As the pieces of the Barack Obama puzzle start to fall into place the junior U.S. senator from Illinois is coming into focus as a lightweight poseur devoid of any qualifications for the presidency.
He speaks well but it is becoming clear that he is glib rather than articulate. His speeches call to mind the portrait of the fictional preacher Elmer Gantry drawn decades ago by Sinclair Lewis. The young senator employs his charisma and his rhetorical skills to mask his emptiness and the emptiness of his words.
In his last debate, he demonstrated his inability to deal with any tough but legitimate questions. The journalists who posed the questions were attacked by the senator’s supporters (including journalists in his camp). The questions were improper, according to the attackers, because they didn’t deal with relevant current issues.
That claim is nonsensical. Because no one can foresee the issues that will arise and require confrontation by the next president, the most important questions about candidates for the office are those that go to the character, judgment, and loyalties of the candidates.
Those are questions with which Senator Obama doesn’t want to deal. To avoid doing so he is refusing future debates. When such questions are posed the senator or his supporters attack them or those who pose them as racist, and instead of providing substantive responses he resorts to avoidance and evasion. His campaign now is restricted to set speeches and responding only to softball questions in settings and from journalistic and other supporters ensuring that he will be coddled.
That strategy will not be sustainable in the long general election campaign in which Senator Obama will have to engage if, as still seems likely, he wins his party’s nomination for the presidency.