[2008 Presidential Election]
Lessons of John and Barack.
I just got around to listening to my podcast of This Week, which this week featured interviews with President Bush and John Kerry. The Bush interview got a lot of attention, particularly the part where he claimed never to have held a "stay the course" position. But the Kerry interview was actually more interesting. Here was his response to Stephanopoulos's first question, about whether Dems were, in Bush's words, "waiving the white flag of surrender."
"It's reprehensible; it's a lie. The administration has lied in the walk-up to the war, they've lied in the conduct of the war, and they have made America less safe."This is the 2008 version of John Kerry, the new-improved, straight-talker John Kerry. It was not the "I voted against the war before I voted for it" Kerry who took no cues from the Dean campaign two years ago. Kerry is planning to mount a charge up the hill again in '08, but it's a sad, losing venture. He had his shot, and having failed to talk straight the first time around, he's forever doomed to have the reputation of a guy who won't talk straight when it really counts.
Many things are very wrong about this fact. Kerry has more experience than almost anyone in the country on exactly the issues that we desire in a president. He is smart and measured and respected both among his colleagues and abroad. In every single dimension, he is ten times the candidate Bush will ever be--and we have seen what a dear price we pay for electing a slow-witted man with no experience, a record of failure, and an inclination toward corruption. But never mind, Kerry's wife is strong and foreign and Kerry is admired by the French and in his measured way he could not stand up to the smears of the corrupt powerbrokers and so he's done. His time will never return.
That takes us to Barack Obama, a man with very little experience, but a good mind and an almost unique gift for transparency. Should he run, or should he allow himself to season in the Senate? When Tim Russert asked him that question, he answered with that unique transparency--yeah, he was considering it.
Obama's not the most qualified for the job, obviously. But that's a specious argument--have we ever elected the best guy? But he may have something that we need more than we need experience--his transparency. The Bush White House has so fully exploited every action for political gain that transparency is dead in Washington. Everyone has become a slimy PR man, "framing" issues rather than addressing them. A truly transparent person, who had the credibility to call bullshit when he saw it, would arguably be the most valuable thing we could hope for.
It's probably his only shot, now that he's risen to the level of potential candidate. I'm still thinking Gore, with his focus on global warming, is the best guy. But I could get on board with Obama. He ain't no Kerry, and he could break us out of the rut of exploiting everything for political gain. Dems do this as readily, if less adeptly, as the GOP. Wouldn't it be shocking to see substance become the currency of politics? It can only happen with a guy who actually talks straight. Obama may be the only one with that cred. I guess we can only watch and wait.