Confessions of an Open Minded Conservative

Promoted from the diaries by Erick.

While I am a Republican and will proudly test my Republican bonafides against anyone’s, I am, first and foremost, an American. I am also a fan of America and a student of its history and foundational philosophies. So, although I have voted overwhelmingly in my life for Republicans (including in every presidential election in which I could vote), I am willing to cross party lines and vote for a candidate that I feel is better for America.

Notwithstanding the fact that six years in the rough-and-tumble world of Texas politics and twenty years of active involvement in national campaigns have disabused me of any notion that politics is a genteel venture, I still remain something of an idealist and believe that politics and public service is a noble calling and should be, and can be, more civil, respectful and reasonable.

It was this idealism that permitted Barack Obama to pique my interest with his speech in March of this year on race. Although Obama trotted out many tired old liberal lines, he also acknowledged the reasonableness of many conservative beliefs about race and seemed to earnestly want to bring about a common understanding. To me, this was new and seemed honest and I wanted to find out more about this guy.So interested was I in this new-sounding politician that I went out and purchased his book The Audacity of Hope. My mind was open and I wanted to learn more about Obama to see if the “cuffs matched the collar,” so to speak. Imagine me in my “Reagan Revolution” t-shirt in my bedroom reading Barack Obama’s political manifesto and hoping to be persuaded that he was the sort of transcendent politician to restore reason and civility to the process that I had long hoped for. Unfortunately, it did not take long to realize that “The One” was just another one, just another empty suit and typical liberal politician. Although the book contained some of the same reasonable- (even conservative-) sounding rhetoric that I found in his speech on race, any reasonable statement was usually followed up with a gratuitous attack on President Bush or some other typical, demagogic, partisan smear. Rather than a new type of public servant, the book, and everything that I have observed since then, have shown Obama to be just the sort of empty suit that he has often been accused of being, masking his extreme liberal politics with soaring words and an attractive personal story.

My journey of understanding over the last several months has revealed Obama to be a very familiar animal to me. I know this guy–he’s just like so many of the self-important snobs that I went to my Ivy League law school with: smug, liberal and extremely sure of his/their own intellectual superiority. Although professing tolerance (and reacting rather violently at times to what they perceive to be a lack of tolerance), these elitists scoff at the absurdity that another’s conflicting point of view might be just as defensible as their own and they genuinely believe that all of the dumb common folk should just get out of their way and let them implement their policies because the general public is too stupid to know what is good for them. While proclaiming to represent the least of society, these self-proclaimed messiahs actually hold the unwashed masses in contempt. Case in point: Obama’s now famous statement about the “bitter” rubes who cling to their guns and religion and fear of people who don’t look like them that he made when he thought it was just him and his fellow intelligencia in the room.

Far from being the post-political uniter that he would have us believe he is, he is, without hyperbole, the most liberal major party candidate to ever be nominated as president of the United States. Take any caricature of a liberal that has (unfairly or not) been applied by the Republican party to a Democrat candidate over the years. Obama is the living, breathing personification of that caricature. Tax and spender? Check. Soft on defense? Check. Anti-business? Check. Placater of enemies? Check. Socialist (gulp!)? Check. One only has to listen to what Obama has said in less-guarded moments over the years and during this campaign to know that is true (go here, and here, for example, for evidence of his redistributionist policies).

Even worse, in a political “perfect storm” of sorts, Obama has come about at precisely the right time. The public has its lowest opinion of politicians generally, the Republican brand is at a low, the global economy is facing its worst crisis in 80 years and members of the liberal press are still upset over the last two elections and are aching for one of their own to promote to the top. (Do you question this last point about the media? It wasn’t John McCain that sent that tingle up Chris Matthews’ leg or lead Keith Olbermann to lapse into giddiness not unlike that of a teenage girl ripping into the latest edition of Tiger Beat with Scott Baio on the cover (okay, I’m dating myself–Zac Effron on the cover of People, maybe?). What about the LA Times’ refusal to release a video that it has that shows Obama and William Ayers, together, literally palling around with terrorists?)

Obama is smart and very gifted. He is virtually unparalleled at giving the prepared political speech and he has masterfully crafted his rhetoric to hit upon all of the anxieties pent up among the populace. He has been able to package himself perfectly. Which raises the question: if he is all of those things that I say that he is, why hasn’t the package unraveled as it does for everyone else? Why hasn’t the rhetoric failed? The reason goes back to my earlier point about the media. The press, eager to see Obama win, has itself promoted the package and portrayed it as genuine and attacked anyone who dared to question Obama’s authenticity. (Want to question Obama’s policies? You must be a racist. Average citizen wanting to ask Obama about his tax increases? Be prepared for a swarm of “reporters” to descend upon you and go through every last detail of your entire life, Joe the Plumber. etc. etc.)

No, Barack Obama is not the savior of America or American politics. He is not a new Democrat. Those glimpses you have seen during off-the-cuff comments by Obama, Joe Biden, Barney Frank, et al are not just rhetorical flourishes and misunderstandings, they are glimpses of the future–of the type of liberal policies that Republicans once created bogeymen around. Wealth redistribution, military cuts during a time of war, cow-towing to the UN and our enemies. Far from being “The One,” Barack Obama is just another one and maybe the worst one of them all.