Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ringing hollow

I was trying to figure out why Obama's way, way overdue, but generally on-the-mark, counterattack left me a little cold, and I think I hit on it: he is only talking about this stuff now, in the context of a campaign where he has been losing ground on economic issues. If this stuff had been really important to him, he could have whacked McCain on it weeks ago; if the Democrats in general cared, well, McCain's obscene wealth, and the way he acquired it, are on public record. But it's only important to him (and the rest of them) because he needs to score electoral points. The same is true of the entire Democratic Party. Obama lives in a million dollar home, the vast majority of the people serving in Congress are wealthy, even millionaires. Is it any wonder that the only time they talk about issues that are important to the rest of us is when they need to pander? The Democrats are supposed to be the party of the working people, but the leadership is all but totally divorced from the realties of life for most of us, living in a bubble of a secure income, the best healthcare package in the world, a hefty retirement package, power, the deference of the powerful, lucrative positions as lobbyists or lecturers when they leave politics, and a money-rotted culture in a Washington that is populated entirely by other people just like them. So when the Republicans smear them, why bother fighting all that hard? They don't personally lose much as a result of the smears. When the Republicans start in on their "class war" nonsense, the Democrats don't really need to fight all that hard, because they lose nothing as a result of the tax cuts for the wealthy, the reduction in funding for government services. It just doesn't touch them. So they have become what they are: a fat, out of touch group of people who every once in a while put up a sham fight to convince themselves they are any different from the Republicans. Sometimes, they even win their sham fight, much to their own surprise, and probably occasional dismay. If they really cared about this stuff they'd put up a genuine fight, even when they will probably lose. They'd be attacking the McCains of the world all the time, not just when it's politically expedient. That's what people do when they have a stake in a given outcome: they fight for it, fight like hell. Obama has his ambition at stake here, so he's probably going to fight to the end, but once he wins and his ambition is satisfied, he'll go back to being a fat, indifferent sluggard, like the vast majority of the political class.

And of course, one way or another Obama will almost certainly own several houses himself in a few years, which is another reason I listened to him thinking, "Something is wrong about this, even though I like the words." I wonder if I was the only one thinking that.