Consider just what you'll get if you put the Democrats in charge

November 02, 2006|By Thomas Sowell

Perhaps nothing so captures the superficial, frivolous and irresponsible spirit of our times as the sudden boomlet for Barack Obama as a candidate for president of the United States.

He is a bright, personable and articulate young man, but what has he ever accomplished that would qualify him for the highest office in the nation and the leadership of the free world?

This is no criticism of Senator Obama. He has been in the Senate only a couple of years. Maybe a decade from now he will have crafted enough important legislation, or distinguished himself in some other way, as to be someone worth considering for president. But today? Just because he is fluent, smooth and black?

Similarly for Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., who is running for the Senate in Tennessee. However moderate he may seem, his election could turn the Senate over to extremists such as Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Both Mr. Ford and Mr. Obama are probably better than most congressional Democrats, but that is a very small claim in a high-tax party that has been irresponsible on national defense for decades and has fought against even modest attempts to control illegal immigration.

Contrary to what you might think from the way the media cover politics, elections are not about the careers of politicians but about the fate of the country. That fate is definitely on the line now, with a nuclear Iran and a nuclear North Korea looming over our children's future.

The time is long overdue to get serious about the caliber of people to whom power and responsibility are to be entrusted. That is especially important if the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives after this election.

They can be vague about their agenda, but they can't hide the facts about who will stand to wield power if they take over the House.

Everyone seems to be talking about Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as a new speaker of the House after this year's elections. But is anyone interested in what she has done, as a guide to what to expect from her in a powerful position?

On immigration, Ms. Pelosi voted against tightening border security. House Speaker Dennis Hastert voted for it - and also led the fight that stopped the Senate amnesty bill from gaining approval in the House.

On taxes, Ms. Pelosi has paid no attention to their economic consequences and instead has repeated the standard Democratic line about "tax cuts for the wealthiest few, causing red ink as far as the eye can see."

Cuts in tax rates have been followed by increases - repeat, increases - in tax revenues. This has happened not only during this administration but also as far back as the Kennedy administration.

Red ink comes from runaway spending, which can always exceed any increases in revenues. When a bill was introduced in the House to cut federal spending on welfare, Ms. Pelosi voted against it.

Upper-income earners - most of whom are not rich - have in fact paid more total taxes after the rates were cut, because these cuts have spurred economic growth and higher incomes. But to admit this would be to abandon the twin pillars of liberalism: higher tax rates and class-warfare rhetoric.

As regards the war on terrorism and the terrorists' war against the West, Nancy Pelosi has opposed having international phone calls to and from terrorists monitored by American intelligence agencies.

The liberal spin is that this is "domestic spying" when someone on one end of the line is within the United States.

Ms. Pelosi also doesn't think we are treating terrorists nice enough at Guantanamo. She wants to give them "rights" that neither the Constitution nor the Geneva Conventions give them.

This is from someone who, as speaker of the House, would be two heartbeats away from becoming president of the United States. We can only hope that the president and vice president never travel in the same car or fly on the same plane.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His column appears Thursdays in The Sun. His e-mail is

Garrison Keillor's column will return next week.

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