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Thursday, July 31, 2008


In defense of...Barack Obama (!)

Yesterday Ted Stevens, today Barack Obama! Will wonders never cease?

I'm violating a rule here, which is that when something has attracted the outrage of liberal Democrats, it hardly needs my jumping on the bandwagon. But I just can't resist commenting on the John McCain "Barack Obama is just Paris Hilton and Britney Spears" ad, with its implication is that Obama is just an "empty suit" who is somehow just "famous for being famous."

Before getting to Obama, let's start with Paris and Britney. Paris Hilton is indeed "famous for being famous." And how did she get that way? Because she's part of a very wealthy family, just like John McCain (and, not surprisingly, her parents are in fact McCain donors)!

Britney Spears is a different story. She became famous for actually having talent, or, should I say, having what some people think is talent. She can sing and dance in that Disney/American Idol generic American Pop sort of way, and actually has one or two decent songs to her credit. Wikipedia reports she's the eighth best-selling female recording artist in the United States and has sold 83 million albums worldwide. Now it's true that Spears has been in the news most recently because of her trainwreck of a life, which reminds us of nothing less than...the trainwreck of a campaign which is John McCain's, reduced to running ads like this one. Nor should we forget that Spears is on the record as "having confidence in George Bush." Also just like John McCain.

And Obama? It's true, as I've written here many times, that he has a remarkable ability to speak in generalities while simultaneously letting people project their own hopes and desires on him. Which is, no doubt, a talent. Not necessarily one I admire, but a talent for sure! But Obama hardly got where he is now by "just being famous." He got to be famous by running a brilliant campaign (brilliant by capitalist standards, to be sure). In state after state both he and Hillary Clinton racked up more votes than John McCain. No doubt by the end of the process, people were coming to his campaign rallies just to experience the "phenomenon." But it certainly didn't start that way. He's not in the news because he's "famous." He's in the news because he's running for President, and, by conventional U.S. standards, doing a darn good job of it. Foreign leaders are willing to, and no doubt want to meet him not because he's "famous," but because they perceive he's quite likely to be the next President of the United States, and at the same time isn't going to rub their shoulders or talk to them while he's got food in his mouth like the current bozo in the office.

Don't get me wrong. Obama's success isn't just because he's an intelligent, charismatic man. If he was the same person, but with the positions of a Dennis Kucinich, say, he never would have got the establishment backing which allowed him to get where he is. He would have been ignored by the media, prestigious advisers like Zbigniew Brezinski wouldn't flock to his campaign, and he would have ended up on the cutting room floor along with Kucinich, Gravel, and the rest, even the moderately populist John Edwards. But the fact is that is who Obama is, a "centrist" able to entice the progressives with the idea that he just might be one of them "really" but is also able to attract the Democratic rightwing who correctly perceive he's ready and willing to do their bidding. McCain's ad asks, on a serious note, "Is Obama ready to lead?" I'd say there's little question about it. If the ruling class of the United States needs someone competent to manage their affairs, and help right their listing ship, they could hardly find anyone better.

But none of this has anything in common with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. For someone with things in common with them, John McCain will need to look in the mirror.

By the way, did you notice that McCain didn't include Miley Cyrus in the list, who is actually much more of a "celebrity" these days than either Hilton or Spears? Afraid he's alienate what he thinks his base, no doubt.

And, while I'm rambling, the Obama camp's response included the phrase "Oops, I did it again" referencing McCain. I've heard and read numerous news reports reporting that fact. Not one made note of the fact that that's a Britney Spears song title. Do they assume that every one of their readers and listeners knows that? I'll bet John McCain doesn't!

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