Bill Murchison

I can't at this point think of anything new to say about the election. Here's something old, in that case: McCain's the one, and not just because, when it comes to "old," he qualifies.

Well, yes -- the age thing, too. Many of us like our presidents with a liver spot or two, and perhaps a hesitation in the gait: reminders of experience and mortality. The nearest we get to such things this year is Joe Biden, age 66, and himself a reminder that no formula is foolproof.

Say this for McCain in the comparative experience department: He's been around long enough to do a few things and think a few thoughts. Compare him to Barack Obama. What Obama has done besides push himself forward, what he thinks about besides his own duty to go forward I don't know.

It is an extraordinary thing: We stand on the verge of handing the world's most powerful secular office to a man about whom we know comparatively little. We know so little because his life has no narrative thrust except in terms of his constant thrust to to what? Lead? Yes, but if we admit that, another question arises: Lead where, and to what end? And how well?

I wrote a few months ago that no presidential nominee of a major party has come to us for a long, long time with credentials slimmer than Obama's, except perhaps Wendell Willkie, a previously unheralded utilities lawyer whom the Republicans thrust forward in sheer desperation over the prospect of a third term for Franklin Roosevelt.

How Willkie might have governed had he won, we never actually had to learn. He lost. Obama seems unlikely, barring a miracle, to lose. We'll then find occasion upon occasion to see what numbers -- snake eyes or boxcars -- our national roll of the dice produces. We plain don't know. At a moment of economic and geopolitical peril, we prepare to hand the steering wheel to a man we're not even sure has a map or driver's license.

The onrush of words from Obama's mouth should not distract us, even though it distracts tens of millions. First, we haven't seen him in action, as we have many times seen John McCain. Obama, I keep vainly pointing out, hasn't done anything. He's the Music Man, telling us of the trouble right here in River City -- as if we didn't know! -- and offering to pull us out of it. We gape and nod.

Oh, yes, those speeches, those policy papers. Don't those tell us what to expect under an Obama administration? The troublesome part here is two-fold.


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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