The Blank Slate

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the associations Barack Obama has formed over the course of his political career, and I’ve come to a conclusion: they don’t trouble me.

They have a lot of other people upset, when they look at the types of people Obama has chosen to ally himself with at various stages of his life and their agends. But I’ve come to realize that they don’t matter.

When Obama first moved to Chicago, he chose to latch on to the “educational reform” agenda. He set himself up as an associate/disciple of one of the main movers and shakers in that area, William Ayers. In doing so, he willfully turned a blind eye to the fact that Ayers (and his wife, who gets far too little attention in all this) are absolutely unrepentant domestic terrorists who led an organization that set off bombs around the nation, killed one cop, nearly killed a judge and his family, and were stopped from blowing up a military dance (filled with about half civilians) by their own ineptitude and only blew themselves up. And Obama also turned a blind eye to Ayers’ concept of “education reform” — the indoctrination of the youth into the same ideology that led him down the path of the terrorist. As part of that association, Obama let Ayers launch Obama’s political career and headed up a foundation that raised and spent over $150 million dollars towards absolutely no measurable result.

But that just doesn’t matter.

As part of establishing himself as part of the Chicago black community, Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. He spent 20 years as a member of the congregation. He was married in that church, by its head, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. His two daughters were baptized there, and he took his wife and children to that church at every opportunity. He bought the tapes and disks of Wright’s sermons. He praised Wright so greatly, he used a line of Wright’s for his book title and singled him out for extensive appreciation inside.

And not once did he complain — or even seem to notice — that Wright’s gospel was one of hatred, one of racial separation, of blaming the government for all the ills of the black community (including inventing the AIDS virus), and for being a great force of evil in the world. Not until it was pointed out to him, in undeniable proof, that this was going on in his church did he finally separate himself and his family from that church.

But that just doesn’t matter.

As Obama rose in politics, he ran into the same challenge so many other politicians have. He discovered that money is, indeed, the mother’s milk of politics, and he needed to raise a lot of it. So he linked up with a fellow name Tony Rezko, one of the biggest Democratic fundraisers in the city (and, probably, the state). Rezko helped Obama get the money he needed for his endless series of campaigns.

Rezko also came through for Obama on a personal level. He helped Obama buy his home, through various and sundry chicaneries.

But that was hardly a full-time job for Rezko. He also was a slumlord and was buying his influence with a lot of other politicians, enough so that he was eventually caught, tried, and convicted of corruption. He’s awaiting sentencing, and rumor has it that he’s looking to bargain with the feds — cooperating in naming names and implicating a bunch of more corrupt politicians in exchange for a lesser sentence.

But that just doesn’t matter.

When Obama first ran for public office, he joined up with the socialist “New Party.” He tapped into their electoral machine (operating as an ally/subsidiary of the Democrats) and made himself a part of their electoral slate when he ran for the State Senate.

But that just doesn’t matter.

When Obama first started thinking about running for office, he hooked up with ACORN, the group that appears to be trying to corner the market on voter registration fraud (and doing a jim-dandy job at it — I think they’re up to 16 states where they are actively under investigation). He represented them in court, he led training seminars for them (apparently for free, as he says he “never worked for them”), he gave them money from his campaigns, and he collected the endorsements of the “non-partisan” organization’s “political wing.”

But that just doesn’t matter.

As Obama rose in prominence in Illinois, he found himself face-to-face with one of the most corrupt political machines in the nation — Chicago Democrats. He had a choice to make, whether or not to take a stand against their corruption, their venality, their misdeeds, or to join them, going along to get along.

Instead, he took a third choice — he turned a blind eye to it. Whenever it came time to stand and be counted as being for reform or the same ol’ same ol’, Obama voted “present” and sat on the sidelines, choosing instead to husband his growing power and influence and clout for other, future issues. He traded endorsements with Mayor Daley and kept himself aloof from the petty corruptions and venalities that are the lifeblood of Chicago politics.

But that just doesn’t matter.

In the US Senate, Obama didn’t really make any associations. He didn’t ally himself with any particular individuals or cliques or factions. He didn’t grab on to any agenda or committee or issue or cause. He didn’t try to make a big splash, nor did he try to impress his colleagues as a workhorse or a team player or an expert on any particular topic.

But that just doesn’t matter.

But why don’t any of these matter?

Because in each and every case, the agendas and goals and deeds and intentions and histories and conspiracies of these transient Obama allies are utterly irrelevant. In each and every case, Obama went in there with his own agenda — to gain the maximum benefit from associating with each in exchange for the bare minimum of his own commitment to them.

Then, later, should those associations become too costly to Obama, he would jettison them with a minimum of fuss and with no lingering ties, no strings, no real personal cost to him with their loss.

This should come as no great surprise to anyone who read Obama’s book. “”I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

It isn’t just voters he’s talking about. It’s these one-time allies, too.

In each and every case, Obama traded his charisma for their support. He allowed himself to be used as a “face,” essentially as a spokesmodel, for each and every one of them in return for their backing. He never embraced their agendas, merely lent out his presence for their causes so he could collect on their endorsement in return.

So, with all these flirtations and flings with various and sundry causes and ideologies and machines and whatnot, what did Obama choose to marry himself?

The single goal that he has always returned to, despite all these affairs with others: himself.

His own advancing political career.

And that is why Obama’s affiliations are irrelevant. At no point was the relationship ever about advancing their causes. It was always about getting their help for Obama, at the minimum cost to him. And once their utility had been exhausted, he — quietly and efficiently and with a minimum of fuss — disengaged from them, slipped them cab fare, promised to call them later, and sent them out into the night.

Should Obama become elected, a lot of these former paramours will be hoping that Obama will finally pick up the phone and offer to renew their relationship. And while he might call, it will be only to tender his regrets and to reminisce about how great things were, and they’ll always have the memories. No, once Obama is safely ensconced in the White House, he and his true soulmate — himself — will commit themselves fully to his true agenda, his true beliefs, his true goals and intentions.

Just what are those? I have no idea. So far, Obama’s clearest goal has been “the next step.” The next rung on the ladder upwards, from community organizer through law school and foundations and the state Senate and the US Senate, all the way to the presidency. Everything he has said and done has been towards that goal.

We know exactly what he wants — the presidency — but absolutely no clear ideas of what he will do once he gets there.

And that — more than any of the people he’s used and discarded in the past — is what does matter.

And that is what worries me more than anything else about Obama.

Dear Leader
Thin Skinned Democrats