Back in 1988, Senator Lloyd Bentson, then the Democrat Vice Presidential candidate ripped his opponent, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle with one of the most famous lines in debate history:
¨Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.¨
For some reason, our current president, Barack Obama, seems to see himself as a protege of the late South African President Nelson Mandela. Well, to paraphrase Senator Bentson, ¨Barack, you're no Nelson Mandela.¨
First, let's get the superficial similarities out of the way. Yes, they were both the first black presidents of their respective countries. Yes, they were both attracted to socialist/communist teachings in early adulthood. Yes, they both were honored with Nobel Peace prizes (Mandela for his role in the peaceful transition of power in South Africa, Obama for . . . judicious use of Predator drones(?).)
The differences are far more numerous.
- Mandela spent the better part of three decades in prison. Obama was a child of privilege, with highly educated parents and grandparents, attending the most exclusive private school in Hawaii and with the help of affirmative action, attending the most prestigious higher education facilities in the nation.
- Mandela reconciled with the oppressive apartheid government leaders to bring a mostly peaceful transition to black majority. Once president, he included his political enemies in important posts in his government and was seen singing the old apartheid era national anthem. Obama is politically incapable of working with Republicans as seen from his stimulus and Obamacare programs, and failure to tackle needed reforms to Social Security and Medicare.
- Mandela recognized the positive role of religion. In his autobiography he said, "The Church was as concerned with this world as the next: I saw that virtually all of the achievements of Africans seemed to have come about through the missionary work of the Church." In an unguarded moment, Obama disparaged people for clinging to religion. He has interfered with people's rights to practice their religion in a Supreme Court battle to force religious owners of businesses to provide abortion drugs to employees. His administration has directed the Armed Forces to take steps to reduce the public affirmation of faith by our soldiers, sailors, and particularly airmen.
- Mandela is mentioned in the same breath as Lincoln, Gandhi, and King with their goal of unity and peace with others that did not share their views. Obama has no interest in taking steps to unity or recognizing others who have different political views. For example, he is making a high profile visit to attend Mandela's funeral and made it a point to shake hands with Cuban dictator Raul Castro. He made no such visit for Margaret Thatcher's funeral.
- Mandela was a respected world statesman. Obama is an incompetent political hack.
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