I suppose I should have something to say about the presidential race. I don’t know that I do. I think I have an idea of how it will fall out, but even if I’m wrong, I can only be half-wrong. Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, John McCain will be running against either Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton. At first, and before anyone knew that come-back, um… kid McCain would cement the Republican nomination, it appeared as though Clinton was destined to be the Democrats’ choice. Then, after a stunning 11 state sweep in the primaries, Obama stung the Clinton team and sent it into overdrive. Now it is looking like it will come down to the super-delegates - which means it’s anybody’s guess.
The current controversy regarding Obama and his long-time association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright should have been predicted by the Obama campaign and certainly by Obama himself. The fact that it seems to have caught his team by surprise is the real news. We all have skeletons. That they weren’t better prepared is, in my view, far more disturbing. This is the big league and it is not about just the candidate, but the team he or she has assembled. On this one, team Obama has dropped the ball. Whether the Clinton team is the recipient of a fortuitous break or this was a cleverly designed offensive play is not important right now… Obama has lost valuable yardage, especially with the super-delegates.
Even if the Clinton campaign didn’t drag this little mess to the spotlight, McCain’s would have. This is how the game is played… the stakes don’t get any higher and the tactics have always risen to the occasion. Indeed, overzealous candidates have been known to stretch the envelope well beyond what is legal to win the ultimate prize. Does anyone remember Watergate? Although this campaign has not been subject to such egregious techniques yet (as far as we know), if Clinton or McCain thought it could be done with impunity, I don’t think ethical concerns would stand in the way. And Obama should have the experience to know at least this.
The transparency and openness of his candidacy is admirable; it is a breath of fresh air in an arena that is still ripe with stale cigar smoke. It might, however, prove to be naïve. If he doesn’t at least vigorously and preemptively defend himself, the Clinton juggernaut will steamroll him. And McCain’s army is at least as well prepared. If Obama is unable to get out from under this and soon, I am afraid he will not be able to go back to his message. It is a message that is more than simply change, but rather a paradigmatic change. But the paradox is unavoidable… he will have to engage in conventional politics to deliver. Let us hope that if successful, he will not be too sullied by the game that his style of change is no longer possible.
Obama is a visionary and he has an uphill journey. He has traveled farther down that road than anyone in else in recent history. The institution stifles visionaries; it stifles anything that goes against the status quo. McCain talks about “straight talk,” but Oboma talks straight. One gets the idea that what you see is what you get. Yes, I know of the inconsistencies that he has walked into of late - conservative talk radio calls them lies - perhaps, but not unlike the damage control of many other politicians from both sides of the aisle. Obama has been walking a fine line between business as usual and what has really ignited so many of us - being sick and tired of the same old song and dance.
We have a choice between the old guard and something different. Young people are coming out in droves like never before. Pundits and polls are being proven wrong over and over again. Could it be that we have finally reached critical mass? Is it time that the government of the people and by the people is once again for the people? Can we reclaim ownership of what is rightfully ours or will we allow the spin-meisters to once again tell us what is best for us? Obama can do this, but it will take a little bit of guile - guile that I hope he forgets as soon as he occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is time to take our nation back and Obama could be the leader of a new era.
But he has to learn how to fight.