The Elephant in the Room: Obama: A harsh ideologue hidden by a feel-good image

Posted: February 28, 2008

American voters will choose between two candidates this election year.

One inspires hope for a brighter, better tomorrow. His rhetoric makes us feel we are, indeed, one nation indivisible - indivisible by ideology or religion, indivisible by race or creed. It is rhetoric of hope and change and possibility. It's inspiring. This candidate can make you just plain feel good to be American.

The other candidate, by contrast, is one of the Senate's fiercest partisans. This senator reflexively sides with the party's extreme wing. There's no record of working with the other side of the aisle. None. It's basically been my way or the highway, combined with a sanctimoniousness that breeds contempt among those on the other side of any issue.

Which of these two candidates should be our next president? The choice is clear, right?

Wrong, because they're both the same man - Barack Obama.

Granted, the first-term Illinois senator's lofty rhetoric of bipartisanship, unity, hope and change makes everyone feel good. But it's becoming increasingly clear that his grand campaign rhetoric does not match his partisan, ideological record. The nonpartisan National Journal, for example, recently rated Obama the Senate's most liberal member. That's besting some tough competition from orthodox liberals such as Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer.

John McCain's campaign and conservative pundits have listed the numerous times in Obama's short Senate career where he sided with the extremes in his party against broadly supported compromises on issues such as immigration, ethics reform, terrorist surveillance and war funding. Fighting on the fringe with a handful of liberals is one thing, but consider his position on an issue that passed both houses of Congress unanimously in 2002.

That bill was the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. During the partial-birth abortion debate, Congress heard testimony about babies that had survived attempted late-term abortions. Nurses testified that these preterm living, breathing babies were being thrown into medical waste bins to die or being "terminated" outside the womb. With the baby now completely separated from the mother, it was impossible to argue that the health or life of the mother was in jeopardy by giving her baby appropriate medical treatment.

The act simply prohibited the killing of a baby born alive. To address the concerns of pro-choice lawmakers, the bill included language that said nothing "shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand or contract any legal status or legal right" of the baby. In other words, the bill wasn't intruding on Roe v. Wade.

Who would oppose a bill that said you couldn't kill a baby who was born? Not Kennedy, Boxer or Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not even the hard-core National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Obama, however, is another story. The year after the Born Alive Infants Protection Act became federal law in 2002, identical language was considered in a committee of the Illinois Senate. It was defeated with the committee's chairman, Obama, leading the opposition.

Let's be clear about what Obama did, once in 2003 and twice before that. He effectively voted for infanticide. He voted to allow doctors to deny medically appropriate treatment or, worse yet, actively kill a completely delivered living baby. Infanticide - I wonder if he'll add this to the list of changes in his next victory speech and if the crowd will roar: "Yes, we can."

How could someone possibly justify such a vote? In March 2001, Obama was the sole speaker in opposition to the bill on the floor of the Illinois Senate. He said: "We're saying they are persons entitled to the kinds of protections provided to a child, a 9-month child delivered to term. I mean, it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal-protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child." So according to Obama, "they," babies who survive abortions or any other preterm newborns, should be permitted to be killed because giving legal protection to preterm newborns would have the effect of banning all abortions.

Justifying the killing of newborn babies is deeply troubling, but just as striking is his rigid adherence to doctrinaire liberalism. Apparently, the "audacity of hope" is limited only to those babies born at full term and beyond. Worse, given his support for late-term partial-birth abortions that supporters argued were necessary to end the life of genetically imperfect children, it may be more accurate to say the audacity of hope applies only to those babies born healthy at full term.

Obama's supporters say his rhetoric makes them believe again.

Is this the kind of change and leader you believe in?


E-mail Rick Santorum at santorum@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|