After describing the what draws people to the Senator from Illinois, Raasch notes some discordant notes. For one thing he quotes a political consultant, Steve Jarding (who worked for John Edwards) who says
"Historically, while hope may well sell in the spring, it wears thin by fall when it is trumped by issues of security and experience," Jarding said.
"In my 30 years of doing this," Jarding said, "I have never seen anything like the swooning the ... primarily television media has done over Obama."
Swooning it turns out isn't just a figure of speech. James Taranto lists a series of campaign events (credited to James Vicevich) where a Sen. Obama supporter faints. (via memeorandum) Taranto observes
What exactly are we to make of this? A cynic might wonder if the whole thing isn't staged, given how often it happens and how well-honed and self-serving Obama's standard response seems to be.
But if it's spontaneous, that's in a way even more unsettling. At the New Hampshire rally, Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" fame quipped, "Sinatra had the same effect on people." Sinatra made girls swoon by singing romantic songs. But America isn't electing a crooner in chief.
Obama has a talent for eliciting intense emotion--an ability that can be dangerous in a politician. What more does he have to offer? That's a hard question to answer, and it makes the prospect of an Obama presidency quite worrisome.
Well, even if Sen. Obama isn't getting unanimous approval from the pundit class, he seems to be doing well among dictators of the Western Hemisphere. Current President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, who, admittedly was elected this time around, considers Sen. Obama "revolutionary." (via memeorandum)
Given Mr. Ortega's first term in office, I'm not sure that the Senator should be so flattered.
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.
In short Krauthammer finds the Senator's appeal to have a pseudo-religious component to it. And he finds it unsettling that Senator Obama may well be headed towards the nomination.
(For an alternate view of that new inevitability see Jay Cost's dissent. Cost argues that there may not be any "momentum" for Sen. Obama. Since Super Tuesday he's been winning the demographics he's been winning all along with little indication that he's started encroaching on Sen. Clinton's demographics. Recent polling seems to confirm Cost's analysis.)
Krauthammer writes that, growing up in Canada, he witnessed a similar "national swoon" over Pierre Trudeau who went on to become Prime Minister. However, Krauthammer, sees none of Trudeau's positives in Senator Obama.
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.
Krauthammer isn't hopeful that the American public will see through the Senator's lack of substance (and seriousness) until it's too late.Posted by SoccerDad at February 15, 2008 3:14 AM