There is a theme to the political campaign of Barack Obama. It follows the teachings of Saul Alinksy, and it can be summed up easily: I will do anything to win. That was the theory of Alinsky, whose radicalism was simply radicalism for power, not for the powerless. Obama, like Alinsky, is not so much an ideologue as a power fanatic. "Give me power, then trust me to do something good" both men seem to say.
This blends in well with the national Democratic Party. Recall 2002? New Jersey Democrats held a primary under state law, the legal process for picking the Democrat nominee for the Senate race. Robert Torricelli, up to his neck in ethical problems, won the primary. By law, he was their nominee. Although obviously corrupt -- when has that bothered Democrat leaders? -- Torricelli looked like he could win, until the corruption got much deeper. Then, using a questionable legal argument accepted by the New Jersey Supreme Court, Democrats replaced him during the general election with Frank Lautenberg. The party that had no problem with a dirty pol like Torricelli had big problems with him when he might lose. Democrats would do anything to win.
Obama also learned the practical ending of winning at all costs from Mayor Daley, whose father was also Mayor Richard J. Daley, and who ran Chicago like a medieval fiefdom for over 21 years. Mayor Richard M. Daley, his son, has only been mayor for 19 years so far. These dear leaders of the Windy City have never had problems with "community organizers" like Obama, who never, apparently, saw fit or had the grit to organize Chicago communities against the most powerful big city political machine in modern American history. Winning, in Chicago, means getting along with the Daley Machine. Obama will do anything to win.
The rumor mills for weeks have hummed with secret plans to dump Joe Biden and replace him with Hillary Clinton. Obama, Biden, and Clinton all serve together in the Senate. Obama had leisure to look over all potential vice presidential candidates. Several had run against him for the Democrat nomination, including Clinton and Biden. He professed to pick a running mate who would be best for America. How can that be, if Hillary replaces Joe, unless Obama considers that his election is the definition of what is best for America? How could Obama make that switch unless he would do anything to win?
America faces a financial crisis which has thrown many millions of citizens into a great loss of confidence. McCain announces that he is going to Washington, suspending his campaign, and will be working to find a way to restore the faith of these frightened Americans who fear that another Great Depression is right around the corner; Obama pauses. Which will help him win more votes, going ahead with the debate sans McCain, or looking statesmanlike and joining McCain? Forget the long term consequences of the bailout (trust me, Obama never thought of those at all) or the wrangling over details of the bailout (Obama, in a pinch, can always vote "Present.") What does hesitancy say about Obama, the man? In time of national disaster, Barack Obama looks at us as voting blocs and not as human beings. Why? He will do anything to win.
The contrast between McCain and Obama is stark. The man who stayed in the horrors of Hanoi as a matter of honor faces the man who has never met an honor that he understood. The man who would rather lose an election than have his country lose a war faces the man who would watch amused as his countrymen descend into economic terror provided that his calculated neglect won him a few national percentage points.
The contrast between the vice presidential choices of McCain and Obama is just as stark. The woman who took on her own political party and who gave birth to a son with Down syndrome, because she believed abortion was wrong, faces a man who plagiarized in law school (so he could get his degree), who copied the speeches of Neil Kinnock (so he could win votes), and who seems to have never met an honorable sacrifice worth embracing.
The lust for power is not change. That lust is as old as history. It does not carry the seeds of hope within it. However packaged, the personal ambition to win at any cost is as ancient as lying, as old fashioned as theft, as commonplace as ward heelers. Electing men who figuratively will throw anyone under the bus to win, including, literally, their grandmother and their pastor, can never bring anything good. Such people do not just believe the grand malediction, "The end justifies the means," but they believe that they, personally, are that end.
Men who will do anything to win will end up doing nothing good at all. In college, it seems, Obama heard and spoke the word "power" as normal people would speak or hear the words "soul" or "honor" or "God." Power, alone, counts to him. He will do anything to win power, and men who will do anything to win power will do anything at all.
Bruce Walker is the author of Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and the recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.