Paul Greenberg

The Hon. Barack Obama hasn't yet reached Clintonesque levels of slickness, but this presidential campaign is still young and a whole summer of broken promises and general disenchantment with the Saint of Hyde Park has begun to set in.

For all its smooth, Internetted aspects, the Obama campaign begins to develop overtones of George McGovern's crack-up in the summer of 1972. Sen. McGovern was the beneficiary that year of the Democrats' newly rigged nominating system, which remains much the same. This year it allowed Barack Obama to cinch his party's nomination even as his rival was sweeping the popular vote in the big states.

George McGovern required only a few torrid weeks back in '72 to go from shining hope to utter incompetent. And now Barack Obama, the Different Kind of Presidential Candidate, has begun his metamorphosis into the same old kind of presidential candidate by backing away from his earlier promise to accept public financing.

Naturally, he claims it wasn't a promise at all but just a possibility, depending on whether John McCain would agree to accept public financing, too, which Sen. McCain did, and on various other escape clauses. We all know the drill by now: When caught in an obvious contradiction, obfuscate.

Another embarrassment: It seems that one of the political mavens Sen. Obama had scouting for a running mate enjoyed some fishy ties to Countrywide Credit, a key player in the subprime collapse.

But who didn't? By now both Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd, those two ethical paragons of the U.S. Senate, turn out to have gotten sweetheart deals from the kind of lenders the Democrats' class warriors usually tend to denounce. (John Edwards, D-Hypocrisy, is no longer in this presidential campaign but his spirit goes marching, or at least slinking, on.)

Naturally the country's New Hope waved off his veep-hunting scandal, explaining that he couldn't be expected to investigate his advisers' real estate deals. Of course not, especially since he didn't even investigate his own with Tony Rezko, that fellow pillar of the Daley machine in Chicago. Well, we can't say we weren't warned. Sen. Obama told us he was the candidate of Audacity.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.