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Sweet Column: First look at new Obama book. Dems ``confused,'' he writes.

| 31 Comments

WASHINGTON -- In his new book, dedicated to his mother and maternal grandmother -- the women "who raised me" -- Sen. Barack Obama accuses fellow Democrats of being "confused" as the Democratic Party "has become the party of reaction."

He also relates how during a meeting with President Bush he found the president seemingly transformed in one sitting as Bush's "easy affability" over a breakfast "was replaced by an almost messianic certainty" as the encounter progressed.

The dedication in Obama's The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is of note because the storyline embraced by the media and the public about the Illinois Democrat -- underscored by his recent trip to Africa and his first book, the best-selling Dreams from My Father -- puts the emphasis on his black Kenyan father who abandoned him rather than his mother, a white Kansas native, who raised him.

Obama sandwiched in time to write the book starting in his 2005 freshman year, completing it this summer, often working at night, writing as his political stock was growing each month to the point where he is now being touted as a possible 2008 presidential candidate. Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes hosted a press conference on Thursday in Chicago urging Obama to run in 2008.

Obama travels to Iowa this Sunday, where he is the marquee draw for Democrats at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry in the state playing a crucial role in determining White House nominees. Harkin told me Thursday Obama would be a "very credible" 2008 candidate.

Iowans this Sunday will want to see if there is some "sympatico, is there a gut feeling about this person.... They want to feel his cloth, they want to see just how real this guy is," Harkin said.

The book will be published Oct. 17 with the launch of a national book tour in Chicago.

Obama, in the most up-to-date manuscript available, talks about his life in the Senate in what is a policy primer spiked with personal stories. It is far more policy, less personal than his first book, though it is written with the same voice.

The nine chapters cover a range of issues: about Republicans and Democrats, values, politics, opportunity, faith, race, international affairs and family, where he dwells on the struggle he has had in juggling duties as a senator, father and husband.

He uses strong tough-love rhetoric in attacking Democrats -- not to be confused with a rant -- not surprising to anyone who has followed his speeches and comments for the past two years.

"We Democrats are just, well, confused," Obama writes. He goes on. "Mainly, though, the Democratic Party has become the party of reaction. In reaction to a war that is ill-conceived, we appear suspicious of all military action.

"In reaction to those who proclaim the market can cure all ills, we resist efforts to use market principles to tackle pressing problems. In reaction to religious overreach, we equate tolerance with secularism, and forfeit the moral language that would help infuse our policies with a larger meaning."

On Bush, Obama relates two encounters with the president. "Both times I found the President to be a likable man, shrewd and disciplined but with the same straightforward manner that had helped him win two elections."

However, at his second time with Bush, at a breakfast meeting, Obama writes, "There had been a moment ... that I witnessed a different side of the man. The President had begun to discuss his second-term agenda, mostly a reiteration of his campaign talking points ... when suddenly it felt as if somebody in a back room had flipped a switch.

"The President's eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty."


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31 Comments

I think it is well documented that I love Barack Obama. That said, I am damn sick and tired of the "confused Democrats" meme.

The Democratic party didn't pull special forces troops out of Afghanistan as they closed in on Osama.

The Democratic party didn't cut taxes for the hyper-rich even as our nation went to war and as a record surplus turned into a record debt.

The Democratic party didn't predict a short and cheap stay in Iraq for our troops.

The Democratic party didn't send soldiers and marines into combat without modern body armor.

The Democratic party didn't cut funding for the research and treatment of traumatic brain injury - the signature injury of the Iraq occupation.

And the Democratic party didn't invade the wrong country after 9-11.

But the Bush administration and the rubber stamp Republican congress did each of those.

It is clear that the party currently in power in Washington is not just confused about some things -- it's been flat out wrong on nearly everything.

I neither like nor dislike Obama, but your fascination with him is out of control. Are you on his payroll? Aren't there other political figures worthy of Sun-Times bandwidth?

Enuf with Obama already!!! Write about something or someone else already!

I don't speak for Lynn, Joe, but I'm pretty sure the answer to both your questions is a big fat "NO". Obama is not only the biggest political figure in Illinois, he's one of the biggest in the world as evidenced by his visit to Africa. Of course he should be a major point of focus.

WHAT AN IDIOT !!!

So-Called gives a list of what the Democrats DIDN'T do. Anybody can do that. I'm waiting for the list of what they can do and what they will do and when they'll finally figure out what they stand for.

abama is an person who seeks polictal power. He is acting as a conservative,but he is calulateg. But he is a fraud>but anything 4 power.

Austin mayor: The so-called what the democrats didn't do...Don't forget to mention that Hilary, Kerry, Edwards, and Biden all voted FOR the war in Iraq...Don't forget to mention 'the first black president' did NOTHING as a million innocent human beings were slaughtered in Rwanda and maybe as high as five million in Southern Sudan. And that he pledged and gave ZERO amount of money to combat HIV in Africa during his administration. That should cost about 30 million lives in the coming years...Don't forget to mention it was NOT this administration that lobbied for and passed NAFTA. And American workers will be paying for that one. Ask the folks at Ford. By the way, it was the prior administration...And we all know all the bombings and terror attacks carried out in the mid and late 90's that would later lead to 9/11...It was NOT this administration that turned-down Bin Laden when he was offered...Or got taken by the N. Koreans after a deal was struck in '94. It was NOT this administration that didn't have the common sense to have a verification pact in the agreement with the N. Koreans...And be careful when talking about war. I fought in a war in which I was sent by Lyndon Johnson, a DEMOCRAT president. His adventure and miscalculations got 58,000 of my fellow Americans killed...Believe me, messing up is not just coming from one party.

Obama has credability about many topics. He is too young now but will grow. I would not put too much emphasis on an isolated single observation that Bush has a "Messianic" purpose. It deflates Obama's maturity.

But John remember Austin has its king Ikey, and Austin is utopia where 95% vote democartic and crime is highest in the state and school scores are lowest. So we should all use Austin as a model! Lets turn the NW Side into Austin and Cook Suburbs so our kids can gang bang and even though we vote 95% Democratic like sheep, we blame the GOP for ALL our problems! NOW THAT IS INTELLIGENCE!

Enough about his youth! In 2008 he will be 47, one year older than Clinton was in when elected in 1992, and he will be eight years older than Martin Luther King was in 1968.

I agree with all that John and Melvin said. If the Democrats had their way Saddam would still be in power and France, Germany and Russia would have gotten sanctions lifted. Then he would have continued his plans to produce WMD and been able to give said WMD to our enemies with his blessing. The President has done a great job fighting terrorists and their Democratic/Republican allies not to mention our left-wing media. Its amazing we haven't had another 9/11 all things condsidered. When we are hit again, you can bet on it that everyone will blame the President instead of themselves. When are the other leaders and people going to wake up to the fact that there are determined enemies who hate us just because we are Americans?! Wake up, people and smell the coffee!!

I'm a conservative Republican, but I too have concerns over Bush's supposed resistance to facts which don't fit in with his view of the world.

"And be careful when talking about war. I fought in a war in which I was sent by Lyndon Johnson, a DEMOCRAT president."

And for that reason, I encourage you to join me in not voting for Lyndon Johnson in 2008.

And your statement that the Clinton administration "pledged and gave ZERO amount of money to combat HIV in Africa during his administration" is demonstrably untrue:

"On July 19, 1999, the Administration announced a new Initiative to address the global AIDS pandemic. This Initiative is supported by an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposal signed by the President and submitted to Congress for its consideration. A central feature of this LIFE Initiative is a $100 million increase in US support for sub-Saharan African countries and India, which are working to prevent the further spread of HIV and to care for those affected by this devastating disease."

http://tinyurl.com/n9xqd

It was a Democratic President (CLINTON) who appeased the Islamic States in his first term. His second term was no better by selling American Top Secrets to North Korea, who are now building Nuclear Arms. (THANKS TO THE CLINTONS).
Yes, it was the Democrats that put Marines in harms way.
Yes it was the Democrats that put America in the bullseye of Islamic Terrorists on 9/11.
Yes it was IRAQ and Syria. Not to mention IRAN that needed to be/ needs to be invaded.
Dems and Islamic Facists are one in the same.
BOTH ANTI-AMERICAN..

Obama is right - Democrats aren't leading, they are reacting. That's why they will be wiped out in the November elections. Once again the Republicans will gain seats in Congress, and the mainstream media will be wondering what happened.

They say they're for jobs... for healthcare... for education... for the environment. That's coded language. Let me explain it to you.

They are for higher taxes to fund new government bureacracies and new government jobs. They are for higher taxes to fund government-provided healthcare, with a new government bureacracy and new government jobs. They are for higher taxes to fund more complicated educational bureaucracies which are not accountable to the parents whose children are being educated. They are for regulations that punish successful corporations for perceived environmental injustices, allowing them to confiscate even more of our money, grow their government even larger, and causing these corporations to charge higher prices, costing us more, making us poorer, and making us need them more.

Reaching deeper into YOUR pocket is a two-for-one shot for Democrats - they have more money and more power, and YOU become poorer and more desperate.

And that's why they're going to lose big, once again. Because most people get it.

Start digging into Obama's votes, behavior, and positions when he was in the IL legislature.

LOTS of fodder there; I was one of his constituents.

Barack, we have not forgotten.

Obama is absolutely right. The mood of the country for the past 26 years has been directed away from big government. Clinton only won because in both elections he campaigned to the right of his base, and had the good fortune to run against Republicans who were to the left of their base, and who had to split votes with fiscal conservative, Ross Perot. The only way for the Democrats to get ahead of the Republicans on the issues is for them to embrace fiscal conservatism, and come up with ideas for cutting spending.

Not just pork either, because pork only accounts for a small amount of the government budget. The cuts need to come from social spending. The Republicans cannot cut social spending without the willing cooperation of Democrats. There is too much counter-pressure from different interest groups. The Democrats, though, can accomplish such cuts without resistance from the Republicans. Doing so would propel them ahead of the Republicans in the eyes of the public as politicians who are sincere about controlling the growth of government.

The problem is that, if they do that, they're going to lose votes from their base to the Green Party. The other problem, of course, is that one has to at least give the appearance of sincerity when advocating a position, and no one is going to believe that Ted Kennedy or John Kerry is sincere about cutting government spending. The Democratic Party needs younger members like Obama who are not ideologically committed to socialism, and who can carve out a new base for the party.

Obama is pulling punches, not admitting just how far gone is the Democratic Party . The movement away from American values is approaching a tipping point where it will accelerate beyond all bounds. At this point, Obama is but an observer, not someone who can seriously alter this trajectory of political doom.

S-C M A, which years of Clinton's administration was the budget in surplus?

09/29/2000 $5,674,178,209,886.86
09/30/1999 $5,656,270,901,615.43
09/30/1998 $5,526,193,008,897.62
09/30/1997 $5,413,146,011,397.34
09/30/1996 $5,224,810,939,135.73
09/29/1995 $4,973,982,900,709.39
09/30/1994 $4,692,749,910,013.32
09/30/1993 $4,411,488,883,139.38
09/30/1992 $4,064,620,655,521.66
SOURCE: BUREAU OF THE PUBLIC DEBT

As you can see, deficit inctreased each year.

The Democratic party has become "against" far too many things...yet is only know "for" higher taxes and has yet to enunciate a reasonable party platform that would be acceptable outside their base, urban cities/counties--

just look at a map of the last national election, Kerry only took highly urbanized counties. Which is why the wisdom of the Electoral College was enacted by the writers of the US Constitution--a viable national candidate has to take a majority of the states. To protect the majority of states from the dictatorship of those with large populations...think about it. In the past 2 elections states like Delaware and Rhode Island had visits from all the major candidates (either Pres, or VP's). Would this happen if a presidential cadidate had only to campaign in those 10 most populous states? I think not.

But because the Democratic party has become polarized to the extent that they cannot get past their own tunnel vision. They are becoming as marginalized as the Whig party was in the 1840' and 1850's...which is where now?

Obama is not a Presidential candidate. He is just SO MUCH BETTER than the usual minority democrat. He appears ethical, honest, erudite and new. he is not a poverty-pimp, shopworn by decades of corporate extortion and rent-a-mob rallies.

Democrats have no plan and no policies. They can only react. They have serious trust issues. Can anyone really trust their platform when they finally find it?

Hillary will polarize the electorate. She will energize opposition and threaten the entire party. Pelosi and Boxer et al will be tarred with the same extremist anti everything brush... You can't beat something with nothing, as the saying goes.

Exactly what has Obama done while in office? He makes a speech at a convention or goes to Africa..He's unproven and like most democrats, offers no solutions to any problems that his party created in the 90's or what they're complaining about now....

Why is everyone mad at Clinton? He didn't do anything.

Personally, I think that Obama is spot in about the dems. The Republics have been blasting out new ideas left and right. Some of those ideas get past, some of them fail, but they are at least doing something. The only thing that the democrats have been doing these days is saying no. You can list off what they are against, but when was the last time they put forward a truly innovative and unique solution to some problem?

Personally, I WANT the democrats to get their shit together. There are things out there that they could easily seize that would help their base and trash the Republicans. For instance, it is completely beyond me why on earth the democrats fight any sort of school voucher program tooth and nail. This is something that their base would CLEARLY be helped by. Rich communities have good schools. If that dynamic was changed such that anyone could go to anyone school, poorer communities could not help but win. This is a brain dead obvious issue. If anyone should be freaking out about vouchers it should be Republicans who don’t want to see their SUV driving soccer mom demographic blow a fuse when they realize that vouchers means that poor black kids go to their nice schools.

The democrats are simply so rooted in traditional “just throw more money at it��? mentality that they just can’t get their heads outside of the box. Where are the democrat think tanks that should be blasting out ideas to compete with conservative think tanks? Where are the democrat leaders who are FOR something instead of against whatever the Republicans have recently done.

Come on democrats, get your act together. The Republicans have practically served themselves on a platter. They have spent like it is going out of style. Fiscal conservatives are furious with Bush and the Republican congress for the spending party they are having. Democrats can easily blast fiscally to the right of the Republicans without so much as breaking a sweat or compromising a single value.

Alas, I think the democrats will fail. They are the new conservative party that can do nothing but shake their heads and say no. The democrats need to grow a pair and offer some solutions. Unfortunately, the Obama’s in the democratic party are few and far in-between. I can only hope that the Republicans pick someone better then Bush this time, because the Dems certainly are not going to put up a fight.

AndyJ is right in saying the Democrats have no plan and no policies. They politicize and spin everything, with the blessing of the drive-by media. Their solution to the nation's problems is to raise taxes. In this way, they can hold on to their social entitlement programs, which their followers love.

To Obama, don't rock the Democratic boat. There are still a lot of Democrat supporters (worshippers) who blindly believe in the wisdom of Reed, Durbin, Kennedy, Pelosi, Kerry, Hilary, Feinstein, Boxer, and other distinguished Democrat politicians. Stay the course!

Ed, that's why everyone is mad at him. He didn't do anything, when things needed to be done.

Since it is obvious some one is trying to provoke a "clash of civilizations" and a religous war between Islam and the West and that exactly dovetails with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush pushing for a War With Iran NOW or some other major crisis to try to save themselves from being impeached and jailed for possible violations of the US Constitution, HOW ABOUT Democrats who want to defend the nation and posterity from this abomination coming out for IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT of Bush and Cheney on very obvious Constitutional Grounds.

Since Barack Obama comes out of the University of Chicago Law School, one would think he would have some comments on this matter. So, let's hear from Barack and see if actually is a leader or whether this is all an orchestrated game in which Obama is being used by someone higher up.

The jury is out. We await the verdict from Senator Obama. Are you listening?


Gerald Pechenuk cities12345@yahoo.com

Gerald what would Lyndon do? He and Billy boy Clinton could get together with Jimmy Carter and sing folk songs with the President of Iran and Hezzbollah and make the world a better place!

I have a funny sounding name too. Can I be special? Every freakin election the democrat party marches out a cast of characters with fanfare, pomp and splendor befitting the procession into Rome by a victorious emperor. Hey, that reminds me, where is Oblama's love slave? They make a big hollywood production over this stooge and that stooge portraying them as the second coming of Jesus Christ. It's such absolute media hype super BS. Remember when Kerry was the greatest saviour known to western man....until he revealed himself as a freakin effete east coast limousine liberal snob. Hillary was the "smartest woman in the world"...remember that propaganda? And still they roll out this circus every four years and still the media puppies follow them around urinating in submission to the big democrat dogs. The only thing more insane are the mindless followers of the left who swallow this pablum and beg for more....swooning over every move the chosen democrat makes. We had reporters stating aloud they would blow slick Willy (just for keeping abortion legal). How many will offer to wipe Oblama's butt and change his diaper for him? It is just all too hard for me to comprehend. I'll have to expend 100 rounds at the range this afternoon just to relieve the frustration. This country is headed for a world of hurt. Maybe the Islamo-terrorist have it right,.....we are so corrupt, immoral and decadent that we are infecting the rest of the planet and need to be erradicated. We are supposed to be electing the preeminent leader of the free world.....Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Mark Foley, Denny Hastert, John (the weasel) McCain, John Conyers, John Murtha, Barak Oblama, Hillary Clinton????? Heck, these clowns make John Edwards look almost normal. Why not elect James Brown, he's dead and can't make any decisions that will screw up my grand kids future forever? At least we would get real entertainment.

Just what we need, a president named Barack Hussein Obama!!!!!
Let the Islamic fundamentalists take over the country and the Latinos will be bowing to the east five times a day LOL

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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