Barack Obama has made a serious of statements recently which show an appalling ignorance of history and the world. He recently spoke about "the bomb" being dropped on Pearl Harbor. Before that, in May, Obama talked about the Iraq war sucking up Arabic translators needed in Afghanistan (which is a non-Arabic nation in which the people speak languages from a completely different language family). A few days earlier, Barack spoke of the "57 states." One might allow him some credit if he had intended to include all the different jurisdictions that send delegates to the Democrat Convention - although Obama still would have been woefully wrong - but even when you count American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, the total is 55, not 57.
Obama seems ignorant of history and unable to do basic arithmetic. He did not know at all about the historical impact upon revenue of raising the tax rate on capital gains (which always lowers tax revenues) and lowering the tax rate on capital gains (which always raises tax revenue.) These statements by Obama do not reflect dishonesty. He has, to be sure, lied to the American people about his knowledge of Jeremiah Wright's hatefulness. Nor is Obama trying to "spin" something with these statements. He simply does not know very much.
This is phenomena increasing common among Democrat Party presidential candidates. Remember 2004? Howard Dean, the presumptive nominee for several months, answered a question about how to deal with Iran by citing the need for closer cooperation with the Soviet Union. He specifically mentioned the "Soviet Union" four times in one paragraph. Ordinary citizens, living in the real world, know that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 - almost thirteen years before Dean made his thoughtful comment - and a simple look at a world map would show fifteen new nations where the Soviet Union had been. Dean also replied to a question about Right to Work by telling Chris Matthews that he believed states should be allowed to pass their own laws in this area, so as president he would not order states to enact Right to Work. Dean, who had been Governor of Vermont, apparently did not know that the president cannot order a state to enact Right to Work. This ignorance by someone who served as a state governor is breathtaking. This ignorance by a Democrat frontrunner is truly breathtaking. This ignorance by the man who has been chairman of the DNC for several years is even more breathtaking.
John Kerry was ultimately the Democrat nominee, and Kerry had the reputation of an intellectual. He wasn't, of course. When speaking to an all black college in Mississippi, Kerry said "When Mr. King gets dragged behind a truck in Texas by chains and his body mutilated only because he's gay, I think that's a matter of rights in the United States." This comments were from a prepared speech - a speech written, and presumably, researched. Yet even in this safe environment Kerry got his facts all wrong. The man killed in Texas was James Byrd Jr., not King. Byrd was killed because he was black; Byrd was not gay. Who was this "King" fellow? He was one of the bigoted sociopaths who murdered Byrd. Shortly after that, Kerry described his Catholicism as defined by Pope Paul VI and Pope Pius XXIII. Kerry, apparently, did not know that there has never been a "Pope Pius XXIII." He knew less that a third grade parochial school student. Kerry said that he served under President Nixon while he was in Vietnam, which he did not - that was a glaring error that could only hurt, not help Kerry, so one must only conclude that John Kerry really did not know who was president during his brief tour in Vietnam.
The Democrat nominee in 2000, Al Gore, made so many outrageous and outlandish statements that everyone has heard "I invented the Internet" or "A zebra cannot change its spots" or that one trillion dollars is "a million billion dollars." Gore lied - or was profoundly ignorant - when he said that he did not know that a Buddhist Temple was a religious establishment or that he did not know Bill Clinton to have ever lied.
But it is not when Gore was lying or saying silly things about trivial matters that should have troubled us. Al Gore believed that Republicans controlled the Senate in 1993. Bill Bradley questioned him on that during a debate. Consider the lack of basic knowledge Gore displayed in that statement. Remember Gore was a senator. His father was a senator. In 1993, as prescribed by the Constitution, Al Gore was the presiding officer of the Senate. Yet he thought Republicans controlled the Senate then. Al Gore considered himself a "dark horse" candidate and compared himself to another dark horse candidate from his home state of Tennessee, President Knox. No man named "Knox" has ever been president, and even a grade school student in Tennessee would know the name of presidents elected from that state.
What Gore, Dean, Kerry and Obama have shown America are presidential candidates who have almost no real knowledge of our government or our history or of world culture. This is not a question of intelligence, but knowledge. Somehow, attending "excellent" schools and colleges, these four men came out unable to pass a comprehensive middle school history and government proficiency test. But is this not true of all politicians?
President Bush has not really made any statements like this. When he is mocked, it is because he pronounces "nuclear" as "nucular." That is a question of dialect, not knowledge. Anyone who mocked how blacks, Hispanics or Orientals spoke, in a political context, would be rightly marked as a bigot. President Reagan was attacked once for referring to Lenin as "Nikolai" Lenin, until his staffers produced a periodical from the Communist Party USA decades earlier which referred to Lenin also as Nikolai Lenin (i.e. Reagan, a voracious reader, knew more than the reporters who jibed him.)
Republicans, like most typical Americans, seemed to have learned in school or through study or by living the life of an engaged citizen that the Soviet Union fell in 1991, that there are fifty states, that lowering capital gains tax rates raises revenue from that tax, that presidents cannot order state legislatures to pass state laws, that Republicans gained control of the Senate in 1995 and not 1993, that Pope John XXIII was not named Pope Pius XXIII, that no President Knox ever sat in the White House - and so on. It is not that Republican candidates are so much better informed than the American people; it is that Democrat candidates are so much less well informed than the American people.
Why? These Democrats have been fed the same false histories, the same manufactured facts, and the same overarching ideology that requires no substance of knowledge to make it true, their whole lives. More troubling, no one tells John Kerry or Barack Obama just how little they know, or if someone does tell them, these men do not care enough to open a history book or read the Constitution. They live in a cocoon as isolated from America as the aristocrats of Bourbon France were from the lives of ordinary Frenchmen. Is this scary? It should be. Democrat leaders are, as much as anything else, like ignorant and self-assured colonial overlords, viewing their subjects as people "clinging to religion" and utterly unconcerned with the wishes, welfare or wisdom of those whom they would rule.