Character First

It is less than a month before the 2008 election and most voters do not really know Barack Obama. They know this image as a charismatic speaker and they know he says he is going to “change” America and the world. He says he is a difference kind of politician we can believe in.

Obama identifies all the ills of America – lost jobs, high prices, stagnant wages, cost of college, foreclosures, the financial crisis, the need to get off foreign oil, clean up the environment, the inner cities, education, healthcare, our image to the world, hot spots and war, etc. No one questions that he knows how to point the finger and wag it with the best of them.. And no one doubts that pointing the finger and identifying the problems obvious to most Americans is effective politics. He plays to the problems most Americans relate to – the blue collar kitchen table issues. Then straight out of the play book he then directs people’s angst towards the Republicans, Bush and McCain in a in his we versus them class warfare.

All of this is good and well. Hope in desperate times is an elixir. It is a tried and true strategy to tout “change” when things aren’t going good for the people. We American relish in the belief that anyone has come has come to save the day. We want heroes – Paul Bunyan, Davey Crockett, Alvin York, Audie Murphy, and the like – the cavalry charging in with bugles blasting to save us from the Indians at the last minute – our Sir Lancelot on his white horse.

But, it is time to take a closer look at Obama.

The character of the candidate is the most important thing to consider in picking a president. Character is who the candidate is more than anything he says or promises or how well he says it. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Character is the stake not the sizzle. Character is what you are.

Character is by far a most important qualification for office – certainly more important than the issues. Character is the rudder that guides the boat and the issues the passengers. The passengers will unlikely get to the destination if there is no rudder to steer the boat.

If one spotlights Obama’s character, Obama retorts “the people want to hear the issues.” He avoids character because it is his weak spot. It is a basic of politics to change the issue when the issue id not good for you. The Obama campaign knows that when character becomes the issue, Obama looses.

He does not want to talk about Ayers, Wright, Obingo, Rezko – his judgment about these relations. He doesn’t want to talk about taking money from Rezko while he disregarded complaints from his constituent about no heat in the dead of Chicago winter. He does not want to talk about his misstatements about Kennedy airlifting him to America, his missing college years. How he got in Harvard and who got him in. He doesn’t want to talk about the fact that he was never a law professor.

Obama doesn’t what talk about a lot of things which would show who is and who he is – his character – really matters. He is the shadow, not the tree. He is the sizzle, not the stake. He is the boat without the rudder.