I write this before the New Hampshire primary results are all in, but from the early morning voting tally it appears that Barack Obama will have a victory over Hillary and Edwards, and probably go on to capture the Democratic nomination. America seems to be prepared to give him the keys to the car. I know he's got the gas, but I am still not sure that he can drive, and without that knowledge, I am unprepared to become a passenger in his vehicle. If he does win the Democratic nomination, I fear that we will all of us be panning for facts and policies, knee deep in a puddle of rhetoric. Highfalutin' words are quite nice, useful in a seduction, but they are insufficient in a marriage. Yes, yes, yes, I'll vote for him against any of the twisted sisters the Republicans are offering, but I still have my questions about this Mr. Smith going to Washington.
Did I see a bit of mean spirited sarcasm coming from Barack when during the ABC debate he remarked, "Hillary, you're nice enough," his voice dropping on the enough, just enough to suggest that he finds her a middle-aged pest, a first class nuisance for daring to run against and withstand his all powerful charms? Nice enough for what? For losing what has become a beauty contest. Barack will grant her "Miss Congeniality" if she will only drop out now, taking Edwards with her, and stop speaking about the issues that interest some savvy voters: real national health insurance, the true diplomatic engagement of this country with the rest of the world, the outsourcing of jobs overseas, and a better education for America's children.
Right now I know that Barack Obama would make the best high school class president in these United States. He has the smarts, the looks, the charm, and the popularity, likes sports, and he plays well with others. But this isn't high school, or even Harvard Yard, and I think we should ask more of our Presidents. We don't. Ergo, George W. Bush. Hush, yes, I do know he won't be another Bush. He's smarter, more decent, and I think he's truly idealistic. At least I hope he is, otherwise all this talk of change and bringing people together is so much palaver. But incompetence takes many forms, and it starts with an unwillingness to articulate practical policies. Speaking in generalities is a wonderful election strategy, you become all things to all people, but it's a helluva lousy way to run a government. Having said all this, Barack may well become a great president, should he survive the Republican attack machine which is revving up, and the doubts of a few old guys like me.
A note of warning to all interested parties: As a New Yorker I caution you, "Beware of Michael Bloomberg." He has the power to convince so many that a billionaire frog is really a genial prince by using those billions to bombard the electorate. He has been a decent enough mayor and New York looks pretty good and feels good these days -- despite some hideous architectural additions and the pricing out of the middle class through astronomical rentals -- but he is arrogant, willful, and secretive, just what we don't need more of these days. He cannot become president, but he can become the new Nader, the spoiler who brings the presidency by default to a McCain with his hundred year occupation of Iraq.