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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The Questioning Leads to the Thinking

And so a great philosopher, Martin Heidegger, has said.

Recently, on the campaign trail, the Democratic Party's "workhorse", Sen. Hillary Clinton, has been saying, "When the lights are out, when the campaigns are done, and when everyone has gone home, who can you count on?" At first, Democrats were behind her, moved slowly, and then more swiftly to Sen. Barak Obama. The party sentiment seemed to be: when the lights were out, the Clintons would look out for themselves, but Sen. Obama would remain true to his pledges and beliefs.

After some magnificent, though expected wins from Maine to the Washington Caucus to the Potomac primaries in the Super Tuesday aftermath, Sen. Obama has become the front runner. With that status has also come heightened scrutiny, with more voters and pundits asking, "What's this show all about anyway?" After the next few weeks I predict: Republicans and conservatives are going to get off the Obama bandwagon soon, with Democrats who want to win shortly behind them.

David Brook's column, I think, accurate portrays what many of us less starry-eyed youth have been saying all along:

The afflicted had already been through the phases of Obama-mania — fainting at rallies, weeping over their touch screens while watching Obama videos, spending hours making folk crafts featuring Michelle Obama’s face. These patients had experienced intense surges of hope-amine, the brain chemical that fuels euphoric sensations of historic change and personal salvation.

But they found that as the weeks went on, they needed more and purer hope-injections just to preserve the rush. They wound up craving more hope than even the Hope Pope could provide, and they began experiencing brooding moments of suboptimal hopefulness. Anxious posts began to appear on the Yes We Can! Facebook pages. A sense of ennui began to creep through the nation’s Ian McEwan-centered book clubs...

Barack Obama vowed to abide by the public finance campaign-spending rules in the general election if his opponent did. But now he’s waffling on his promise. Why does he need to check with his campaign staff members when deciding whether to keep his word?

Obama says he is practicing a new kind of politics, but why has his PAC sloshed $698,000 to the campaigns of the superdelegates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics? Is giving Robert Byrd’s campaign $10,000 the kind of change we can believe in?

If he values independent thinking, why is his the most predictable liberal vote in the Senate? A People for the American Way computer program would cast the same votes for cheaper.

And should we be worried about Obama’s mountainous self-confidence?

These doubts lead O.C.S. sufferers down the path to the question that is the Unholy of the Unholies for Obama-maniacs: How exactly would all this unity he talks about come to pass?

How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation’s 261,000 lobbyists don’t see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

What will a politics of hope look like if it's worse and more nasty than anything the Clintonites or the McCain team has engaged in (e.g. trying to intimate black superdelegates in support of Clinton)?