The “Oh, Really?” Factor

October 25, 2012

“Obama…an Empty Chair? Or an Empty Lectern?”

Which is the “real Obama”? The “empty chair” with Clint Eastwood? Or the “empty lectern” at the debate with Mitt Romney?

I want to add another perspective to those of John Bean (Sept. 22) and Ron Smith (Sept. 29) in calling for everyone to put aside party loyalties and vote to end “intrusions” by the federal government now directed by Obama.

The American people aren't fools. That’s why Romney has surged ahead in most polls.

Obama runs as corrupt an Administration as ever, with wall-to-wall conflicts of interest, cover-ups of terrorist attacks on U.S. interests at home and overseas, bumbling economic policy that only “works” when they conveniently change how they measure unemployment.

It is no coincidence that the Libyan ambassador’s murder by terrorists was the first since the days of Jimmy Carter, another well-meaning president who had no idea what he was doing.

A high school friend in New York City has been “apolitical” for “almost all” her life, but thought electing Obama would “show the world that we’re not racist.”  Surrounded by a “blue state,” it was easy to vote for him. But she watched his Administration closely and was shocked to find no “hope and change”—instead, “partisan gridlock” and “incompetence from every Democrat official.”

Many partisans point to the Constitution, but don’t know the history. It was never about perfection—not even mentioning slavery. It sought "agreement" on important founding principles from people with diverse backgrounds and philosophies. The Bill of Rights was added later only because James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were corresponding in 1787 while Jefferson was in France.

Madison asked Jefferson to lobby Virginia lawmakers to support the Constitution. Virginia was then the most populous state, and Madison knew it wouldn’t pass in other states if Virginia said "no." They made their deal: Virginia would support the Constitution, and Madison would push through the First Congress a list of "rights of the people."

"Political parties" arose around that effort to get the Constitution approved. Alexander Hamilton's northeastern "faction" became known as "Federalists," and Jefferson’s followers in the agrarian South eventually were known as "republicans" with a small R.

What makes the U.S. different is, we are not founded around a single religion or a single ethnicity—just a broad "idea" about personal freedom. That’s why the world beats a path to our door.

That original founding generation of 75-100 flawed men who shaped our key documents were among the top political thinkers the world has known (especially Madison). Even as they fought about policy and engaged in personal attacks, they always put their country first.

Nowadays, "party" comes first, and radicals and extremists on both sides only kick the can down the road, without any real effort to compromise.

The Confederate Constitution of 1861 had the right idea—it allowed just one six-year term for president. If you look at "second terms" from 1789 forward, practically all have been substantive failures, just as first terms were about getting re-elected.

“If” Obama could have solved problems as he promised, would anyone really care if he is Democrat or Republican? I agree with my New York friend that he’s in over his head, as are the people around him, and I’m not even sure he's a U.S. citizen.

By contrast, (except for not having “sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”) Bill Clinton and GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did a good job together as "administrators" for America. With Newt’s assistance, Clinton left the country a budget surplus, and I agree with those who say George W. Bush squandered it.

Now it’s important for members of both parties to understand—like Bean and Smith do—that our citizens’ mainline conservatism demands smaller, less intrusive government at every level, less spending on “stuff” people don’t want, allowing people to keep more of their earnings to be spent on “freedom.” Private capitalism should be allowed to work its magic.

Like our founders and Clinton, we need to look for more political “partners,” and avoid becoming beholden to so many “partisans.”

Dennis A. Benfield

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