Charitable to Obama

I have previously written a post about Obama and cynicism.  In that blog post, I was left feeling more cynical about Obama after looking at his actions, even though Obama stated forcefully that cynicism is the greatest enemy we face.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune looked into Senator Obama's charitable giving.  In it we learn that, "In 2002 ... the Obamas reported income of $259,394 [and] claimed $1,050 in deductions for gifts to charity."

On its face, this sounds like a small amount.  However, no one can claim that Obama has not been working energetically for charitable causes.  From the article:

Obama has worked as a community organizer in poor South Side neighborhoods and has served on the boards of prominent Chicago-based philanthropies. His commitment to community service plays a central role in the two best-selling books he has published, and he often talks about the importance of reaching out to those in need.

It would be unfair to use his tax deductions in isolation from everything else he does to judge him as deficient in charitable giving. 

Besides, in that article we also learn:

On their just-filed 2006 tax return, Obama and his wife, a hospital administrator, reported taxable income of $983,626 and claimed deductions for $60,307 in charitable donations. In 2005 they earned a combined $1.65 million and gave away about $77,300.

It sounds like something for which Obama should be commended.  He added personal giving to all of the other work that he does on behalf of charities.  In addition, he has given speeches, made appearances, written books and has spoken a great deal on the campaign trail about the idea of service to the community.

Campaign trail?  Wait.  You don't think the increase in his charitable giving is related to his decision to run for president?

James Taranto looked at this Tribune article and asked,

What accounts for the 5,643% increase in the Obamas' donations between 2002 and 2006? Could it be that Barack was pondering a presidential run and didn't want to look like Al Gore, whose contributions in 1998 were in the triple figures?

Ask a question like that, and you begin to see why Obama feels so threatened by cynicism.

How much cynicism can one man create in the name of trying to end it?