KANE: Time to Barack ‘n roll



Jonas Kane

Barack Obama really needs to punch some guy in the face. Or maybe shoot some guy in the face, Dick Cheney style. He needs to stand on top of a car and start screaming like Michael Jackson in the music video for “Black or White.” He needs to be a fighter. Well, according to some, that is.

A tight race guaranteed that the skeptics in his party would come out of the tool shed, and they have stormed out with pitchforks. Headlines like “Dems yearn for more fire from Obama” have started to appear, as some party faithful worry that he isn’t up to the task of running for president.

Really, though, what do words like fire and fighting even mean in this context? This is a race between two men who want to guide the country’s future; it’s not The Rumble in the Jungle, Ali versus Foreman.

Perhaps some of these vague and rather lame critiques would carry more weight had the same things not already been said about Obama just last year. It’s been a long campaign season, so it’s easy to forget that when Obama was still well behind Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, the same rumblings surfaced. He wasn’t tough enough. He wasn’t passionate enough. He didn’t throw enough punches. He ignored them. And he won. Considering that the election looms in a little over a month, the full attention of the public is going to zero in on the campaign. The nonsensical talk about pigs and moose hunting and candidates’ houses will probably remain until the end, but it will flicker into background static as the actual voting period draws closer.

What’s left beneath the subterfuge are two candidates with fundamentally different outlooks on where to take this country. With the recent economic crisis on Wall Street, the prospect that these differences might rise above the superficial stories has finally started to emerge.

Over the next month, the two candidates have the opportunity to lay out their views on how the economic situation should be dealt with. To say that Obama should be slumming it up and trying to belittle John McCain instead of talking about what he stands for is counterintuitive.

He certainly needs to point out policy differences between the two, but vicious attacks do not encourage new voters to come out; they simply support the idea that the election is pointless and that it doesn’t matter who wins. Obama got to where he is by talking to people, not by tearing down his opponents. McCain will do enough on his own to show that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s ultimately up to a vigilant press to check the accuracy of the candidates’ statements. Obama just needs to refute McCain’s false statements and prove that he actually does know what he’s talking about and understands where voters are coming from.

Obama has already begun to articulate why McCain’s plans fall short, specifically mentioning the transparency of populist rhetoric from a self-proclaimed deregulator who favors privatization of social security and health care.

His own plans, like McCain’s, have been rather general, but he has at least pledged to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the highest income earners and has approached the possibility of a bailout plan with prudence rather than bombast.

Three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate will occur over the next month. Obama has the opportunity to refine his argument that we need a new approach to government – one that McCain will not provide. Hopefully the American public will seize the opportunity to listen after eight years of being shouted at.


Jonas Kane is a junior English major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].