Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hurdy Gurdy runs for president.

"Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquillity."

-Donovan

And so, it seems, the Hurdy Gurdy man has arrived. Barack Obama, that perpetual firestorm of audacious hope, seems to have overtaken the mantel of frontrunner from one Hillary Clinton. As such, perhaps for the first time in his political career, this Hurdy Gurdy man deserves to be taken seriously.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have precious little interest in seeing the Democratic party succeed in 2008. For all its flaws, the Republican party remains the best conduit for my particular brand of conservative ideology. And as the Republican party goes, I've found my horse in this race, and he absolutely deserves your support.

However, say the tides of change are enduring. Say a Democratic president is inevitable. Hillary Clinton has an established record of reaching across party lines to ensure her electability. She will reach into that trough as often as need be, which will be often indeed. That will mean a tough stance in the Middle East and some measure of fiscal discipline. Hillary represents a continuation of an ideology that fits within the spectrum of American history. She bends toward the left, but understands that the average American is uninterested in having this nation serve as her guinea pig.

Obama sees guinea pigs at every turn. He has seen the crying of humanity, and he is here to set aside the unenlightened shadows cast. But his off the cuff, and unprepared, responses to major national security questions raise doubts among reasonable observers. He seeks to offset his incompetence (and ignorance) by inspiring his constituents. The college students of the world are gazing with tranquilty. Us older curmudgeons are unmoved.

So what is Obama's inspiration? Transcendent talk of dismissing party boundaries aside, he is a leftist. Of that, there is no question. But he has yet to hold a major policy stance to the refiner's fire of public opinion. He is an ideologue without a cause, so to speak.

His resume is often compared to that ofAbraham Lincoln. A cursory comparison gives lie to such comparisons. Lincoln, from the age of 23, (when Obama was still doing things for which he would have the opportunity to repent in his vacuous memoirs) Lincoln was taking controversial stands on pertinent matters of national policy, protesting slavery before the age of 30.

Obama has done nothing of the sort, having ushered various innocuous bills through the Illinois legislature with the sort of bipartisan support one receives when one ushers innocuous bills through any legislature. As a candidate for president, he has thus been allowed to run as a veritable third-party candidate, whose ideas (scant as they may be) are less important than some effluvial notion that he somehow represents change.

As to the question of what needs changing, and how he intends to change it, Obama doesn't seem to know. This is scary, given that Obama also happens to be blessed with a profound blend of leadership skills and charisma, and that he also happens to be running for the Presidency of the United States.

And if you challenge his authority, he is apt to call you a racist. And trust me, he will.... Eventually. For Barack Obama, the race card is not a matter of if, but when. Like teardrops from Hillary's mechanical eyeballs, he will issue it to shirk accountability at the precise moment most opportune to his ambitions. And we will all be forced to let him.

But if Hugo Chavez requests a meeting with a newly minted President Obama, will such an event be an exercise in cursory American diplomacy? Or will Obama take Chavez's wisdom and advice to heart (as his college-age supporters would assuredly have him do)? How will he deal with a sociopath like Vladimir Putin? By sprinkling a smidge of fairy-dust on his dour visage, hoping (audaciously, no less) that Putin will relent in his quest to reconstruct the former USSR, on his terms?

Hillary Clinton, for all her faults, represents a known quantity. If America could look into the future of an Obama presidency, they would reject him outright. He represents the very worst of Clintonian liberalism, without the pragmatism or the (albeit cynical) flights toward the political center. Hillary has her cards on the table. We don't like her, but at least we can read her hand. For this reason, she will be difficult for the American people to stomach.

But, like the protagonist from the Donovan song, Barack Obama has come to us with his song of love. If elected, will he be a political messiah, or a Pied Piper? From an ideological standpoint, he sits at the very precipice of the American ideological left. My fear is that this Hurdy Gurdy man might just have the temerity to roly-poly right off the cliff and take us with him, but I'm not the one he's singing to.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Joe said...

Hey check it out, Hillary cries on national television, everyone feels bad for her (well 39% of the voters in NH, to be precise), and she gets a big victory. Not as much of a Dean moment as you pridicted yesterday. All she needs to do is have 10 to 15 more weepy moments, and she should win in a landslide. Which will be great, because in a couple of years when we have a real national crisis, the president can go on television, start crying, and tell us how hard it is to be her, and how tired she is. Which will make us all feel better, and the national crisis will be averted. I hereby go against TPWK's McCain endorsement, and transfer my support to Weepy McClinton.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

While the cynical part of me is not at all surprised that Democrats want to see more crying from their nominee, I wonder if the polling data in NH was a bit skewed.

New Hampshire has a history of utterly ignoring Iowa results, so it seemed odd to me that Obama suddenly surged there.

I wonder if some of his college supporters are answering surveys as likely voters, when they have no intention of voting. In New Hampshire, in particular, many of the students go to colleges with large out of state populations. They would have been forced to vote absentee. This irregularity would not show up in a caucus state, but its an interesting thing to watch.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

I think it came down to the content of the messages. Obama has very little and Clinton has her cards on the table. A state that likes McCain (for "telling the truth") is going to with a more predictable candidate than an upstart one. That and NH is racist.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Jerad said...

Dude, for somebody who twice voted for a guy who decided his foreign policies by looking approvingly into people's souls, and having those people end up being power-hungry dictators, your fear of Obama having an exchange of ideas with Putin is pretty inconsistent.

The current Pres ran first as a compassionate conservative. He seemed to drop the "compassionate" in term 1 and conservatives have increasingly said "that's not what we meant" in term 2. Obama is, as you said, pretty solidly progressive in his own ideology. This will be a blessing for our foreign policy and will also help the nation through the potential recession. (Another Republican President, unless he were Huckabee, would likely draw comparisons to Hoover.)

Adam's comment on content is partially accurate. Obama isn't campaigning on policy, but the content of his message isn't policy-oriented. Discerning voters will know that he foresaw the cost and inefficacy of the Iraq War. Folks who watch the Dem debates know Obama's universal health care program is more free market-oriented than Clinton's or Edwards. But his chief promise to voters, the change message on which he campaigns, is a post-culture war politics.

Some people have thrived by casting their lot with an archetype fortified by the Clinton/Gingrich era. Others look back and see politics that only paralyzed government and wasted taxpayer money with power struggles. Obama runs as somebody who is not invested in those struggles. In fact, as an organizer, "building relationships" have defined his career.

Evangelicals will recognize this as also being an emphasis of postmodern Christianity. It's really an idea whose time has come, and no other candidate seems to be able to deliver the message of being in relationship as effectively as Obama.

A conservative's take on this message: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/obama

9:49 PM  

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