Monday, January 21, 2008

Barak Obama - The Jack Ryan of 2008

This is just a bit of free-thought commentary on the primary race as I see it thus far. In my opinion, Barak Obama represents in many important ways, the Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy's books. He is a humble yet driven individual who believes that both words and action are necessary to bring about any real change. In my youth (which wasn't all that long ago) I was an avid reader of Tom Clancy's books. Jack Ryan represented a lot of what I expect from our political and bureaucratic leaders: intelligence, respect, the willingness to work without acknowledgment and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to take one's ideals and find pragmatic ways of applying them. Many commentators and pundits have argued that Sen. Obama's strength lies in his speech-making but his weakness is in his policy substance but that's not what I see at all. So much of what Sen. Obama speaks about comes from his policy positions, from that substance he has built up through his years, but he believes that the only way to enact those policies is to inspire the people to believe that, yes, he can do these things. Perhaps Sen. Obama doesn't have a wonkish answer to every policy question but I don't expect a wonkish answer for every question that is asked. There's a difference between giving wonkery and telling it like it is. Both Sen. Obama and Jack Ryan are the types of people who would rather tell it like it is than obscure things with massive details that, in the end, really don't matter so long as action is taken. We've had wonkish presidents before, in Gerald Ford, in Jimmy Carter, in George H W Bush, but those presidents, I think most can agree, were rather ineffectual in getting things done. It was the presidents who inspired the people who made the real changes. Having a mind for wonkery is all well and good and necessary, but to speak to the people like that, as if they had the years of experience to understand the details of a wonkish answer, is rather condescending and stupid. Giving people answers they can understand, much as doctors do, is a better quality to have than giving them answers that merely have the appearance of knowledge. Again, Sen. Obama tells it like it is without talking down to the people, much as Jack Ryan did. And a president who can tell us that we need to step up because one man can only do so much is what makes me want to vote for him.

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