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Friday, March 07, 2008

Why Do I Know Barack Obama?

As I read Charles Krauthammer's column today "The Great Non Sequitur", about how Barack Obama has played the voters, and is now getting called on it, I was reaching to think of where I'd seen this character before.

Then it came to me. I saw him at the theater 20 years ago. He was on screen with Holly Hunter, I had to do a IMDb search to find the movie I was thinking of, but did.

Barack Obama reminds me of Tom Grunick, the character played by William Hurt in the 1987 movie Broadcast News. He seems with it, all knowing, and caring beyond belief. Then, when you get behind the scenes as Holly Hunter did, you find out that he can cry on queue and knows what makes good TV news. He doesn't really care, he doesn't trancend anything, he just knows how to get ratings.

Unfortunately for the country as a whole, this seems to play well. But then, since we insist on our news being condensed to 30 second sound bite aired over and over each 24 hour news cycle, we shouldn't be suprised that Grunick might be our next President, it's what many of us want.

In his column today Krauthammer sums up the Obama pheonomenon quite well with this line:

It goes like this. Because Obama transcends race, it is therefore assumed that he will transcend everything else -- divisions of region, class, party, generation and ideology.
He then goes on to bash that myth, as it should be bashed, not with name calling, but facts about Obama and his record in the US Senate.

The Obama campaign has sent journalists eight pages of examples of his reaching across the aisle in the Senate. I am not the only one to note, however, that these are small-bore items of almost no controversy -- more help for war veterans, reducing loose nukes in the former Soviet Union, fighting avian flu and the like. Bipartisan support for apple pie is hardly a profile in courage.
(emphasis mine)

I pointed this out last Sunday in "Building Bridges out of Nothing", commenting on a David Ignatius' column. Hopefully more people will point it out over the next seven weeks until the Pennsylvania primary.

Krauthammer also brings up the fact that while the strategies to bring Obama to earth failed on many levels, the one that seems to be working is a simple question,"do you know this guy?" It's a legitimate question, and as the Rezko trial gains steam, senate voting records get scrutinized, and his own background looked at more closely, it's likely many folks won't know the guy they voted for.

If it becomes more and more clear to those who've already voted that Obama isn't (as James T. Harris calls him) "The Black Jesus", then what happens? How will the Democratic electorate behave if they find out the messiah was a snake oil salesman? What does that do to the party as a whole?

It's a question that those who haven't yet voted should be looking into closely. Is he really the great uniter or; as his Senate voting record, and Chicago political background suggest; is he a guy who's really only interested in winning for his side and his gain? Are we electing a true agent of change, or are we electing Tom Grunick, with fake tears and all?

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