President Obama: a Leap in the Dark

After the longest and most expensive Presidential election campaign in America’s history, we know the answer.  Although his margin of victory is less than the pollsters, and many Democrats, predicted, Barrack Hussein Obama will be the 44th President of the USA.  There is no doubting his remarkable achievement.  A young, untried, inexperienced politician from the South Side of Chicago has defeated first of all the daunting Clinton political machine, and then a somewhat reduced Republican Party, to take the White House.  His campaign will provide the material for a thousand doctoral papers by political scientists, and will be pondered and studied by political parties and activists everywhere.  There are lessons here for Conservatives, in how he motivated the grass roots, and raised huge sums in millions of small donations.
As the first African-American President, he represents the apotheosis, and perhaps the resolution, of centuries of racial conflict and division in the USA; the catharsis for the tribal guilt of American liberals.  The vast weight of expectation which he carries on his slight and narrow shoulders would intimidate the best of us, and satisfying those expectations would surely prove beyond the capacity of the Archangel Gabriel, still less any mortal man.
It would be churlish to rain on his parade, yet my heart is filled with foreboding for our friends across the water.  What do we know of this man?  Almost nothing.  He comes untried and untested.  His history as a legislator is extraordinarily anonymous, except that he is clearly well to the left of his party.  Even the circumstances of his birth are disputed: some believe he was born not in Hawaii but in Kenya, and was therefore not qualified to run for President.
Before I got into politics I spent a third of a century in business, and I remember a cautionary saying we used: “You hire an articulate manager, and six months later you find that all he can do is articulate”.  Obama is a great orator: no question of that.  But he managed to deliver stirring speeches that were remarkably light on policy (maybe another lesson for Conservatives).  We know that his friends, mentors and associates included those who hate America, and even one who set out to bomb it — not an encouraging start.
His mantra is “Change”.  But change is easy to offer, less easy to define, and tougher still to achieve.  We know that he believes not in wealth creation, but in “spreading wealth around”, as he let slip to Joe the Plumber.  He is a redistributive welfarist.  He is a protectionist.  For America’s social and economic problems, he is wedded to solutions that have failed over and over again, time after time.  He adopts every piece of modish liberal nonsense, not least on the climate issue.  He believes that government is the solution, not the problem.  Against this background, I am astonished that some British Conservatives spoke out in support of his campaign.
In international affairs he seems to believe that a new face and a fund of goodwill are sufficient to solve the world’s most intractable problems.  He will soon learn differently, but meantime his naiveté is a threat not only to America, but to the whole of the free world.
I have always seen America as a Shining City on a Hill, a beacon of liberty for the whole world.  Today, that City on the Hill shines a little less brightly.

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8 Responses to President Obama: a Leap in the Dark

  1. Donald Sweeting says:

    Hi Roger

    I would like to join you in congratulations to the people of the USA in their historical election of a President. This is certainly an interesting observation on your part Roger but not surprising as you have gone on record as backing the selection of Sarah Palin. Even though I did as well based on policy issues, I found myself conflicted over that decision for personal reasons not least of which I did not want to be on the wrong side of history as US General Powell also acknowledged….

    As much as I respect your opinions on most things, please forgive my naivety for preferring a differing view to yours but I think that before we look to take any new lessons from these recent US elections, maybe we should look a little closer to home and actually listen to what we were being told for years from within our own political system.


    Most of what is contained below is taken from a section on women into decision-making as referenced above. It contains information about EOC policy work into gender and power based on a cross party survey of women and men in UK politics. There are references to race so I hope it does not invoke “the catharsis for the tribal guilt of American liberals” who may be viewing your blog.

    Only 95% of male and 91% of female candidates had held party office
    Only 54% of men and 60% of women had been a local councillor

    A constituency Chairman told one Conservative candidate that he didn’t consider her to be” man enough for the job”. One Labour woman was told, “You’re an excellent candidate, but we’re not ready for a woman.” A woman from Plaid Cymru was asked “How are you going to be taken seriously talking about steel, when you’re arguing with the unions?” One Liberal Democrat was told by the chairman of the selection committee and the local party chairman that “they would not vote for a pushy woman”. One Conservative pre-meeting was held at the men-only Carlton Club.

    This report continues to say … “The Conservative party suffers from a culture of prejudice… “A lot of the questions I was asked included references to my husband. I believe that on the whole men get a far easier ride from selection committees than women do.” Female Conservative candidate “I was left with the feeling that two particular constituencies would not elect a black woman regardless of her ability.” Female Labour candidate

    43% of candidates (44% of men and 41% of women) said their family commitments discouraged them from standing either ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’. “I don’t believe there are many members of the Conservative Party who accept that women should work, let alone stand for Parliament.

    This feeling seems to be compounded in cases where the woman has children.” Female Conservative candidate. “…it puts a big strain on the family, and it relies heavily on my wife to keep us going at home, particularly now I am in London a lot.” Male Labour MP “Men seemed to be keen to know if I could cope with the pressures of Parliament. I don’t think they asked any men this question.” Female Labour MP.

    Views on selection committees – More than three quarters of candidates agreed there should be equal opportunities training for selection committees. “There’s no training for constituency people, and they don’t really know what the rules are at all. So what I actually had was a 45-minute question session, with just horrific questions… There were some sensible policy questions aswell.” Female Plaid Cymru candidate. One female Conservative candidate said she would like to see training for selectors “in the benefits of having female candidates”.

    57% of candidates surveyed supported the principle of positive action. “The only way to change the working practices of power is to achieve a critical mass of the under-represented… Women are still a novelty act in Parliament.” Female Labour candidate “It is good practical politics. Modern political parties must reflect society as a whole. Women bring a different perspective which we all benefit from.”Male Liberal Democrat candidate “It is most important because women make up half the electorate.” Male Conservative MP

    49% of all candidates cite family commitments or childcare as the most important reasons for the shortage of women. 33% say the working hours are the most important reason. “The place is in dire need of a spring clean of new ideas, and it can be the only place in the world where you go in on the first day and you have got a coat with your name on it and a place to hang your sword, but you cannot get an office with a telephone.” Male, SNP, MP

    How to contact the Helpline By phone You can phone the Helpline Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm on 0845 601 5901 Calls from BT landlines are charged at local rates Calls may be monitored for training purposes.

    My personal experiences within the conservative party as an activist and former Chairman in different regions including your own Roger were not reflected in any of those comments. Perhaps I was fortunate in that I worked with groups of dedicated people who were loyal to the cause and put the party before all else during the UNFASIONABLE wilderness years Post 97 when I joined. I agree with you that it’s these grass roots views that should be more important to the future leaders of our own party. Correct me if I’m wrong but was that not what David Cameron’s berated “A list” idea was all about? Look how well that was received. I was also under the impression that selection for the job was not based on experience because you get on the job training… If this were the case surely none of the recent cabinet shuffles have any validity.

  2. Geoff Middleton says:

    Well put Roger; it is truly astonishing that American Liberals have elected Comrade Obama. Looks like they have a self-hating death wish.
    Less astonishing is the support given by British Conservatives, just have a look on ConHome – it really is time that the Conservative Party changed its name, for it is not conservative.

  3. Roger Helmer says:

    Geoff: Thanks. Donald: I’m not quite sure what your point is, but I don’t understand it, nor do I see how it relates to my piece on Obama. We welcome comments on this blog, but not entirely unrelated essays.

  4. Donald Sweeting says:

    Roger: you said in your original posting on this thread:

    “It would be churlish to rain on his parade, yet my heart is filled with foreboding for our friends across the water. What do we know of this man? Almost nothing. He comes untried and untested.”

    Did I in my Euphoria misunderstand or does that not echo the many attempts by our friends across the waters to bring the question of experience into focus prior to the Sarah Palin appointment? Having pretty much abandoned that tack after her appointment, was the question of An Afro American Male in the White House VS a Caucasian Woman not the Republican machine’s next attempt to confuse the real issues like Iraq or The Economy or was that just the slant the liberal press and political pundits were reporting for my entertainment value?

    Whatever it was, it clearly did not work so you may be right, perhaps the lack of sleep from the hours of addictive viewing and subsequent celebrations of this historic moment caused me to miss the point AGAIN. Or it could be my ineptitude to dare to believe that the entire study for the EOC policy work into gender and power is completely irrelevant to any of this.

    Do forgive me if it seemed like such an essay, but please believe me it was the abridged version which I thought worth sharing with others who may never have read any of it. The relevance I was hoping to achieve was by including it was in response to your other comment”

    “His campaign will provide the material for a thousand doctoral papers by political scientists, and will be pondered and studied by political parties and activists everywhere. There are lessons here for Conservatives, in how he motivated the grass roots, and raised huge sums in millions of small donations…… you also said……. His mantra is “Change”. But change is easy to offer, less easy to define, and tougher still to achieve.”

    Having been a political activist for a number of years myself I agree with you I am pondering what this experience means for our political system here in Great Britian. My question which I obviously did not define clearly on the first attempt remains? In your opinion, could there be another Maggie Thacher or a Borak Obama in Great Britian one day? If so how could there be without changes to some of those opinions expressed in the EOC policy report?

    If we were to truly return to core conservative values then surely we should remove the mite from our own eyes before we try to do so from our brothers…

  5. Wilko says:

    I supported Obama to show just how cool and trendy I am. Having a black man (as President)just makes me feel so warm and fluffy inside.
    And you going on about foreign policy and liberty and economic policy and all that consequences stuff just shows how boring you are.
    It is just a pity Obama is from East Africa and not descended from slaves at all. But still close enough to make me look pretty right on.

  6. Roger Helmer says:

    Aha, Wilko! A US President as a lifestyle accessory! I like it!

  7. John Morton says:

    This is the legacy of the warmongering, torturing, unilateralist, ultra laissez-faire ideology of the Bush years.

    America has voted for “change”, and we now just have to hope that sense prevails and they do not follow this NuLabour government all the way into totalitarianism.

    All the signs are there that this fraud of a man is going to accelerate the decline of freedom in America and the rest of the world under the cover of being some kind of messiah.

  8. Anthony D Beardsley says:

    I for one welcome you to office President Obama. May God bless you and the citizens of America for being bold enough to vote for change. Very sincere best wishes for the future to you and the USA.

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