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Figuring Out Obama

11

America has a new favorite political game. It’s called “Guess That Obama.” You see, anytime Obama gets into a jam, all the political yakkers start spouting theories on what the jam tells us about the “true” Obama. So, with Rev. Wright, we questioned Obama’s patriotism and religious beliefs. Now with the “cling” gaffe, we question whether or not he’s a liberal elitist.

This never happens to Hillary Clinton or John McCain. Why? Because they are known commodities. When McCain cozies up to the religious right or Clinton professes a love of guns, we don’t get worked up because we know the truth of it (McCain is no fundamentalist, Hillary is no NRA member). When they pander, we know they are pandering and while we might call them out on it, we don’t start questioning their core beliefs.

But Obama is so unknown that supporters and detractors alike must, well, cling to every unscripted moment in an attempt to discover the deeper truths of this man. This is going to be an ongoing problem in his campaign. For him to win, he’ll need to keep on script as much as humanly possible and, when jams do occur, he must weather the storm of interpretations without confusing the matter anymore. The “Obama explanation speech/ Huffington Post column” could become a fixture of this campaign.

Obama supporters are just going to have to accept that their candidate is going to be put under the microscope more than the other candidates. We didn’t know George W. Bush very well either, so I think we have strong and recent historical reasons to be extra vigilant before choosing our next leader. Waiting another four or eight years would have helped Obama solidify his record and image. But he chose to run now and thus must face the consequences.