Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Viewpoint: The case against Obama

Peter Wehner
Former deputy assistant to President Bush

Obama at a rally in Florida on 30 October
The National Journal calls Obama the most liberal member of the Senate

If the polls hold, the American people will elect Barack Obama as their 44th president.

He is a man of prodigious political talents who exudes grace, equanimity and self-possession. He is unflappable, possesses a first-rate mind, and is capable of inspiring rhetoric.

And he would be a very bad choice for president.

On the most important issue he has confronted as a legislator, the surge of forces in Iraq, Senator Obama was a harsh critic.

His opposition to President Bush's new strategy was wrong.

Much worse is the fact that Obama continued to oppose the surge at every stage, even after it was obviously succeeding.

To this day, even as he finally concedes the surge has "succeeded beyond our wildest imagination," Obama insists his opposition to the surge was correct.

Senator Obama's view is that a defeat in Iraq would somehow help our efforts in Afghanistan.

Indeed, if Obama had had his way, all American combat troops would have been withdrawn from Iraq by March 2008, which would have led to civil war and genocide; an unprecedented victory for al-Qaeda and Islamic jihadists; and a boon to Iran.

This fact is, by itself, a shattering indictment to Obama's judgement, and in the area that is the most important responsibility of a president: his duties as commander-in-chief.

Extreme liberalism

I suspect, too, that Obama will, as his running mate has said, invite an international challenge early on.

Obama appears to be a man who dodges conflict and hard decisions; the result may be dangerous displays of indecision and weakness.

Beyond that is the fact that Senator Obama, while exuding a centrist style and employing soothing rhetoric, has amassed a record that places him on the extreme left end of our political spectrum, whether the subject is taxes, trade, healthcare, the size and role of the federal government, the federal courts, missile defence, or virtually any other policy area.

Peter Wehner
Peter Wehner is a former deputy assistant to President George W Bush, and currently a senior fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center. This is one of a series of comment and opinion pieces published on the BBC News website in the run-up to the US election.

In fact, Senator Obama has been judged by the non-partisan National Journal as the most liberal member of the Senate.

His record as an Illinois state senator is, if anything, more troubling. He opposed legislation that would have prevented infanticide against children who had survived abortion attempts.

Senator Obama has presented himself as a post-partisan figure. Once again, however, his record belies his claim.

He is among the most reliably partisan voters the Democrats have.

He has not opposed the special interest groups of his party on a single important issue. And he has no impressive bipartisan achievements to his credit.

Senator Obama is, in short, an orthodox partisan, a man of left-leaning instinct who has - through the power of his rhetoric, head-snapping shifts in his position, and the attractiveness of his personality - won people over.

Race card

Even Senator Obama's claim of being a practitioner of a "new politics" is fraudulent.

Obama at a rally in Florida on 30 October

Much of what Obama has presented about himself is a mirage - an impressive one for sure, but a mirage nonetheless

He has run ads about Senator McCain's position on healthcare, social security, immigration, and the Iraq war that are demonstrably false.

After saying he would never do such a thing, Obama and his supporters have employed the "race card" in a disturbing fashion - with Obama warning that key Republicans would use the fact that he's black against him, and later saying that George Bush and John McCain were going to try to frighten voters by saying Obama has "a funny name" and "doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills" (both claims are untrue).

And Senator Obama's intimate 20-year relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright - an anti-American extremist - is troubling.

It reinforces the sense that much of what Obama has presented about himself is a mirage - an impressive one for sure, but a mirage nonetheless.

And even if you were inclined to believe that Senator Obama will govern as a centrist - a questionable claim, given his record - the Democratic Party will hold a commanding position in the House and Senate.

Speaker Pelosi and majority leader Reid and their committee chairmen - many of them partisan, ideological, and ruthless - will exert enormous pressure on Obama to move left.

From all we know about him, Senator Obama will not resist it or defy them. And that, in turn, will lead to overreach.

Which is why even though next Tuesday will be a difficult day for Republicans and conservatives, the wise ones will understand that our moment will come again, and perhaps sooner than we think.

Our task is to be ready.

Print Sponsor

Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
McCain - Republican
Select from the list below to view state level results.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific