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Jewish World Review
Oct. 24, 2008
/ 25 Tishrei 5769
Good old Joe lifts the curtain
The end of the campaign is finally in sight, and fear stalks the land once more. Hillary Clinton has been in Minnesota, campaigning for Al Franken and averting her eyes when he brings out his pornography collection, and sounding the alarm that the vast right-wing media conspiracy is back at work. Evil never takes a holiday.
Hillary sees conspirators hiding behind every pumpkin, as the spooks, haints and goblins newly arrived from the nether world descend upon us for their usual Halloween stalking duty.
The carpenters, plasterers and plumbers working on the set for Barack Obama's victory-night party are afraid, too. Can they get it finished in time for the official laying on of hands? The Obama campaign considered retrieving the Temple of Zeus from storage in Denver, but thought it not grand enough for the man who says he feels "a righteous wind behind our backs." (He's obviously been talking to Zeus again, or at least the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.) The pollsters are stalked by the fear that they're getting everything skewed, since they're all saying wildly different things. Plain ordinary Americans are stalked by the fear that the campaign won't ever end. (If they're afraid now, wait until the morning of Nov. 5, when the campaign of 2012 officially begins.)
But nobody is stalked like Barack Obama. He's terrorized every time Joe Biden opens his mouth, which is often. Even good old Joe can't wait to see what he'll say next. We were supposed to be worrying about the innocence and inexperience of Sarah Palin, but while she's drawing enormous crowds and staying resolutely on the message laid out by John McCain, like a good running mate should, there's good old Joe, who was recruited to give Mr. Obama heft and gravitas in foreign affairs, up in Seattle predicting catastrophe once the Obama administration is fixed firmly in place.
"Gird your loins," he told a fundraising rally. (For this they expect money?) "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy." So far, this is only conventional wisdom. For decades it was the Soviets who wanted to see whether the new man was as tough as he ought to be, and in late October 1962, before the Great Society had had time to be great, opportunity appeared in Cuba. The rest is history.
The number of prospective villains has multiplied since, like mushrooms after a hard spring rain. But conventional wisdom stops short of specifics, and old Joe was just getting started. He could offer "at least four or five scenarios" about how and where [catastrophe] might originate. He offered only two. "And [President Obama] is gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you not financially to help him we're gonna need your influence, your influence within the community to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."
If all this loin-girding were not enough to frighten the horses and terrorize the perceptive members of the glassy-eyed cult of the anointed one, there was more: "I've forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I'm not being falsely humble with you. ... This guy has it. But he's gonna need your help. Because I promise you, you are all gonna be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh, my G-d, why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?' We're gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you're going to have to reinforce us."
If you're having trouble figuring out what Joe meant, you can imagine the confusion among friends and foes broad. Mr. Obama, who thinks a good speech can dissolve every threat, dismissed Joe's remarkable reverie as mere "rhetorical flourishes." This leaves it to the rest of us to figure out what Joe was talking about. Who was he talking to? Was he telling the angry left, which is the engine driving the Obama train, that the party is almost over and we'll have to be grown-ups again after the inauguration? Or was good old Joe, who knows how the world works, telling the rest of us that as brilliant as the anointed one may be, he is likely in over his head? The man touted as Barack Obama's tutor has, perhaps without meaning to, told us to be afraid, very afraid.
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