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Addison Gardner: Always Right

Addison Gardner
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Back in the fabled ’60s, when Nancy Pelosi was wearing tie-dyed T-shirts and floral headdresses ” and long before she could imagine single digit congressional approval ratings ” there was a marketing phenomenon that mated, perfectly, with the San Francisco zeitgeist.

Called the “Mood Ring,” it provided Haight-Ashbury sidewalk sitters a sort of love-the-one-you’re-with radar: Finagle it onto your date’s finger, and the ring would illuminate the path to her G-spot like a Garmin GPS.

“At your next possible opportunity, make a U-turn.”

Today’s liberals have flocked to a human Mood Ring, and he’s got built-in thermotropic antennae that measure the emotional body heat of his audience, and change colors and messages to match its mood.

It’s Barack Obama, and he’s flying off store shelves faster than Rubik’s cube and the Pet Rock, combined.

Sen. Obama can entertain three audiences on the same day, in different venues, including San Francisco parlors, wharf-side canneries, and auto assembly lines. Everybody hears the same siren song of societal nirvana, while the speaker emits a shimmering, rainbow-hued aura of simpatico and sincerity.

We catch occasional glimpses of Obama’s clay feet, only when ” caught up in the crowd’s intoxicating adulation ” the candidate “misspeaks himself,” but his media caretakers swoop in like Langley wet-workers, scrub down the walls, and remove the corpse in a rolled up rug.

“Nothing to see here, ma’am ” move it along home, please.”

The Obama multitude hears about its promised loaves and fishes in all languages, simultaneously: College educations will be free. Internet access will be free. Childcare will be free. Health care will be free. New Orleans residents “will be protected from Category 5 storms” and “every displaced resident will return to a home.”

But, it’s not just his capacity for taming the tempest that impresses: It’s the junior senator’s ability to stand behind his podium’s mocked-up presidential seal ” buck naked ” while being perceived by his audience as arrayed in the vestments of competence, experience, wisdom, and character.

Obama can cock his head as though he’s taking dictation from God, drop his voice three octaves, and tell a crowd of Longshoremen that he’s against late-term abortions, in favor of the death penalty, pro Second Amendment gun rights, in support of NAFTA, willing to leave the troops in Iraq (“until security has been established”), enthusiastic about faith-based federal programs, itching to end welfare, and determined to keep Jerusalem in the hands of the Jews.

Half an hour later, when speaking to Nob Hill liberals, he’ll metamorphose from George Bush into George Clooney ” quicker than you can say, “Bible clutchers!” ” and promise to bring the troops home in 2009. The assembly will ululate, in unison, “That’s right!”, and sway to the cadences of Obama’s flute.

In the parlance of political pragmatism, what Sen. Obama is doing is called “moving back to the center,” in order to woo undecided, independent voters in the general election: He’s won over the party primary’s Code Pink poltroons, kicked the Clintons to the curb, and now it’s time to round up the red states’ gobbling goobers.

None of this is particularly vexing to a political observer who cut his teeth on the steel of Michael Dukakis’ tank helmet, Bill Clinton’s leather flight jacket, and Dubya’s white-knuckle landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Obama’s vow to travel to Iraq and “reassess conditions on the ground,” is just the next chapter in misdirection and malarkey.

What’s troubling to me is that there are still serious-minded, clear-eyed folks who view Sen. Obama as preeminently eligible for the post of president, not because of his accomplishments or his qualifications ” everybody admits there are none ” but because “he’s a new kind of politician!”

He’s the anti-insider. He’s the anti-politician. He’s the emissary of change in Washington. He’s America’s “post-racial” reconciliatory balm.

The one thing he’s not ” and you’ll want to tell me, “Merci beaucoup!” for sharing this with you ” is a cynical, Southside Chicago politician selling snake oil to a herd of village idiots.

There’s a joke that’s making the rounds on the late night, television circuit that illustrates political reality with comedic brevity: “Senator Obama’s ‘Change we can believe in’ has become ‘Change we can’t keep up with.'”

When Marvin Wernick first marketed his Mood Ring in 1969, it featured an opalesque oval encircled by faux gemstones. It was an impressive piece of costume jewelry, even if it didn’t ever turn blue (indicating that your date was in the mood), and even if you didn’t “get lucky” following its colored clues.

Then buyers discovered that the opal was plastic, and the diamonds were glass. Worst of all, the ring stopped changing colors if it got wet.

Marvin’s Mood Ring never delivered on its promises.

Obama fans, take note.


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