Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Obama and JFK - Twins or Opposites?
What does it take to be President? Apparently if you believe Obama supporters, all it takes is two terms in the Illinois State Senate and an aborted term in the US Senate where you hardly bother to show up and vote since right after you get to D.C. you're already running for the big chair in the White House.
Obama's supporters like to compare him to JFK. I'm not sure why Obama supporters think that comparing their candidate to the man responsible for the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War and who backed the Baath Party in Iraq that would eventually put Saddam in power is such a selling point. But there you have it.
Still let's look at JFK's qualifications and Obama's. In his 20's JFK was commanding a PT boat in the Pacific. In his 20's, by his own admission, Obama was busy doing drugs in New York and creating a phony story of being "oppressed by the man" before moving to Chicago to learn at the feet of Reverend Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright. By the time JFK ran for President in 1960 he had served three terms in Congress and was on his second term in the US Senate. Obama officially announced his candidacy for President two years after he was sworn in and his unofficial candidacy goes back much earlier than that.
JFK had written a bestselling book but it was a book that had started out as his thesis and was written about the follies of appeasement. Obama by contrast penned a whiny memoir filled with hate for white people and himself. Where JFK's book served to establish his credentials on national policy, Obama's book was meant to make us feel sorry for him.
The irony is that Obama is running on his biography. The problem is he doesn't have one. What he has is an elaborately fictionalized narrative that turns his own life into a vehicle for self-promotion with himself in the starring role. Obama's biography is a hollow facade just as he is.
Obama substitutes personal drama for personal achievement and promises to cater to our emotional neediness if we just cater to his. Obama's entire candidacy is marketed as a very upbeat pity party in which we feel sorry for him, he feels sorry for us and we feel sorry for him some more and elect him to be our President. Devoid of any trace of statesmanship it's politics at the High School level.
"We are the ones we have been waiting for," he proclaims, always eager to shift the burden of leadership and confuse the fact that it is his personal ambition we're supposed to fulfill not our own.
Yet at the center of everything is Obama's ego. He has thrown every single one of his mentors under the train when they got in his way, from Alice Palmer, the woman who gave him his start in politics before he stabbed her in the back and took her seat to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who legitimized an ambitious half white and quarter black wannabe community organizer from Hawaii in the African-American Chicago district that began his rise to power. Obama's pleasant demeanor conceals his ruthless lack of principles, all in the service of his own self-esteem.
Where JFK was a flawed leader, Obama isn't a leader at all. Where JFK had a record, Obama barely shows up. Where JFK was concerned with policy, Obama is concerned with self-esteem.
Like any charismatic figure eager to create a cult of personality around himself, Obama has found success by convincing his followers that their fate and their future depends on him. He has proclaimed himself as the Messiah of Hope and Change without the experience or the ability to deliver any of it. But the one thing he has learned in the course of his brief political life is that a lack of substance can be compensated for with another coat of polish. But when the heat is turned up, Obama begins to run at the edges and melts.