The problem with idols has always been that they have an importance assigned to them that simply cannot survive reality. The stone falls from the pedestal, the emperor’s clothing is finally critiqued. As it was, so it is these days as the politician who had built a nearly messianic aura around himself turns out not to be above the fray, contrary to his promises.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has campaigned on being a different kind of politician: one who does not engage in normal political maneuvers, one that does not have corrupt associations on his record, one who was determined to inspire, not condemn. As I have observed those around me, most have bought this idea. They really believed Obama presented change; free from the politics of “yesterday,” he would be a far better judge for the policies of tomorrow. Why was this? Primarily because Sen. Obama managed to be a candidate who avoided being pinned down with firm plans on nearly anything – it is a lot easier to unify when one sticks to lofty rhetoric rather than actual policies, after all. Rhetoric from his campaign, as Sen. Clinton (D-NY) amusingly parodied at one rally, has taken on sky high, celestial tone.
Now the sky is crashing down to the cold hard earth of facts, and two things have become clear to everyone that were already obvious enough for anyone who did not drink Mr. Obama’s kool-aid. First, the senator’s alleged judgment should be called into question as it has become clear that he attended a church for twenty years that emitted vitriolic, hateful, anti-American speech primarily in the words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a man Mr. Obama called his spiritual advisor and said was a major influence in the course of his life. In addition to his pulpit rants, Wright is a man who supported the notorious racist and anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan. No other candidate has been tied to anyone even close to as hateful as the Rev. Wright. Attempted comparisons to controversial backers of other campaigns fall flat given that none of them were crucial to the formation of someone’s life to the extent Obama himself says Wright was – nor even close.
All of these things show that Sen. Obama is not a different type of politician; in fact, he is showing precisely the characteristics people most dislike in present politicians. They demonstrate at best a troubling lack of judgment and at worst a horrible hatemongering lingering under the surface of the charismatic senator’s speeches. In contrast to his promises, the company he keeps is quickly dividing the nation, not unifying it. If even his personal ties are troublingly polarizing, how will the clearly leftist strain of his politics – a strain that has been frequently buried, but is clear from his record – do anything but worsen the sitatuation once he must do something other than try invoke religious fervor in his supporters?
The idol is falling; let’s hope this serves as a reality check for many people.
Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business.
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