Thursday, July 10, 2008

Obama, the Janus-faced Candidate

The ancient Romans famously had a god for everything, including, for example, every discernible part of an ear of corn. Janus, the origin of the name for January, is the god of thresholds, or beginnings. He is depicted looking forward and backward--two-faced, straddling, ever remaining at the brink, neither moving into the new, nor abandoning the old. The analogy with the ever-changing positions of Obama, a list of which appears below, does some injustice to the venerable old god, which I regret; however, since Janus' status as a deity matches that of Lord Obama, I escape the charge of blasphemy on both accounts.
Obama has raised the practice of political cynicism to new heights--or depths, as one views these things. Take the general tone of his self-presentation. While his latest ads show him the son of Kansas, middle American values, an aw shucks kind of home town boy, he has cultivated and allowed an overwrought hagiographical treatment in the press that routinely moves in the range from the mere suggestion of messiah-hood, to the outright proclamation of his deity, a topic both David and I have been alert to in these pages. I'll wait while you check.

But unlike the Christian Messiah which is the immediate referent for all this, Obama finds he cannot hold a consistent line on anything. Well, perhaps he could if he wanted to; but he is forced by the nature of left-liberalism and its distastefulness to the broad spectrum of middle America's bitter clingers to tack to and fro depending on the needs of the campaign week. What new twist will this week bring? Be assured there will be a response from Lord Obama, but one which will have no necessary relation to anything he has said or done previously. Like Janus, he is able to look both ways at once, selecting from the contradictory alternatives with no psychic discomfort or cognitive dissonance. The Pennsylvania GOP has put together the following list of turn-abouts which would have snapped the neck of any ordinary mortal. Perhaps there is something to the proclaimed god-likeness of Obama after all.

CHANGE #1: Despite Pledging To Withdraw American Troops From Iraq Immediately, Barack Obama Now Says He Would "Refine" His Policy After Listening To The Commanders On The Ground

CHANGE #2: Despite Pledging To Accept Public Financing, Barack Obama Has Reversed His Position And Opted Out Of The System

CHANGE #3: Barack Obama Is Backtracking On His Support For Unilaterally Renegotiating NAFTA

CHANGE #4: Barack Obama Is Considering Reducing Corporate Taxes Despite Having Called Corporate Tax Cuts "The Exact Wrong Prescription For America"

CHANGE #5: Barack Obama Has Changed Positions On The D.C. Handgun Ban

CHANGE #6: Barack Obama Has Shifted From Opposing Welfare Reform To Celebrating Welfare Reform In A Television Ad

CHANGE #7: As A Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama Criticizes The Administration's Energy Policy Despite Having Voted For The 2005 Bush-Cheney Energy Bill

CHANGE #8: Barack Obama Has Shifted Positions On Nuclear Power

CHANGE #9: Obama Adviser Said Obama Was Not Opposed To An Individual Health Care Mandate Despite His Opposition During The Primary

CHANGE #10: During The Primaries, Barack Obama Pledged To Filibuster Any Bill Which Contained Immunity For Telecommunications Companies Involved In Electronic Surveillance, But Now Backs A Compromise Bill

CHANGE #11: Barack Obama Disagreed With The Supreme Court Decision Striking Down The Use Of The Death Penalty For A Convicted Child Rapist Although In The Past He Opposed The Death Penalty

CHANGE #12: Barack Obama Has Backtracked From His Earlier Commitment To Meet With The Leaders Of State Sponsors Of Terror "Without Precondition"

CHANGE #13: After Saying Jerusalem Should Be "Undivided," Barack Obama Has Since Backtracked

CHANGE #14: As A Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama Has Backed Away From His Earlier Support For Normalized Relations With Cuba And Ending The Embargo

CHANGE #15: Barack Obama Is Against The California Ballot Measure Banning Gay Marriage Despite His Assertion That Marriage Is Between A Man And A Woman
(Did you notice as you read through this list how many of these have to do with foreign policy; this sort of political calculation and triangulation, able to be written off domestically as calculation or triangulation by the cynical and sophisticated, mixes into our serious business when foreign leaders, friend and foe, try to discern what the hell is going on. An Obama presidency would show the American Ship of State rudderless, and without a captain familiar with the seas he is in.)
To read a closer analysis of these points, see

1 comment:

David C. Innes said...

Give the guy a break! He has been so far left in the Senate and in the primaries that he has to put forward an exceptionally enormous effort to bring himself to the center for the election. Imagine what that scale of energy and skill could do for the country in the White House. Any more policy changes and even I might vote for him. (Obama's from Chicago. I'm sure he can find a way for a Canadian to vote.)