Paul Greenberg

It's all enough to remind some of us that poor George McGovern had problems finding a running mate, too. Back in the confusing year 1972, the McGovern-Eagleton ticket didn't even last till Election Day. Missouri's Tom Eagleton had to be dropped for lack of candor about some electric shock treatments he'd once received. Sen. Obama hasn't even made his vice-presidential pick yet and his veep problems have begun. When a trusted adviser who was going to vet his choice for vice president isn't adequately vetted himself, that says something less than assuring about what an Obama administration would be like.

Oh, tell it not at the Lyric Opera, publish it not in the Sun-Times, but how the mighty of Hyde Park have fallen. Some of us can remember when that leafy neighborhood wasn't a wholly protected subsidiary of the University of Chicago - the kind of effectively gated community and game preserve for Progressive Thinkers that it's become - but the home of giants like The Hon. and honorable Paul Douglas.

A forgotten figure who doesn't deserve to be, Sen. Douglas was a fighting Marine, true liberal and unwavering voice in the U.S. Senate for justice at home and freedom abroad, a fit companion for Scoop Jackson of cherished memory. In short, he was a more robust version of today's Lonely Joe Lieberman, that voice in the Democratic wilderness.

Sen. Obama's reversal when it comes to accepting public financing for his campaign was announced in the true spirit of our new Bobo - i.e., Bourgeois Bohemian - elite. (Thank you, David Brooks, for coining that now inescapable term when it comes to diagnosing the soft underside of the country's upper crust.) Sen. Obama explained that (a) he wasn't actually breaking his word, (b) it was really all John McCain's fault and, besides, (c) it's the system of public financing that's broken. As if it hadn't been just as broken when he made his pledge.

Skipping past these inconvenient truths, the senator from Upscale, Ill., now has issued a self-righteous statement taking the high ground while he himself opts for the low. Perfect. Perfect, self-serving hypocrisy. I can just see the look on old Paul Douglas' rugged face if he'd been asked to swallow a line that slick.

Some of us can hardly wait for St. Barack's next sly descent to the nether regions of politics, which of course will be described as but the next phase in his Holy Ascension.

If this is change and hope in American presidential politics, what, pray tell, would be steady disillusion? The country may find out soon enough. The long, slow McGovern summer of B. Obama could be just beginning.


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.


 


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