Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Change For Change’s Sake


John McCain has been conducting a guerrilla war against the poobahs of his party for lo these many years, and so it is not surprising there are some within the Republican Party who feel he richly deserves a boot in the rear. That boot, some of them realize, can only be administered at their peril.

Barack Obama does not have this problem, at least yet. Some of the grey heads of the Democrat Party, prominent among them Sen. Edward Kennedy, have eagerly jumped aboard his campaign. Of course, early roadblocks in Kennedy's career -- one thinks of Chappaquiddick -- have placed the presidency well beyond Kennedy’s reach, but this, not at all surprisingly, has freed the most demagogic of the Kennedys to be the uncrowned king of Camelot. Kennedy sees in Obama a reprise of Camelot, King Arthur this time played by an African American. If Obama is by most reckonings the most liberal senator in the United States, Kennedy trails very closely behind. So, in some ways, an Obama win would vindicate Kennedy’s entire political career.

The news that Obama appears to be snuffing out the Clintons has not put such as the Reverend Al Sharpton in an ebullient mood, and Jesse Jackson has been very quiet lately. Perhaps both have that issue of National Review magazine in which John O’Sullivan welcomed the Obama candidacy as a “post racist” endeavor. It is also, O'Sullivan reminds us, a post-American endeavor, which may mean that Europeans once again may come to like us in the Obama era after the jihadists have driven us from what used to be called the crescent of Western civilization.

The end of racial posturing would fairly bring to a close the careers of both Sharpton and Jackson. When all the juice has been squeezed out of the racist lemon, we can toss the rind on the ash heap of history.

The criticism on Obama from the right is not so much that he clams up in the absence of a teleprompter; it is that there is no there behind the sonorous speeches, most of which revolve around the imperative of change. Omaba's campaign record is full of position papers, to be sure, but once in office the terrible responsibilities of the presidency have a way of softening positions one has taken in distorting primaries. Change is good, a fellow controversialist reminds me, except when it’s bad. And no one will know for certain that the changes Obama has in mind for the country will be good until it is too late to change the changes.

Primaries, in which the candidates address themselves to party activists, distort elections. The message Obama and McCain are sending to the party wings in primaries may not be the message that the general electorate wants to hear. More importantly, it may not be the message the American public needs to hear.

On the left, anti-war party activists are hoping that Obama is serious when he has pledged to bring the troops home from Iraq without regard to the consequences involved. On the right, conservatives are hoping that current events in Iraq, very much different than they were when the anti-war hoopla began, will persuade the better angels of Obama’s nature that such “solutions” as he has threatened to implement are ill advised. Americans do not like to lose wars, particularly when the loss is certain to increase against their country the kind of violence so ably practiced by Imad Mughniyeh, one of the world’s most wanted terrorist who succumbed to a bomb in Syria, where he was offered safe harbor after having been implicated in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy, and U.S. Marine and French peacekeeping barracks, which killed over 350, as well as the 1992 bombings of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the kidnapping of dozens of foreigners in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Mughniyeh’s activity preceded both President George Bush's current administration and the occupation of Iraq by American troops. And when the last troop has left Iraq, prematurely, it is doubtful that America’s standing in the world will be enhanced by surrendering control of the country – and the Kurds, who have done everything we have asked of them – to Mughniyeh’s hosts in Syria and end-of-time nut jobs like the current president of Iran.

It’s a dangerous world out there.

In the general election, the American people will listen carefully to the candidates and decide to whom they wish to entrust their fate.

May they choose wisely. History offers very few second chances to those who choose unwisely.
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