Thursday, February 28, 2008
The ‘Obama-thon’ Perhaps what we are experiencing in the present surge of Barack Obama popularity and political capital was to be expected. If, for no other reason than the pent-up feelings and growing frustration felt by a large segment of our nation’s voting-age population.
Consider the fact that George W. Bush, a man who was an obnoxious alcoholic, money burning, son of a former Vice President,
and President, until age 40, has been occupying the Oval Office for the last seven years, installed the first time by a Right Wing,
wrong-headed Supreme Court despite losing the popular vote in 2000; and, snookered into office the second time off of
mass voting machine irregularities in Ohio, Florida, and God knows where else.
Consider, too, that this Leader of the Free World has demonstrated, time and again, that he cannot string two sentences, two intelligent thoughts, together, that are not on a teleprompter. And, think about how very unintelligent he truly is to constantly repeat the word, “NUCULA” when referring to something nuclear. One must ask if his ego is so fragile, his skin so thin, that nobody can save him from himself by simply pointing out the unacceptableness of his pronunciation of a seven-letter word.
However, as frustrating as two terms of all of the above have been, for at least half of the country, perhaps the ultimate rub comes from the
fact that he lied to us; and, based upon that now-obvious lie, dragged us into a war apparently without end; a war already 14 months
longer than our involvement in World War II. And yes, Barbara Bush’s prize package managed to accomplish his mischief while turning an inherited federal surplus into a more than $2 trillion deficit.
Can there be any wonder that Americans, from every political persuasion, now want one thing more than anything else, and want it by the carload? They want change; and they are not concerned particularly about any other aspect; neither experience nor specificity.
Unlike their counterparts, some 40 years ago, the youthful, sometimes starry-eyed followers and supporters of Obama, are neither vitriolic nor violent. They are not protesting against anyone or any thing. Their’s is not the modus operandi of a Jerry Rubin or an Abby Hoffman.
Their political passion is directed, if somewhat blindly, toward an idol, a Rock Star, a symbol of ultimate change. We witness a triumph of form over substance, promise over performance. In essence, the appeal of the Obama phenomenom is more, much more, about
what he is not, and will not be, than it is about what he is or has been. He is perceived as the Ultimate Agent Of Change, and, indeed, markets
himself in that mold. His lack of experience, his lack of connections, far from liabilities, are seen as confirmation that he will deliver a new form of governance; a presidency nothing like the last 20 years of Bushes and Clinton.
Can a Rock Star, a popular idol in February, go on to sweep the nom-inating convention in August? at remains to be seen. It’s not a simple caper to pull off. One doesn’t want to peak too soon. Surging ahead and leaving Hillary in his dust could be counterproductive if it occurred in early March, as it would pit Obama against John McCain and the full force of the Republican Party’s Right Wing Extreme political operatives for fully eight months to Election Day.
Under that scenario, a lot of the luster will certainly tarnish. The energizing of a convention victory would be replaced by a dull, pre-choreographed, affair, guaranteed to be a ‘yawner’. Things his followers never bothered to inquire about will surely surface and fester once delivered in Republican Swift Boat fashion.
However, at this point in the process, with Obama having won the last 11 contests in a row, albeit in mostly small to middle-sized states
such as Wisconsin and Hawaii, the momentum would appear to be with him. Surely the perception of momentum is - and often perception is
the mother of reality - particularly in human a- airs such as politics and the mood of the masses.
In 1952, following 20 years of Democratic occupation of the White House, the Republican Party, desperate for a win, latched on to a war hero, a man not necessarily a proven commodity in issues domestic or political; a man whose political allegiance was, if anything, likely to be with the Democratic Party, coming as he had, from Kansas farm country. Nevertheless, by that summer, the Republican Party had convinced Dwight David Eisenhower, a true American hero, a grandfatherly image with a great confident smile, to be their man.
And soon, the expression “I LIKE IKE” was cropping up like mushrooms on political buttons all across America. The Democrat he would go on to defeat, not once but twice, Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, would eventually make his way to the national and international
stage eight years later as John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Ambassador to the United Nations. A gifted orator, a man of impeccable credentials and gentlemanly charm, he might have been a great president, save for the mood of the masses. Oh, yes, in addition to the political buttons for
“Ike”, the Republicans minted as many, declaring “IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE”.
Clearly, it’s that same mass sentiment that it’s time for a change, no doubt more intensely felt today, following the administration of a president many are describing as one of the worst in history, than 56 years ago. In point of fact, Harry Truman left his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, a two and a half year successful war, The Korean War, to finally wind down six months after taking office, and George W. Bush will leave a five and a half year war that nobody, not even Obama, can realistically expect to end that soon.
Finally, the Obama-thon, a serious campaign by a Black American for president, not unlike Hillary’s effort to elect a woman, is possible at
this particular point in our nation’s history, not so much because as a people we have necessarily, finally laid aside our racial and gender prejudices. Rather, it’s because even the most biased and jaded amongst us will acknowledge that if George W. Bush can be
president, anyone can be.