Although Sen. Barack Obama has been allied with a succession of far left individuals over the years, that is only half the story. There are, after all, some honest and decent people on the left. But these have not been the ones Obama has been allied with — “allied,” not merely "associated" with.
The controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is not just an organization on the left. In addition to the voter frauds that ACORN has been involved in over the years, it is an organization with a history of thuggery, including going to bankers' homes to harass them and their families, to force banks to lend to people with low credit ratings.
Nor was Obama's relationship with ACORN just a matter of once being its attorney long ago. More recently, he has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars toward ACORN. Money talks, and what it says is more important than a politician's rhetoric during an election year.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger are not just people with left-wing opinions. They are reckless demagogues preaching hatred of the lowest sort, and both are recipients of money from Obama.
Bill Ayers is not just "an education professor" who has some left-wing views. He is a confessed and unrepentant terrorist, who more recently has put his message of resentment into the schools, an effort using money from a foundation that Obama headed.
Nor has the help all been one way. During the most recent debate between Obama and Sen. John McCain, McCain mentioned that Obama's political campaign began in Bill Ayers' home. Obama denied it, and McCain had no real follow-up.
It was not this year's political campaign that Obama began in Ayers' home but an earlier campaign for the Illinois Senate. Slickness at parsing words to evade accusations is one way to get to the White House. But slickness with words is not going to help a president deal with either domestic economic crises or the looming dangers of a nuclear Iran.
People who think that talking points on this or that problem constitute "the real issues" that we should be talking about, instead of Obama's track record, ignore a fundamental fact about representative government.
Representative government exists, in the first place, because we the voters cannot possibly have all the information necessary to make rational decisions on all the things that the government does. We cannot rule through polls or referendums. We must trust someone to represent us, especially as president of the United States.
Once we recognize this basic fact of representative government, then the question of how trustworthy a candidate is becomes a more urgent question than any of the so-called "real issues."
A candidate who spends two decades promoting polarization and then runs as a healer and uniter forfeits all trust by that fact alone.
If Ronald Reagan had attempted to run for president as a liberal, the media would have been all over him. His support for Barry Goldwater would have been in the headlines and in editorial denunciations across the country.
No way would he have been able to get away with using soothing words to suggest that he and Goldwater were like ships that passed in the night.
If Obama had run as what he has always been, rather than as what he has never been, then we simply could cast our votes based on whether we agree with what he has always stood for.
Some people take solace from the fact that Senator Obama has shifted position verbally on some issues, like drilling for oil or gun control, since this is supposed to show that he is "pragmatic" rather than ideological.
But political zigzags show no such moderation, as some seem to assume. Lenin zigzagged, and so did Hitler. Zigzags may show no more than that someone is playing the public for fools.
Some people who see the fraud in what Obama is saying are amazed that others do not. But Obama knows what con men have long known: that their job is not to convince skeptics but to enable the gullible to continue to believe what they want to believe. He does that very well.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.
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