Willy Loman on the stump
“It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.”
— Calvin Coolidge
Energetic in body but indolent in mind, Barack Obama in his frenetic campaigning for a second term is promising to replicate his first term, although simply apologizing would be appropriate. His long campaign's bilious tone is discordant coming from someone who has favorably compared his achievements to those of “any president” since Lincoln, with the “possible” exceptions of Lincoln, LBJ and FDR. Obama's oceanic self-esteem may explain why he seems to smolder with resentment that he must actually ask for a second term.
Speaking of apologies, Syracuse University's law school should issue one for having graduated Joe Biden. In the 2008 vice-presidential debate, he condescendingly lectured Sarah Palin that Article I of the Constitution defines the executive branch. Actually, Article II does. He said overturning Roe v. Wade would “outlaw” abortion. Actually, this would just restore abortion as a subject for states to regulate as they choose. It is remarkable that Biden's proximity to the presidency has not stirred more unease.
Two economic themes of Obama's campaign have been that outsourcing jobs is sinful and that he saved GM, which assembles 70 percent of its vehicles on lines outside America. He thinks ATMs and airport ticket kiosks cause unemployment but may understand that buying an iPhone involves outsourcing to China the jobs of assembling it. Although his campaign slogan is “Forward!” he evidently wants America to compete with China in the manufacture of T-shirts and toasters. His third economic theme — that he will “invest in” (spend on) this and that — has been inaudible amid the clatter of crashing companies he has invested in.
Much of the Democratic Party's vast reservoir of condescension is currently focused on women, who are urged to worry that, 52 years after birth control pills went on the market and 47 years after access to contraception became a constitutional right, reproductive freedom is at risk. This insult may explain the shift of women toward Romney.
'Tis said two things not worth running after are a bus or an economic panacea, because another will come along soon. Obama's panacea is to cure what he considers government's unconscionable frugality. Nothing in Obama's campaign has betrayed an inkling that anything pertinent to Social Security or Medicare has changed since they were enacted 77 years and 47 years ago, respectively.
His only notable new idea in this campaign is to alter the First Amendment to empower government to restrict the amount of permissible political speech — speech about the composition and conduct of government. Nancy Pelosi pledges that if Democrats control the House, they will pass this constriction of the Bill of Rights on the first day.
All politicians are to some extent salesmen. But Obama increasingly resembles a particular salesman, Arthur Miller's Willy Loman:
“For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that's an earthquake.”
Why the empty stridency of the last days of Obama's last campaign? Perhaps he feels an earthquake's first tremors.
George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Steelers notebook: Bryant confident in backup Jones if Big Ben can’t play
- Penguins notebook: Maatta making strides at practice
- New Florence man charged with killing police officer
- Fabregas: To pay or not to pay: Hospital’s bill for procedure or insurer’s rate?
- PennDOT details closings as work continues on Parkway West
- Uniontown man charged with rape
- New York City’s salt warning rule to take effect at chain restaurants
- Canon-Mac’s Gladden to play at Marist
- Cheyney University’s accreditation in jeopardy over financial woes
- Gateway boys basketball looking to get defensive