Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama's Hesitancy, Expediency, and Credibility

By Alan Caruba

I am not a political pundit although I occasionally write about the candidates. I recently wrote a commentary, posted on the website for The National Anxiety Center, about Sen. Obama’s distaste and disdain for America’s corporations and the clear indication that he intends to grow the government even larger.

I am more like the average person who follows the campaign via television as the news channels chew over it 24/7. I watch a little while. I listen to a little talk radio.

On Friday I was asked by a radio host what I thought of the latest flap over the way campaign aides to Sen. Obama had asked two women wearing Muslim head scarves to move out of the range of photographers before he made a speech. I was, in fact, being asked as a public relations professional. My answer was that Sen. Obama is beginning to encounter some real questions about his authenticity as an individual.

Granted that politics is as much about perception as policy, the fact that campaign aides did not want any visual imagery of Islam suggests that someone on his staff is worried about voter’s fears that Sen. Obama may actually be a Muslim, despite his long association with a Chicago church.

My perception of Sen. Obama is the same as his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who described him with perfect accuracy as “a politician.” Wright said plainly that Sen. Obama will pretty much say anything because that’s what politicians do to get elected.

A polarizing figure in his own right, Rev. Wright and his church got dumped by Sen. Obama as it became clear that any further affiliation would severely harm his campaign. It is, by the way, a campaign for the presidency that began after the Senator had spent barely 143 days in the Senate during its working sessions. This is a measure of raw ambition that would surely rival all of the others combined who entered the primaries, including Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Obama is the presumptive Democrat nominee because of his rhetorical skills. He is a powerful speaker. However, that power ends when he does not have a teleprompter, a memorized stump speech, or even some 3-by-5 inch cards from which to work.

When required to speak on his own, the most prominent and noticeable aspect of his presentation and personality is his hesitancy.

Sen. Obama measures out words, pauses, calculates what listeners might be thinking, pauses, considers modifying what he just said, says something else, and pauses. He is hesitant to the point of appearing unsure of himself, fearful of the unguarded truth, and in need of a script.

His sense of expediency is seen in his readiness to distance himself from people who he knows were a poor choice of friends, supporters, and advisors when he was a young, ambitious part of the notorious Chicago political machine. His judgment then gives little cause for confidence in whomever he selects to advise him now. His use of former and future lobbyists puts the lie to his assertion they will not play a role in his presidency.

He has been cautious to the point of never varying from the Democrat Party in any vote in the U.S. Senate. He often voted “present” in his Illinois days rather than take a position. Once we get beyond “change” and “hope”, the positions he has articulated look less and less an answer to present and future needs.

Expedient in his ruthless pursuit of the presidency, Obama is hesitant when not in a controlled, staged situation. He has the attributes of a person who wants to be all things to all people. This is the antithesis of leadership.


Longstreet said...

Great piece, Alan! I think Obama's empty suit is beginning to show.

Best regards!


Alan Caruba said...

Thank you, Longstreet. All compliments are gratefully accepted.

All criticisms, of course, get banned.