June 4, 2008
Loose Change, Low Expectations (Bob Franken)
@ 11:31 am
Today, class, let's discuss the issues that are about to dominate the upcoming presidential campaign. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Many of them are bogus issues.
While Barack Obama has made the “C” word his main chant, an Obama presidency will probably be a change in style more than substance.
It is true that electing an African-American as president would be historic change in and of itself. Of course. Then, however, we turn to the hard part.
Effective healthcare for all, economic fairness, equal opportunity under the law and equal protection are among the many worthy goals we need to re-attain. But let's face it, there are many who profit handsomely from today's ineffective healthcare, economic unfairness, unequal opportunity and unequal protection. And they are willing to do whatever it takes and bribe whomever it takes to keep the corrupt system in place. So far, neither candidate has shown a willingness to do more than nibble at the edges when many of our institutions need to be chewed up and spit out.
Let's start with Obama: He has become the champion of the new generation. He's great before cheering crowds. But getting anything done means maneuvering through society's murky sewers where policy is really set. You can avoid getting lost by relying on people who are familiar with all the slimy labyrinths. How did they become familiar? That's right, by crawling around in the muck and benefiting from it. Believing in them to clean things up may be a stretch.
Let's put this one to rest real fast: Barack Obama is not too young, John McCain is not too old. That won't stop the political slimeballs on either side from trying to exploit the issue in clever, insidious ways. They'll probably succeed.
This shouldn't be an issue, but let's face it. Bigotry is still widespread in our country. And let's face it, some of the aforementioned slimeballs will try to press the buttons of fear and prejudice.
As a TV reporter, I follow that old marching order to "Get out there and scratch the surface!" I don't know who first used that line, but that's what I'm doing here, scratching the surface.
Outrageous corruption, unfairness and incompetence have had their corrosive effect. But as we're deciding who will be our next leader, let's be realistic.
By definition, the president operates within the system. He personifies the system. But even as the supreme leader, he might not be able to accomplish much more than convincing us to expect less from and for our country. That way, we won't be disappointed.