At the end of February, it appeared that Barack Obama has cemented a successful campaign. Even though his biggest fans found it difficult to point to one meaningful achievement from his short political career, the overall sense was that he represents a new generation of voters: A generation that has tired of Clinton and Bush; a generation that shares ideas on Facebook and YouTube; a generation that wishes to reach out to the world; a generation that does not fear those who look different.
In their eyes, Obama was portrayed as a new type of politician: One who admits to his mistakes, tells the truth, and despises the extraneous interests of Washington lobbyists and powerful figures.
Yet ever since that time, some things happened, and today Obama is not the same Obama he was in February. Indeed, the product he is marketing has not yet expired, yet behind the promises for “changing” the political system we have seen manipulations and political flip-flops of the most seasoned kind.
He promised to “stay away” from the money and influence of powerful interests, but switched sides when he accepted money from oil companies, from a dubious Chicago criminal, and from other sources. He “promised” Jewish voters that under his administration Jerusalem shall remain Israel’s united capital, but got scared and reversed course (resorting to mumbled explanations) when Arab voters were outraged.
He “promised” to meet with Ahmadinejad with no pre-conditions, but reversed course when his political rivals said he was naïve and charged him with boosting an irrational leader. Obama promised many things, but he never promised to deliver.
He claims that when it comes to the truly important issues, he is right and his rival John McCain is wrong. This may be so. Yet even if he is on the “right side” of issues such as the war in Iraq, universal healthcare, and the energy crisis, this is not what has turned him into a red-hot rock star among whole publics.
Press treats Obama with kid gloves
His plans were never his strong suit. On the contrary, Hillary Clinton’s plans were much deeper and well researched, and McCain has much more experience in executing plans. Yet Obama won the Democratic Party’s candidacy because this campaign, more than any past campaign, is about personality.
In an era of constant exposure, 24 hours a day, American voters want to know whether their candidate is authentic; whether he really is who claims to be. This is one of the reasons John Edwards and Hillary Clinton failed: He was perceived as a millionaire who pays hundreds of dollars for haircuts while making pretenses of defending the poor, while Clinton was perceived as someone who makes up stories. Compared to them, Obama and his refreshing promises of change won the jackpot.
America’s press is still treating Obama with kid gloves – it catches him lying, but does so with a wink and a smile, as if the press itself is embarrassed by exposing something that will break the thin ice he’s walking on. So far, the polls do not show a decline in the public’s level of trust.
However, do you remember Seinfeld’s “two-faced” date – the woman who looked great in the restaurant, but ugly on the balcony, depending on the lighting? Well, in the upcoming months Obama is advised to stick to the restaurant.