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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Man from Hope

I guess it all depends on the meaning of the word Hope.

If you are a small town boy with big dreams, hope is a good thing, especially when it plays off the fact that you hail from a place in Arkansas by the name of Hope.

But if you are a man born of an African man and a white woman from Kansas who attempts to appeal to our better instincts after a generation of political and ideological warfare -- and offer the hope as an agent to break the vicious cycle -- well that's another thing entirely.

The doubts were being cast broadly last night as Barack Obama ran his win streak up to 10 with victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii.

John McCain, the 71-year-old mantle bearer of the Fear and Smear Party, road tested his lines after he also celebrated two victories over that other Man from Hope, Mike Huckabee. Avoiding the GOP record of the past seven years, McCain dismissed Obama as delivering an:
"...eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than people."
Seems to me the "false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy" pretty much sums up the legacy of George W. Bush and Republican Congress who created a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich that plunged working people into debt and foreclosure and their children into war.

Camp Clinton offered a surrogate who took his gloves off in also trying to launch a class war. Machinists Union President Thomas Buffenbarger made McCain seems tame in trying to open a rify between key constituencies of the Democratic Party. After labeling Obama a “wunderkind” as a speaker but a coward when it came to standing up for workers’ rights, he let a Clinton crowd know what he really feels:
“There he is with his nose in the air pontificating when the coast is clear and as soon as anyone throws a punch he’s in a bum’s rush to get away from a conflict,” he said.
This from a surrogate of a candidate who decried the "politics of personal destruction" when it was aimed at her and Clinton 42.

Perhaps that is at the root of The Washington Post's Dana Milbank's image of the Obama Souffle:
The Clintons in the past couple of weeks have done all they could to cook him up into an airy souffle, a candidate so light in substance that he collapses when speared. They exposed him as a guy who copies others' speeches and makes lofty pledges only to break them. And yet: The Obama Souffle continues to rise.

The lack of substance charge is a red herring. All candidate web sites are full of candidate positions on every issue known to human kind. The lifting of words? Another red herring.

Heaven knows we've all been burned by campaign rhetoric like "compassionate conservative" and "I'm in a uniter, not a divider." Maybe Obama's rise could be in keeping with the notion that we elect candidates we'd like to have a beer with.

It's becoming pretty clear as Obama wins red states and blue states, eating into Clinton's demographics while McCain wrestles to rein in the diehard 30 percenters that support the George W. Bush Follies that "change" really is the issue in 2008. Iraq, the economy, the erosion of our civil rights and moral standing in the world need to change.

The choices: a Washington veteran with a maverick streak that hides his belief in the status quo agenda; a woman running on her ties to a successful but controversial two-term presidency; or a man with a fresh face, moving rhetoric and a vision of moving us past the nightmare we've lived for the past 16 years, courtesy of the Republican Fear and Smear Machine.

Still wonder why he's on the rise?

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