It is amazing how seriously the media are taking Senator Barack Obama's latest statement about the latest racist rant from the pulpit of the church he has attended for 20 years. But neither that statement nor the apology for his rant by Father Michael Pfleger really matters, one way or the other. Nor does Senator Obama's belated resignation from that church.
For any politician, what matters is not his election year rhetoric, or an election year resignation from a church, but the track record of that politician in the years before the election.
Yet so many people are so fascinated by Barack Obama's rhetorical skills that they don't care about his voting record in the U.S. Senate, in the Illinois state senate, the causes that he has chosen to promote over the years, or the candidate's personal character and values, as revealed by his actions and associations.
Despite clever spin from Obama's supporters about avoiding "guilt by association," much more is involved than casual association with people like Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger.
In addition to giving $20,000 of his own money to Jeremiah Wright, as a state senator Obama directed $225,000 of the Illinois taxpayers' money for programs run by Father Pfleger. In the U.S. Senate, Obama earmarked $100,000 in federal tax money for Father Pfleger's work. Giving someone more than 300 grand is not just some tenuous, coincidental association.
Are Barack Obama's views shown by what he says during an election year or by what he has been doing for decades before?
The complete contrast between Obama's election year image as a healer of divisions and his whole career of promoting far-left grievance politics, in association with America-haters like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, are brushed aside by his supporters who talk about getting back to "the real issues."
There is nothing more real than a man's character and values. The track record of what he has actually done is far more real than anything he says, however elegantly he says it.
There is no office where the character and values of the person in that office matter more than the office of President of the United States.
That was never more true than today, with Iran moving ever closer to a nuclear bomb, while the United Nations wrings its hands and Congress fritters away its time on everything from steroids in sports to earmarks for pet projects back home.
Does anyone seriously consider what it would mean for Iran to have nuclear weapons? They are already supplying terrorists with the means of killing people in other countries, including killing American troops in Iraq.
Senator Obama has been downplaying the Iran threat, saying that they are just "a small country," not like the Soviet Union. The people who flew planes into the World Trade Center were an even smaller group than the Iranian government.
Half a dozen terrorists like that with nuclear weapons would be a bigger danger than the Soviet Union ever was, because the Soviet leaders were not suicide bombers. They could be deterred by the threat of what we would do to Moscow if they attacked New York.
You cannot deter suicidal fanatics. They are not going to stop unless they get stopped. Rhetoric is not going to do it.
Not only Senator Obama, but too many other Americans, seem to have no concept of the seething hatred that can lead people to destroy their own lives in order to lash out at others.
But terrorists have been doing this repeatedly, not only in Iraq and in Israel, but in other countries around the world— including the United States on 9/11.
Have we already forgotten how the Palestinians were cheering in the streets over the news of the attack on the World Trade Center? How videotapes of sadistic beheadings of innocent people by terrorists have found an eager audience in the Middle East?
Are we going to leave our children hostages to hate-filled sadists with nuclear weapons? Are we to rely on Barack Obama's rhetoric to protect them?
Senator Obama's foreign policy seems to be somewhere between Rodney King's "Can't we just get along?" and Alfred E. Neuman's "What, me worry?"
To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.
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