Thursday, January 03, 2008

Barack Obama: Practically Perfect in Every Way

When I was a kid, I absolutely, positively loved Mary Poppins. Along with Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella and a few other timeless classics, there was rarely a weekend that went by when I didn't watch one of those movies at least once or twice. However, at some point after my Step Mother actually had to buy a second copy of the movie, since the first wore out, I stopped watching it - until recently, when it was on TV. I figured, for old time's sake, I'd watch it again - and so I did. However, this time it wasn't nearly as good as I remembered it. It's funny, sometimes things can seem different than how you remembered it. For the first time ever, I realized that Mary Poppins may be nearly perfect in every way, but that doesn't mean I like her anymore for it. I'm beginning to feel that way about Barack Obama.

Like Mary Poppins, he's come out of nowhere, just without the talking, flying umbrella. Only a few years ago, he was a state legislator who couldn't get into the US Congress. He won an easy US Senate race, where his chief opponent was forced to leave the race early due to scandal. His eventual opponent, Alan Keyes, was no real opponent at all.

Like Mary Poppins, we barely know anything about him. Sure, Mary had Burt and Barack has Oprah, but does that really tell us anything about who they are? Barack's talking about change, but change for what? He says we need to unify the country, that we need Democrats and Republicans working together, but are these really problems? At least, are they problems we can solve? Barack Obama isn't going to be able to change conservatives - their inability to work for nonpartisan or bipartisan solutions is ingrained in their brains (and that's only the quickest link I could find). They strive for partisanship; working together is a sign of weakness to them.

The Democrats, on the other hand, haven't been partisan enough. Whether it's war funding or telecom immunity, too many Democrats have been willing to be 'bipartisan' and hand over all the loot - including this country's constitution - as if the Republicans were robbing a bank. Barack Obama thinks we haven't given away enough to that lot- as if the Republicans have given us any indication that they're capable of being reasonable in office. Obama either doesn't get it or is ignoring the problem, more interested in fancy slogans.

Either way, Barack Obama seems too perfect. He's proven to be too afraid to appeal to the real change this country needs (a true progressive vision), all in favor of capturing the low-information voters interested in an undefined "change," even if nothing Obama has advocated for represents anything revolutionary. When I was a kid who loved Mary Poppins, I fell in love with the message and spirit of things - and I still do. However, it's no longer enough to talk about change, there has to be something behind supercalifragelisticexpicalidocious, specifics that act as the change the campaign claims to represent. Otherwise, the whole campaign message sounds too much like a Spoonful of Sugar, forcing a most unnecessary medicine down.


Ed in Swampscott said...

Campaign in general--not just Obama's--are too much about image, and too little about reality. How many American's can distinguish Obama's Health Care Plan from Clinton's? Unfortunately, I can't even do it myself! But this is really what the campaigns should be about--that is, if you care about democracy. I watched a little of Obama's speech yesterday afternoon afternoon on C-SPAN. Change, Change, Change! I was thinking, "Change from what?", "Change TO what?", in other words, some reference to reality. I watched for 10 minutes, that's all I could stand. There was no reality in his speech at all. His own supporters behind him looked bored with all the abstract talk...unfortunately this seems true with all the candidates. Obama was just more successful at this "game" that should not even be played at all.

Ryan Adams said...

Part of it is because there's unfortunately a lot of data behind the fact that a "message" sells, whereas political stance doesn't that much. People remember the message, not necessarily the actual details.

I think a message is important, but it needs to be bolstered. I actually think Obama's campaign has been relatively weak on that front and is incredibly lucky to be where he is today - largely because the media turned this into a 2 person race, when there was a third guy with a good message and better 'details' behind him. IMO anyway.

Anonymous said...

The average consumer(voter) is used to having everything packaged in a nice 60 second commercial, because unfortuneatly our attention spans are being made even shorter by television. Most people don't watch the debates and make up their mind based on the slick commercials with little substance. Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex and the influence they hold. It's here.

Anonymous said...

Much like Mary Poppins, he claimed that a spoon full of sugar helped the cocaine go down.

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