Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nothing new in Obama's infomercial tonight; questions still remain about doability of his plans

In case you missed it, Sen. Barack Obama's 30-minute infomercial tonight plowed no new ground, except that he has now lowered the tax cut threshold to families making less than $200,000 a year and has endorsed the disastrous bailouts of Wall Street fatcats.

The most noticeable feature of the infomercial on all the major TV networks was that Obama could spend that kind of cash to buy that kind of airtime. That's because he went back on his promise to go with the restraints of campaign finance laws. McCain is following the laws.

For someone who claims he is going to change Washington and its big money that separates it from the real people featured in his infomercial, this flip-flop damages his integrity. Obama has been the top congressional recipient of political contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past 20 years. Those two entities had to be bailed out a few months ago with $200 billion of your money.

Obama blamed the past eight years of the Bush administration for the current economic mess. That was dishonest. He knows the Clinton administration has the bigger blame for deregulating the financial industry that allowed bad loans to be sold upstream to Wall Street. Obama's failure to mention that truth makes his claim of being bipartisan a bunch of hogwash. And he closed his infomercial with Bill Clinton putting his arm around him at a live Florida rally. Sickening.

Just eight years ago, education was the No. 1 issue in the presidential race. Obama cited it briefly tonight. LBJ always said that a fair and adequate education for all people was the best social program. That way, you make your way up the economic ladder. And Bush administration policy under the No Child Left Behind Act has finally held education bureaucrats accountable for their failure to educate all children fairly.

Obama sadly scolded parents and claimed that any turn in education fortunes must begin in the household. While he made have been a community organizer, Obama sure didn't listen enough. Parents who have been failed by the education system are not going to be able to really help their children, let alone participate with the same educators at schools who couldn't reach and help them.

The Education Trust, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, says a good teacher can catch up a child academically in five years. There is the solution. Obama cited several schools that are succeeding. But the best one is in New York City. There, a charter school has teachers making $125,000 a year to educate children at risk. High-paying administrative positions are limited to the principal. That's the kind of change needed in public education.

A better future for all children is in choice -- via charter schools and vouchers for poor parents to send their kids to the places more affluent youngsters can go. Competition is very American. We love it in the Olympics. We should want the same heroics in our schools.

Obama told voters tonight that he would strengthen the military. Meanwhile, Rep. Barney Frank has said he wants to cut military spending by 25%. Frank has been around Washington a lot longer than Obama. The new president's biggest obstacles will come from his own political party in Congress.

While I have endorsed Obama and stand by that pick, I increasingly am not in love with the choice. He talks the talk. His rhetoric soars. But his ability to make change down on earth is still quite questionable.

And that's why this presidential race is tightening, no matter how many Oprah-produced infomercials Obama can buy and air.

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