Do We Really Know Him?

“The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!” It’s a passage from the book of Lamentations, contemplating the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. For their sins would find themselves amidst the ranks of the exiled.
Perhaps it seems a bit of an abstract allusion to apply to the election with just under a week to go, yet, without a doubt there, are those who have pre-determined the fate of this election. The New Mexico Sun has declared Illinois Senator Barack Obama the winner without a ballot being counted and it seems that New York Magazine has their asterix beside their Obama Victory edition already out , other news sources are stating that Republican strategists and the campaign of Arizona Senator John McCain are already ready to concede, aiming their focus on the pending Senate and House elections with there messaging, while others are saying that all that’s left is one last, desperate swing by the GOP Campaign.

The fault for this fall from grace? Much of it they blame on the so called sins of President George W. Bush, forcing the party into a political Diasphora. Even before the Democratic Primary ran its course New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama were eager to paint Senator McCain with that brush in the hopes that the current notions and opinions about the President would be enough to tar and feather the Arizona Senator’s hopes in November.

Of course the problem is that, with even less than a week to go, nothing is determined yet.

Without question, with a tight race ongoing and yet a seemingly constant Obama lead, as narrow or as large as it may be, depending on the poll one would tend to believe, a deep and abiding sense of arrogance has guided these calls and the actions of a great number of supporters for the Illinois Senator. So much so that they have decided the outcome before it ever happened. There isn’t much surprising there though. After all, for the last few months, since Senator Obama finally secured his nomination after that long drawn out primary battle where he was unable to seal the deal until the very last vote was counted, despite the ample opportunities he had, the rant from various supporters to those backing McCain has ended with the same mumbled phrase, “Just wait until Obama wins”, as if a threat of sorts.

But then, as it stands, why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t they find themselves a little bit on the arrogant side? The simple truth of the matter is they have pulled the wool over the eyes of a large segment of the American population.

Take, for example, his assurances that he does not stand for higher taxes and wealth redistribution. Throughout the majority of the election, as the charge has been levelled at him, he has carefully repeated the same mantra, he is for lower taxes on the middle class and job creation. Trying to sweep aside those allegations he has tempered his rhetoric for the occassion and sought to waylay fears each and every step of the way.

Far from the scripted dialog of his stump speeches now comes the interview he gave 7 years prior in 2001 for Chicago Public Radio. In his own words, in his own voice the Illinois Senator talks about the need for Supreme Court mandated wealth redistribution and his disappointment with the failings of the Civil Rights Movement and Chief Justice Earl Warren to bring it about, saying that we must get rid of the constraints placed in the Constitution by the founding fathers.

In other words, despite all his denials, there would come proof that once the surface is scratched there is a vastly different Senator Obama than this carefully honed, carefully carefully crafted public image that he has for this Presidential campaign.

But it doesn’t just stop there…

Throughout this election there has been talk that, for the first time in as many years, there could be a shift in the Cuban American votes. Largely considered to be a secure Republican Bloc there has been talk that they could swing, on mass, to Senator Obama, impressed by him and his support of Cuban issues. At the heart of that is his promise to ease relations with the small island nation while still mantaining a strong stand in support of the Embargo. He would stand before them and give his assurances that he wasn’t like most politicians, coming down, telling them that he wasn’t like most politicians, making idle promises and then going back home or back to Washington and forgetting all about them.

Left out of that rhetoric are his statements made four years prior, when, running for the United States Senate, he would, at a debate at Southern Illinois University, offer a starkly different picture. There his position wasn’t that the Embargo was a good policy or a strong policy. Rather it was that it was a bad idea, that it was a failure.

Or then there has been his multiple positions on Iraq, far too many to count it would seem. Now for a timeline for withdrawal, he would once take to the air on Chicago Tonight just after his election to talk about how timetables were out of the question. Consider that and then contrast it with his statements to the New Trier Democratic Organization while running for Senate, stating that he would vote against troop funding. If he was opposed to troop funding and to troop withdrawal, then what? What was it that he was trying to suggest they do?

Well, it’s of little consequence, getting to Washington, Senator Obama would vote for troop funding, well that was before he voted against it at least. His argument there, slightly different than the argument he made in New Trier. At that meeting he said that Democrats needed a candidate who would stand up to the President. His argument when voting for it? Well that he wasn’t willing to “play chicken” with the President.

The list seems to go on and on, with Senator Obama changing positions as quickly as he can, hoping nobody notices.

Yes, there is a lot there for Obama supporters to be arrogant about. But then, if the Illinois Senator does win, it will have more to do with the fact that he was able to put a compelling argument forward that he wasn’t who he is, one convincing enough that perhaps he might have even convinced himself.

The simple reality of the Obama campaign is this though, there is one reason and one reason alone that a Senator with less than two years experience in the Senate, and no national profile outside of one speech given at the Democratic National Convention lets lose his Presidential ambitions that early in his career. He is hoping that the rock star persona, a celebrity appeal that has propelled him this far, will wow enough people that they just won’t take a long, hard look at who he is beneath the surface.

The problem is not all that glitters is gold, and there the real hope of the Obama campaign hasn’t been the message he has brought, but that people won’t find out who he is and what he stands for before the end of the race.

So far there is a real possibility that they won’t.

But then just a few thoughts I suppose…


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