Barack Obama: Leader of a new Camelot or just a vacant lot?
By Greg Strange
How cool is it to be a presidential candidate and have a network television reporter admit that it's difficult to cover you objectively because, well, you're just so gosh darn fabulous that it's nigh on impossible for anyone to keep their head out of the clouds while following you around?
For the candidate in question, Barack Obama, it must have seemed totally cool. In reality, it is totally vacuous, but when it comes to mainstream media coverage of important events like presidential campaigns, what else is new?
The bedazzled reporter was NBC's Lee Cowan, who put it something like this: "From the reporter's point of view it's almost hard to remain objective because it's infectious energy. It sort of goes against your core to say that as a reporter."
Yeah, well, don't worry about it too much, Lee. No one's particularly surprised at the sentiment, just the candid admission. Later, NBC anchor Brian Williams ruminated on air about his fellow journalist's divulgence:
"I interviewed Lee Cowan, our reporter who covers Obama. . . . Lee says it's hard to stay objective covering this guy. Courageous for Lee to say, to be honest. The e-mail flood started out, aw, we caught you guys, we never did trust you. That kind of thing. I think it is a very interesting dynamic. I saw middle-aged women just throw their arms around Barack Obama, kiss him hard on the cheek and say, you know, I'm with you, good luck. And I think he feels it, too."
Yep, it's enough to make a grown reporter gush and stammer and lose his objectivity like it was nothing more than a wad of pocket lint. That, of course, is assuming he had any objectivity to begin with and wasn't just another left-leaning automaton filling up the ranks of this manifestly tainted profession.
It can't have been often that someone like Hillary Clinton would have regretted the existence of such a predominantly liberal media. After all, it's been behind her pretty much ever since she first publicly admitted to the impending possibility of considering whether or not she would mull over the question of maybe thinking about setting up an exploratory committee to look into the plausibility of a presidential run. It was the liberal media that established the idea of her candidacy -- and most likely her election -- as unalterable inevitability.
But then a funny thing happened in Iowa on the way to her coronation. She got trounced, Obama-mania was borne and the Second Coming was declared posthaste. Reporters got bewitched en masse and polls in New Hampshire seemed to declare the viability of Hillary's candidacy as all but done.
The seeming implosion of his wife's run for the Oval Office due to a popular, substanceless swoon over Obama was enough to get Bill Clinton to say at a New Hampshire campaign stop, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
Okay, so he was specifically referring to Obama's position on the war in Iraq, but his language suggests something larger.
In a last ditch effort, Hillary pulled some vulnerability out of a hat, put it on display for the public and that was enough to bring out the sympathetic women voters to propel her over Obama in a squeaker in the New Hampshire primary. Now we can expect a dogfight from here on out.
Still, this looming question remains: What is so almighty great about this Obama fellow with his thus far unremarkable achievements and his standard issue, left-wing politics that makes reporters and "middle-aged women" and first-time voters swoon with idol worship?
Joe Biden was among the first to try and explain it almost a year ago: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Slow Joe subsequently got lambasted for what was perceived as a condescending description shot through with unconscious racial bias, but he may have been onto something. It may be that Obama is being anointed as the Democrat most likely to pull off the achingly longed-for return to Camelot at long last.
What do I mean by that? Well, for those too young to remember and/or unfamiliar with the history, the word "Camelot" sometimes refers to the JFK presidency which, because of Kennedy's youth, personality and charisma, was seen as a time of great hope, potential and promise of a brighter future for mankind.
Camelot originally referred to the court of King Arthur and was associated with ideals like justice, bravery and truth. There was a musical "Camelot" in 1960 and after Kennedy's assassination his widow, Jacqueline, quoted the following line as being from his favorite song in the score:
"Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot."
It can be argued that after the last 45 years spent mostly in the wilderness without a truly Kennedyesque leader, Democrat inclined people may be latching onto Obama as the walking, talking embodiment of their hopes and dreams. Why him? Because of a rare combination of youth, personality, demeanor, charisma and, on top of it all and if it dare be said, his multicultural bona fides.
In other words, Obama, if elected president, could usher in an updated, 21st century, multicultural version of Camelot. It could happen on the strength of him being a New Age man of mixed race background and international heritage who is profoundly articulate and good looking, who presents himself as the head of a new generation of leadership, who speaks of the obligatory much needed "change" and who wants to unite all Americans of every race, ethnicity, religion and political stripe.
Glory be! The very thought of it is enough to send shivers down the liberal spine and make one giddy at the Utopian, Camelotian prospect of it all.
But if we can come back down to reality for a moment . . . we can see that most comparisons between Obama and Kennedy are superficial rather than substantive. For instance, Kennedy was a resolute Cold Warrior who said in his inaugural address, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
Can you, in your wildest reveries, imagine Obama saying such a thing? He is a classic, anti-war, left-wing Democrat, fully imbued with and unable to get beyond Vietnam Syndrome, who wants to precipitously pull American troops out of Iraq so fast it would make our heads spin, regardless of the potential disastrous consequences for that country, the region and American security.
Kennedy cut taxes to spur the economy. Today's left-wing Democrats like Obama rail against the rich and encourage class warfare among their constituents. Kennedy committed the nation to putting a man on the moon. Today's left-wing Democrats like Obama cringe at the thought of pouring money into such nationally inspiring endeavors until every last social problem and hard luck case has been solved first (which, of course, can never happen).
And interestingly, while Kennedy had to overcome some bias against the idea of electing the nation's first Catholic president, Obama attends a nutty Afrocentric church and nobody makes a peep about it.
But the main point is that when it comes to comparisons between Obama and Kennedy, it's all superficial. On most substantive issues, neither Obama nor the modern Democrat Party as a whole are fit to shine the shoes of JFK.
Universal government healthcare, class warfare, higher taxes, soak the rich, global warming orthodoxy, constitutional rights for terrorists, weak national defense. Can a party ensconced in such ideas, even when led by someone as congenial and winsome as Obama, possibly lead America to a new Camelot?
More like a vacant lot.
Greg Strange's web site can be found at http://www.greg-strange.com. (c) 2008 Greg Strange.