Robert Samuelson worries that the media and the public is being "dazzled" by Barack Obama. To my mind he certainly has a point. From the Washington Post:
A favorite Obama line is that he will tell "the American people not just what they want to hear but what we need to know." Well, he hasn't so far. Consider the retiring baby boomers. A truth-telling Obama might say: "Spending for retirees -- mainly Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- is already nearly half the federal budget. Unless we curb these rising costs, we will crush our children with higher taxes. Reflecting longer life expectancies, we should gradually raise the eligibility ages for these programs and trim benefits for wealthier retirees. Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for inaction. Waiting longer will only worsen the problem."
Instead, Obama pledges not to raise the retirement age and to "protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries." This isn't "change"; it's sanctification of the status quo. He would also exempt all retirees making less than $50,000 annually from income tax. By his math, that would provide average tax relief of $1,400 to 7 million retirees -- shifting more of the tax burden onto younger workers. Obama's main proposal for Social Security is to raise the payroll tax beyond the present $102,000 ceiling.
Political candidates routinely indulge in exaggeration, pandering, inconsistency and self-serving obscuration. Clinton and McCain do. The reason for holding Obama to a higher standard is that it's his standard and also his campaign's central theme. He has run on the vague promise of "change," but on issue after issue -- immigration, the economy, global warming -- he has offered boilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion.
The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the media -- preoccupied with the political "horse race" -- have treated his invocation of "change" as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't.
I think Samuelson's right and too late. The folks he is addressing are beyond being able to critically evaluate Obama. The complete and utter failure of people to deal with the reality of candidate Obama, complete with the moral righteousness and indignation they heap on those who have remained immune to his supposed charms, merely confirms the cultish quality of the Obama phenomena. Obama supporters seem to believe they are watching a charismatic prophet. All I see is a demagogue.
It's funny that I have reached this conclusion. My original objection was to the idea that Obama was some sort of moderate. But to my way of thinking now, I don't want people who believe they are part of some sort of moral crusade gaining the upper hand because whatever lies down that road it isn't conducive to liberty.
Gleaned from Blue Crab Blvd.