The Sub in Obama's Substance

A.M.Siriano
I awoke this morning to a bad dream and walked around in a stupor for a few minutes, feeling very depressed. It wasn't until I had finished making coffee that I suddenly realized that it wasn't yet November 5 and a lying, contemptible, dangerous socialist hadn't yet cake-walked into the White House.

I don't much recognize my country these days, because there are too many people around me who seem to have fallen asleep and gotten themselves body-snatched. I am starting to learn to pretend when I am among them, walking stiffly, nodding correctly, smiling blankly, for fear of being found out that I have not succumbed to "change." I try not to speak, but when I do, I mutter incoherently and throw in the syllables "ohh-bahhh-mahhh" every so often, as a sort of reverent yawn. The hope, of course, is to avoid being forced into open prostration to the One. It's just safer this way ...

By the end of the final Presidential debate, I was pretty pleased with John McCain's performance and happy that Barack Obama had been outed as an odious leftist. Stylistically speaking, Obama was smooth, but not as smooth as in the other two debates, and he struggled to find his words on more than one occasion. He presented the same old deceptions. He lied about his record. He dodged very serious allegations about past associations. And his attempts to paint himself as a moderate did not match his record. Nothing new under that sun-everyone would see it, right?

I didn't expect style from Senator McCain, so I hardly thought about his delivery. Instead I focused on substance. To me, in that category -- which is truly the only one that should count -- it was a smack-down. He hammered on spending and the need for the hatchet. He painted Obama as a big-government liberal. He brought out other pressing issues besides the economy (which, by the way, will fix itself if every "Senator Government" would just get out of the way). At the end I, as my own imaginary ref, was holding McCain's shattered arms up as high as they could go.

Then came the after-party. With the punditry. With the polls. With the "undecideds." (And why exactly do these less-than-bright people get to be the tie-breakers?) ... Oh, so it wasn't a smack-down. What's really important-what we really need in this time of uncertainty and malfeasance and war-is "cool."

I guess it was a good thing when Obama dodged crucial issues, like his ties to violent radicals, his record of big spending, his association with ACORN, and his love of abortion. I guess it was okay that he got away with his deceptions about "tax cuts for the middle class" which amount to welfare. I guess it was good form to pretend he didn't tell Joe the Plumber that he wants to "spread the wealth" in the manner of all good socialists. This is a boxing match, after all. Obama didn't even have to dance about like Ali: With McCain's short reach, no jabs connected. In boxing to weave is honorable-apparently in politics as well?

The sad reality is, Americans do care about style, in a big way. We are a celebrity-obsessed society. We have become people who hold shows like Project Runway in high esteem, as if fashion actually matters. We have become people who truly care about Jennifer Love Hewitt's weight gain and believe the fat content of her thighs is a critical issue (yes, I too care about that, but I don't think it's critical). We have become people whose votes can be influenced by vapid stars with big first names, like Oprah and Ellen and Whoopi.

Far too many of us, including some who are passionate about politics, are clueless about the things that really do matter. It should be obvious that big government is a bad thing (our very Constitution was designed to resist it). It should be obvious that healthcare and housing are not "rights." It should be obvious that our children's tutor should not be the federal government. It should be obvious that we should drill now for oil on our own land and offshore. It should be obvious that abortion is murder and, as such, should not be sanctioned by the government. It should be obvious that we take the fight of the enemy to the enemy. And it should be very obvious that if you are tight with Marxist radicals and domestic terrorists, you are disqualified from the highest office in the land!

The root of substance is the Latin substantia, which means exactly as it is constructed: "that which stands beneath the surface," i.e., the essence of a person or thing. Substance is notoriously difficult to discover in a man, which is why we examine his history. It becomes even more difficult when style, which likes to masquerade as substance, establishes itself and rivets our attention. Once style is in the picture, the brightness of its light tends to obscure all objective inquiries into issues that matter. In other words, it tends to blind us from the truth. And more often than not, the one with style is blatantly using it to hide what "stands beneath the surface."

John McCain is a man of substance. I not only don't care about his lack of style, I'm glad of it. It means he is real. The enemy ferreted out the substance of John McCain by way of brutal torture for five whole years. Shouldn't that now count for something?  Shouldn't years in the Senate and a track record of service to America count for something? Shouldn't his personal life-which is full of good deeds and no links to untoward associations-count for something?

Rest assured, America: Barack Obama has substance, too. But after the bright beam of his style grows dim, be very afraid of what sort of stuff you will find.
I awoke this morning to a bad dream and walked around in a stupor for a few minutes, feeling very depressed. It wasn't until I had finished making coffee that I suddenly realized that it wasn't yet November 5 and a lying, contemptible, dangerous socialist hadn't yet cake-walked into the White House.

I don't much recognize my country these days, because there are too many people around me who seem to have fallen asleep and gotten themselves body-snatched. I am starting to learn to pretend when I am among them, walking stiffly, nodding correctly, smiling blankly, for fear of being found out that I have not succumbed to "change." I try not to speak, but when I do, I mutter incoherently and throw in the syllables "ohh-bahhh-mahhh" every so often, as a sort of reverent yawn. The hope, of course, is to avoid being forced into open prostration to the One. It's just safer this way ...

By the end of the final Presidential debate, I was pretty pleased with John McCain's performance and happy that Barack Obama had been outed as an odious leftist. Stylistically speaking, Obama was smooth, but not as smooth as in the other two debates, and he struggled to find his words on more than one occasion. He presented the same old deceptions. He lied about his record. He dodged very serious allegations about past associations. And his attempts to paint himself as a moderate did not match his record. Nothing new under that sun-everyone would see it, right?

I didn't expect style from Senator McCain, so I hardly thought about his delivery. Instead I focused on substance. To me, in that category -- which is truly the only one that should count -- it was a smack-down. He hammered on spending and the need for the hatchet. He painted Obama as a big-government liberal. He brought out other pressing issues besides the economy (which, by the way, will fix itself if every "Senator Government" would just get out of the way). At the end I, as my own imaginary ref, was holding McCain's shattered arms up as high as they could go.

Then came the after-party. With the punditry. With the polls. With the "undecideds." (And why exactly do these less-than-bright people get to be the tie-breakers?) ... Oh, so it wasn't a smack-down. What's really important-what we really need in this time of uncertainty and malfeasance and war-is "cool."

I guess it was a good thing when Obama dodged crucial issues, like his ties to violent radicals, his record of big spending, his association with ACORN, and his love of abortion. I guess it was okay that he got away with his deceptions about "tax cuts for the middle class" which amount to welfare. I guess it was good form to pretend he didn't tell Joe the Plumber that he wants to "spread the wealth" in the manner of all good socialists. This is a boxing match, after all. Obama didn't even have to dance about like Ali: With McCain's short reach, no jabs connected. In boxing to weave is honorable-apparently in politics as well?

The sad reality is, Americans do care about style, in a big way. We are a celebrity-obsessed society. We have become people who hold shows like Project Runway in high esteem, as if fashion actually matters. We have become people who truly care about Jennifer Love Hewitt's weight gain and believe the fat content of her thighs is a critical issue (yes, I too care about that, but I don't think it's critical). We have become people whose votes can be influenced by vapid stars with big first names, like Oprah and Ellen and Whoopi.

Far too many of us, including some who are passionate about politics, are clueless about the things that really do matter. It should be obvious that big government is a bad thing (our very Constitution was designed to resist it). It should be obvious that healthcare and housing are not "rights." It should be obvious that our children's tutor should not be the federal government. It should be obvious that we should drill now for oil on our own land and offshore. It should be obvious that abortion is murder and, as such, should not be sanctioned by the government. It should be obvious that we take the fight of the enemy to the enemy. And it should be very obvious that if you are tight with Marxist radicals and domestic terrorists, you are disqualified from the highest office in the land!

The root of substance is the Latin substantia, which means exactly as it is constructed: "that which stands beneath the surface," i.e., the essence of a person or thing. Substance is notoriously difficult to discover in a man, which is why we examine his history. It becomes even more difficult when style, which likes to masquerade as substance, establishes itself and rivets our attention. Once style is in the picture, the brightness of its light tends to obscure all objective inquiries into issues that matter. In other words, it tends to blind us from the truth. And more often than not, the one with style is blatantly using it to hide what "stands beneath the surface."

John McCain is a man of substance. I not only don't care about his lack of style, I'm glad of it. It means he is real. The enemy ferreted out the substance of John McCain by way of brutal torture for five whole years. Shouldn't that now count for something?  Shouldn't years in the Senate and a track record of service to America count for something? Shouldn't his personal life-which is full of good deeds and no links to untoward associations-count for something?

Rest assured, America: Barack Obama has substance, too. But after the bright beam of his style grows dim, be very afraid of what sort of stuff you will find.