Friday, February 15, 2008

Krauthammer's opening move

"Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude."Charles Krauthammer - Washington Post

Erin go bragh?
David Seaton's News Links
I admit I am having some second thoughts on my theory's present validity on reading Krauthammer.

I detest Krauthammer, a poisonous neocon, but he is very smart. With him, "every movement has a meaning". Each word he writes is dripping with intention. He seems to have already written off Hillary Clinton and is unloading on Obama. His idea, put briefly, is that Barack Obama is some sort of George McGovern with a cool tan.

I joined in an intense debate on Barack Obama in the great politics junky's venue, TPMCafe, and I got some interesting questions that I thought I'd paste in here at News Links.
David, do you think there is more racism in our country over the past, say, 20 years, less, about the same, different? Are your thoughts on that part of your sense of hopelessness? Do you think it is impossible to over-estimate the racism of the American people?
I think every American is race conscious. I say this because in the United States anyone with even a drop of African blood is considered "black". This is not true of Latin Americans, where to be black means to be just that, "black". I have had Cubans that were as "black" as Colin Powell tell me that they were Basques or Galicians and nobody thought this was strange.

This leads to some strange attitudes. For example my maternal great grandmother was Irish from Dublin, the boxer, Mohammad Ali's maternal great grandfather was Irish from Dublin too. Ali is loquacious, poetic, pugnacious, brave and funny. Irish, no? No, of course not, he is "black". Ha, ha! But if I say that I am Irish nobody laughs, and I can't fight my way out of a paper bag... I would say that as long as nobody would think to say how "Irish" Mohammad Ali is, America is a racist country.
Is it "too soon" for a "black" man to be President of the United States?
Well, it is fair to say that it is much too soon for most white men or women to be president, so, not being a racist, I imagine black people wouldn't be any different.

Having said that, I think it is important to also say that Barack Obama is not the first "black" man to be considered for the job. Not too many years ago, General Colin Powell was being talked about very seriously for the presidency and certainly before Bush spoiled him, few would have argued that he was not qualified for it. If we look at the field this year, Powell might be considered overqualified. He surely has a thicker CV than any recent candidate and a record of proven judgment: certainly if the "Powell Doctrine" had been adhered to, the USA would have never invaded Iraq. I think that if he were a Democrat he would already have been president by now.
David, what are your specific concerns about Obama? What do you think would happen if he were President?
Here I am afraid that I agree with the detestable Mister Krauthammer, which is why I quoted him above. Here is the whole thing. DS

Charles Krauthammer: The Audacity of Selling Hope - Washington Post
There's no better path to success than getting people to buy a free commodity. Like the genius who figured out how to get people to pay for water: bottle it (Aquafina was revealed to be nothing more than reprocessed tap water) and charge more than they pay for gasoline. Or consider how Google found a way to sell dictionary nouns-- boat, shoe, clock -- by charging advertisers zillions to be listed whenever the word is searched.

And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama is getting millions.

This kind of sale is hardly new. Organized religion has been offering a similar commodity -- salvation -- for millennia. Which is why the Obama campaign has the feel of a religious revival with, as writer James Wolcott observed, a "salvational fervor" and "idealistic zeal divorced from any particular policy or cause and chariot-driven by pure euphoria."

"We are the hope of the future," sayeth Obama. We can "remake this world as it should be." Believe in me and I shall redeem not just you but your country -- nay, we can become "a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest."

And believe they do. After eight straight victories -- and two more (Hawaii and Wisconsin) almost certain to follow -- Obama is near to rendering moot all the post-Super Tuesday fretting about a deadlocked convention with unelected superdelegates deciding the nominee. Unless Hillary Clinton can somehow do in Ohio and Texas on March 4 what Rudy Giuliani proved is almost impossible to do -- maintain a big-state firewall after an unrelenting string of smaller defeats -- the superdelegates will flock to Obama. Hope will have carried the day.

Interestingly, Obama has been able to win these electoral victories and dazzle crowds in one new jurisdiction after another, even as his mesmeric power has begun to arouse skepticism and misgivings among the mainstream media.

ABC's Jake Tapper notes the "Helter-Skelter cult-ish qualities" of "Obama worshipers," what Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times calls "the Cult of Obama." Obama's Super Tuesday victory speech was a classic of the genre. Its effect was electric, eliciting a rhythmic fervor in the audience -- to such rhetorical nonsense as "We are the ones we've been waiting for. (Cheers, applause.) We are the change that we seek."

That was too much for Time's Joe Klein. "There was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism," he wrote. "The message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is."

You might dismiss as hyperbole the complaint by the New York Times's Paul Krugman that "the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality." Until you hear Chris Matthews, who no longer has the excuse of youth, react to Obama's Potomac primary victory speech with "My, I felt this thrill going up my leg." When his MSNBC co-hosts tried to bail him out, he refused to recant. Not surprising for an acolyte who said that Obama "comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament."

I've seen only one similar national swoon. As a teenager growing up in Canada, I witnessed a charismatic law professor go from obscurity to justice minister to prime minister, carried on a wave of what was called Trudeaumania.

But even there the object of his countrymen's unrestrained affections was no blank slate. Pierre Trudeau was already a serious intellectual who had written and thought and lectured long about the nature and future of his country.

Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He's going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can't possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs and that have eluded solution for a generation. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war -- with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow.

Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, ill admit it. When I see obama I do see his black skin, just as I see Hilary is a woman. I also see two smarmy smiling (cry) lying politicians, taking part in a joke of a system that merely repeats the old mantra. 'Change we can believe in'?
Wasnt Bush43 to be the great conservative change? Wasnt he going to end pork, undo roe-v-wade, and christianise the US? Instead we got Johnson again (short of an immigrant bill, but ignoring it amounts to the same thing).
Bush43 is the 'LEND and SPEND' GOP man, Mc Cain will be no different, except now torture and spying is safe and legal now.

All hail change for the better right? Can we believe in that?

While Obama is black, lets not get carried away, he IS the establishment, he IS 'the upper-class', as is Hilary.

Skin and genitals aside, whats so great about two people who have no clear policy on anything except that they want power? The GOP may be a moral black-hole, but at least we know that they are the White-MAN party!

A line from a song comes to mind.
'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'.