Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama's Similarities to Famous Leaders

I have noted for quite some time the media doing stories about the similarities between Obama and other great leaders in history. I will not argue that he doesn't share characteristics of greatness with others, but I will say that they are completely missing the mark when it comes to the ones with whom they make comparisons. The big three I hear about are John F. Kennedy, Jr., Robert Kennedy, and (most surprisingly) Ronald Reagan.

John F. Kennedy, similarities are in youthfulness and the ability to give a speech. But beyond the rhetoric, the two are very different . In 1961, when Kennedy gave his Inaugural Address, he pointed out that "We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage..." Kennedy was a genuine war hero and one who understood from day one that he was being sized up by his potential enemies around the world. Kennedy was firmly opposed to Communism and although he didn't take the strong stands that I would have preferred he had taken, there was no mistake about the level of his resolve. Obama, on the other hand, has indicated that he wants to sit face to face with our enemies (North Korea and Iran) and punish our allies (Pakistan). Then there is the competitive nature. I remember reading about JFK throwing the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game. He spent hours over several days practicing his pitch. We all remember Obama's bowling experience with a score (if I recall correctly) of 38. It seems minor, even petty, but to me it speaks a great deal about their resolve and personalities.

Barack Obama is one of the leading advocates of wefarism today and considers the reforms of the 1990s that changed "welfare as we know it" as harsh and unfair. Robert Kennedy, while pursuing his party's nomination in 1968, pointed out that Lyndon Johnson had replaced the important role of fathers and husbands in households with welfare checks and that this was going to create a culture of poverty that our country would not recover. He wanted to encourage business and enterprise to have incentives to move to hard hit areas, which is very different from Obama's approach.

Finally, there is the most preposterous of all, the "similarities" to Ronald Reagan. In particularly, we are being told that he will bring voters who don't traditionally vote Democrat to the party. This may be true with independents, particularly those with little or no voting history, but it will not likely translate into an influx of Republican voters. We all remember the expression "Reagan Democrats" and many of these never returned to their old party. The idea of "Obama Republicans" seems ludicrous to me. Obama is proving to be far more polarizing than Ronald Reagan.

Instead of enhancing Obama's credibility through the attempts of pointing out the so-called similarities between Obama and some of history's greats, I think these efforts is having the exact opposite effect and beginning to make the presumptive Democratic nominee increasingly appear like another empty suit.

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Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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