Get­ting to know Barack Obama

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

Like him or not, you have to give Barack Obama credit for wag­ing a smart, fo­cused cam­paign. De­stroy­ing the Clin­ton ma­chine was a ma­jor achieve­ment, and so was putting to­gether a suc­cess­ful con­ven­tion in Den­ver. Mr. Obama is now firmly a part of U.S. his­tory no mat­ter what hap­pens in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The prob­lem some Amer­i­cans con­tinue to have with the se­na­tor is that he is long on charisma, but short on de­tail. This fright­ens some vot­ers. Who the heck is this guy, any­way? So, when Mr. Obama fi­nally agreed to speak to me last week, specifics were on my mind.

First, the man. The Barack Obama I wit­nessed is self-con­fi­dent, de­ter­mined and driven. He was acutely aware of his sur­round­ings from the mo­ment he en­tered the room. He looks you in the eye and touches your shoul­der. He un­der­stands how to con­nect one on one.

As far as phi­los­o­phy goes, Mr. Obama is con­vinced that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should be in con­trol of in­come dis­tri­bu­tion and, to some ex­tent, should reg­u­late the free mar­ket­place. That is a clas­sic lib­eral po­si­tion and he pro­motes it well.

The se­na­tor also be­lieves that poor Amer­i­cans have a ba­sic right to free health care and mon­e­tary sup­ple­ments from the gov­ern­ment with no strings at­tached. The Amer­i­can sub­stance abuser, for ex­am­ple, would de­rive the same ben­e­fits as would a hard-work­ing, laid- off worker. Again, clas­sic lib­er­al­ism. No judg­ments made re­gard­ing en­ti­tle­ments.

So, if Mr. Obama does be­come pres­i­dent, there will def­i­nitely be change. His left-wing base will de­mand it, and he will come through. You can de­cide whether that’s change we should be­lieve in, but keep in mind that the un­in­tended con­se­quences of gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence in the mar­ket­place are im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict. Free mar­kets have a way of chaf­ing un­der gov­ern­ment im­po­si­tion.

On the for­eign pol­icy front, Mr. Obama has con­vinced me that he is tough but cau­tious. He rose quickly be­cause he ve­he­mently op­posed the Iraq war. But now, I see a man who un­der­stands the victory that has taken place in Iraq. I don’t be­lieve he wants to screw that up. I could be wrong.

Af­ter go­ing mano a mano with Mr. Obama on tele­vi­sion, I am also per­suaded that he is a sin­cere guy, that he wants the best for all Amer­i­cans. He’s an ide­o­logue, but not a blind one. He un­der­stands that his story is in­cred­i­ble, and I have come to be­lieve he is grate­ful to the Amer­i­can sys­tem for al­low­ing it to hap­pen.

It is true that we don’t know whether Mr. Obama has the abil­ity to solve com­plex prob­lems, but you can say that about all pres­i­den­tial con­tenders.

Like most politi­cians, Mr. Obama has used guile and good luck to ac­cu­mu­late his power. He can be ruth­less, kind, un­fair and gen­er­ous. In short, he’s a real per­son try­ing to achieve an unreal po­si­tion, that of the most pow­er­ful per­son in the world.

God help him.

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