now Hillary Supporters can Honestly Just Refuse to vote Obama now,, Pelosi & Obama were forcing the clinton to back barack Obama, And told everyone she Mite be the VP to get Hillary Voters, to back Barack Obama, WEll Pelosi Poll numbers are worst than Bush, 12% I am from California and there a campaign to Vote Pelosi out of office,

I voted Hilary Clinton, and only support Hilary Clinton, No matter what Hilary Does suspend her campaign concede her campaign. No matter what Hilary does she could even support Obama and campaign for Obama I will never Vote for Barack Obama, I do think America is ready for a black president, just not Barack Obama,,, The way The Democratic party handle this election with the Corporate Media propaganda the whole election, Turned this election upside down,, Obama could of ran over someone,, like Haley Berry, No one would care and still vote,, Obama..
There several million Voter right now like my self, will not ever vote for Barack Obama, Many like my self will be Voting for McCain, my reason is simple,, the Obama voter came on CNN & MSNBC and said if obama does not win the primary, Obama supp

"Is there any record, anywh... (Below threshold)

"Is there any record, anywhere of Obama facilitating bipartisan solutions? In Illinois? In the US Senate?"


Here is an interesting article on the issue of bipartisanship as it relates to the careers of both Obama and McCain.


Vanessa,Thanks for... (Below threshold)


Thanks for the link to the interesting article.

I think that Obama's biggest drawback is his lack of experience and paper-thin resume. After all, McCain could accomplish a lot more in 25 years than Obama could in just under 3.

And I think that Obama (and his supporters) are convinced that he really does have messianic powers to unite people toward a common goal. That's how community organizing according to the Alinsky model works, and his whole "hopey-changey-working-together-for-our-future" philosphy is straight out of Alinsky's teachings.

I also found this part of the article interesting:

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, who has written extensively about partisan gridlock in Washington, thinks it might be hard for both men to achieve their goals, but for very different reasons.

If Obama is elected, Ornstein says that the left wing of the Democratic Party will be "sky high."

"If Democrats sweep -- and believing that they don't need anybody else and that this is a new New Deal (yikes!) -- the question for Obama is going to be much more whether he has the backbone to stand up to his own base, not whether he has the willingness to work the other side of the aisle," he said.

... which underscores my point about Obama being perceived behind closed Democratic doors as the hardest of hard-core leftists. Perhaps their idea of "working together" consists of Obama snake-charming America so effectively that opposition to his socialist agenda simply melts away. But I don't think that is going to be as easy as they think it will be.






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