The Charismatic Senator Obama Presents an Infomercial: Information Lacking and Criticisms Unaddressed
--Richard E. Vatz
Watching Barack Obama tonight was like witnessing a microcosm of his entire campaign – slickly produced; speciously argued; and revelatory of the least grating successful national politician I have seen since Ronald Reagan.
He presented a handful of middle class Americans who were suffering from unemployment and other economic ills of our problematic economy. Some lack health insurance; some lack money for their home; and some have to put off retirement. Is Sen. Obama’s program more feasibly problem-solving and equitable and generally fair than Senator John McCain’s? We don’t know; no contrast between the two men’s health policies nor explication of Sen. Obama’s is presented. Do you think it is hard for politicians to find down-and-out Americans who invest their hopes in particular candidates?
Let’s look at how he handled some other major issues in this half-hour tribute:
Issue: Energy independence. How will Sen. Obama handle the Republican-claimed imperative of “Drill, baby drill?” We don’t know from this self-ennobling but substantively empty show. He’ll invest in new technologies; so will Sen. McCain. Will he support off-shore drilling in U.S. coastal waters or drilling in ANWAR? He doesn't address the matter.
Issue: Taxes: In this “closing of the deal” we learn that the number of Americans who will be held harmless in the Obama tax plan is now down to those who earn less than $200,000 from its original level of $250,000. Senator Joe Biden says (outside the infomercial) that he will hold harmless those who earn less than $150,000 or $100,000. It is a moving target in this soft class warfare.
Issue: Foreign policy – Sen. Obama, according to this advertisement, will “rebuild America,” face down al Qaeda, not lose sight of Russia’s tricks and get us out of Iraq. The specific proposals he forwarded last year – a timetable for withdrawal and rejection of the surge – went unaddressed. Where would the United States be, had we left when he suggested, before the surge was successful? Unaddressed in the show; unaddressed in the campaign. How about Sen. Obama’s willingness to negotiate without preconditions with Iran? Not addressed in the infomercial.
Issue: Personal Associations: National Review on-line asks, “Why is the Los Angeles Times sitting on a videotape of the 2003 farewell bash in Chicago at which Barack Obama lavished praise on the guest of honor, Rashid Khalidi — former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat?” Also, CNN claims that Khalidi held a fundraiser for Sen. Obama. Irrelevant? Perhaps. But why would a mainstream newspaper withhold a tape pertaining to this relationship? Why has there been no journalistic investigation of Sen. Obama’s relationships with terrorist Bill Ayers, the odious Rev. Jeremiah Wright ("God Damn America") and the criminal Tony Rezko? Well, he addressed these issues in the infomercial tonight by never alluding to them.
When the Illinois Senator ends his show tonight with “God bless the United States of America,” it doesn’t sound, as it does with many nationally prominent Democrats, forced, and it doesn’t sound fake. I am convinced that personally this is a good man, but a frightfully inexperienced politician who supports an end to much individualism in our country in favor of collectivism.
Professor Vatz teaches political communication at Towson University