Poster for Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of Frankenheimer’s 1962 original, both based on Richard Condon’s book.
By SHARON K. GILBERT
February 6, 2008
BEFORE I BEGIN, let me state up front that I find Barack Obama to be genuine and likeable — albeit a bit naive. And, as many are now stating in the wake of Ted Kennedy’s endorsement, Obama does remind me of Jack Kennedy in several ways. He is vigorously young, idealistic, and enthusiastic in his pursuit of what he sees as a better tomorrow. His wide smile is infectious, and his politics shimmer with new paint and shiny nails.
Now for the bad part. If he’s lucky, Obama will lose naught but his naivete as he runs this course — if he’s not so lucky, he risks far more.
I’ve mentioned Barack’s naivete twice now. Let me explain. Politics as a profession is an old and dangerous one, peopled with sycophants and symbiotes wearing US flag pins that will prick your heart while stealing your soul. For instance: According to a Feb 1st article in the London Times
‘Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a Syrian immigrant to the United States, has been linked to Nadhmi Auchi, the Iraqi-born billionaire who is one of Britain’s richest men. The relationship is a potential embarrassment for Mr Obama, who has made his opposition to the Iraq war a central plank of his campaign.’
The Times article details a business relationship between Rezko and Obama that reached beyond campaigning. The Illinois presidential candidate entered into a property deal with Rezko that his campaign describes as ‘a bone-headed mistake’. Obama even contributed $15k to a charity, all to make up for receiving a donation from his former friend and business partner. Rezko’s trial begins this month, and we expect more revelations regarding Obama’s naive trust in Rezko.
Secondly, Obama has publicly praised his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as a man who has helped to ground Obama’s faith. John Perazzo of Front Page Magazine has done a bit of sleuthing regarding Pastor Wright — whose politics fall just short of those espoused by Louis Farrakhan. Spurious rumors still circulate throughout the internet community of Obama’s childhood ‘Muslim’ education. Honestly, I don’t know what he learned while in elementary school. Yes, from age 6-10 while living in Jakarta, he studied in a school run by Muslims, but was it a radical Madrassa? The jury is still out. That’s his past — however, choosing membership in a church that honors Nation of Islam tenets smacks of either duplicity or rash naivete. For now, I choose to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and presume him merely ill-advised and naive.
Which brings me back to Jack Kennedy. I grew up with this charismatic leader as the first president with whom I felt a connection — a profound connection that forever changed my outlook on politics and people. I was a mere fifth grader when that ‘magic bullet’ killed a nation’s hero in Dallas. For a time, this mere mortal shone like the sun for a nation in darkness — or so we were told. Back then, Jack loomed large and flawless. Of course, since then, the man has replaced the myth, and we know JFK’s world teemed with ladies, mobsters, and he surrounded himself with blood-sucking men and women who would have made Brutus blush. Jack had ideals, but his father owed favors. Jack wanted the best for America, but his advisers wanted endless war. Jack believed in the dream. And the sycophants and symbiotes watched him die — “The King is Dead, Long Live the New King!”
Last night, Derek and I stayed up late to learn the results of the ‘Super Tuesday’ primary voting. This morning, Hillary’s camp and Barack’s are bickering over who won the most delegates. No matter which of the two leads, one thing is clear: Barack Obama has traction, and he, and his dreams, and his Grima Wormtongue sycophants, have a sure ticket to the big dance in Denver.
….unless Obama’s life comparison to Jack Kennedy’s goes beyond idealism and youthful naivete. I’m not the first to bring it up — the question of ‘what if’ has already been posed. CBS newsman Harry Smith has intimated the possible tragic outcome of such a connection to the Kennedy curse. But this time, the result could split the country not unite it.
Have you seen The Manchurian Candidate? If not, rent it. Rent both versions. It’ll give you shivers.
Whether the Illinois senator does or does not one day become President of the United States, I pray that comparisons between Mr. Obama and Jack Kennedy never go beyond their inherent idealism and genuine devotion to a better tomorrow. I pray that — should his presidency become a reality — that Barack Obama would live long and lead America to a unified vision that breaks down barriers of race and party.
Yes, I’m an independent — which means I vote for the person not the party. No, I’ve not yet made a decision for whom I will cast my vote. 2008 will be a pivotal year for the United States — of that I am sure. With Republican fatigue setting in, a Democrat will likely take the White House. I pray for a fair election that tells the world the United States believes in democracy — that our constitution isn’t just a collection of outdated words and ideals.
Maybe a bit of my childhood idealism and wonder have survived the trauma of losing a president after all.