Letter to the editor: Don’t get caught up in ‘Obama-Mania’

Dear Editor:

There’s no missing the advent of Obama, but are we missing something here?

All this euphoria will end. The “fighting like hell for votes” will result in a winner.

The days are coming soon when all that we — Americans — will have left to feel good or bad about is how well or poorly our country’s being run. No more rock star rallies, no more glamour, just the dull grind of work, guided by the next president.

Have we as a country riding the giddy ride of mass spectacle, press coverage and our own passionate buzz forgotten? There’s Iraq. Afghanistan. An excruciating mess right here. And the quality of presidential performance will be the only decisive new factor in what happens next. Zoom in:

The emotional rush of Obama-Mania. It’s as if there is no other contender. Fact is: There is. An equally historic first: a woman. Weird — she’s been practically wished away. Weirder. She’s a world class public servant, proven senator — accomplished, brilliant, serious. Not long ago, that was widely recognized.

The peculiar spin of our opinion-leaders has turned the 2008 presidential race into one giant People magazine. The Barack Obama campaign machine has turned it into a high-stakes game of snagging voters, securing votes. It’s as if Sen. Hillary Clinton’s platform and rock-solid qualifications have become irrelevant to the discussion — if you could call it a discussion.

What credentials, what skills are needful for the crucial role of president? How ludicrous is it that we’re not discussing the daunting importance of a good match between that office and the person we select to do its work?

How unnerving is it that we’ve forgotten already what all can go wrong with a leader on a roll? You’d think we were cheering our favorite team. Betting on horses. Buying a future where we’re all better off if the guy we like the best wins.

Is there a “blind spot?” Has this become a contest of identity? Personality? Didn’t George Bush ride into the White House on a potent cocktail of triggered demographics, stirred-up emotions, the construction of a persona for that moment?

Should a presidential election come down to wow?

Granted, no politician can afford to ignore campaigning season. Else, they disappear. But, that said, can we afford to pretend that campaigning season is real? America’s future will have almost everything to do with the real skills of our president.

Barack Obama has made a point to distance himself again and again from “the Washington Insiders.” “I’m the upstart. I’m the insurgent — she’s (Hillary), she’s the champ,” he says.

Well, isn’t a champ sometimes precisely what we want?

What’s the young upstart’s plan? Will he deliver a rousing message to the whole world? Will he raise funds to pay for the enactment of his promises? Can we hit the “pause button” for an important second?

We — as a country — are in crisis. In any other context, it would be a no-brainer. Go with the most experienced, proven leader. Go with a record that speaks louder than words. Why is it taboo to say, Barack Obama “kinda” jumped the gun? He’s 46 — hasn’t proved himself. His PR machine runs on charisma, powers to enthuse and inspire and make his presence felt, his promises seem true.

Campaign season 2008 has careened outside a realm of reason. Charged feelings are tipping every balance. What will our votes represent? Not each voter’s own reasoned, careful, private consideration, ‘who can really do this job?’, but group-bonding. A thrill ride on the tide of what’s in?

We wouldn’t even hire a dog sitter like that.

Suzanne L. Holt

Women’s studies professor