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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Obama is "Door No. 2"

The presidential election of 2008 is still three weeks away. By all likely measures, Barack Obama will win. It's not a foregone conclusion, but a strong likelihood.

Many people point to the recent economic turmoil as the reason for Obama's rise. In the short run, that theory is correct. Voter anger at the party in power is overwhelming.

The economic turmoil, however, masks a greater truth about this election. When times are good, we are risk averse. In times of trouble, however, we become a nation of risk takers. If the present is so bad, what's so wrong with taking a chance. Now more than ever, it seems we are willing to take a risk on the unknown.

The best analogy I can think of is the 1970's television game show "Let's Make a Deal." (For those of you too young to remember, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let). In that game show, contestants gained the ability to win prizes by answering questions correctly. Correct answers gave contestants a choice. The contestant could choose a known prize, say a television or bedroom set.

The genius of Let's Make a Deal was that into the prize mix was entered an unknown potential prize. That prize was behind "Door No. 2," or hidden in a box, or behind a curtain. There was no guarantee of what was behind Door No. 2. There could be an even greater prize, say a car, or a booby prize, say an inflatable clown.

One would think contestants routinely would take the sure thing. Better to have a good known prize than take a complete gamble on Door No. 2. But such was not the case. Time and again, we would watch in delight as the contestant wracked her brains over taking the sure thing versus the unknown.

With the crowd shouting encouragement, so many contestants chose Door No. 2. The hope for something great so often overwhelmed the certainty of something good. And so it seems in this election.

John McCain is the safe choice. Through a lifetime in the Navy and then the United States Senate, McCain has proven time and again that he puts his country before himself. Whether it was choosing prison over dishonor, or fighting against both political parties on issue after issue, McCain has shown that he has the character and experience to be President.

But for many (and possibly most) of us, the sure thing of McCain is not enough. In these trying times, the lure of what is behind Door No. 2 seems to much to resist. Obama is Door No. 2.

The foundation of Obama's campaign is hope. Not just any hope, mind you, but the most hope one can imagine. The video of young children singing an ode to Obama (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtGrp5MbzAI) is the embodiment of the mania sweeping this country. In scenes reminiscent of the odes to the Great Leader and Dear Leader in North Korea (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08BAfKCfu74), children chant for Obama to save them.

The shirts worn by the children in the Obama sing-a-long say "Imagine Hope." Think about that phrase. "Imagine" means "to form a notion of without sufficient basis" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imagine). "Hope" is "to desire with expectation of obtainment" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope). So let's think of everything we desire and believe we will obtain it even through there is insufficient basis for such belief ... and vote for Obama.

"Imagining hope" is the essence of Door No. 2. Whatever reality tells us, the possibility of something greater has an irresistible lure.

As in Let's Make a Deal, choosing Door No. 2 carries great risks. So does choosing Obama.

Obama may be a post-racial healer, or he may be someone who carefully uses race and false accusations of racism to advance his political career. Obama may not have known about Jeremiah Wright's political race-baiting, or he may have known but not cared. Obama may be someone who views this country as inherently good, or he may secretly share the views of his political enabler, William Ayers, that this country is inherently bad. We may know Obama better than Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers know Obama, or we may not know Obama at all.

Obama may be everything good, or the promise Obama embodies may just be a figment of our own imagination.

Obama is the perfect vehicle for imagining hope, because he has almost no record. Obama is a blank canvas upon which we can paint our imagined hope. Obama has avoided almost every hard issue that has confronted him in his political career, choosing to vote "present" (literally or figuratively) hundreds of times.

Just about the only thing we know about Obama is what he has told us about himself. To inquire deeper invites accusations that one is a "smear merchant" and using "racially tinged subtexts."

When selecting a prize on a game show, taking a risk on what is behind Door No. 2 may be worth the chance. When electing a President, there is too much at stake for such a gamble. John McCain may not be perfect, but he is known.

With the economy on the brink, Al-qaida on the prowl, the Russian bear on the loose, and our Constitution threatened by enemies foreign and domestic, I will not gamble on the presidency. I will not choose Door No. 2 by voting for Obama. Or as the saying goes, "better safe than sorry."

13 comments:

  1. Agreed. And sadly the cult of personality continues. I am not ready to drink the Kool-Aid.

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  2. Couldn't disagree with you more. With McCain, our healthcare would become even more disasterous than it is now. In addition, Sen. McMcain is extremely hot headed and should he die, god forbid, we would be left with a complete moron as President, whose most important accomplishment in life was giving being runner up in a beauty contest. We don't need another Ms. Congeniality.

    APhysician who cares about the health and welfare of the American Public

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  3. Obama voted present about 3% of his voting record. To simply name him an unknown is just more rhetoric. Obama is smart and inspiring and fresh. The presidency is about your values and as such, who you choose as your staff. And look who McCain's choice of Veep was. Wow. Talking about surrounding yourself with brilliance. Or lack thereof. Door number two is moving forward and breaking the chain of what has not proven successful: door number One. Door number two represents freedoms and a consciousness of the duty to give to those less fortunate. It is human dignity.

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  4. i think your characterization of McCain as 'safe' is loony. have you watched the footage at some of his rallies? not safe.

    i'll grant you that he is known, but is that enough? what about the fact that he was DEAD WRONG on the war, or DEAD WRONG on everything relating to the economy?

    and let's talk about 'known': who are McCain's economic advisors? Carly Fiorina, who took $42 million from HP after being FIRED, and Phil Grahamm (sp?), who called this one a 'mental recession'. Obama, on the other hand, has Warren Buffett (a known, and possibly the wisest economic mind in our nation) and former Federal Reserve Chairman Voelker (another known).

    I think a better analogy to Let's Make a Deal would be this: You get the question right, and the host says, "You've won a desiccated husk of a chicken-hawk... or you can try what's behind Door #2... except there's a pane of glass in the door, and it might not be as big a pane as we need to see EVERYTHING behind the door, but we can see a fair bit of it, and it looks far better than old, dried out chicken.

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  5. The chicken analogy is good, but I like this one even better:

    In Door 1 you have very pretty girl. Great body, great style. Very smart, very young. She seems to think everything you're thinking, value everything you do. She's the ideal of Woman.

    In Door 2 you have an older woman. She's been around the block but still looks good for her age. Body is decent but nothing like Door 1's. She's smart but at times sounds angry; although that could simply be her old age.

    Now, everyone loves the babe in Door 1. She's fresh, young, and novel. The hag in Door 2 is still loved and admired, but in a different way. Everyone respects #2 but #1 is incredibly attractive. In public, #1 seems to get it; she appears "with it." You might at times pay attention to her words, but that body is just overwhelming. #2 on the other hand doesn't have that smooth delivery, she's often erratic and says what she wants. Although she’s old, her words carry weight. When she tells you to do something, you do it.

    The question is not which one would you rather date, but which one would you rather run the country. The sophist or the elder?

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  6. well now its Jan 14, 2009 and it's looking more and more like the adults are handling the Messiah. And lo and behold, they are telling him to say and act like... George W. Bush!!

    Remember him, the racist moron who couldn't speak English?

    Like Lenin said, useful idiots.

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  7. It's nice to have this post re-activated!

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  8. Well it's been almost a year. Wonder if all the Obama folks are happy?? js

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  9. The stumbles away from the teleprompter, the submission to TOTUS, our true and infallible leader and the clear child like narcissism all add up to trouble.

    For a guy who likes to talk in front of cameras, (especially about himself) Obama seems not to eager to face another press conference.

    He may make John "Silky Pony" Edwards look like less of an empty suit in year two still.

    That's how bad the political landscape is and we can throw Sarah Pallin in there too. She never seems to answer any question with any depth o of understanding although her instincts always seem right in tune with basic American values and culture.

    Anyway, now back to our host, Monty... I mean Billy Jacobsen. Congrats Doc. I've come to understand how good it feels to see your work stand up in retrospect as I've done in it locally for less than a year in Frank Sinatra's old hometown.

    Best,
    Da Horsey

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  10. This post still stands as a truism.

    Obama was a fad, and we paid for faddishness. In politics, "hip," and "cool," should be verboten.

    But people look back obn the Obama years as they looked back on the Carter years and ask: What the %^$& were we thinking electing an unknown half term Senator with NO executive experience?"

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  11. Even in 2004, people were talking about Obama's connection to George Soros.

    "Unlike Kerry, Barack Obama Covets George Soros' Support":
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2020334/posts

    We now know that Obama was an almost perfect puppet (probably much easier to control than Hillary) for him and, especially if you watch Glenn Beck, it is obvious how very dangerous and insane this makes having him as our so-called President (yes, I don't believe he is occupying the office legitimately).

    You were right Prof. Jacobson--and it is becoming more obvious day by day!

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  12. Two and a half years later and this post rings truer than it ever did. Good luck with the new digs Professor.

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