In the contemporary environment of all Obama all the time, who does not know that, come Tuesday, the nation will have a new president?
Barack Obama arrives at the presidency bearing the goodwill of many (including your correspondent) and the messianic hopes of many more. The latter group has elevated him above criticism. Jesse Jackson sees in him "theological qualities." Congressman Bobby Rush, who once opposed him, regards his election as part of God's plan. A press that Obama does not particularly like accords him a reverence comparable only to media adulation of JFK.
Yet as a people we know precious little about Obama, at least partly because a national press, consumed with combing Wasilla, Alaska, to get the goods on Sarah Palin, could muster neither the resources nor the interest -- nor hence the will -- to plow the Chicago garden in which Obama (and, e.g., Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich) took political root. Odd -- isn't it? -- Obama's conspicuous silence about the all-consuming corruption in Chicago and Illinois, despite his eloquence about its ill effects in, for instance, the Kenya of his heritage.
Either by nature or by choice, Obama is opaque. If by choice, the decision may flow from his discipleship of extremist Saul Alinsky (another Alinsky disciple: Hillary Clinton), who urged ideologically compatible pols to say or do whatever they must to win elections while revealing as little as possible about their beliefs.
Tellingly, Obama has written that, in 1983, college classmates inquired what he would be doing in his chosen profession as a community organizer: "I couldn't tell them directly. Instead, I'd pronounce on the need for change -- change in the White House, change in the Congress, change in the mood of the country."
Obama does indeed have the potential to be a transformational president, to move the country from what it is toward something else. He has buckets of money, popular support, and a Congress pliant as rarely before. He has disclosed little about his intentions by what he has said, but much by the company he has kept (for instance Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright) and now by the appointments he is making.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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