Afraid of the dark

Why isn’t “I fly four times a day on a private jet” included in the same speech as “I am a green candidate?”

by Jake Perron

To proclaim that change is what this country most needs is a gross understatement. This country is not simply in need of change – this country is in dire need of an enema.

The ever-unfolding mystery wrapped inside a political conundrum of the relationship between politics and scandal was exposed once again this week when the governor of New York admitted to having solicited sex from high-end prostitutes, which led him to tender his resignation on Wednesday.

Eliot Spitzer’s corrupted school of politics is a precise embodiment of the change needed in Washington ever so ardently advocated by Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. The difficulty with this picture is that Obama as the pure emblem of change is hardly a divergence from boilerplate politics. America would finally witness real change if politicians would simply capitulate to the reality that they are prone to erroneous decisions, faults, and monetary influence.

Every time Obama delivers a sermon from a soapbox about change – while Tony Rezko sits in front of a grand jury facing federal charges of attempted extortion, money laundering, and fraud, and answers questions about financial ties to Obama – is a textbook exercise in Orwellian doublespeak.

It’s even more difficult to reconcile Obama’s notion of change with the donations to his campaign from securities and investment firms, the commercial banking industry, big pharma, and hedge-fund companies.

Discontinuing these backroom handshakes is what would bring change to Washington; but the reality of this happening would be like professional athletes staying away from steroids or school children refraining from spitballs when the teacher looks away. This is all a part of the game, and a part of the upper-class echelon. If Obama truly embraced change, his route would be to dismantle these longstanding relationships. But instead, he pretends to be a pure shepherd returning from the fields with enlightened concepts and new-wave politics. Better yet, change in American politics would be a farmer running for president, rather than a former lawyer or familiar last name and old money.

Why isn’t “I fly four times a day on a private jet” included in the same speech as “I am a green candidate?” It could be that such a question to provoke this answer hasn’t occurred to reporters because they’re on the planes with the candidates when their voice recorders are turned on. It’s not as though these supposed green-friendly candidates drive a Prius to the debate.

It appears that Obama supporters are able to dismiss his transparency because they deeply want to feel hope. And Obama has reiterated this sentiment enough times during his campaign to defy the laws of self-fulfilling prophecies if he didn’t believe in hope and change by now. But in the midst of this banter, raucous debates continue between the two Democratic hopefuls about everything except policy positions.

Now that Obama and Clinton have contested to the public ad infinitum why they are superiorly equipped for the presidential nomination, it has become quite clear that they’re virtually the same candidate on paper – and not just on policy issues alone.

The two may have radically different personalities, but they both graduated from Ivy League schools, live in upper-class neighborhoods and have grand ideas worthy of earning them the executive seat in the White House. But what are they doing right now to implement their revolutionary ideas? I’ve never figured out how to make attendance points when I’m playing hooky, but maybe the Senate’s roll call operates under different protocol.

It’s a rare occurrence to meet a Clinton supporter who isn’t aware of her sordid proclivities. But the difference here is that her supporters don’t justify such behavior, instead they merely acknowledge this aspect of Clintonian politics.

Some may interpret the mysterious relationship between scandal and politics through an evolutionary perspective as a means of survival; others may subscribe to the biblical stance that all tax collectors are downright evil.

Whatever the explanation for this as of yet unexplainable relationship may be, it is certain that public figures ought to quit holding their breath before they are caught. Perhaps tempting fate is a part of the equation for raising millions and funding a presidential campaign, but honesty remains the best policy – and a policy that is yet to be practiced in politics.

It’s baffling that politicos like Eliot Spitzer or Larry Craig associate themselves with anything that harbors even a remote trace of dishonor when these are people who make a conscious effort to pick out the properly colored tie for an occasion. If Obama really wants to bring change to this country, he must set the precedent by admitting what has happened in the past so that it cannot haunt him in the future.

To borrow from Nietzsche, I’m not upset that Obama has lied to us about his commitment to ethics, I’m upset that from now on I cannot believe him. Nothing has changed in politics, nor will it if Obama is our next president. But this is politics, per usual.

Jake Perron welcomes comments at [email protected].