Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Deeply Superficial Person

I ran across an interesting quote from Andy Warhol this morning in which he described himself as "a deeply superficial person." Mr Warhol is a man ahead of his time, for his comment is appropriate to this year's presidential race.

I still find myself utterly unable to understand the wild celebrity appeal of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. The fact that he isn't George Bush is clearly a plus, but then, I'm not George Bush either, and I doesn't draw adoring crowds who think I should be president (except for Mike, John, and Zipcode, but I don't think three people constitute an adoring crowd). Mr Obama is an excellent public speaker, but then, so was Adolf Hitler. He speaks eloquently of change and grand plans, but without laying out realistic plans to accomplish it all.

If you visit Mr Obama's website, you won't learn a great deal more of real substance. One thing I did observe, though, was that if you mouse over the tab titled "People," you can find targeted messages for 19 different categories of people, including "LBGT" (I suppose it's too in-your-face to spell out "lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transsexual"). The president must represent all Americans...not present a different face and message to 19 different constituencies.

I would really like to be able to believe in Barack Obama. If nothing else, he is definitely a fresh face with some new ideas. But like all politicians, he is long on promise and short on specifics. People running for office makes lots of grand promises...statesmen explain how they intend to try to turn those promises into programs. I don't see it here.

The real importance of Barack Obama's candidacy doesn't lie in his basic qualifications for the presidency, which - as you know - I think are minimal. The fact that he has emerged as a very strong candidate for the nation's highest office is an indication of how far we've come from the bad old days of slavery and Jim Crow laws. I believe the fact that a black man can be accepted by a wide swath of Americans of all races, religions, and economic strata as a viable candidate speaks well for the nation. With some more seasoning in Congress (where, for instance, he could try to establish a record of bipartisan accomplishments as an indication of what he's capable of doing), I think he could be a better candidate. At the moment, he's not quite an empty suit, but a suit only half-full.

Voting for Barack Obama because he's black makes no more sense than voting for John McCain because he's white. The person we elect will be the president of all Americans of all races and religions. He (or she) will need to be able to unite us behind solid programs which can overcome the disastrous legacy of eight years of George Bush, repair the country at home and propel us back into the global leadership we've forfeited.

We are a nation adrift and in need of firm, inspiring, and dynamic leadership from someone able to articulate a vision and the means to achieve it. If someone's out there running who can do that, let me know.

At the moment, I have to say that I find Mr Obama a deeply superficial person.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about John McCain. Hint: it won't be much more positive that what I've written today.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

O Canada! You know I'm in agreement with you and probably will be tomorrow too.

Amanda said...

You're of course right that Obama is like a celebrity. People all the way over here talk about him but hardly anybody mentions John McCain.

Gilahi said...

I place the blame squarely on the American voter. All politicians run for office on platforms of what they will do, but the fact is that our country has enormous checks and balances and the power of any one branch is therefore limited. The problem is that if they run on what they will try to do, then people believe they're indecisive and powerless. The fact that they really are relatively powerless doesn't seem to register. During one of the debates, they had pre-taped questions from the man on the street, and the best one that at least one voter could come up with was why Obama didn't wear a flag pin. That's certainly an issue for America in these times.

Mike said...

If it wasn't to much work right now I would have set up a new blogger profile as Barack, put his picture in there and left you a comment. Think about how funny that would have been. If only I had more time. Or more motivation. That might be the real problem.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You're. Obama seems to be style not substance.

Bilbo said...

gilahi - I'm with you. The American voter is treated like a fool because he acts like a fool. People don't think for themselves, and so they end up with politicians who can take advantage of their stupidity.

Mike - I heard an interview on NPR the other day with a fellow who actually did set up a website called "" or something like that. Easy enough to do in the anonymous world of the internet.

Bilbo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am one of your adoring crowd too!

Mike seems to adore many people, me included, even now that I have lost my adoring crowd.