Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Tarnished Instrument of Truth

I play a couple of musical instruments. As a result, to my wife's consternation because of the space they occupy, I own more than a couple of instruments. Each of these instruments needs to be played and tended to on a regular basis. Those made of silver alloy tarnish easily without attention and too much unattended exposure. Because the presidential primaries occupy a substantial part of my attention span these days, it was easy for me to think about Obama's current status as a potentially fading front runner in the terms of a tarnished instrument. For sure, there was a substantial period of time during the current campaign when his halo was bright and shiny. I was not immune from the impact his rapturous phrases had on the people of America.

Last month I had my first moment of disappointment of the man and the principles he claimed. This moment (Illusion or Delusion, Feb. 16, 2008) occurred when he backed off his specific promise to accept only federal campaign funding should he become the Democrat's candidate. I wrote then " . . . 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." Currently, there are a couple of issues that are on the table; the extent and nature of his relationship with a man on trial in Chicago for, among other charges, bribery of public officials and the revelation that one of his economic advisers was reassuring Canadian government officials quietly that Obama didn't mean what he was saying about NAFTA.

The substantive nature of these charges are not my concern. What troubles me (greatly) is the emerging conclusion that the bright and polished Obama is simply another politician who says what he thinks people want to hear. Contrast his current status with McCain, as an example. When McCain campaigned in Michigan, he stated quite emphatically that Michigan's automobile-based jobs were not coming back and that it would be necessary for Michigan workers to undergo job re-training to respond to a changing world. Nearly everybody in Michigan wanted to hear something else (just as those in Ohio apparently wanted to hear that NAFTA was responsible for its current economic crisis) and Romney's promise to get those old jobs back won the day for him. What was remarkable is that McCain refused to pander to obtain votes. Just yesterday I read that the deal for the Obama house and adjacent land was obtained from the purported briber of officials in 2005, not exactly ancient history and certainly while Obama was a member of the U.S. Senate.

The net result of all of the above is that this morning I am reassessing the candidates. If Obama is simply another politician who says one thing and does another, then his lack of experience emerges as a big negative. We are currently administered by He who would be King. We have been told enough lies by that man to demand that the current crop of candidates tell us the simple truth about where they stand and who they are. Clinton is unique in that no one expects her to do that. McCain is unique because he does. In the next few weeks Obama has got to get the polish out and remove the tarnish if he is going to stand a chance of becoming the next president of the United States. If he is real, the time factor is on his side. He needs to attend to the instrument of truth. The next concert is in a couple of weeks.

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