Columnist Susan Estrich who worked for the spectacularly abortive 1988 presidential campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis (D-MA) rhetorically asks whether Barack Obama could be another Dukakis, then answers ‘no.’
[T]he most important difference between Obama and Dukakis has absolutely nothing to do with the two men, or their primary opponents, or the issues that did or did not get raised. It’s the difference between where the country was then, and where it is now. In June 1988, a majority of Americans thought the country was on the right track. Although the wrong track numbers had been higher earlier in the year, by the summer they turned around. Americans were pleased with the direction of the country. Today, the equivalent numbers are 80% wrong track. Ask any pollster and they’ll tell you that there is no better indication of which party will win an election than the right track-wrong track numbers. This should be a Democratic year. Obama, if he is the candidate, will face a negative machine. But in the end, that machine cannot change the way people feel about the direction the country is heading, or the party that is responsible for it.There's much, much more to the differences than this.
I mean, come on. Dukakis had the Willie Horton issue.
• Jeremiah Wright
• Black Liberation Theology
• Michelle Obama’s attitude toward America
• William Ayers (Who?)
• Tony Resko (Who?)
• The Bitter, Clingy-ness of White People
• The Ignorance of American Presidential History and how such have deal with enemies
• The NAFTA oddity: being against it while being for it
• The Hamas connections
• The Commie connections
• The possible Islam connections (Yes, I’m willing to allow a crack into my “no way has Obama been a Muslim” edifice, though I still scoff at the idea that Obama was, in some way involved in the Kenya crisis merely because of his blood relationship with (now) Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.) The alleged connections are interesting in light of
• The 57 states gaffe
"It is wonderful to be back in Oregon," Obama said. "Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it."This one is extremely weird, until it is considered that there are 57 nation-states in the Organization of Islamic Conference.*
And there are probably all sorts of things that I'm forgetting or don't feel like looking up.
The answer to Estrich’s question is indeed ‘no,’ but not because of perceptions regarding the "direction of the nation." If that were so, Hillary Clinton would have won the nomination by now.
Look. The sheer weight of the baggage which Obama carries along with his chronic trifling dwarf Dukakis’s issues and should have been enough to sink his campaign months ago. But it hasn’t been. And that's because Obama has something which Dukakis doesn’t have--brown skin. But consider this: the fact that his skin color is what's keeping him comfortably afloat isn’t a mere indictment of racism against those who still want Obama to be president while being aware of all of the above listed short-comings--at least it's not an indictment from me.
And consider this: Obama's brown skin is a symbol, one which has been planted into the minds of the unguarded; one which takes the place of rational-thinking and long-term planning (assuming that either or both ever had a place); one which plays on a singular emotion. That emotion is called pride.
A brown-skinned POTUS, especially one of African descent, would be the crowning achievement for an America which prides itself in being the beacon to the world, one of equal opportunity for all comers of whatever color or background. And it would indeed be a breakthrough. Oh sure we can truthfully say that this is the greatest nation on Earth, but if we had a black president, Holy Cow! We can thumb our nose at the nay-sayers with abandon.
For a little while. And then such symbolism’s value would recede and the value of the individual man—the content of his character, judgment, alliances and allegiances—would come to the fore. A country cannot survive on pride and symbolism at the expense of substance; at the expense of the well-being of this nation. And that’s what I and many others are afraid of.
There, I said it. I am afraid; for my country and my countrymen of all colors, but, most especially for my fellow black Americans. Because, while there are still a few people out there who believe in treating all others as individuals, there are not as many as I hoped, even on the Right. And, to be realistic, why should anyone extend the benefit of the doubt to a black American with regard to individualism when we all know that over 90% of black Americans will vote for Obama in the general election? (Yeah, I'm flip-flopping here. Sorta.)
If most black Americans aren't selling individualism, then how can our countrymen buy it? Then, when it becomes apparent that Obama is, at best, woefully under-qualified to be president, who will be blamed?
Live by the pride and the Group Identity Politics...
*(From my comments): Even I have a limit as to how many things--large and trivial--can be just a little bit off or greatly askew about one person before I cry "all foul." I guess Mr. Obama has reached it.
And something tells me that he isn't finished by a long shot.