Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Obama Obsession

There was an interesting article in Tuesday's edition of the Chicago Sun-Times about a politically motivated spat between Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Senator John McCain (R-Media). The article in and of itself was unremarkable -- it basically recounted the details of a letter sent by McCain's office to Obama's office, with the former criticizing the latter for having the audacity to exploit the issue of ethics reform for purposes of political gain. (After all, that is McCain's job.) But there was a fascinating line in the article that got me to thinking about the Democrat Party's latest wunderkind.

After laying the groundwork for the senatorial feud, the article said the following:

The McCain letter represents the first time any senator -- or any local, state or federal official of note from either party -- has publicly criticized Obama.

Apparently, the good folks at the Chicago Sun-Times have been chronicling the criticisms of their home state's junior senator. The scope of certainty of the statement seemed bizarre, and it is said with an almost chiding tone. All of which begs the question: Just what makes Obama so special?

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I know very little about Barack Obama beyond only the most general information. (Congressional webpages concentrate on his educational and legislative experience, while Wikipedia gives a more in-depth view of his parents' history and upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia.) Anecdotal commentary (which I cannot cite) portray him as a bright and optimistic individual with a strong work ethic. The picture painted is that Obama is the best thing to happen to the Democrat Party since sliced bread (well, you know what I mean).

But Obama's talents (real or perceived) are only part of the story. At least one of the real reasons Obama is receiving such glowing praise from Democrat quarters is that his party is in desperate need of a prominent minority personality who might actually make it appear that the reality is matching party rhetoric.

For years, the Democrat Party has relied upon -- and also taken for granted -- the huge number of black voters in the United States. Election cycle after election cycle, in the 40 years between 1960 and 2000, nine out of ten black voters had gone into the voting booth and cast their vote for a Democrat over a Republican. Their reward for doing so had been negligible. Some black communities, especially those in large urban areas, remained in shambles -- and yet they kept voting for Democrats. Blacks that had actually contributed to the party's growth had been rewarded by being relegated to posts at the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Education -- and yet they kept voting for Democrats.

Then along comes this dunce from Texas who not only has close ties to the Hispanic community due to his governorship, but also appoints blacks and Hispanics to real positions like Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. And in the 2004 presidential election, this same dunce managed to shave some votes off of the previously-guaranteed-nine-out-of-ten minority bloc of votes; while not a whopping percentage of votes, it was statistically significant, and was also enough to make the difference in certain swing states.

To be blunt, Obama's rhetorical rise among Democrat power movers is their feeble attempt to reassert their ironclad gip over minority voters by promoting the cult of personality. Obama may be talented, and he may ultimately be a great senator (and, it is no doubt hoped by his supporters, great presidential contender), but he was being worshipped before he even formally announced his candidacy for the Senate. And he is the lone rising black star in a party that prides itself as fighting for the black community and civil rights.

Obama may be great, but the question is: Will Hillary make him her Secretary of State . . . or Secretary of the Interior?


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