The words we're hearing most during this presidential campaign are "historic" and "change." But what I see is "paradox."
Take our new Democratic Party nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
This is a man, to be sure, of extraordinary talent and ambition. But what a gap between the reality he manifests and the reality he talks about.
No one could have predicted, even a year and half ago, that today Obama would stand as leader of his party, running for president of the United States. It's the possibility of this type of surprise -- allowing for the inconceivable and the unpredictable -- that makes freedom so powerful and speaks to the sham and pretense of government and political planning.
Who can question that the success and prosperity of this country -- with its vast cast of individuals who have changed the world through creativity and innovation, with our long list of Nobel Prize winners -- is due to freedom?
And yet, Obama's prescription for the many challenges we face today, whether it is health care, education, or global competition, is increased government planning and control. Here is a man who now stands where no "expert" could have predicted, yet wants to tether our nation's future to the mind games of the same kinds of "experts", rather than letting what truly drives America's unique success -- free individuals and free markets -- work. A paradox.
Also paradoxical is the liberal message we hear from this man whose own life is the picture of conservatism. Who is greater proof of the conservative message that anyone in today's United States, willing to pay the price in grit, hard work, and determination, can achieve any success that his or her talent justifies, than Obama?
He loves and is devoted to his wife and daughters, who he sends to private school. The family portrait is traditional in every sense. If we measured Obama by the test of "do as I do and not as I say" this first black presidential nominee would be a Republican and not a Democrat.
And what about New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton?
We're hearing testimonials to what her run for president has done for American women. I am an American woman and I'm hard pressed to see a thing that Clinton's campaign has contributed to my life or the realities and challenges that I face.
It's a certain kind of narcissism that drives liberal feminists to think they are representing the interests of "women."
A number of years ago I was invited by Newsweek to attend a luncheon of prominent women in New York. I think I was the only conservative in the place.
At my lunch table, I listened to successful women talk about their pride in keeping their maiden name in their marriage. Amidst the banter, I thought about what the destruction of family has done to inner city black communities and about young black single mothers who only wish there was a responsible man in their life, a husband, whose name they would gladly carry.
How is it that Clinton, whose accomplishments directly derive from those of her husband and her willingness to stay years in a flagrantly abusive marriage, is feminism's poster woman? How does Clinton, who sat by untroubled as millions of unborn children were destroyed while she was first lady of Arkansas, and then of the United States, represent women's potential? Or who thinks that the young women damaged by the barbarism of abortion do it as free agents exercising rights, rather than out of confusion and ignorance.
On the other side, we have the paradoxical Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
McCain somehow thinks that this campaign will be about contrasting visions without seeming to appreciate that being a maverick is not a vision. He's going to have difficulty winning this election by simply branding Obama a liberal when his own conservatism is so amorphous.
No wonder Americans are feeling confused these days. We're not hearing much that makes a lot of sense.
In a year when it looks like rhetoric and style will trump substance, McCain has got his work cut out. He might consider a weekend off with a Bible, a copy of the Constitution, and some old Ronald Reagan speeches.