Sunday, October 12, 2008

Obama's Dance of Avoidance

In this week’s column, Ann McFeatters addressed the current state of the campaigns, and suggested that they are bogged down in irrelevancies, leaving important issues unsatisfactorily dealt with.

“I’m upset that the candidates want me to get upset about Newsweek’s non-airbrushed close-up of Palin on its cover, the 40-year-old crimes against society of Ayers, a nutty radical turned university professor, Obama’s middle name and votes by both Obama and McCain against funding the troops because various bills did or did not have a timeline to end the war in Iraq,” she wrote.

We obviously need know that a candidate can understand the myriad of problems he will inherit, but she decries focusing on things that tell us “who” the candidates are, how they think, what influences made them who they are. Knowing the background and philosophy of the next president is the most important single factor in this election, because “who he is” is what will guide him as he leads the nation over the next four or eight years.

We know a lot about John McCain, but much less about Barack Obama. We know a lot about Joseph Biden, but not so much about Sarah Palin. How can voters cast an informed vote about people they don’t really know much about? How can they in good conscience vote for someone if they don’t know where they come from? How can they have any confidence in them if they don’t know what makes them tick?

We didn’t know much about Mrs. Palin when she was cast into national politics seven weeks ago, but we are learning quickly due to the intense media scrutiny she has had since then. We have literally seen the wrinkles on her face, as Ms. McFeatters lamented.

Barack Obama is a different story; the media glosses over uncomfortable questions about his past.

Mr. Obama has a remarkable set of alliances with unusual people. One is a former unrepentant domestic terrorist who is now a professor; one has been convicted of fraud and money laundering; one is a professor who is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel; three are racist and /or anti-America clergymen; and there’s the political involvement in Kenya with his politician cousin Raila Odinga.

It is safe to say most Americans have none of these sorts of people as their friends.

The Obama campaign doesn’t like questions about their candidate’s background, and goes to inordinate extremes to avoid talking about it. Asked by a TV anchor Saturday about the nagging issue of his candidate’s relationship with William Ayers, the terrorist/professor, Obama spokesman Bill Burton danced around a response that was more filibuster than answer, repeating in lawyerly fashion that this question had been “asked and answered.” He ignored the follow-up indicating that given new information since Sen. Obama’s original answer—that Bill Ayers is “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood”—may not be accurate or adequate. Mr. Burton, dancing and filibustering, added that Ayers is a diversion from the economic crisis.

Mr. Burton might rather talk about the economy, and that is undoubtedly a more fertile campaign topic than Barack Obama’s questionable friends, but his avoidance dance has the distinct aroma of abject fear and the unmistakable appearance of utter desperation.

It is imperative that our presidents hold the same values as, and think like most Americans. They can’t represent us and lead our country if they are substantially different in their fundamental makeup than most Americans. There is a lot in Mr. Obama’s past that casts doubt on how much he is like most Americans, and his collection of friends is at the top of that list.

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