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Barack’s Bubble, Bubba’s Trouble

The United States is the inventor of the Bubble Gum. Not surprisingly, we also specialize in Bubbles. After the Internet Bubble, the Real Estate Bubble, followed by the Stock Market Bubble. Spreading our way of life to Iraq, we have now introduced the word to that country too–although the Arabic word for Bubble is S-u-r-g-e (or is it Rubble?). In the old days, what we now call a bubble was called a ‘Rush’ (your joke here).

The word bubble is described the Merriam Webster Dictionary among other things as

(a) a delusive scheme,

(b) something that lacks firmness, solidity, or reality,

(c) a state of booming economic activity (as in a stock market) that often ends in a sudden collapse.

Obamania has all the signs of qualifying. The latest bubble to enrapture America is the Barack Bubble. As they drooled over the booming stock market, the shock-and-awe fireworks of the Iraq invasion, and the real estate explosion, media chatterheads are now start-struck with the latest sensation, and firmly embedded with the Obama magic.

In last CNN debate/lovefest, Hillary Clinton was put on the defensive on Iraq, when Barack Obama made much of how he had spoken out against the war before it was launched. Unlike previously, this time Hillary did not seriously undermine Obama’s claim, perhaps being advised that Bill Clinton’s stridency on the subject during the South Carolina Primary had already ruined this particular pitch.

Still, Clinton’s charge that Barack Obama has not been given the usual scrutiny holds a lot of validity (Neither, has Hillary Clinton, but that’s another story.)

What is the main strike against Hillary Clinton? That she voted for the Iraq War. Let us take her at her word, even as of the above debate; that she had only voted for the introduction of UN inspectors and not for going to war. What then is the logical follow-up question? “In that case, did you protest as soon as the war was launched, when you knew the UN inspectors were never given a chance to do their job?” Wolf Blitzer never asked. Did Hillary protest? On the contrary, I am confident that like the most of her colleagues, she was effusive in her praise of the War and on the bandwagon in no time flat.

Similarly, what did Barack Obama do once the war began? Can we ask if he led any anti-war rallies? Speak at the periodic marches and protests in various parts of the country? It may be true that he was against starting the war. What about after it started? Did he go down to Crawford to stand with Cindy Sheehan? That would have shown courage and spine. Martin Luther King spoke out against the war, frequently and forcefully. Is there a perception of Sen. Obama as such a strident and inveterate opponent, say, as … .a Dennis Kucinich or a Robert Byrd?

What about the FISA bill? Both as lawyers and as proclaimed human rights enthusiasts, should Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton not boil with anger when government breaks the law? Did Barack Obama, after coming to the Senate, do anything to hold the administration to account? Did he speak up supporting Dennis Kucinich’s call to impeach Bush and Cheney?

If Hillary Clinton has different accents for different audiences, Barack Obama can hardly claim to be more innocent. I have always been troubled how Obama claims to be the African-American’ candidate. It is something he uses all the time. One would think anyone wishing to transcend race would specifically disavow such references, and go to great lengths to say that he is equally black and white. This is hardly the impression one gets hearing him talk. He is hardly averse to taking advantage of his black heritage (“there’s a woman in this race, there’s an African-American, and there’s John Edwards”), but never his white (even though his Kenyan father abandoned him, and it was his white mother and grandparents who raised him). But he bristles with indignation if anyone else refers to him as such.

Finally, on a matter of simple fairness and gallantry, it would have been impressive if Barack Obama, the champion of inclusion, had declared during the previous (MSNBC) debate that he would not participate unless Dennis Kucinich (who was first invited and later uninvited by MSNBC) was also included.

But Barack Obama appears too finely honed to hunt with the hounds and run with the hare.

It is no wonder that the master of maintaining viability within the system, Bill Clinton, is furious to see such breathtaking pirouettes of slipperiness being performed — by someone other than himself.

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN lives on the West Coast. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.