September 27, 2014

Does Obama Possess Courage? [From before the 2008 Election]


There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you ... in places where winning means survival and defeat means death ... - Sarah Palin's Address to the RNC

Is Obama's courage limited to talking? I've been reading a number of quotes from Senator Obama over the past 24 hours that have to do with fighting. He's not taking things lying down. He's not going to be "bullied." That the sort of tough talk that's pretty much par for the course in political metaphors these days.

Last night, for instance, while getting paid a hundred grand and change for having dinner, the Obama scene went like this:

Bon Jovi [once a well-known rock star] and his wife, Dorothea, hosted more than 100 people for dinner on their mansion lawn by the Navesink River in Middletown, N.J. The price was $30,800 a person, to be divided between the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

"When I look at Barack, I see an old man," Bon Jovi said in introducing his guest. Obama is 47, Bon Jovi is 46.

Obama spoke for about eight minutes before greeting guests individually. He vowed to fight Republican attacks on his character and background more fiercely than John Kerry did in his losing campaign four years ago.

"We're not going to be bullied, we're not going to be smeared, we're not going to be lied about," Obama said. "I don't believe in coming in second." - Obama At Bon Jovi Event: 'We Won't Be Bullied'

Sounds tough, doesn't he? And in the pure political sense of Chicago machine politics, he probably is.

Obama's also known for shooting hoops. As one of my commenting readers put it:

Obama, after Governor Palin's speech: "I've been called worse on the basketball court." My fantasy reply from Governor Palin: "I'm a runner and a basketball player. I don't think he can beat me on the court. I don't think he's got the stamina."
That's amusing because, as most people can sense, it has more than a grain of truth in it. Stamina is more than simply making campaigning for President your day job, stamina comes from doing a tough job in crisis mode, day after day. Sort of like, say, being an infantry soldier doing a tour of Iraq. Or flying jet fighters into places where they have a lot of anti-aircraft guns and missiles.

All of this leads me to a question for which I do not have a ready answer: "How much personal courage does Senator Obama possess and when has he demonstrated it? Not talked the talk, but walked the walk.

Surely we must have some examples of this somewhere but I don't recall any.

Why is this important? Because, as is obvious, there are times when courage, real courage in the personal, the physical, the spiritual, the moral or the political sense, is called for from a President.

We have numerous examples of these sorts of courage in the life and political career of John McCain.

What has Obama done that demonstrates real, classical courage? I would really like to know.

To my mind, courage is a far more necessary element for a leader of the United States to possess than any other. It even trumps experience. I've heard a lot from Obama and his supporters about it taking "courage to vote for Obama." But really all it takes to do that is to get to a polling place in November, go into a voting booth, and pull a lever, push a button, or mark a paper. It takes no courage at all.

Leading the country to safety and security after it has been attacked and 3,000 citizens killed in a morning -- that takes courage and we've only seen that in one man. The next President had better possess that sort of courage as well.

So again, I ask, when have we ever seen Obama demonstrate real courage?

[2014: Yes, I know..... "But John McCain, blah blah blah did blah blah.....and is.... blah blah blah!" Fine. OK. Spare me. Thanks.]

Posted by Vanderleun at September 27, 2014 1:09 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I might add that giving birth to a handicapped child is a mark of courage and character that I could only hope to achieve. Quite a team.

Posted by: Ed at September 6, 2008 4:40 AM

When I first saw this Obama quote, "I've been called worse on the basketball court" I feared that he was ready to take his game to the next level. His lack of perspective and composure has always been his Achilles heel and I thought for a moment he had overcome this weakness. Nope.

As long as he remains thin-skinned and prickly McCain can control Obama by ridicule and taunts. Criticized for not going to Iraq, Obama feels the sting and says "oh yeah, I'll not only go to Iraq, I'll do a world tour and show you." Thereby beclowning himself in front of #10 Downing and acting a fool in Berlin. Reminded of over-the-top statements Obama goes even further with a stadium and a West Wing prop.

If Obama ever does learn to let criticism slide, which insults to answer and which to leave alone he'll be dangerous. Until then, not so much.

Posted by: Ronsonic at September 6, 2008 7:00 AM

In our relatively safe and comfortable society, not everyone has an opportunity to display physical courage, but a politician should be able to show his moral courage frequently. Maybe by voting against his party leader out of principle, by telling a lobbyist representing a deep-pocketed client that he won't back his proposed bill, or by refusing an earmark for a project in one's hometown. This stuff eventually becomes part of his "street cred". McCain's record in this area has been well-documented (sometimes to the anger and frustration of those of us on the Right). When has Obama done the same? Anyone? Bueller?

Posted by: waltj at September 6, 2008 8:49 AM

Barack Hussein Obama is a wuss.

Posted by: pete at September 6, 2008 9:26 AM

What has Obama done that demonstrates real, classical courage? I would really like to know.

You mean it doesn't take extraordinary courage to grow up half black in a diverse population of whites, Asians, and dark-skinned Hawaiians while attending the most exclusive school on the Islands? Sheesh! Give the man at least some credit for bravery. /snark

Posted by: Sara (Pal2Pal) at September 6, 2008 9:37 AM

I say Palin should challenge Obama to a modified biathalon: cross-country skiing, target shooting, one-on-one basketball and bowling. Advantage, Palin.

Posted by: edh at September 6, 2008 10:40 AM

Well, he did walk into the house of an unrepentant terrorist who considers himself 'at war with' the United States. That could almost be courage. If, you know, he didn't think they were on the same team.

Posted by: Al at September 6, 2008 10:49 AM

I'm not sure how much traffic your blog gets, but I'll make a prediction that you won't get much in the way of comments supporting Barack on this. The ones you will get will be wildly off-target and highly emotional.

I've noticed that when you clearly define something and ask a pointed question of Barack's fans, you'll most often get no reply. The same happened in a thread about the awesomeness of Obama's tax plan to tax "the rich." I laid out the economics of that kind of recycled liberal tax plan and showed how it would kill job growth and innovation, and end up leaving everyone worse off. It killed the thread.

Posted by: Kev at September 6, 2008 10:51 AM

Obama was, and is, a machine politician who went along to get along. He's never bucked the system, never raised his voice when it could even remotely cost him, never cast a vote that was the right thing to do but might interfere with his climbing the greasy pole. He's an empty suit with a nice line of baloney.

Posted by: Jeffersonian at September 6, 2008 11:12 AM

There is a "c" adjective you can use to describe Obama and it is the one at the top of your post: cautious. This is most evident when he is speaking extemporaneously, cautiously weighing every word to fit the audience and giving himself extra time with all his uhs and ya-knows. Not courageous. Not the One.

Posted by: Jen at September 6, 2008 11:18 AM

As a follow-up to an earlier poster, as long as he remains thin-skinned and prickly, Obama can be controlled and manipulated by our ENEMIES. He'd be a push-over for a Putin or an Ahmadinejad. This is my biggest concern. The guy's just not ready for prime time.

Posted by: Franny at September 6, 2008 12:00 PM

Obama did not hold his own against Bill O'Reilly. He tried to charm his way out of the tight spots. Didn't work. I'm sure it's worked just fine in other places in his life. Charm and a restructuring of the questions usually works in academia and the Senate.
Welcome to the real world, Barry.

Posted by: Joan at September 6, 2008 12:31 PM

From his usual stump speech:

"You know, ‘he’s got funny name,’ You know, ‘we’re not sure about him,’” [...] So we’re going to say that you know, maybe he’s got Muslim connections or we’re going to say that, you know, he hangs out with radicals or he’s not patriotic.’"

Does he ever, later in the speech, point out which of these are untrue? And I don't recall seeing any McCain people highlighting Obamas' "Muslim connections" but maybe it's easier to show courage about comments that haven't been made.

I'm pretty sure it took courage to be a community organizer, though. Maybe that's why he quit.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at September 6, 2008 12:47 PM

I can't decide whether Obama was bullied into going on O'Reilly by the pretty point guard or he demonstrated courage in the face of enemy fire.

Posted by: Pete at September 6, 2008 1:04 PM

Courage is not the most necessary element for a President to possess; intelligence is. And the Obama/Biden ticket has the McCain/Palin ticket beat by a country mile in that department.

Eight is enough!

Posted by: CheddarPants at September 6, 2008 1:06 PM


Intelligence is the most necessary element? Only three words will blow that idea clean out of the water: James Earl Carter. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: BobK at September 6, 2008 1:17 PM

"I don't believe in coming in second."

Given Obama's penchant for evicting his opponents from the race, he doesn't believe in anyone coming in second.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at September 6, 2008 1:26 PM

Speaking totally candidly, I'm a very smart guy, IQ in the low-to-mid 150s, and I can personally attest that intelligence isn't everything.

I haven't been as 'successful' career-wise, by normal measures, as I presumably should have been because messy real world decision-making requires additional skills.

In the real world you rarely have enough hard facts to come up with *the* answer. You have to be aggressive enough to forge on ahead anyway with what you know is an imperfect decision. I have seen plenty of people do very well as managers (apart from the majority who are relatively useless ;) ) because a)they could be decisive, and b) their 'gut' was good enough to make up for incomplete analysis. I think it was Patton who said a good plan now is better than the perfect plan at some indefinite point in the future. So true.

In a politician, yes, I want a reasonable amount of traditional smarts and education, but a fancy degree is almost worthless without the right guiding principles, the so-called 'core values'.

Crypto-Marxism doesn't cut it.

Posted by: ns at September 6, 2008 2:15 PM


It is becoming more and more obvious every day that Obama is a weak man.

Americans may elect a rapist but they will never elect a wimp.

Obama is toast.

Posted by: M. Simon at September 6, 2008 2:25 PM

Who's running this campaign? It is amazing that party/campaign "strategists" thought it smart to send the top of their presidential ticket out to rebut the opposition's bottom. It's also an admission that Biden might not have been the wisest choice as Biden should be wallowing in the netroots mud with the lipstick-wearing pitbull, not Obama.

A political junkie since childhood; I have watched every election since 1952 and don't recall this happening before, has it? anyone?

The Obama campaign has been pulled off message and eclipsed in the news cycle for a week by a candidate they thought was an unworthy political neophyte. Some one is making very poor assessments/judgments, much as they did with Hillary's PUMAs.

Obama painted himself into this box when he rebutted Palin that managing his campaign was executive experience enough, if so, how to explain the series of unforced errors they've made in the last week? Obama ticks off a laundry list of his negatives reminding everyone, including a reeling, desperate-for-relevance MSM, of his politically problematic associations and thin resume.

For the first time since they helped BHO dispatch Hillary, the MSM sharks smell possible failure, we haven't reached that stage yet, but blood is in the water.

Posted by: BJM at September 6, 2008 2:29 PM

Obama is too brave! He won't even hide behind Momma's skirt. Now he will try to hide behind Hillary's pantsuits but that is different.
What a wuss.

Posted by: Peter at September 6, 2008 2:49 PM

Well, he did go toe to toe with O'Reilly. That takes a certain amount of courage, or stupidity, which is often confused with courage.

Posted by: bc at September 6, 2008 3:09 PM

To quote C.S. Lewis: "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." Intelligence isn't of much use without it.

Posted by: Nancy at September 6, 2008 3:20 PM

If there was ever one election that a party should just walk with. This would be it. Why aren't the democrats walking away with this? There are many reasons. But, Obama should remember this. "Never bring a knife to a gun fight." "Never fight a fighter." If he wants to win. Then he should keep repeating "change, change, change" to the mindless minions who believe it. He should not, under any circumstances, challenge i.e. fight with McCain. You don't fight an old warrior. Everyone including Obama knows who wins that one every time.

Posted by: Vern at September 6, 2008 3:46 PM

To Sara(Pal2Pal)...

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
-- Maya Angelou

Being born into a difficult circumstance does not take courage. Courage is about making choices. About choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong. To choose to put one's self into danger, when it is necessary for the common good. To stand up for the unpopular, because it is right. That's courage....

Posted by: Casey at September 6, 2008 3:58 PM

Intelligence is the most necessary element? Only three words will blow that idea clean out of the water: James Earl Carter.

Given his political leanings, our new friend Cheddarpants might be more impressed by the three words: Richard Milhous Nixon. It's a good point either way.

Posted by: jaed at September 6, 2008 7:29 PM


Even if Cheddarpants wasn't impressed by your amendment, I was! Nixon was a foreign policy powerhouse but left us with several horrendous domestic boondoggles (even when you exclude the ethical stuff).

Now THAT'S an interesting topic! Compare and contrast Nixon and Obama. Discuss....

Posted by: BobK at September 6, 2008 8:12 PM

To pile on Cheddar a bit more, I've had bosses who were undeniably extremely intelligent. They were also undeniable failures as managers because they suffered from "paralysis of analysis"--they fretted over every word of a report or presentation, rarely made a decision, and often changed their minds. It's pure hell working for someone like this. It is far better to work for a manager of average intelligence who can make prompt and sensible decisions. It's as true in the White House as it is in a business.

Posted by: waltj at September 6, 2008 8:36 PM

Palin led her team to the State title, sinking clutch free throws in the final seconds, as team leader and point guard.

Obama was a bench warmer on his state championship team, scoring 2 points in the championship game after the contest had long been over.

Posted by: Greg Ransom at September 6, 2008 9:04 PM

It did not take courage to go on the Factor because he knew what the questions would be. OB would have showed a modicum of courage had he admitted that he was wrong about "The Surge." Obama couldn't even summon a minuscule neurons worth of courage to tell an evident truth and that speaks volumes about the vacuous core of the man.

Posted by: Capt. Craig at September 7, 2008 5:32 AM

Back to BobK's suggested discussion...
I'm not the first to notice that Obama starts many a defense of his positions with "let me be perfectly clear". I was a pup when Nixon was president, but I remember that phraseology distinctly! Someone should dig up a clip.

Also, isn't it revealing how Cheddar has so much reverence for "intelligence" versus what I think most of us would agree is the most important characteristic of a leader: wisdom. And there is a huge difference between the two. Just look at the foolishness of the intellectuals in the humanities departments of our finest schools.

Posted by: Jen at September 7, 2008 8:42 PM

"[W]hen have we ever seen Obama demonstrate real courage?"

I can recall the day vividly: It was the 12th of Never.

Posted by: David at September 7, 2008 9:59 PM

regarding Obama's basketball playing. a friend who went to harvard law school and played pick-up games with him said that Barack was always the guy calling cheap fouls. you can't elect a President who calls cheap fouls.

Posted by: Joe at September 8, 2008 2:11 PM

You're not being fair. When Senator Obama was in the IL State Senate, he took a stand on tough choices and voted "Present" not once, but 130 times (not sure how these split out between the "I don't knows", the "I don't care's" and the "I'm afraid I might upset someone's").

Since he's been in the US Senate, he's had the courage to stand up and vote against his own party a staggering 4% of the time. (Not sure how many of these were "principled stances" and how many times he might have just pulled the wrong lever).


How did the Democrats get so bad at this?

Posted by: Bob at September 15, 2008 1:54 PM

this little "speech" you have here was a complete waste of your time you dont even have real proof of anything and all you really do is contradict yourself..
you say something good then say something bad right after..just like McCain !
and who ever left a comment supporting palin must be crazy. yes, she would have made history but as the first women to have made it that far ..what a disgrace! seriously she brought shame to soooo many women, so many AMERICANS
and as for you people who left comment about taxong the "rich people"..your probably one of them yourself..your soo snobby and to busy focusing on your money and your life to notice that there are other people around you who wokr just as hard or even harder than yourself to support their families ! but of course your money and job has blinded you to which you can no see any other issues of your fellow citizens bt yours...what? do you not have enough money to get another new car or a diamond necklace for your DOG?
just wake up and notice that there are other people in this world..! thats all anybody asks of you "rich people" and maybe to give a little because in order for you to get where you are now im pretty sure someone has given you something !!

Posted by: jennifer at November 11, 2008 5:52 PM

"Courage is not the most necessary element for a President to possess; intelligence is. And the Obama/Biden ticket has the McCain/Palin ticket beat by a country mile in that department."

--CheddarPants, 9/6/2008

In light of what happened in the remainder of the campaign, during the transition, and more to the point, in the month since President Obama and Vice-President Biden took office...would you care to reconsider that statement? Because based upon what I've seen so far, I'm not entirely sure those two gentlemen have Trig Palin beat by a country mile in that department. Let alone Sarah Palin. Let alone both John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Rich Fader at February 19, 2009 10:13 AM

I'd ask CheddarPants to reconsider that statement again, three years later...but it'd be too cruel.

Posted by: Rich Fader at May 2, 2012 2:16 PM

Yeah but, blah blah blah Obama..(and company)
Um, let's have a peek at the nice folks that have been "installed", buy appointment, OR "revolving door", into Zero risk of consequence positions controlling "interpretation" of law, "education", "health", "safety", "economic studies", and "gub'mint" money, shall we?

Posted by: CaptDMO at September 27, 2014 7:42 AM

BobK Sept 6, 2008 8:12 PM "Compare and contrast Nixon and Obama. Discuss...."


Posted by: OldFert at September 27, 2014 9:38 AM

Anybody with any courage: Truman, Nixon, JFK, Reagan. Palin, even Romney in hindsight.
My fantasy choice would be Patton.

Posted by: chasmatic at September 28, 2014 11:54 AM