Saturday, February 16, 2008

Illusion Or Delusion?

Less than a year ago, Barack Obama was faced with the daunting task of conducting a presidential primary campaign against an opponent who was flush with cash, Hillary Clinton. Everybody in the country outside the close ring of candidates, those already in office, insiders, big time donors, and special interest groups recognizes that the spending on election politics is totally out of hand. Thus, it was refreshing to hear that Obama made a pledge to accept only public financing if he became the Democrats' candidate. Fast forward to the present and he now suggests that this pledge to limit his campaign expenses was only a potential option. The reason for the double take is obvious. He has demonstrated a unique ability to develop huge amounts of cash and that massive influx of money has played no small role in his anticipated win over Clinton who has been recently forced to put $5 million of her own money up to shore up her campaign. John McCain, as did Obama, has likewise pledged to limit himself to the receipt of public funding if he became the Republican candidate so if Obama were to hold true to his pledge, a historic moment could occur in American politics. Both sides would be playing by the same set of rules.

The Obama pledge, among other positions he has carved out, helped create the illusion of him that strikes such a responsive chord in the hearts of Americans. The crux of his campaign message is change. The people of America want someone who says what he/she means at the helm of their country. They want someone who can stand on principle, even if on occasion there might be disagreement about the nature of the principle. That very concept is the reason for the broad appeal of both McCain and Obama. To underscore this observation with regard to Obama, consider his reaction to the attempt of Clinton to have the Florida and Michigan primaries counted (in her favor of course) even though the Democrat candidates "pledged" (That word again. What does it mean to these people?) not to participate in these primaries due to party violations by these states. Obama stated that he gave his word that he would be bound by the party action and that he would stick by it. He thereby added to the illusion that he was more than a typical candidate, that he was a man of his word. Now this latest positioning and posturing suggests to me that the illusion I have had about the man, shared by most if not all of his enthusiastic supporters is, in fact, a delusion.

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