Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama's Binds

He wanted it to be New Politics vs. Old Politics but, as the states dwindle down to a precious few, Barack Obama is being tied in political knots by ancient divisions of race, culture and social class that are being exploited by the Clinton campaign, with some unexpected help from Obama's former spiritual adviser.

You can dress up the differences, as David Brooks does, in new demographic garb, as the educated/less-educated divide, but that only puts a new gloss on the resentment and mistrust that have always fueled have-not hatred of those perceived to be privileged.

Half a century ago, the war hero known as Ike twice defeated the "egghead" Adlai Stevenson, so called because he spoke in coherent sentences. JFK barely beat Nixon, who was born wearing a jacket and tie, but LBJ's disastrous Vietnam war gave the Uriah Heep of presidents new life to act humble and "Bring Us Together" against the voluble Hubert Humphrey and then the cerebral George McGovern.

Ronald Reagan made an art form out of folksy to wipe out Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale and, with an intermission for Bill Clinton's down-home act, we got the man you would like to have a beer with, George Bush, over the wonkish Al Gore and the stiff John Kerry.

So Barrack Obama's dilemma is nothing new in American politics, except for the piquant touch of a self-made man of mixed race being eliticized by a former First Lady and an Admiral's son with a very rich wife.

"You can't beat brains," JFK liked to say, but to get to the White House, you are well-advised to hide them. If he can survive his current ordeal of being bitten by demographic ducks, Obama would bring something to the presidency that hasn't been seen much lately.

After Bush, do we really want another jerk running the country?

1 comment:

John said...

Obama's going to be fine.