Barack Obama, that Presidential coquette who teased the world by not announcing his running mate for nearly two months, finally unveiled his vanilla, Vice Presidential bride, thus ultimately opting for a marriage of blandness, predictability and conciliation. Obama’s choice of Joe Biden, the 65 year old Senator from Delaware, now officially cements Obama’s ideological shift from a progressive message of “change” to a placating message of “more of the same…but better than that other guy, we swear!”
With his uninspired choice of Biden as his running mate, Obama not only betrays his initial, zeitgeist promise of reformation, but he also voluntarily concedes his growing insecurity by essentially admitting he lacks the political maturity, experience and depth needed to handle foreign affairs and the “gutter, smear game” known as politics.
For those who follow this fascinating circus known as Presidential elections, they understand traditional wisdom dictates, “He who moves quicker and closer to ‘the Center’ wins the ‘prize.’” However, due to two disastrous, thoroughly right wing administrations spearheaded by a bullish Neo-con cronyism – resulting in a weakened American dollar, a phenomenal deficit, a debilitating recession, an unprecedented loss of prestige in global opinion, and a strategic debacle of a war – the “Center” has shifted considerably to “the Right.”
As evidenced by Obama’s grassroots, progressive campaign, wisdom and common sense suggest a “change” from the current “Center” to the “Left” is what inspired the formerly jaded and apathetic electorate to jump on the “bandwagon.” The Democrats, a party that would win the annual “Mr. Magoo” award for myopia, must be commended for their innate, gifted talent of redundancy: an absolutely paralyzing fear of aggressively attacking the Republican Party for their egregious idiocy and a failure in jettisoning their own cowardly attachment to the right wing’s definition of “national security” and “tough on crime policies.” [See: John Kerry’s 2004 Campaign.] All of this is done to appease and pacify an electorate base [12% of which is firmly convinced that Obama is Muslim and nearly a quarter that are still “unsure”] that would never vote for him in the first place, at the risk of losing a newly energized “youth”, “liberal”,” first time voters” and “independent” block who came on board precisely due to an allegedly refreshing “new” message of “change and hope.”
Obama, as witnessed by his recent conciliatory and flip flop rhetoric on terrorism, the Iraq War, off shore drilling, and national security, continues to dampen any meaningful chance his presumed Presidency would have in actually altering the discourse, ideology and practice of American domestic and international diplomacy in the 21st century. The result? A recent Zogby poll announcing a 5 point McCain lead over Obama, with the latter’s star power falling amongst those he once enthralled: his base.
In a move that plays right into the hands of the Republican hit machine, Obama panicked and chose a candidate who not only serves as the Democratic foil for McCain [Old, White, “Experienced,” Quasi-Racist] but, like McCain, has repeatedly criticized Obama for his lack of experience; thereby effectively doing the Republicans job for them. When asked by George Stephanopoulos, “Is [Obama] ready?’ Biden replied, ‘I think he can be ready, but right now, I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.’”
The Republicans are already having a field day – obviously resulting in a McCain boon – by essentially recycling Hillary Clinton’s smear campaign. Recall, she hyped Obama’s lack of experience as highlighted by the now infamous “3 a.m. phone call” ad, her constant race baiting and her “Is he a radical, Black, anti-White Muslim?” card by casually mentioning “Farrakhan,” and her gaudily insincere attempt to win over the working Whites by painting Obama as an effete, elitist intellectual. With Democrats like these, Obama needs no enemies.
To add fuel to the ever-growing fire, immediately after announcing the Biden decision, the McCain camp fired this salvo:
"There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing — that Barack Obama is not ready to be President."
So, the question goes, “Why choose a man who has publicly – and repeatedly – lambasted the Democratic candidate’s political inexperience?”
Biden apparently fills in Obama’s “resume gaps” by contributing his strength and familiarity with foreign policy and national security issues due to his experience as the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He also appeases a White, middle class and religious electorate terrified by the “dark” and “Muslim-y” Obama, by placating them with his “working class” Pennsylvania roots and Roman Catholic background. But what many aren’t mentioning, surprisingly, is how he was chosen to specifically resemble a “Democratic” McCain.
Both men are known for their impetuous “loose cannon” of a mouth, which is currently used as a weapon to play “gutter ball” in the increasingly negative, political smear campaigns. One that Obama, in a now insincere attempt to “elevate” the level of discourse by “not going negative,” refuses to vocally engage in thereby maintaining his non threatening, Morgan Freeman, Zen-sage image.
Both men are political relics with decades spent on Capitol Hill affixing their Senate seat like a reliable piece of furniture. Both men voted for the regrettable 2002 “Authorization to Use Military Force”, which was justified using laughably unreliable and flimsy evidence, thereby giving Bush his legal ammunition to wage the disastrous War in Iraq and Afghanistan. [Although Biden, like all peddling Democrat senators who voted similarly, has since become a fierce and vocal critic of the War.] Both men are old and White, thus ensuring “Whiteness” has its assured, unassailable “Conch” in the Oval Office. And, finally, both men are renowned for their flippant and casually racist rhetoric.
Biden, specifically, was forced to apologize to Obama after he publicly described Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
How it warms the cockles of my heart to know that Obama, who apparently gave a “historic race speech” in March, has apparently “transcended” racism by choosing a candidate who just months ago was genuinely surprised that Obama wasn’t a disheveled, mumbling, Colt 45 drinking, dread locked, gangsta rapping, sexually threatening dark man incapable of intelligent speech.
In a move that will surely win over South Asian and Middle Eastern votes, Biden, while campaigning once in New Hampshire, said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” Indeed, as a Muslim American of Pakistani descent who has no “foreign accent,” I concede I, along with the entire 7-Eleven and Dunkin Donut eating population – especially Rachael Ray – must go “native” or slightly “Bollywood” to purchase our obesity-inducing num nums.
Not to be outdone, John McCain, that bastion of enlightened thought and modernity, apparently still lives in the ‘60’s, and feels justified in racially condemning Vietnamese and Asians by publicly stated in 2000: "I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”
And, with that, we return to Obama: that biracial, Hawaiian born son of a Kenyan, non-practicing Muslim father and White, Kansas-corn fed mother, who gave him an Arabic, African name and a childhood spent in Indonesia. That Obama who formerly spearheaded a “United Colors of Benetton” campaign seeking and promising to unite and bridge not only the diverse cultures of America, but also the world. The irony of it all is sour but delicious.
Regardless, Obama’s Vice Presidential pick, another move in a recent string of actions seemed motivated by short term political expediency rather than conviction and fidelity to his original platform, will hopefully make the acolytes realize Obama is not a “Superman”: he is, instead, a politician. Three months ago, I predicted as much and labeled him “The Dark Knight” [The Dark Knight: The Real Rise of Obama.” Counterpunch. May 1, 2008.] Nearly two weeks ago, Obama agreed:
“[I] was always into the Spider-Man/Batman model. The guys who have too many powers, like Superman, that always made me think they weren’t really earning their superhero status. It’s a little too easy. Whereas Spider-Man and Batman, they have some inner turmoil. They get knocked around a little bit."
How utterly appropriate.
WAJAHAT ALI is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent. He is a playwright, essayist, humorist, and Attorney at Law, whose work, “The Domestic Crusaders” is the first major play about Muslim Americans living in a post 9-11 America. His blog is at http://goatmilk.wordpress.com/. He can be reached at email@example.com