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Opinion

Obama delivers only hope, not solid answers

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February 21, 2008

No one, I mean no one, pushes hope like Barack Obama pushes hope. Obama is definitely in the business of selling hope, and business is good.

Every Friday night, all the college kids get their paychecks from Shopko and Starbucks and head down to Obama’s Hope General Store and stock up on two or three cans of organic hope for the weekend.

Our generation has adopted Obama as the savior of modern politics, the messiah sent down from above to save us from old Washington. But as the Killers sang, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like a gentleman.”

And what a gentleman he does talk like. But amidst the hand shaking and baby kissing, as Obama sweeps us away with a moving oration about changing the world, he really says nothing at all.

How can one man talk so much, with so many people hanging on every word, and say so little? Here lies the essence of the Hope Salesman’s pitch. Nothing need be said, as long as it sounds honest and different.

The same phenomenon can be seen on the other side of the aisle. 67 percent of Californians who said the economy was their most important issue voted for John McCain, even though McCain admitted he knows almost nothing about the economy.

All the evidence leads to the same conclusion. Issues take a backseat to image. The image of McCain: old war vet who has earned his stripes and could lead the country out of the red. The image of Obama: young, hip guy who can break old Washington (even though he’s been a member of old Washington for three years) and bring about “change” (even though he’s never really specified what this “change” will entail). The image of Hillary Clinton: crazy lady … that’s pretty much it.

With Oprah as his running mate, he appears to be unstoppable. But a man can’t be a President with platforms like “hope for change” and “change is something we can hope for” and “hoping will change the world.”

Obama has made a great run without identifying where he stands on issues. The liberal media has tossed up softball questions to both Democratic candidates, but when the primaries are over, there will be questions that need answers. Like, where are you going to get the money for universal healthcare without increasing the deficit? Or, what is your specific plan to control illegal immigration?

But the media isn’t all to blame. Both Obama supporters and non-supporters alike haven’t asked the tough questions and have just let him slide by on looks and charm.

As you get done reading this column you may ask yourself, how can one man write so much and say so very little? Well, I look at the success of Obama and I figure it’s smart to stick with what works. And since the election doesn’t really appear to be about issues anyway, why include them in the discussion?

But as you open your can of hope Nov. 4, don’t be surprised to find a 232-year-old can of the same beans fed to the many generations before us. Washington will never be broken; that doesn’t even mean anything anyway.

Caleb is a senior journalism major and economics minor who enjoys debating about politics and the NFL draft.

Caleb Stevens is a student at UW-River Falls.