ALLAN JEFFERYS: Clinton and Obama Making Many Unkeepable Promises
A favorite musical of mine is "Promises, Promises," Neil Simon's adaptation of the movie "The Apartment."
The show featured music by Burt Bacharach and words by Hal David. It had a superb cast headed up by that versatile star Jerry Orbach. The promises dictated by the title were fun and almost innocent.
Not so the promises pouring out of the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both candidates know full well that their promises are empty -- simply words uttered to garner votes.
As one of our best columnists, Charles Krauthammer, wrote: "Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He's going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can't possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran's President Ahmadinejad promises to fund his other promises by rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war -- with the hope that the resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow."
Clinton is making similar promises, albeit with less charm and skill. If you tear down the facades of both Clinton and Obama, you will see that the skeletons are almost identical. Both believe the government knows more than we do and can get the job done better than the private actions of the public. An analysis of just how the government butchers just about everything it gets its hands on makes you wonder just how that myth began.
Perhaps we should have taken Jerry Orbach out of the cast of "Law and Order" and "Promises, Promises," and set him up in the White House to fix everything. Of course, those of us who attend musical theater know it is fantasy and accept it. Why, then, do too many swallow the words of the politicians?
At the moment, of course, Hillary and Barack are taking aim at each other and beginning to shoot poisoned arrows. Such is the scenario of a close battle. Too much is at stake to take the civil and soft approach.
On the surface it would appear that Obama has a lock on the nomination, but we all know better than to count the Clintons out. All of the scandals that cast shadows over Bill and Hillary prove them capable of getting away with almost anything: Whitewater to Monica to unreal profits in the market to unconscionable pardons to
I would not be surprised if, in some smoke-filled back room, a deal was not cut that would make Barack accept the vice-presidency. He would still be young after four or eight years, and no Republican could accuse him of lacking experience.
Our main problem is that the public tends to believe promises -- especially the ones that promise us something for nothing. When will we ever learn that not only is there no free lunch, there is not even a free breakfast?
Please don't tell me we can pay for all of these promises by raising the taxes of the rich. That old saw has been proved wrong for decades. I know, I know, the promise still convinces voters. Phony though it is, it still works.
There is a story making the rounds on the Internet about a Canadian with a suspected brain tumor. His doctor ordered an MRI for a diagnosis. The Canadian government said it would be four months before that could happen, but the doctor thought time was of the essence, so the patient crossed the border into this country and paid for the test himself. As suspected, there was a tumor the size of a golf ball.
Back to Canada for an operation. Not so fast, said the bureaucrats. Not for at least four months. Again, the doctor was concerned, yet nothing he said could sway the foot draggers. The patient mortgaged his house to raise $28,000, returned to the U.S. and paid for an operation.
The tumor was malignant. Had he waited the eight months Canada's health plan demanded, he would have died. But remember, Canada's plan is free. So maybe some people think it is worth the wait.
This is the health model Hillary and Barack and Pelosi and Harry Reid and other Democrats wish to emulate. But do we want any parts of such a mess? I think not. Let us not forget that, in an emergency, no one is turned away from an ER -- even if they don't have health insurance.
Because of the uncertainty of the Democratic nominee, most of the media will be giving much more coverage to Barack and Hillary than to John McCain in the next few months. That means we can expect more oratory, charm, spell-casting and promises, promises. Read between the lines, take away the mesmerizing rhetoric, and you will discover it is all tap water bottled to look like vintage wine.
Beware the promises, promises. Beware the Blarney -- except for tomorrow. Blarney is OK tomorrow.
Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic, entertainment editor and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. You can contact him at email@example.com
More like this story