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Column: Is Barack Obama Our Harvey Dent?

This story was written by Ry Rivard, The Daily Athenaeum

The best, or at least most intriguing, political analysis in the country is going on right now at the DC Comics message boards. There, fans are wondering, Is Barak Obama our Harvey Dent?

Yes, they spelled the junior senator from Illinois name wrong but that isnt the worst thing that has happened recently to Barack Obama.

Last week, we were wondering how seriously to take a magazine cover depicting Obama dressed as a Muslim, idolizing Osama bin Laden, standing with his militant wife and watching the American flag burn in the Oval Office fireplace.

This week, we are being asked by John McCains campaign to consider the depth of the medias love affair with Obama.

This is, for better or for worse, the Harvey Dent effect. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain, the character says in The Dark Knight.

Without resurrecting Hillary Clintons unfortunate misstatement, Obama has lived long enough to see himself become the villain an unfortunately frequent and easily earned title in the Democratic Party, which finds itself more open to self loathing than the Republicans, who tend to accept their fate with the patience of Job (The ways of George Bush cannot be known to men, we imagine them telling themselves).

Or, as a reporter for The New Yorker found, Obamas problems notwithstanding the magazines cover stem from a realization among his supporters that superheroes dont become President; politicians do.

The reporters profile is actually more damning than the cover.

There is a genuine concern and surprise, especially from his young acolytes, that Obama is exactly this, a politician.

But it was ever so.

Obama, as an Illinois state senator, had his district gerrymandered to get him closer to money men. He carefully built connections and plotted to become president. He didnt, as some imagine, hope himself to the top.

This doesnt mean he is any less of a man, but it certainly ruins the image many had of him which apparently involved a lot of washing of feet, casting out of money changers and bringing hope to the generations.

Is there really room for a white knight in out society or is Barak doomed to become a villain or a monster because the world corrupts all its heroes? DC Comics message board user cookylamoo asked.

Its not that Obama has fallen or anything, its just that he was never on a higher plane.

Realizing this, all we are left with is a man whose foreign policy experience amounts to a bunch of speeches, whose sole qualification for the job seems to be that he doesnt support a war that isnt going well and had the foresight to imagine that it wouldnt and that, if it comes down to it, he can give a pretty good speech or two.

(The joke about the foreign policy experience debate is that, while a war hero, McCain is not any more prepared to lead an army after being shot off his plane than a man whose house burnt down is to be a firefighter.

The issue which his time as a POW qualified him to speak out on, torture, has been ceded while he panders to his base.)

This is especially unsatisfying now. Here we are again, eight years after an election that was notable only for how it ended (with the loser winning) and four years after another election that was notable only insofar as the country managed to reaffirm the election of a man unqualified to run a baseball team.

Neither McCain nor Obama are the men we want but they are, I imagine, the presidents we deserve.

We have conscripted our political process into one that advantages only people who have the willinness to not say what they mean or what we would even need to hear.

We are at the point when things are so bad that platitudes are not going to solve anything, they merely obscure them, but we would rather talk than listen, argue than agree, draw distinctions than draft solutions.

So we have Obama on ABC news on Tuesday morning saying that, even though the surge in Iraq appears to have worked, he would, in hindsight, still not have supported it because the political situation at the time would have not benefited him.

Actually, he is trying to appease the political situation now, where any change in his rhetoric however minor or justified is seen as two-faced.

As another DC Comics fan points out, this is a bit like getting in a taxi and having the driver say, Twelve blocks from now Ill make a left turn. Where are you going?