Daniel Henninger has an interesting article over at the Wall Street Journal regarding what he calls one of the most popular presidential accessory for a candidate in this election. What is it? Authenticity. I found the opinion piece fascinating in that it is all about how to be an "authentic" politician. The ironic thing touched upon is that authenticity, being real, being yourself is very hard for political folks trying to win elections and please many different interest groups. It is so easy to pander to left, right, etc.
The funny thing about Henniger's piece is that it chronicles the struggle of candidates trying to be or appear to be authentic. A few quotes:
One almost feels sorry for the 13 or 14 pols who've been running for the presidency this year. Keeping the authenticity balloon afloat is hard work. For starters, the press is obsessed with the phenomenon. The modern reporter is a human tuning fork, alert to the merest false note of inconsistency. It isn't widely known, but no journalist is allowed to moderate a presidential debate unless he vows to turn every question into an accusation of hypocrisy.
If we want a better understanding of the style of authenticity that people who vote are looking for, consider the real meaning of Barack Obama's controversial praise for Ronald Reagan. Sen. Obama was correct that Reagan caught the nation's need for a new direction, which is now the senator's claim. But Reagan's published letters and papers make clear that he believed in his political ideas for a long time. By 1980, they were deep and clear. They were authentic.
If that is the standard of true political authenticity, and I think it is, then the relationship in this campaign between the people and the pols will remain as it has been -- difficult.
That is fancy speak for - America does not seem not find it easy to trust the convictions of the folk running for office. One wonders if someone can actually be themselves and win broad elections - maybe politics is for people who like the game and the dance even as they complain about it and talk about "bringing change to Washington." In Reading Obama's book, it seems to attempt to show him as a centrist, an authentic person who is different than the others who are part of the political machine. But in his book I still hear pandering to different groups - perhaps politics can be done no other way? At least winning politics. But to be honest, I think we all should vote and participate in self-government. But I do understand why some in the younger generations get cynical about the whole song and dance - it seems, well, inauthentic. Thats as political as I want to get around here.