28 January 2008

Just like daddy

I generally don't pick on girls with daddy complexes. Without them, I might never have had sex. But Caroline Kennedy isn't my type, so what the hell.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Well I want a President who'll give me a pony. I kid. They're smelly and poop all the time. I don't want a pony. And I don't give a rat's ass about Presidents who "articulate a vision". For seven years now we've had a messianic President with a vision. I'd rather have a pragmatic, cynical, cold-hearted realist who can push policy through by politicking and compromise.

By all accounts, Barack Obama is a thoughtful, intelligent man who has a finely tuned legal mind. He can also generate passion in his followers. What his followers miss, I believe, is that like JFK before him, the passion is not universal. One man's transformative politics is another man's demagoguery.

I don't doubt that Caroline Kennedy has met many people who've told her "that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to". She seems not to remember that her pops squeaked out a very narrow victory (probably bought and paid for by Brown & Root in TX) in a polarizing election. Obama's fans seem to operate with a similar blind spot. No matter who the victor in November, he or she will not be elected with a mandate, but a narrow majority. After what doubtless will be a protracted and vitriolic election, the next President of the United States will limp onto the stage next January to take the oath of office.

I repeatedly bring JFK into the conversation about Obama not for the surface similarities - inexperienced Senator, charismatic speaker, commanding presence - but because he and his campaign have cultivated that comparison. The Kennedy clan endorsements coming in rapid succession were carefully planned and packaged for maximum effect. Good for the Obama campaign. That's the point of endorsements, particularly one as important as Ted Kennedy's right before Super Tuesday. I don't begrudge them their supporters or timing of announcements. However, begging to be seen as the heir to JFK, the second coming of JFK, is only going to make me remember how shitty a President JFK was.

People accuse Hillary Clinton of running too much on Bill's record, Bill's coattails. As true as that may be, Obama is running on the ethereal cultural memory of JFK. It's a bold and effective gambit, but for those of us who realize Camelot was just JFK's favorite Lerner & Loewe musical, it makes us very reluctant to vote for this man.