When John McCain’s presidential campaign released the “Celebrity” ad — which attempted to equate candidate Obama with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, by dint of nothing more than the Senator’s popularity — we knew that the rational, bipartisan John McCain, the one who truly would put “country first” and in some part deserved the presidency, was dead and gone. In his place stood a shrilly partisan operation, convinced that victory could be won by stacking gimmick upon gimmick in a vain attempt to distract the electorate from the obvious failures of Republican policies. (This trend, naturally, would culminate in Sarah Palin.)
Now, the same charge is back, but as an excuse for the lackluster Republican field, and an explanation for Obama’s likely re-election. Per The Wall Street Journal, if Obama wins, it’s because of the myth — and celebrity — but not the man.
I don’t dispute that President Obama’s personal life presents a compelling, relatable, important, and quintessentially American story. But what’s most important is that Obama uses his past to inform his politics. Other candidates, like Tim Pawlenty, actually have similar rags-to-riches upbringings, but make no attempt to relate their rags-to-riches tale to their policies. Instead, Pawlenty’s past seems to contradict his present and future, and denies the very “social exceptionalism” that the author admits her party needs. Here is a party that “believes in you,” as we hear, but leverages the same as an excuse to let you go your own way, pull out the social safety net, and rely on lines discredited by Bruce Hornsby songs should you fail (“Just for fun he says… get a job!”).
Oh, but don’t you believe them. What works for President Obama is that his story matches with a compelling vision for you. Here’s a man who emerged from a tough beginning against all odds, and doesn’t believe you need to face the same odds. That’s a powerful message, because it results from the knowledge that living the American dream is very, very hard, unless we look out for each other. Not to over-indulge in music this post, but we must bear our neighbors’ burdens within reason, and our labors will be borne when all is done. Don’t carry it all!
Obama’s struggles taught him that compassion, and it comes through. Pawlenty’s life taught him… what, exactly? When a Republican can answer that question, he’ll do well. Until then, we can suffer through the Wall Street Journal’s overwrought explanations of the party’s failures, but this will be the extent of the Republican Party’s relevance. This I swear to all.
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Oh, and you know what? The author’s treatment of McCain’s decision to ignore the President’s middle name goes completely amiss. It wasn’t cowardice, and it wasn’t political correctness. It was class, a word we may have forgotten. But what would you expect from an author who, in the very next breath, attributes Trump’s meteoric rise, and meteoric fall, to his insightfulness?