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'The Perfect Stranger'

By Charles Krauthammer



WASHINGTON --Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents

have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life.


Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions --But himself.


Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is

laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United



A leap of such audacity is odd.


The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just

a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the

party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few

accomplishments -- bearing even fewer witnesses.


When John Kerry was introduced at his convention four years ago, an

honor guard of a dozen mates from his Vietnam days surrounded him on

the podium attesting to his character and readiness to lead. Such per

sonal testimonials are the norm.


The roster of fellow soldiers or fellow senators who could from

personal experience vouch for John McCain is rather long. At a less

partisan date in the calendar, that roster might even include

Democrats Russ Feingold and Edward Kennedy, with whom John McCain has

worked to fashion important legislation.


Eerily missing at the Democratic convention this year were people of

stature who were seriously involved at some point in Obama's life

standing up to say: "I know Barack Obama. I've been with Barack

Obama. We've toiled/endured together. You can trust him. I do."


Hillary Clinton could have said something like that. She and Obama

had, after all, engaged in a historic, utterly compelling contest for

the nomination.


During her convention speech, you kept waiting for her to offer just

one line of testimony: I have come to know this man, to admire this

man, to see his character, his courage, his wisdom,his judgment.

Whatever. Anything. Instead, nothing.


She of course endorsed him. But the endorsement was entirely

programmatic: We're all Democrats. He's a Democrat. He believes what

you believe. So we must elect him -- I am currently unavailable -- to

get Democratic things done. God bless America.


Clinton's withholding the 'I've come to know this man' was vindic

tive and supremely self-serving -- but jarring, too, because you

realize that if she didn't do it, no one else would.


Not because of any inherent deficiency in Obama's character. But

simply as a reflection of a young life with a biography remarkably

thin by the standard of presidential candidates.


Who was there to speak about the real Barack Obama? His wife. She

could tell you about Barack the father, the husband, the family man

in a winning and perfectly sincere way. But that only takes you so

far. It doesn't take you to the public man, the national leader.


Who is to testify to that? Hillary's husband on night three did aver

that Obama is 'ready to lead.' However, he offered not a shred of

evidence, let alone personal experience with Obama.


And although he pulled it off charmingly, everyone knew that, having

been suggesting precisely the opposite for months, he meant not a

word of it.


Obama's vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, naturally advertised

his patron's virtues, such as the fact that he had 'reached across

party lines to ... keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of



But securing loose nukes is as bipartisan as motherhood and as

uncontroversial as apple pie.


The measure was so minimal that it passed by voice vote and received

near zero media coverage.


Thought experiment. Assume John McCain had retired from politics.

Would he have testified to Obama's political courage in reaching

across the aisle to work with him on ethics reform, a collaboration

Obama boasted about in the Saddleback debate?


'In fact,' reports the Annenberg Political Fact Check, 'the two

worked together for barely a week, after which McCain accused Obama

of 'partisan posturing''-- and launched a volcanic missive charging

him with double cross.


So where are the colleagues? The buddies? The political or spiritual

soul mates? His most important spiritual adviser and mentor was

Jeremiah Wright. But he's out. Then there's William Ayers, with whom

he served on a board. He's out. Where are the others?


The oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the

ultimate self-made man, a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable

apprehension is that the anointed is a stranger -- a deeply engaging,

elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats had a torrid



Having slowly woken up, they see the ring and wonder who exactly they

married last night.

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So what he's leaving Illinois in shambles with the highest taxes in the country and a $44 Billion dollar retirement fund deficit -


He went to Harvard and he's a great speech giver...


Thanx, D

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