01 August 2008

1 Aug 08 a timely reminder... 'tis Time to Start Paying Attention

"Barack Obama is a complicated man who defies simplification" - shs July 2008

here is a man who has a lifetime of experience on the leading edge of the cultural and social changes American society has undergone, with respect to race relations and political ideologies. by the simple virtue of his mixed-race heritage and the times in which he grew up, he has had to deal with the intellectually tangled, emotional outbursts of bigoted idiots (of differing colours and politics) from Ivy League halls to the streets of Chicago. but the blessing of it was, is that he learned how to absorb such people's bombast. then listen, determine, and understand it's true origins, and reply with words and questions that not only soothed and calmed, but reassured and connected. then he challenged them to think in larger terms, to see greater commonalities and possibilities, and to discard their narrower, more immediate interests.

he may be a combination of the best human instincts, intellectual curiousity, and political skills, of a Carter, a Reagan, a Moynihan, for those old enough to remember them, or a Paul Wellstone, Newt Gingrich, and a Bill Clinton, for those not. Obama has learned much from his predecessors, from their mistakes as well as their successes. for his default position seems to be one of pragmatic incrementalism combined with a measure of indifference. the critical skills of a true statesman, though they are often incorrectly asserted to be aloofness.

yet there is an increasingly strong case to be made that the next President will be called upon to lead the American people and their government in a radically different direction from that of the past 60 years. and if that becomes so, Obama's youthful and intellectual vigor, in addition to his political foresight, will serve him and the American people very well.

for in a way, electing a President is like a "box of chocolates" because you never really know "what yer gonna get". or as Bill Clinton said earlier this year "it's a crapshoot". who would've ever thought beforehand that Reagan would negotiate nuclear weapons reduction treaties with the Soviets, or that Clinton would produce a budget surplus and sign radical welfare reform?

so how then is a potential President to be weighed? by their record, judgement, temperament, and character. though the actions of a candidate will be subject to a wide variety of interpretations, especially during the inevitable distortions of a political campaign, but over the course of many months, how they comport themselves, who they choose to associate with, who they hire to assist them, how
they handle money, and what messages/policies they choose to emphasize and sublimate, will provide more than enough information upon which to make an informed judgement and decision to any voter who seeks it.

stephenhsmith 1Aug2008