Badger Blog Alliance

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama: all things to all people

CNN's iReporter claims that Obama's nomination is "far more than historic, it is a paradigm changing [sic]."

What, exactly, will change?

Are views about race different just because in 2008 one person rose above the rest, who happens to be _______________ ?
(Fill in the blank. I don't care what with - common-born, Irish, disabled, Catholic, poor, whatever; pick your favorite president and use him as a model.)

It is inherently American to pioneer, to break new ground, and to question the status quo. Is winning the only way we've expressed this trait? Hardly, though these things often go hand in hand.

iReporter notes that " users weighed in on how Obama's success is changing their opinion of the country." The comments are about having 'gone much further,' pride, inspiration, hope.

I don't mean to downplay the impact prominent role models play. But Obama is one in a long line, a long history of farmers and peasants and outcasts and women deciding to buck the present monarchy and declare "all men are created equal," regardless of how well they understood what that meant.

Other than a hopeful message and a compelling personality, the man continues to fumble for new ground, for a platform that melds political realities with his 'hopeful' message.

The problem is that you simply can't be all things to all people - tough foreign policy with Iran while bailing on Iraq and calling for peace ("What distinguishes my plan from nearly all the other candidates is that I was among the few with the good judgment to have opposed the war from the beginning."); institute new government-sponsored programs while making life more affordable for all Americans; joining constituents who want less government with those who expect government to regulate all aspects of life - he calls healthcare coverage a right.

By his own admission, his response to considering WMDs an issue is to travel to Russia. WTF?!? Criminy, I can't even find a link on his site to a generic platform of what the man stands for.

If he can't articulate specifics in a grounded way - his meandering, ever-changing speeches and the WaPo forcing him into an email exchange are poor-to-moderate synecdoches - what exactly will we get if he's elected president besides good feelings?

He will continue to fumble on the issues because he expects to meld ideals with pragmatic needs and somehow smooth over conflict with the competing needs and ideals of other nations. Heaven help him if he wins - response to the people's disappointment will be brutal.