Lottery Post Journal

An Old Newness

by Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institute
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Many years ago, a great hitter named Paul Waner was nearing the end of his long career. He entered a ball game with 2,999 hits — one hit away from the landmark total of 3,000, which so many hitters want to reach but which relatively few actually do reach.

Waner hit a ball that the fielder did not handle cleanly, but the official scorer called it a hit, making it Waner's 3,000th. Paul Waner then sent word to the official scorer that he did not want that questionable hit to be the one that put him over the top.

The official scorer reversed himself and called it an error. Later Paul Waner got a clean hit for number 3,000.

What reminded me of this is the great fervor that many seem to feel over the prospect of the first black President of the United States. No doubt it is only a matter of time before there is a black President, just as it was only a matter of time before Paul Waner got his 3,000th hit.

The issue is whether we want to reach that landmark so badly that we are willing to overlook how questionably that landmark is reached.

Paul Waner had too much pride to accept a scratch hit. Choosing a President of the United States is a lot more momentous than a baseball record. We voters need to have far more concern about who we put in that office that holds the destiny of a nation and of generations yet unborn.

There is no reason why someone as arrogant, foolishly clever, and ultimately dangerous as Barack Obama should become President — especially not at a time when the threat of international terrorists with nuclear weapons looms over 300 million Americans. Many people seem to regard elections as occasions for venting emotions, like cheering for your favorite team or choosing a Homecoming Queen.

The three leading candidates for their party's nomination are being discussed in terms of their demographics — race, sex and age — as if that is what the job is about.

One of the painful aspects of studying great catastrophes of the past is discovering how many times people were preoccupied with trivialities when they were teetering on the edge of doom. The demographics of the presidency are far less important than the momentous weight of responsibility that office carries.

Just the power to nominate Federal judges to trial courts and appellate courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, can have an enormous impact for decades to come. If you vote on the basis of emotion for those who appoint them, there is no point feeling outraged by things done by Federal judges. Barack Obama has already indicated that he wants judges who make social policy instead of just applying the law. He has already tried to stop young violent criminals from being tried as adults.

Although Senator Obama has presented himself as the candidate of new things — using the mantra of "change" endlessly — the cold fact is that virtually everything he says about domestic policy is straight out of the 1960s and virtually everything he says about foreign policy is straight out of the 1930s.

Protecting criminals, attacking business, increasing government spending, promoting a sense of envy and grievance, raising taxes on people who are productive and subsidizing those who are not — all this is a re-run of the 1960s. We paid a terrible price for such 1960s' notions in the years that followed — in the form of soaring crime rates, double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment. During the 1960s, ghettoes across the countries were ravaged by riots from which many have not fully recovered to this day.

The violence and destruction were concentrated not where there was the greatest poverty or injustice but where there were the most liberal politicians, promoting grievances and hamstringing the police.

Internationally, the approach that Senator Obama proposes — including the media magic of meetings between heads of state — was tried during the 1930s. That approach, in the name of peace, is what led to the most catastrophic war in human history.

Everything seems new to those too young to remember the old and too ignorant of history to have heard about it.


  • Couldn't have said it better myself Todd!

    By Shawn67, at 12:17 PM

  • Ditto to Shawn67, just what I was thinking as I read. Very well written Todd. Let's just hope that sanity prevails on Election Day.

    By rcbbuckeye, at 12:58 PM

  • You know, if/when Obama loses the general election, you'll hear the following statement on practically every TV station and newspaper worldwide: "America was still not ready for its first black president."

    Nothing could be further from the truth. America *IS* ready.

    But we do not want it to be *THIS* man. Having this guy become the first black president would do more damage to the cause than good, because the negative impact of such a radical leader is felt for a long time to come. Remember how bad Jimmy Carter is viewed today, and multiple that a few times.

    Obama is not the change we are looking for, and he is not the uniter we need.

    The way to figure this out is not to listen to his wonderful speeches, but look at his record, which is not very long, but tells exactly what he would do.

    By Todd, at 2:01 PM

  • Sowell is pointing his finger at the voters when the poll numbers simply trended with media coverage. Most people get their "info" from tv. The media via their huge parent conglomerates decided which people would get more face time, and as usual, the majority of people were left only with a feeling that they were making a choice. It's a safe bet relatively few are going to bother looking up someones voting record. Sowell should take his displeasure up with Murdoch & Co.

    By time*treat, at 2:28 PM

  • While I like John McCain, post all you want, Obama will become the next President barring an assassination.

    By truecritic, at 2:52 PM

  • Even though I agree that Obama is not qualified to become president and I did not vote for him, I don't agree that the scare of terrorists with nuclear weapons is especially the reason not to vote for him and the reason people voted for him.

    I think it was the scare of "human survival". People want the war to end and want jobs, want outsourcing jobs to stop, want illegal immigrants to stop coming in the our country and throw the ones out that are here and stop giving them free services that hurt all of us except the business that make money from them. People want the American dollar to be worth a dollar.

    People want to be able to make their house payments, afford food and health care, and have enough money to purchase gas, and to get our government back from the hands of greedy and corrupt politicians that rub the backs of big business. The American people are miserably fed up. People are desperate.

    The overall condition of America has been affected by the war and people want change and Obama have been telling them what they want to hear.

    The mentality is "it's better than what we got" and it can't be any worst. It's like America has said "enough already"

    People don't care about Obama's politics. They just want the ugliness of our government to go away.

    By Tenaj, at 6:19 PM

  • @Tenaj: Electing Obama is not going to stop all of those things. You actually think he will stop outsourcing, make health care "affordable", make gas prices go down, and/or stop corruption? That is extremely naive.

    Tell me, do you fall for the moronic Obama mantra that McCain is "George Bush's third term"? Because if you fall for that one, no amount of discussion is going to be very fruitful. It's a completely dishonest statement on Obama's part, and he knows the George Bush haters, who are blinded by rage, will also be blind to the lie.

    @truecritic: That's your opinion, and while I think Obama has a good shot at it (due completely to the entire world media being in the tank for him), there is a very good chance that he won't make it.

    The media was in the tank for both Gore and Kerry, and neither had success against the powerful voices of people who want a strong leader who is not an elitist and who will not back down to the enemy.

    Obama is no Martin Luther King (he hasn't suffered a day in his life, other than a big hangover from heavy partying the night before), and he is no John F. Kennedy (Kennedy outlined concrete ideas, not some nebulous "change" mantra, and was a tax-CUTTER because he knew that the way to stimulate an economy for everyone in society is to CUT taxes, not raise them).

    Also, don't think for one second that just because he's on a "high" right now after finally beating Hillary, that it's going to last. There are still many months before the election, and things will change enormously.

    Do you remember when George H.W. Bush was going against Dukakis in 1988? At this very same point in time Dukakis was leading by *17 points*. So you're telling me that Obama's *6 point* lead at this early stage is insumountable?

    More naivite.

    @time*treat: You're generally right about the media being in the tank for Obama, but you're wrong about Murdoch. His media companies are the only fair ones out there. You should be looking at GE, which is the parent company of NBC. NBC is absolutely the worst offender out there, not only because they openly root for Obama, but because they basically lie from omission about Iraq. Do you know they didn't even report that the past month had the lowest violence since the start of the war?

    Are you all aware of that?

    No, most people aren't aware of it, because the media claimed a year ago that Iraq would be the campaign's biggest issue, but now that we are kicking ass in Iraq, the job-well-done means it is no longer an issue. Only if we're getting the crap beat out of us is it something they want to talk about. How sick and how sad is that?

    Anyone who falls for this "change" B.S. does not care a wit about facts or common sense.

    By Todd, at 6:36 PM

  • Most "EXCELLENT" discourse Todd. He keeps talking "CHANGE", but the only change I am aware of is pulling out of Iraq as fast as possible. He says he is a Christian, but then multiple millions of Americans SAY THEY ARE. Billy Sunday once stated, "Going to church makes you no more of a Christian than going to a circus makes you a clown!" I find it interesting that at public events, when many around him have their hands placed over their hearts, while the Star Spangled Banner is being played or the Pledge Of Allegiance is being recited, he just stands there. I wonder when he takes office if he WILL PLACE HIS HAND ON THE BIBLE thus infuriating all of the muslims throughout the world. Also, you will NEVER EVER hear the press discuss all of the wonderful deeds of John McCain's wife Cindy. Seems one of them was she was with Mother Teresa and Mother Teresa asked Cindy if she would adopt a child with a badly deformed face from Bangladesh. Cindy and John did adopt the child, and have had several operations for the child. Read more about Cindy McCain in the Wall Street Journal in April of 2008 or go to and read for yourself. The McCains have done so many great deeds for our country it is almost unbelievable.

    By hennybogan, at 6:53 PM

  • Never said Obama could or would make a change. Just said that's what the people want to hear.

    By Tenaj, at 7:42 PM

  • Different candidate, same rhetoric, there is a clip on You Tube with Cuomo and Obama speaking 24 years apart. Same Dem. party tactics just reloaded into another package, lets divide Americans.

    By jarasan, at 9:59 AM

  • Yes, exactly, that's the thing. In order to change, you have to change to *something*. Obama has only talked about the same things that have been already done.

    When he attacks McCain on something where people scratch their heads and wonder where he's coming from, that separates people. People who once thought that maybe there was a genuine agent for uniting suddenly realize that it's all B.S.

    There is a reason why the Democrat leadership got behind Obama. They knew he was not someone looking to stand Washington on its head, but instead someone who had a shot at bringing the most extreme elements of their agenda to the White House -- wrapped in a disguise of "change".

    BTW, I love the shot of Carter laughing and clapping in that clip -- four years after he lost to Reagan.

    By Todd, at 10:13 AM

  • Todd, to answer your question, no I don't believe Obama's rhetoric, no more than I believe any other politician running for office.

    By Tenaj, at 10:30 AM

  • Dick Morris said in his latest newsletter for those who don't receive his emails that Hillary hasn't released her superdelegates yet waiting for Obama to misstep, falter. In that case she could use those superdelegates as a bargaining chip to either force herself on the ticket as a VP or possibly seize the nomination for herself because superdelegates votes are not set in stone until they're cast. Looks like the fat lady is still walking toward the mike.

    The specter of any Democrat as president brings to mind the horror of Carter's four years with double digit inflation, gas rationing .... this time around stronger implementation of Marxism under the guise of climate control taxation out the waz. Algore's been been beating the drums on that for years now the cannibals are ready to feast.

    By konane, at 11:35 AM

  • The problem with global warming is that it has literally become a religion for these people, and anyone who speaks out against it is committing heresy. These are the same people who constantly bash the Catholic church for its cries of heresy in the dark ages, and look, it is exactly what they themselves are doing now.

    By Todd, at 2:28 PM

  • Global warming is the new control mechanism for global elitist to fleece the rest of us. Your description is accurate in my book. Plant more trees.

    By konane, at 7:09 PM

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