Reality. Man, there’s just something about reality that slaps you upside the head and makes you question what the heck you were thinking in the first place. I often think about my sister-in-law and her idiot former husband, who moved their dysfunctional family and abusive relationship from Maine to Florida – as the venerable Howie Carr calls it, “that sunshiney state for shady people – thinking warm weather and palm trees would be a cure-all. Or U.S. companies who think they can hire cheap India resources to replace North American workers and not see any impact in their customer satisfaction ratings. Or Baltimore Oriole fans who are surprised to see come May 15 that pennants are not won in April.
Which brings me to Barack Obama. OK, I’ll admit it – for a couple of months there I drank the Kool-Aid thinking this guy, while not the messiah many of his followers thought or still think he was/is, was different – calculating, yes, but a charismatic and fearless politician with a true message for changing the way political campaigns, and ultimately, Washington, could be run. That he was a left-wing liberal I had no doubt, but at the core I still thought there was something unusually attractive, drawing, and non-partisan about him – to the point where I was seriously considering voting for him in the November election.
That was then, this is now. So color me disillusioned to find out that Obama, far from being an exciting change-agent comet blazing brilliantly across the American political landscape, appears to be nothing but just another empty-suited political animal whose actions fall far beneath the rhetoric he espouses.
Y’know, unlike a lot of conservate commentators and observers out there, the Jeremiah Wright church connection and controversy never really bothered me. After all, I have no clue what it is to be black and to look at this country and its history through an African-American prism – let’s face it, it was only 40+ years ago that fire hoses and dogs were still being used against marchers in Alabama and Mississippi, and racially-separate drinking fountains and restrooms were common across the South. What has caused the Obama disillusionment I feel are a number of missteps he and his campaign have taken in the past few months that have revealed an arrogance and behavior not associated with true change agents, but with politicians only concerned with getting power and keeping it.
What started it for me was the e-mails his campaign sends out to those who expressed an interest in working for him. Rather than trumpeting Obama’s positive and hopeful message of bi-partisanship and his own plans for America, they contain the same old divisive politics of personal attacks against John McCain. (Not that the GOP literature I get in my mail doesn’t do the same thing against Obama, but that’s my point – from the parties of both candidates it’s still politics as usual, all negative attacks and nothing more, and I’m just sick of it.) I don’t know, for some reason I expected more – and better – from his campaign. In addition:
2. Obama tossing Jeremiah Wright and his church under the bus. This showed me that the guy will be willing to do anything to become President. I mean, if that’s the church you’ve been attending for years, why not just tell the press to sod off and say that the church you attend and how you practice your faith through it means more to you and your family than any political campaign?
3. Obama’s unwillingness to support school choice for parents. Of course, public education and the dollars contributed by the teachers unions make for a critical voting bloc in the Democrats’ hope for success this November, but a true agent of change would be able to craft a message that both satisfies this key constituency and also recognizes the obvious – that public education in this country is a cesspool of waste when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars and the quality of education – especially in the nation’s inner cities.
4. Obama’s continued mischaracterization of John McCain’s comments about how long he thinks the U.S. should stay in Iraq. Obama knows he is retelling a lie over and over again and should know better. You’d think a true agent of change would strive for higher standards in political discourse and eschew simply repeating political talking points.
5. Obama’s recent decision to forego public campaign financing, breaking a pledge (one I had never supported, BTW) he had made previously.
6. The Obama campaign’s recent decision to begin limiting media access as a way to more carefully craft his image to voters. Anyone else see the warning signs in this?
7. Most importantly in my view, Obama’s reluctance to take up McCain’s offer of a series of ten “town hall” meetings between now and November where the candidates just debate the issues and answer questions from real people. No carefully staged and crafted stupid debate events where nothing is ever really said – just converstaions with the American people in non-partisan public settings. To me, this would be the equivalent of throwing open the window and letting the sunshine and fresh air into a stuffy and stale room. After all, there are significant differences between these two candidates in terms of vision and political stance on virtually everything, and the country would be incredibly well served to hear these debated and expressed in a true public setting over the course of the campaign.
Sure, McCain is offering this from the perspective of being behind in the polls with nothing to lose and everything to gain, but a true reformer and agent of change would not be afraid of this kind of opportunity – actually, he would embrace it as a way of showing that he’s not like every other politician. Only an empty-suit lacking in confidence and/or afraid of people seeing who he really is or believes would agree to only one, and then on a date like July 4th when no one would be watching. Obama, what are you afraid of?
So count me disillusioned with Barack Obama. The charismatic and bold agent of change who burst upon the political scene in the snow-covered landscape of Iowa in January has, in June, seems to have revealed himself to be just another arrogant politician who will say and do anything to become President. And that’s just not good enough to get my vote. As Blake Dvorak writes today, it’s time for Obama to show he’s willing to re-think some of the left’s traditional positions – perhaps on school choice, or the UN, tax policy, oil drilling, and/or entitlement programs – and suggest slaughtering a few of his party’s sacred cows for the sake of the country’s future security and economic well-being.
Otherwise, if he keeps doing what he’s doing and the disillusionment I feel were to become more widespread, the only one Obama will be able to blame come November 5th is that person staring back at him in the mirror.