Robert Samuelson is no longer dazzled by Barack Obama. “If you examine [Obama’s] agenda,” writes Samuelson, “it is completely ordinary, highly partisan, not candid and mostly unresponsive to many pressing national problems.” After offering some illustrations of this, he concludes:
Political candidates routinely indulge in exaggeration, pandering, inconsistency and self-serving obscurity. Clinton and McCain do. The reason for holding Obama to a higher standard is that it’s his standard and also his campaign’s central theme. He has run on the vague promise of “change,” but on issue after issue—immigration, the economy, global warming—he has offered boilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion.
The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the press corps—preoccupied with the political “horse race”—has treated his invocation of “change” as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation’s major problems when, so far, he isn’t.
Most of the Obama supporters I know like him for his oratory, for his tone, for the person he seems to be. But the person any politician seems to be is most often just a carefully constructed persona. To know the real Obama, we have to dig a little deeper—and his policy proposals reveal someone hostile to free trade and fond of populist, protectionist rhetoric, such as all his anti-NAFTA talk. Perhaps he talks this talk just to pick up leftie votes in the primaries, and I’m waiting for his debates against John McCain—assuming Obama gets the nomination—to see if he starts making sense. I’m not sure the “mass delusion” Samuelson speaks of will last until November.
And also, Michelle Obama comes up with the WTF line of the day:
Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.