28 August 2008

John McCain vs. ???

On Tuesday, Senator Clinton reproached her die-hard supporters by saying that the primary campaign was not about her. Tonight, Senator Obama, having received the nomination, also said the campaign was not about him. I suppose it's admirable for the senators to disavow the personal element in politics, but if the presidential election is not about Barack Obama, who is it about? Senator McCain? Then I guess it's going to be a negative campaign, no matter what Obama promised tonight.

While Clinton's speech was a reminder to her acolytes to get their priorities straight, Obama's struck me, at least in this section of it, as a slightly pathetic attempt to have people ignore those nagging questions about his background and his character. I've said below that these ought to be irrelevant, but for Obama to say it necessarily sounds like special pleading or, worse, an admission of weakness -- especially after retelling his life story yet again. I suppose I should see this as more of a commonplace, since politicians often say that their causes are bigger than themselves. But notice the difference: Clinton and Obama attempted to rhetorically erase themselves from the election. Is this, then, to be "the People" vs. John McCain? Is the alternative to McCain actually to be some form of true democracy in which the people rule directly? No? It isn't? Then it is about you, Senator Obama, as much as it's about McCain -- and it ought to be about Congressman Barr, Congressman McKinney, Ralph Nader, Chuck Baldwin, Gloria La Riva, and on down the list as well. Don't insult our intelligence by denying it.

Otherwise, it wasn't a bad little speech at all.

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