Wednesday, April 09, 2008

They're not even hiding it anymore

Ever noticed how the majority of Obama supporters seem to have no good reason for their choice? I mean, they're very enthusiastic about him - giddy, really. Like little kids in December counting down the days until Christmas, they JUST CAN'T WAIT until election day when they can finally vote for him already. Yes, but why are they voting for him? That's what no one can explain to me. And I know I'm not alone in my impression here when I say that none of the Obama supporters I've talked to, seen on TV, or read about on the internet seem to have the slightest notion how they arrived at their decision. They just ... like him is all. Well, fair enough - that's not so unusual. I suppose a good chunk of the electorate puts very little thought into their voting choices - choosing politicians the same way they choose pop albums - i.e. by picking something that suits their self-image. Of course if pop fans don't like to admit that's what they're doing (it's "about the music"), political junkies outright deny it. That's why it's with some surprise that I read that certain Obama supporters are proud of the fact that they don't know why they like him.

The link goes to a Rolling Stone interview with Obama supporter Dave Matthews that has to rank as the definitive example of celebrity political disconnect I've come across. Let's listen to Dave try to hack his way through a political argument:

The biggest argument that people can lay against him is his lack of qualifications, which is such an empty argument. The most important qualification a candidate can possess is being able to inspire people to want to do things for the country.

Oh, yes, you read that right. Pointing out that poitician X is underqualified for the job is "an empty argument." The President, you see, isn't primarily responsible for setting policy, making appointments, placing a check on the legislature, representing the US in international negotiations, making military decisions or issuing emergency declarations. Don't get Dave wrong - he does those things - but mostly his job is to inspire people. Like a national cheerleading squad.

We don't remember JFK's qualifications. We don't remember his connections or his experience in the political arena. What we remember are the qualities that made him stand apart from all that.

Or ... maybe we remember JFK because he got shot. Honestly, the man barely won the 1960 election, and he wasn't very popular during his tenure.

I don't want someone who's experienced in the present-day arena of politics - it's hopelessly failed this country. Both sides of the aisle, without question, have dismally let the American people down. We need a person with fresh ideas and an incredible eloquence that really cuts to the core of so many issues with just a real frankness.

This actually sounds like a good a line of reasoning - but he loses me there at the end. Yes, we definitely "need a person with fresh ideas and an incredible eloquence that really cuts to the core of so many issues with just a real frankness." No arguments there. But ... OBAMA is this person? REALLY? Can you name even a single "idea" he has, let alone one that's "fresh?" All I've heard so far from Obama are tired repetitions of the same socialist welfare-state garbage that's been with us since the Depression, only minus anything that could even charitably be described as "specifics." To the extent that Obama stands for anything at all, it really is just more of the same (emphasis on more).

This time, I'm truly for something. Electing Obama will so radically change how the world views us, in a positive way.

It's nice to hear someone actually come out and say it: Dave's more concerned about our national image than he is with policy competence.

Real change has been a comedy in American politics for the last three decades. When I look at Obama, I feel like, "Wow, here's this man who's going to try to break down some walls and try and revive the Constitution after the three-decade-long beating it has taken. Maybe we can finally resuscitate that poor old dusty piece of paper that?s been kicked into the corner for a long time."

I'd say the Constitution has been taking a beating for a good deal longer than three decades. Do some reading on FDR for a president who truly didn't give a damn what the basic law of the land was. However, I agree that the current president isn't much for the Constitution either, and I'm all about electing someone who takes basic principles of constitutional law seriously. But this concern led me to Ron Paul, not Barack Obama. Honestly, I'd be surprised if Barack Obama has even read all 27 amendments, let alone the main body of the document. And I'll be positively stupified if Dave Matthews has read anything past the preamble. This is a man who thinks the president's primary job is to be the national motivational speaker, after all.

Asked about whether musicians should be mixing in politics, Matthews responds:

Musicians, although maybe some don't believe it, are also citizens. We all have the right to say what we think and use whatever power we have to say it, just like politicians use whatever power they have, whatever millions of dollars they have, to make themselves heard.

That I'll have to completely agree with. Musicians are citizens too, and they absolutely have a right (a Constitutional right, as it turns out, though I doubt Dave Matthews could put his finger on the section that guarantees it) to use their stage as a pulpit for telling the rest of us how to vote. What's offensive about the whole "musician-as-politico" thing isn't that musicians speak out but that so many people take the time to listen. Look, I wouldn't ask Einstein's opinion on economics, why would I ask a musician's opinion on politics? Einstein can be as good a physicist as he likes, political policy is a different discipline. Tiger Woods plays a mean golf game, but I'm not asking him to advise me on my investment portfolio. A musician can be as good at his trade as he likes and still basically retarded about politics - with Dave Matthews being a sterling case in point, actually (well, bucept for the part about being a good musician). If I want advice about politics, I'll ask someone who knows about politics.

There's lots of us who can plow snow, and there's lots of us who can deliver boxes and push pencils around, but it's a rare jewel that can move us to be our very best. That's why I think it's colossally important for us to have to have him as the next president.

There you have it, folks. "It isn't what Obama stands for, it's how he makes me feel about me."

Jesus Christ.


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