Monday, March 10, 2008


Obama and the Pet Rock

National Review
Victor Davis Hanson

In fall 1975 I remember sitting in the Stanford student lounge watching two apparently educated and bright students compare their pet rocks, as the craze spread all over Silicon Valley and then went national. By summer few would admit they had purchased one. Never underestimate the ability of mass wired consumer society to go hysterical.

Something like that happened with the Obama campaign in mid-February, as he became the new generation's pet rock. No one knew what he had done; no one knew what he would do; no one cared whether they knew; all only wanted to be a part of it. It was a sort of self-described "movement" to "change the world," that offered absolution for all sorts of sins, real and imagined, of commission and omission, an atonement for past and present, here and abroad.

And now, as some people wake up from their pet rock purchase, they are seeing they've de facto nominated someone rated about the Senate's most liberal senator based on three years of experience there. The Democrats have boxed them into a situation of running a candidate that has out-sourced all negative attacks to the New York Times, political junkies and columnists, in order to remain above the fray and loyal to the "new" politics of change and hope.

Iraq is quieting not flaring up, even as the Obama rhetoric about it as the "worst" something or other stays fossilized—and his advisors turn to his NAFTA-like two-step of leaking that you really don't quite mean the flight that you've promised on the stump.

Democrats will have to run against a Republican moderate in states like California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas that their candidate lost in the primary, after a nasty fight in which Sen. Clinton finished as the surger. Already commentators on television— long biased in favor of Obama and apparently without embarrassment or recognition of how they sound—explain that Obama will win this or that state because it has a caucus instead of direct voting or has a large African-American electorate—and therefore in contrast he will probably lose a key state like Pennsylvania since it doesn't. And this is passed off apparently as praise of his strength than criticism of his eroding support.

If Hillary twists arms to overturn the Byzantine nominating process, Obama could hardly serve as her VP since he could imagine the sorts of humiliations in store as payback for his upstart campaign. In turn she would suspect that his inexperience would lead to a Carter-like presidency, and therefore would not wish to replay a Mondale in 2012 or 2016.

Sober Democrats are starting to worry, caught between the pet rock of the Obama fad and the hard place of giving the nomination in back-room fashion to Clinton, Inc.— the masters of the much denounced back room.

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