Robert J. Samuelson, a Democrat, wrote a column back in February called “The Obama Delusion”. It’s a good read.
The subtext of Obama’s campaign is that his own life narrative — to become the first African American president, a huge milestone in the nation’s journey from slavery — can serve as a metaphor for other political stalemates. Great impasses can be broken with sufficient goodwill, intelligence and energy. “It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white,” he says. Along with millions of others, I find this a powerful appeal.
Come to think of it, let’s reflect on this passage that Samuelson quoted for a moment. If you listen to Obama’s rhetoric lately it is most definitely “rich versus poor”, and “young versus old”. Where did that go? Doesn’t Obama want unity in America? I guess all that talk was just talk…
I remember seeing this music video when I was a teenager. It came into my mind today after seeing Gen. Powell’s endorsement of Obama, and I reflected on Obama’s past messages of unity (his “no red states, no blue states” speech), and others saying that some white people are voting for Obama to assuage their white guilt about past racial sins. If you read the lyrics, it’s reminiscent of Obama’s stump speeches, and the messages of the anti-war crowd that supports him. See what you think.
The fantasy, 80’s style–“Can You Feel It”, The Jacksons
You can’t hear the lyrics too well, so here’s a video that shows the lyrics as the song plays.
Hillary Clinton had this fantasy pegged:
Continuing from Samuelson’s article:
But on inspection, the metaphor is a mirage. Repudiating racism is not a magic cure-all for the nation’s ills. The task requires independent ideas, and Obama has few. If you examine his agenda, it is completely ordinary, highly partisan, not candid and mostly unresponsive to many pressing national problems.
As I noted above, you don’t hear the sort of rhetoric from Obama that inspired the euphoric visions of unity anymore. Apparently he tossed it out the window when it didn’t serve him anymore. Now he’s playing on voter anger and distrust. Still, I think a lot of people “hold on to the dream”, like Powell does, that Obama is a “transformational figure”. Life is not that simple, people. Even though it will be “the mother of all letdowns” for the dreamers that support him if he loses, experiencing that sense of angst and betrayal, I think, will be better than realizing that Obama never was the fantasy that he induced in us.
The above clip of Hillary’s speech, when she was in Providence, RI, was one of the rare times when I agreed with her 100%. We need to elect someone who has a sense of hope and vision, but who is also grounded in how things are now, and what’s possible to accomplish in the office of the presidency. I believe that the closest we can come to that among the two major party candidates is John McCain.