Opinion

Mr. Smith, go home: We need leadership | Angie Vogt

I so, so wanted to believe it. Really I did. He is so handsome, so fresh and, well, truth be told, I want everybody to know that I embrace diversity. I’m hip, if you can dig it. I’m not afraid of change. That is, as long as by “change” Barack Obama and his followers are referring to a change in vision, a change in paradigm and perhaps a change of tone in Washington. Politics can be so grubby and nasty. Everybody wants to see the Jimmy Stewart, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” movie come true.

Unfortunately, what I think Obama and his followers mean by “change” is constant, erratic changing of the story, changing of his policy views and then changing what he says he said, that is, before he said what he thought he said, if you get my drift.

What doesn’t change is his winsome, folksy if not downright Hollywood smile nor his clean-cut, youthful executive-in-training style. All of these things kept me pulling for him in the primary against Senator Clinton.

I winced a little bit when I heard excerpts of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, but chalked it up as being unreasonable to hold him accountable for his pastor’s comments. Then I heard that Oprah left Wright’s fold years ago because she considered Wright too extreme. Hmmm, well, it’s still not fair to make him guilty by association.

In all probability I wasn’t likely to vote for him anyway because I do support the war on terror and I do believe that the invasion of Iraq was justified for a variety of reasons, too many to number in the space of this column. Still, this being a democracy, I admired that he carried forward his beliefs. He seemed to genuinely believe his anti-war stance as was evidenced by his Senate voting record.

It was difficult, though, to accept a Senator running for President that voted to immediately withhold funding for our troops while they were in harm’s way. But at least he was being consistent. He could afford to, after all, because very few democrats had the courage of their convictions to vote against the funding, so Obama knew our soldiers would get the funding in the end.

I had further cause for concern as democrats, including Obama, proclaimed that we were headed for certain failure in Iraq under General Petraeus’ troop surge strategy that began in 2007. That sounded a little too much like a naysayer who was holding out hope for our failure to his own political benefit. That’s when the “politics as usual: this guy’s no different than the others” warning light started to flash. Was he actually hoping for failure?

Then came some fanciful tiptoeing around his views on NAFTA, gun bans, immunity for telecom companies who cooperate with the Terrorist Surveillance Program, public financing of elections, welfare reform, and nuclear power.

The typical pattern in all elections is for a candidate to win the nomination by first appealing to his base, the far right or far left of his party. After he secures the nomination, he then starts to lurch to the center in order to win over the rest of America, the “muddy middle” independent folks. Wait, but that’s the typical pattern. I thought Obama was supposed to be the candidate of our dreams, not like any other candidate before. I thought he was fresh air, the candidate for hope and change!

You mean...gulp...he’s just another politician after all? I would argue that if he truly cannot prove himself to be different than the typical politician, he had better have a resume by which we can judge his qualifications for this powerful position of privilege.

So, what experience does Obama have that we can look to for a hint of qualification? His Ivy League education? His 143 days in the U.S. Senate? A book he wrote about his favorite topic, himself?

The issue that catapulted Obama toward his nomination was his firm stance against the war. The policy he is advocating for today as he tours Europe and the Middle East is barely recognizable and is far from being the immediate pullout that won him such popularity.

Politicians advocate for popular causes. Leaders sacrifice their popularity to advance what they believe is right.

What I find most disturbing is that in the face of such obvious success and progress in Iraq, Obama was quick to credit the success to a sudden and inexplicable diplomatic spirit between Muslim factions. Is he kidding?

The progress made in Iraq is due to the immovable, persistent and courageous commitment of our U.S. troops under the leadership of the President and his appointed leader, General Petraeus.

For a nation at war, facing some historic challenges of geopolitical consequence, I’d offer this simple statement regarding our presidential candidates: Mr. Smith should go back home. We need a leader, not a politician.

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt: vogt.@comcast.net. For past columns and commentary, visit www.soundupdate.com

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