Servatius: Where’s the magic in Obama?

By David Servatius

I feel like the guy who’s staring at the ultrasound and seeing nothing but fuzzy blobs while everyone else is squealing about little toes and noses. I want to feel the magic of Barack Obama. I do. It looks so exhilarating. I want an American hero as much as anyone else, and I’ll be the first to admit that the frenzy surrounding the Illinois senator has a whiff of something historic about it. The problem is that it also has a whiff of something rotten about it.

I try and try to fall under the Obama spell, but time after time, the behavior of his surrogates and supporters is just more repellent to me than the candidate himself is appealing. In my experience to date, these people have been dishonest, pushy, mean-spirited, eager to scream, “Racist!” at you and, frankly, a little bit creepy and cultish. A perfect example is retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak, an Obama campaign co-chairman whose brain has obviously been subjected to one sonic boom too many.

Last weekend, McPeak blasted Bill Clinton for comments in a speech to a group of veterans by comparing the former president to 1950s U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Yes, that Joe McCarthy — the man responsible for the 20th century equivalent of the Salem witch hunts. At a campaign rally while Obama stood by laughing and waving, McPeak ranted about living through the years when McCarthy “was accusing good Americans of being traitors” and said he’d “had enough of it.”

OK, this is, word for word, what Bill Clinton said that gave the retired general the vapors: “I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.”

I want someone — anyone — to show me where in that statement he accused Obama of being a traitor to his country. He didn’t. Those words simply aren’t there, and regardless, his main point had nothing to do with acceptable levels of love for your country. His point was about the dirty nature of modern politics and how it distracts us from having a serious discussion about serious issues. He was, ironically, decrying exactly the type of thing that McPeak subsequently did.

But, really, no matter what Bill Clinton said, does anything justify equating him with Joseph McCarthy, one of the most sinister figures in this country’s history? Bill Clinton is not one of the bad guys in the American story. He was himself the victim of one of the most un-American political witch hunts of modern times.

McPeak’s unwarranted and over-the-top attack comes right on the heels of senior Obama advisor Samantha Power calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” in an interview with a Scottish newspaper. A monster? How do you justify that level of nastiness?

Let’s review. Hillary Clinton was the driving force behind the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Because of what she did, poor kids in America can more easily get much-needed medical care. Is that what a “monster” would do with her time? I think that the existence of the SCHIP program alone pretty much disqualifies Hillary from ever being categorized as a monster, no matter what faults she may have.

It gets worse. On the various lefty blogs and media outlets supporting Obama, the Clintons have been called everything from “just like Karl Rove” (Air America) to “profoundly stupid” (Daily Kos) to “insane” (Huffington Post). This is the antidote to Washington’s divisiveness? This is a different tone? There is absolutely nothing either Clinton or any of their supporters have ever said that even approaches this level of mouth-frothing hatefulness.

If I’m going to get onboard Obama’s magical mystery ride, I need his devotees to start telling me specifically why I should be for their guy and stop telling me why I should hate Hillary Clinton and now Bill Clinton — oh, and Geraldine Ferraro, too. And I guess whoever they decide they want me to hate next week so I’ll do that instead of waiting for Obama to say something that means something.

Seriously. Why is it, exactly, that Barack Obama’s people can’t just make a calm and rational argument in favor of their candidate? What will he do? How will he do it? I’ve probably asked a couple dozen of his supporters these very questions. I’ve tried to get them to explain to me what it is about him that appeals to them and every single response has been some breathless variation of, “Because he is someone who finally offers the hope of real change!”

I’m not really sure what that means. It sounds like a fortune cookie or a horoscope. It’s the fuzzy blobs on the ultrasound. It certainly doesn’t say anything to me about 45 million people without health care, thousands of dead American soldiers or the tidal wave of foreclosures and layoffs destroying lives and families from coast to coast.

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