Despite the careful choreography and showmanship, the Democratic Convention concluded with little in the way of news or surprises.
It's no surprise that we no longer need to refer to Sen. Obama as the "presumptive" nominee. It is no surprise that the Clintons gave rousing speeches in support of his candidacy. It is no surprise that the senator's acceptance speech, drawing on his substantial oratory skills, was socialist in substance and all things to all people in rhetoric.
It's no surprise that the video production introducing Obama made no mention of his Harvard education. And it's no surprise that, despite the intense commentary about the nomination of a black man for president, and the coincidence of this moment with the anniversary of Dr. King's famous speech, Obama barely noted this in his remarks.
Yet, despite the absence of surprises in these details, they nevertheless add up to a big picture that is enormously surprising.
This surprise is how many Americans appear willing at this point to place their bets for the nation's highest office on a candidate whom they still hardly know and who brings a resume to the job he is applying for that shows no experience in anything that he wants to get hired to do.
Moreover, in areas of policy, Sen. Obama's proposals are uniformly big government socialism that, in the past, has never delivered anything but mediocrity or failure.
Yet, despite all this, a Gallup poll of recent days showed registered voters saying they felt, by substantial margins, that Barack Obama would handle every single major domestic issue -- health care, economy, energy, taxes -- better than John McCain. It was only in foreign policy that McCain was favored.
Yes, the Obama candidacy is appealing to a lot of unhappy Americans and giving these folks hope.
Hope is a healthy and critical emotion. Without it, no one can go on.
But hope should be connected to prudence. It should accompany plans and behavior that are responsible and sensible. It should be what kicks in when we know we have done our part and then, with appropriate humility, acknowledge that everything is not up to us.
What is so unsettling about the Obama candidacy is that the hopefulness that it is eliciting does not have these characteristics. It's a kind of hope that is more accurate to call wishful thinking.
It's the kind of hope that goes along with behavior in which there is no logical connection between inputs and expected results. You just hope that what you want to happen will.
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