There is an identity, a personality if you will, or a behavioral pattern, which falls between gentleman and SOB. It is not close enough to one or the other to be mistaken for either, yet it is not so far from either that it might not morph, and very quickly, into one or the other.
That is where I hope — and soon — to find Obama.
The Roves and Cheneys and Perles, and all the rest whose facade is George W. Bush, personify the SOB. We know what he looks like, how he behaves, what he believes or professes to believe as a rationale for his looks and his behavior. (Allow me the generalized masculine pronoun here as surrogate for all people; obviously there are women (DOBs, perhaps?) who belong in this cohort as well.)
And from Gore and Kerry, each in his distinct way, we have learned what a gentleman is. He is — and stop and think a moment before getting too annoyed — he is a loser. Insofar as big-time politics goes, he is a loser.
Politics, as dozens of cuddly old back-room manipulators have told us, ain’t bean-bag. Consider the stakes: at the very top, control of the resources of a powerful nation. It’s enough to attract two kind of people instantly.
- Those who want for themselves the power and all its trappings, real and intangible.
- Those who want the benefits which come — from courtiers, supplicants, and bag men — to those in a position to make assignments, delegate authority, and determine distribution of public assets.
These are people for whom the objective justifies any actions taken to achieve it. The Rove-Cheney-Addington axis of evil is the most apt contemporary example.
Then we come to the noble-minded, public-spirited, hard-working, even-handed idealists. (To be honest, none such come to mind right now. Consider this, like truth and beauty and goodness, to be a goal absolutely beyond our reach or comprehension, something to be worked toward in full realization that we will never quite get there.) This defines the Gores and Kerrys of the world — not what they were, but the image toward which they were striving, or toward which their political consultants were trying to make us believe they strove.
You know, nice guys. In Hollywood screwball comedies, they get the girl. In real life, for the most part, they get the shaft. As witness the two previous Presidential elections.
So here’s a toast, a wish, a blessing:
To Barack Obama. May he lose enough decency to kick ass among the vipers without losing his balance. May he keep enough decency to justify the confidence that many of us have in his ability to lead us away from the Dark Side.