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29.7.04

Against Obama

Here's some evidence for my deeply cynical disposition at the moment: I'm getting to dislike Barack Obama. I didn't see his speech, and I haven't read more than a few excerpts of the transcript. But I'm put off by the way the entire liberal commentariat (and some conservatives, too) has gone head-over-heels for him. The general principle here is something I worked out while trying to figure out how I felt about Howard Dean (back when it looked like Dean might actually make a difference). Regular politicians like George Bush and John Kerry are unprincipled and scheming. But at least they have trouble hiding their unprincipled scheming. The politicians you really have to watch out for are the ones who look like straight talkers, the ones who look like they really understand the public and care about doing the right thing. I'm pretty convinced that political Darwinism will quickly weed out any actual principled politicians.

Unfortunately, years and years of being led by scumbags has left Americans desperate for a leader they can love, someone they can feel good about having at the helm, someone they can trust to look after them. This has been amplified in the modern Democratic party, as we've been confronted by the depth of the Bush's mendacity and the crowd of losers that wanted to take him on in November. It surprised even me that "Anybody But Bush" is still, at this late date, the dominant theme on the left -- that even the worst partisan hacks, while they've pragmatically refrained from attacking Kerry, have been unable to convince themselves that he would make a really good president.

Obama is a dream politician for disenchanted Democrats. He's charismatic and tells us exactly what we want to hear. He's a safe crush, too -- only the people of Illinois will have the chance to vote for him, and even there he doesn't face a serious Republican opponent who would eat a truly sincere candidate alive (as many -- incorrectly, I think -- feared Bush would do to Dean). And so it seems everyone has fallen for him.

I plan to keep a wary distance. Maybe Obama really is trustworthy -- I hardly know anything about him, so I can't make a personal judgement. But trust is too easily exploited, especially when the truster really wants to be able to trust someone. Every other politician I've ever encountered has left Obama with a big burden of proof.

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