“His words are a very fantastical banquet.” Shakespeare’s line in Much Ado About Nothing may describe the grandiloquent Democratic presidential candidate.
“Fantastical,” however, does not fit David Freddoso’s spare and sober unveiling of the man behind the rhetoric. At a time when the front tables of stores like Barnes and Noble are piled up with strident screeds by liberals against the menace of the conservative right (and vice versa), Freddoso is like a matter-of-fact prosecutor building a solid case against a defendant. The book is a thoroughly researched and footnoted dissection of Obama.
He does not claim, as Sen. Joe Lieberman implied, that the Obama whose voting record is to the left of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders might be a closet Marxist. Freddoso states he is not Marxist proof. What he asserts is that Obama is not a reformer.
A reliable supporter of the bit city Chicago machine, Obama not only never put his name to any anti-corruption measures, but he also enthusiastically endorsed and supported city candidates tainted with venality and kickbacks.
Furthermore, this investigative reporter does not think it fair to infer that the racist views of the Rev. Wright, or those of his Communist mentor in Hawaii, Frank Davis, can be imputed to Obama. Neither should the views of convicted Weatherman “bomber” Bill Ayres be ascribed to Obama, but he does question association with those radicals, which raised questions about Obama’s judgment, character, and fitness to be president.
Similarly he does not see “clear evidence” that Tony Rezko’s [later to be convicted] sweetheart housing deal for Obama “was crooked.” But he asks “why Senator Obama would engage in a transaction with a man like Rezko," a shady developer who had a record of attempting to corrupt public officials (including Obama), and "why Obama would count as a friend a long-time ally who made his living filling his bank account with government money.”
Dorothy discovered an unprepossessing man when the pyrotechnics were stripped away from the Wizard of Oz. So in The Case Against Barack Obama, Freddoso finds a typical politician behind the florid oratory. No reformer, Obama is instead conventional and cautious in his votes. Any statement or position that would jeopardize his political future is carefully avoided.
Obama’s two books are a parading of self to secure higher seats of power. His soaring speeches are laden with catchy sound bites and seduction analogies but absent of specific policy.
Freddoso also tries to figure out the sometimes humorous but also horrifying swooning of the mainline media for “The Obamessiah.” But irrational emotion does not lend itself to rational discussion. The press and television coverage of Obama’s “presidential” tour of Europe and the Mideast was to objective critics unprecedented and unfair. However, this reviewer saw some restraint by the media in that they did provide photo ops of his manger birthplace or his walking across the Sea of Galilee.
Obama’s eloquence to some invites comparison to the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan. But Reagan, in his 1980 campaign, spelled out in detail what he would do as president to limit government, cut taxes, and strengthen our defenses in the Cold War against Russia. But Obama’s purple oratory is empty of specific policy. It is, as Freddoso said, “cotton candy” — sweet tasting, full of air, but with no substantial nutrients.
The reality behind the rhetoric is that Obama is no reformer, but a run-of-the-mill liberal Democratic politician with a record in the Illinois Senate of absenting himself from controversial votes and in the U.S. Senate of never implementing reform when it might cause him to forfeit a political advantage.
“He is not a post-partisan healer,” says Freddoso, “but a partisan who uses high stake issues to prove his bona fides to his party’s extreme elements.”
Shakespeare’s King Lear said, “I want that glib and oily art to speak and purpose not.”
Obama has mastered the tricks of speech craft, but he does not manifest any specific objectives for his presidency, except the empty abstractions of hope and “change.”