I’ve copped a bit of flack the last few days over my repeatedly expressed concerns about Obama’s abilities.
It’s not that I am sure he is incapable, it’s just that there is nothing in his life so far which suggests he is. He has a beautiful voice, he is handsome, he reads well from a teleprompter. But that’s it.
“But he is a good man, and that’s what we need,” one friend said to me. Well, yes, we do need good men. That ought to be a necessary qualification. It ought not to be the only qualification.
But I’m not even sure it applies to Obama.
He appears to have had some very ill-chosen friends over a long period of time, friends like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright, who have actively opposed what most people would think of as the “national ideals” (a phrase from his inauguration speech). You cannot be judged for your family, but you can be judged for your choice of friends. He appears to have done little or nothing to assist the poorer black members of his extended family. He repudiated his grandmother and her care for him in what was surely cynical political point scoring. He tolerated, if not actually approving (that’s harder to prove) the most appalling libels about Sarah Palin and her family during the election campaign. And his inauguration was speech was possibly the most ungracious ever made – certainly since Franklin Roosevelt similarly called for a restoration of American values. making it clear he believed these had been abandoned during the time of his predecessor Hoover.
In fact, for all his bumbling with the media, George Bush seems to me to embody far more of the qualities which have genuinely made the US great – genuine integrity and courage, generosity, and a willingness to do what he believes is right, even when those around him find the going too tough. I, at least, am grateful for Bush’s presidency, and what has been achieved in it.
I hope Obama will do well. I would like him succeed. But I am not hopeful.