The Blind Leading the Dazzled…

obamara.jpgNews today of another endorsement for Barack Obama, this one perhaps more succinctly pointing out the dichotomy between the idea of a President Obama and the reality of one. The NY Post’s editorial board endorsed Obama today in a bombastic piece that devoted more column inches to the alleged negatives of a Clinton presidency than to the benefits of an Obama one. Granted, the Post is the closest thing in the legitimate US press to a true British tabloid, but still, let’s go point by point, shall we?

  • “Bill Clinton’s thuggishly self-centered campaign antics conjure so many bad, sad memories that it’s hard to know where to begin.” This point neither supports Obama nor derides Hillary Clinton, which illustrates perfectly that candidates’ spouses are, or at least should be, a complete non-issue in this or any other campaign. To endorse, or fail to endorse a candidate based on the words or history of a spouse is absolutely ludicrous. Too much of this campaign has focused on Bill Clinton, an entertaining side show to be sure, but completely beside the point. To paraphrase Hillary, he’s not here. She is. And again, where is the media outrage when other candidates spouses, like Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards use harsh rhetoric on the campaign trail? They are surrogates; this is what they are for: to say things the candidates themselves cannot say. No one calls it thuggish or self centered – or at least they never have before.
  • “…Sen. Clinton could have reined him in at any time. But she chose not to…” Really? Where is he now? Heard from him in the last week or so? Didn’t think so.
  • “For all his charisma and his eloquence, the rookie senator sorely lacks seasoning: Regarding national security, his worldview is beyond naïve…””His all-things-to-all-people approach …arouses scant confidence.” This is the sort of thing that you say to explain why you didn’t endorse someone, not why you did. This and so many other endorsements explain away one of the most critical assets any president should have: a sense of the world and our place in it. An understanding of the deep responsibility that comes with shaping the foreign policy, economic strategy, and security framework of, right or wrong, not just our own country but the whole of the world. Where we go, others follow, and it is generally acknowledged that the blind leading the dazzled isn’t the way we should be headed. Asserting, as this and may other endorsers do, that political immaturity is but a small price to pay for the whole package are not thinking of the potential for disaster. If the nation is a bus on treacherous roads and you are a passenger, who do you want driving: the “naïve” newcomer who needs “seasoning” and does not “arouse confidence” or the experienced veteran who has traveled these roads before?
  • “Change for the sake of change does not a credible campaign platform make.” Again, are they explaining why the endorsed him or why they didn’t? Hillary Clinton has laid out detailed plans for her domestic policy proposals and has even explained how she plans to pay for them, by returning to the “pay to play” congressional rules of the 1990s. The few proposals Obama has made were late in coming, sketchy on the details, and missing fiscal explanations, illustrating that though he may be eloquent and charismatic, there is not a lot of substance to his flash.
  • ” A return to …cattle-futures deal, Travelgate, Whitewater, Filegate, the Lincoln Bedroom Fire Sale, Pardongate – and the inevitable replay of the Monica Mess? No, thank you.” Hillary and Bill Clinton have both been investigated to death for more than 16 years – and never charged with anything. Any scandals that were there to be found have been found – and found groundless. All of that is water under the bridge, put there by a rabid, ascendant Republican Congressional minority in the 90s. Obama is untried in more ways than just politically – he also has not had light shined on the back room deals and private peccadilloes he has been accumulating for the last forty or so years. And, if he wins the White House this time, the Republicans will likely again be the minority party, agitating for change and looking for dirt. Every closet in the Clinton house has already been cleaned out in a highly public fashion; can the same be said for the Obamas? Why don’t we ask Tony Rezko? If what you really want is to avoid scandal, a new candidate is the very last one you should vote for.
  • “(Clinton’s strategy is) called ‘triangulation’…. Once, it was effective – almost brilliant. Today, it is tired and tattered, and it reeks of cynicism and opportunism…At least Obama has the ability to inspire…” Say what you will about the Clintons’ strategies, but, unarguably, they worked. And whatever strategy Obama is attempting to replace it with (it seems to be based on looking good and spouting empty phrases), it cannot possibly succeed as well, or for as long, as the Clinton era did: low unemployment, high dividends, balanced budget, increased fiscal and social equality. The old adage goes that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Obama seems to have it backwards, so does that mean that if elected we will stop being inspired after 10% of his term?
  • “Sen. Clinton stands philosophically far to the left of her husband, and is much more disciplined in pursuit of her agenda.” To reverse my earlier questions regarding the Post’s backhanded compliments to Obama, is this the kind of thing you say to explain why you are not endorsing a candidate or why you are? It seems that, if one of t he most common criticisms of Bill Clinton’s presidency is that his personal foibles sidetracked his decidedly centrist agenda, then a statement like this one about Hillary ought to convince you that she is just the ticket. This implies that she has of Bill’s brilliance, none of his weaknesses, and no inbred desire to compromise. If that is not endorsable, what is?

This editorial encapsulates so many of the seemingly contradictory media narratives regarding this primary season: Obama is inspiring but untried, Clinton is experienced but a liability; Barack’s hubris verses Hillary’s humility. The idea of an Obama presidency verses the reality of one. In theory, he is young, powerful, photogenic, a moving speaker and unassailable. The reality is that he is too inexperienced, not powerful enough, all image and sound bites, and worst of all, an ethical minefield ripe for Republican plunder. This is the storyline of this election, and it is important that each voter take the time to look beyond the headlines to discover their own truth. How sadly fitting for our times that it is the New York Post that so clearly pointed out what level politics have sunk to.


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