Not A Screen Test • Long Beach Post

Originally posted 02/23/07

Was Barak Obama in Los Angeles Tuesday to seal an entertainment deal or campaign to be President of the United States of America?  Mainstream Media (MSM) coverage on the television news shows and in the major daily newspapers detailed his fundraiser sponsored by Hollywood super-producers, entertainment stars in attendance at $2300 a ticket and a red carpet treatment of who’s-in-who’s-out.  Oh, and they briefly mentioned his appearance in Crenshaw.  I guess he said something about Iraq (against United States military being there) and health care (wants everyone covered) and the ubiquitous “we need to change things” statement.  But that is about all we know.

On Wednesday the New York Times ran uber-liberal columnist Maureen Dowd’s “Obama’s Big Screen Test” column which besides commenting on Obama’s showing in Hollywood created some fireworks between his campaign and Senator Hillary Clinton’s.  While most of the content of the column seemed meant to assist the far left in their attempt to dethrone Hillary and her chances of winning the Democratic Primary, too much of the column was devoted to Obama as a Hollywood star in waiting.
Obama is a serious candidate for the most powerful office in the world and has generated significant support for someone with so little experience and voting record on the major issues.  Unfortunately he is treated by the MSM more as an entertainment figure than a serious Presidential candidate.  We do not have reporting on his position on issues beyond Iraq; we have coverage about the coverage.  Why? Because he is young, because he is black, because he is causing controversy among black leaders and because he is new and because he is fresh to the national scene.  We know more about his demography and biography than his ideology—great to play the part in a movie but not so great to actually put into office.  This is not a screen test we will be running in 2008, it is an election for President of the United States and ideology should trump demography and biography.
By the lack of coverage on Obama’s ideas, suggest solutions to the problems we face from Iraq to healthcare to social security to immigration, the MSM is denying voters the opportunity to judge Obama on his merits and ideas and ideology.  These are the factors I would hope voters are using to determine for whom to cast their votes in the primaries and then the general election.
At this stage I am sure Obama’s campaign folks are happy, no thrilled, with the publicity and the fund raising they are able to take advantage of at this stage of the race.  He is so far behind Hillary Clinton in campaign funds right now he will need every $2300 ticket he can get. But at some point the campaign needs to be about ideas and direction and solutions and not about charisma, or freshness, or race or gender.  Eventually these traits become stale with Americans—the person becomes “so yesterday” and the next big “event” occurs.
It will be forty years in 2008 since Richard Nixon was elected in 1968.  During this time there have been ten Presidential elections and six presidents elected.  Of those elections seven were won by Republicans, and three by Democrats (Carter once and Clinton twice).  If the Democrats want to start the next four decades on a winning streak I strongly suggest they start concentrating on the issues and ideas and solutions and less on broad generalizations and packaging.  It does not help their cause with someone with the power and influence as a columnist for the New York Times starts a rumble between the two leading candidates for the nomination, and further diminishes one of the candidates by her characterization of him as potential film star rather than potential President.  If Dowd and others continue in this vein the party will be factionalized and the candidate’s worthiness based on competence, ability and ideas will be diminished in favor of their “star power.”
Maybe I will vote for Barak Obama, but until and unless I know more about his positions on issues and his specific ideas for the future I cannot make that judgment.  I hope to find out so I can make a thoughtful decision based on his plans and ideas and not on his charisma.

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