Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama Live! - The Change Tour

Like most people in the U.S., I watched Barack Obama make his acceptance speech in front of 75,000 people in Denver's Invesco Field. After watching my beloved Ravens lose yet again in their last pre-season game, I was primed to watch another painful display that takes place in a stadium.

I'm not entirely sure why Obama insisted on choosing such a grand place to make his acceptance speech rather than simply doing it at the convention hall like all other presidential candidates have. Some said it was to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. It is remarkable that in less than half a century we have gone from separate water fountains to having the first African-American presidential candidate nominated by one of the major political parties. It still felt awfully showboat-y to me. I'm sure some Republican pundits will liken the scene to one of Hitler's rallies. I won't do that, but every time I heard the audience cheer, I was waiting for the words "Seig Heil!" to filter through.

Now don't think I'm comparing Obama to Hitler in terms of their political positions, or that I expect Obama to be some evil dictator or anything. I'm more concerned about the cult of personality that surrounds Obama. He so charming, smooth, and articulate, you can't help but be mesmerized. He's got the same "it" factor that Reagan and Clinton had. However, unlike Reagan and Clinton, he doesn't appear to have the political saavy to navigate Washington.

I thought his speech was about as good as he could have made it. He addressed his critics who find his "Change" mantra too vague by laying out some specific policies he wants to initiate. He offered an olive branch to the Republican Party by outlining points of agreement both sides have on the issues of abortion and the energy crisis. He picked on McCain a bit, but not in a belligerent way. All in all, it was a speech presenting an earnest man with an earnest mission to bring the country together and improve the dismal state we find ourselves in.

That's wonderful. I wish I could believe it. I just feel that there is a certain piety about Obama that will be his undoing. In his acceptance speech, he mentioned the men and women of our armed services who are fighting not for red states or blues states but for the United States, implying that he wants to focus on our country as a whole and not a country divided by political polarities. And yet, on the previous night, Obama pulled out that horrid expression, "taking back America." Take back America from whom? The Republicans? Aren't they Americans too? This expression has been used by both parties whenever one or the other is out of power, and it sickens me whenever I hear it. We are all in this together and we must find common ground. After all the speechifying is over, I just hope whomever becomes president can remember that.

Ultimately, I still think that Obama will end up like Jimmy Carter if he becomes president. He's too certain of his ideas to work with Congress. I think he will get stonewalled, the country will roll along aimlessly for another four years, and he'll be out. For all his cult of personality, I don't think he can articulate a vision for the U.S. that everyone can rally behind.

So, now we get to hear what the Republicans have to say for themselves. Just like the Democrats at their convention in 1968, the Republicans won't have too much to crow about. All they can offer is a shaky promise that McCain will be better. Given McCain's unimaginative views presented so far, I can't believe their arguments will be convincing. This is going to be another depressing election.

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