Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Everyone Loves A Winner

Everyone loves a winner, because people near a winner, or that supported a winner, feel that they too have the ‘right stuff.’ Its like picking the right horse at the race track; or the right stock in a bear market. Being around a winner makes people plain feel good. Unless of course you’re the looser, than being around the winner probably makes you feel lousy, but that’s another subject.

Now we have the Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States of America. Obama has momentum. Hilary is rumored to be having trouble with her campaign. The more Obama wins the more Hilary loses. The herd instinct at work. Wanting to be with the winner. Wanting to feel good.

Two weeks ago, or so, when Tom Brady was in the playoffs for the division championships, sports announcers were falling all over themselves extolling praise on Brady as perhaps the best quarterback ever to play football, and the 2007-8 New England Patriots as perhaps the best team ever to play football.

Then came the Superbowl, and the closer the game came to the final buzzer the worse Tom Brady became in the eyes of the sports announcers. The day following the game it was clear by reading any of the experts analysis that Brady hadn’t been good since game 8, and the Patriots were beat-up and tired for the last half of the season. Why the sudden change of heart? Of course. We all know. Because they lost.

Now Clinton is a loser and the staunch Democrats who extolled her virtues are now finding fault with her husband Bill, previously one of her best selling points because of his eight-years in the job, her lack of ability to inspire crowds, and even her clothing. Many pundits have commented how superficial the commentary has become. The issue is how big a crowd does Obama draw, how much money is pouring into his campaign, how many young people buy his message calling for “Change.”

But what about the issues? According to an article in Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post, Hilary Clinton has made her position on issues abundantly clear, whereas Obama has been vaguer on important points. Clinton’s clarity has thus put her at a disadvantage.

Barack Obama is campaigning for “change.” Kids love that kind of talk. Yeah, let’s change it. But to what? That Senator Obama doesn’t say.

According to Malcolm Hoenlein, executive VP of the Conference of Presidents (of Major Jewish Organizations), in an interview in Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post, “All the talk about change, but without defining what that change should be is an opening for all kind of mischief."

Hoenlein was covering his tracks after earlier statements quoted in Haaretz, Israel’s most influential newspaper, indicated he was not in favor of Obama’s candidacy. Hoenlein said that in forty years he’d never backed a specific candidate, only a specific issue.

The Presidential race became a media circus back when Kennedy debated Nixon, and the latter looked lousy on camera. Today its all about image. Barack Obama has stage presence, speaks wonderfully, can rally the crowd like an old-time preacher. But what is he saying? Is it time for a revolution? Is he planning a new form of government? Will his policies differ so drastically from Bush, or the previous Clinton, or the previous Bush?
Will he have a different foreign policy? Will he be more for change than for “Truth, Justice and the American Way?” And if he gets elected, and that’s what the debate is now, about “if” he gets chosen to be the Democratic candidate, and “if” he gets elected will he then come out swinging with both fists with a flurry of punches and fancy footwork to make Mohammed Ali seem an amateur? Didn’t we have an “outsider” who wanted to come into Washington and change things. Sweep up. Reform. Change?

Yes we did. Jimmy Carter. He meant well. But did he change anything? Or did he show he was a well-meaning God-fearing man who was simply not cut out to run the ship of state? Who was derailed by the very system he wanted to change. And who was, truth be told, probably incompetent. In later years he showed he meant well, but was far from even-handed, although he could never bring himself to admit that.

Obama has similar shortcomings. He plays a tune of change but the melody is uneven and there are no lyrics. Does have a beat though, and a few chords that bounce around inside the head like a popular jingle. But will that make him a good President? Or just a populist candidate who obviously can reenergize the flagging Democratic party?

Bill Clinton was similar to Jimmy Carter in certain ways. Both thought they were doing the right thing for Israel. Carter brokered the cold peace between Egypt and Israel, Clinton between Jordan and Israel. The Palestinian issue was never resolved, although the “Clinton Plan” is essentially the one on the table now under a different title and in a slightly different form.

The “Road Map” will disintegrate from old age before it is implemented, mainly over the issue of Jerusalem. Then Prime Minister Ehud Barak thought giving up large chunks of Jerusalem would bring the parties to a peace treaty. But he was wrong. Chunks won’t appease the Palestinian desire for control of Jerusalem, and Hamas’ desire for a land purged of the Jewish people, their smell, and any sign they were ever here.

Will Barak Obama enter the fray? Or will he decide other issues are more important, like jobs, health-care, Iraq, Afghanistan? Has he ever said anything on these issues?

Then there’s the kicker. Barack is pronounced Bareck in the USA, to rhyme with Derek. In Israel it is pronounced Barack with the accent on the last syllable. The name in Arabic comes from the horse ‘Barack’ that Mohammed rode when the horse leapt from Mecca to Jerusalem, touched a hoof down .on the rock on Mt. Moriah, where Abraham was to have slaughtered Isaac, then soared up to heaven.

In Hebrew Barack is lightening. Somehow one supposes Barak Obama doesn’t have a Hebrew name, since Obama is a proud, familiar, Arabic family name.

Those to words, Barack and Obama are an obstacle for a leader seeking the support of the Israeli people. To most in Israel this candidate is akin to having a Moslem president. Since Israel’s conflict with the world is primarily with the Moslems, it is understandable why Israelis would be hesitant to back such a candidate, even though his mother was Christian and he is a Christian. Its sort of like Arabs backing a guy who has a Jewish name running for President. Same same, as they say in the souk of Jerusalem’s Old City.

So now the question is:when the primaries are all over and the winner is chosen will Hilary be seen as Tom Brady, or will it be Barack Obama?

And the bigger question is: can either of them beat John McCain?

And if he comes