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Wednesday
Nov072012

Dignity Lost Last Night

It used to be that American presidential campaigns were contested over big ideas, at least partly.  Dignified statesmen from right and left presented their visions and pitched their ability to accomplish them.  The campaign staffs may have gotten dirty, but they at least tried to keep the candidate clean.

In 2008, for instance, Obama appealed to the good in America.  He asked us to believe the country could come together in common purpose and change the country for the better.  He won because he was the candidate of hope.

What a difference one term makes.  This time—after four years of failure—Obama won reelection with invective, deceit, demagoguery, and divisiveness.  Instead of the high-minded rhetoric of 2008, Obama gave us the petty cynicism of 2012.  It worked, of course, but at what cost?

Obama campaign staffers may be happy this morning, but it is hard to believe they are proud.  I imagine they feel like a salesman who wins a big contract but inside is ashamed at how he won it.

Or maybe the Obama team is incapable of shame.  The realpolitik of the Chicago machine may be all they know.  This is the group, after all, that won Obama’s first elections by leaking opponents’ divorce records. In the past year, Obama has ridiculed business owners, derided the wealthy, smeared his opponent, bribed defense contractors, and placated voting blocs with scornfully-timed policy ploys.

And what about the tone of Obama’s campaign speeches?  College arenas were fitting backdrops for his small, wisecracking, and undignified talks.  Pity the young dupes in the audience who laughed and booed Romney, unaware they were voting against their futures, unaware in the real world cool is no substitute for competence.

This election was billed as a game-changer, and it was.  It didn’t just solidify our slide toward more intrusive government; it changed what we require in a President.  We used to demand our leaders at least possess leadership qualities.   Now we only demand they play the game of politics well.

It’s a sad result of the campaign.  And a sad day for America.