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Opening Arguments

Free pass

We're running this Charles Krauthammer column on today's editorial page. It addresses something I've been thinking about, but he says it so much better than I could:

The Democratic primary campaign has been breathtakingly empty. What passes for substance is an absurd contest of hopeful change (Obama) vs. experienced change (Clinton) vs. angry change (John Edwards playing Hugo Chavez in English).

One does not have to be sympathetic to the Clintons to understand their bewilderment at Obama's pre-New Hampshire canonization. The man comes from nowhere with a track record as thin as Chauncey Gardiner's. Yet, as Bill Clinton correctly, if clumsily, complained, Obama gets a free pass from the press.

It's not just that NBC admitted that "it's hard to stay objective covering this guy." Or that Newsweek had a cover article so adoring that one wonders what is left for coverage of the Second Coming. Or that Obama's media acolytes wax poetic that his soaring rhetoric and personal biography will abolish the ideological divide of the 1960s -- as if the division between left and right, between free markets and the welfare state, between unilateralism and internationalism, between social libertarianism and moral traditionalism are residues of Sgt. Pepper and the March on Washington. The baby boomers in their endless solipsism now think they invented left and right -- the post-Enlightenment contest of ideologies that dates back to the seating arrangements of the Estates-General in 1789.

Obama is seen as the candidate who can get us beyond the partisan bitterness that divides us. But his vapid platitudes about hope and change and belief and passion cannot keep masking the fact that he is firmly on one side of that partisan divide. He is a hardcore liberal who will have to confront and convert, if he can, hardcore conservatives. If he gets elected and actually has to start governing, the divide will not go away.


Tue, 01/15/2008 - 12:19pm

Perhaps Leo could cite some specific instances of Obama's "vapid platitudes." Oh wait, those would be the actions of a writer genuinely interested in debate and analysis. Nevermind.