The essence of this election season couldn't be simpler. The American public is so appalled at the condition of the country (which it unfairly, but not implausibly blames on the despised President Bush) that with fate casting John McCain in the role of Bush's surrogate, a majority actually is considering voting for Sen. Obama. And when an electorate is intent on doing something, the last thing it wants to hear about are the facts. Moreover, the public's lack of interest in the facts is facilitated by the major American media's refusal to report them.
For example, as Obama has portrayed his political career as one extended beau geste to the ideal of American democracy, a slightly curious media would have thought to report on how he ran his previous elections. And those prior elections, far from being models of honest elections honestly fought, are redolent of Chicago politics at their most suspect.
Obama's first election was described recently by Martin Fletcher, a foreign correspondent for NBC News, in the British newspaper The Times (not on NBC): "Mr Obama won a seat in the state senate in 1996 by the unorthodox means of having surrogates successfully challenge the hundreds of nomination signatures that candidates submit. His Democratic rivals, including Alice Palmer, the incumbent, were all disqualified." Hmm.
Obama's election to the U.S. Senate was even more curious, as described by Gerard Baker in the Irish Independent: "Two exquisitely timed divorces smoothed the way.
"In the Democratic primary, he was a long shot. But a month before the election, his main opponent, Blair Hull, a wealthy Chicago futures trader, was forced to publish divorce papers that revealed, among other charming details, his wife's claim that he had once threatened to kill her.
"In the general election, lightning struck again. His opponent, the engaging Jack Ryan, had run a campaign as a different sort of Republican. But a few months before the election, his divorce papers revealed that, while he might have been a different sort of Republican, he was from precisely the same stable of Obama political opponents. He had, it turned out, once tried to force his former wife to go with him to sex clubs in Paris."Was Obama really the innocent beneficiary of these rare events? Anything is possible. But when a fellow deals himself two royal flushes in a row, the other players are entitled to be suspicious. Moreover, when a politician is suspected of hypocrisy, the Washington press corps usually is supercharged in its efforts to prove their suspicions. But despite the fact that these bare outlines of Obama's elections are pregnant with the implications that he has gained every office he has sought so far by underhanded and sordid means -- while posing as a Gary Cooper-like idealist in a corrupt political world -- the American media have let these extraordinary events simply pass without significant comment.
During the past few weeks, as I have been traveling extensively across the country, I have yet to find anyone (including a few reporters and producers at local news stations in Florida, California and New York) who has heard of these facts. The response when I recite the facts is always about the same. More or less: "Really? Wow!"
A few days ago, a senior McCain campaign aide was reported to have said that McCain would rather lose with dignity than win by questionable means. I hope that isn't Sen. McCain's view because the aide has it exactly backward. If the polls are reasonably accurate, three weeks of John McCain's campaigning is the only thing standing in the way of the American public making the most uninformed presidential decision since the invention of the telegraph.
The Obama campaign has raised to a high art the technique of politically intimidating people from commenting honestly about Obama. They play the race card dishonestly, and almost the entire deck from which they deal is filled with race cards and threats of litigation. Real racism is appalling, but the act of falsely charging racism undercuts the very causes of equality and tolerance.
As courageous as John McCain's life has been to date, the next three weeks may be his most heroic. He must do his duty and alert the public despite the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that will be shot into his back as he does so. Once he has discharged that duty -- and arranged for sufficient lawyers to protect the ballot boxes from what is likely to be an unprecedented campaign of attempted voter fraud -- Sen. McCain may be confident that his honor will be intact. And he will be ready to serve as our 44th president.