Professor Harold Hill runs for President

John J. Hopkins Jan. 19, 2008, 8:00am


In the 1962 classic moving musical, "The Musica Man," one of the screen's greatest roles was created in the character of Professor Harold Hill, the ultimate flim flam artist who comes to Iowa to con the locals with his soothing voice and oozing charm, masking all the while his total lack of substance.

Originated on Broadway and re-created in the film by Robert Preston's career-defining role, Professor Harold Hill is a self-proclaimed "Musicologist," one who makes a fortune convincing the townspeople that they need a boys band, with uniforms, and then instructions on the revolutionary "think system" to play the instruments, a clever ruse in which you simply think the notes -- or hope they come out -- and you can side-step the drudgery of practice.

Throughout the entire production, the mayor of noble River City cries out to "get the man's credentials," a plea falling upon deaf ears, as the good folks have been mesmerized by the promise -- or the hope -- of a boys band, blinded by the dazzle of the new uniforms, and the promise of future glories.

At the conclusion, the truth finally comes out, and Prof. Hill is unmasked for the fraud that he has always been, but to no avail, as the good folks care not that the boys can play nary a note. It is enough that they looked so fine, and that everyone felt so good about themselves in the endeavor, the Music Man's "con" withstanding.

Observing the current political scene, I have been reminded of Prof. Harold Hill and his con that went so well in Iowa. The campaign of Barrack Obama, who George Will has called the "Fred Astaire of politics...graceful, elegant and so pleasing to the eye that it seems greedy to ask for substance," continues its tap dance across America.

Never before have I seen someone be asked so few questions about a resume so thin to be virtually invisible, someone build his case to be the leader of the free world on the nebulous notion of "Hope."

But Oprah's main man might have steamrolled right to the Democratic nomination if not for Hillary's 96 tears and the contrary nature of New Hampshire voters. If that had happened, to paraphrase Martha Stewart, it would not have been a good thing.

Whether it is the broken promise to the people of Illinois to stay in the Senate and NOT run for president in 2008, the ultra liberal --albeit scanty-- voting record, the hypocrisy of the lock-step partisan masquerading as the bi-partisan uniter, time after time Obama gets an unprecedented pass from the usual digital rectal exam that politics has now become.

Regrettably, even on issues that cry out for examination, his refusal to adhere to the recommendations of the so-called "Gang of 14," the group of Senators who hoped to restore civility to the process of judicial appointments by only opposing those deemed to be unfit credentially and leave partisan bickering at the door step, he escapes. All this from a former part-time law professor, guided more by his love of a social agenda than the law.

The Obama campaign has been given wide latitude, unprecedented, some might say. Could you imagine the radio blasting a tune featuring breathless young girls singing, "I got a crush on Dukakis?" Yet, the Obama love siren raises not an eyebrow.

The reasons for the mainstream media's admitted bias in favor of Obama can be speculated, debated and postulated, but the first African American to be elected president is clearly history.

No one in this politically correct society wants to be the one perceived as opposing the tide, lest they be branded with the "R" word, a stigma that is easy to attach, but so difficult to shake.

But by treating this candidate with kid gloves, a subtle form of racism surfaces, one that is both undeserved and unnecessary.

Sen. Obama is very engaging, very intelligent and very likeable on a personal level. I have had the pleasure --and it was a pleasure-- to meet him on several occasions, and I must say that on a personal level I like him very much. I just would not vote for him for least not now.

His fatal lack of experience, his addiction to social engineering through governmental intervention, and child-like naivety regarding foreign policy -- especially the global war on terror-- make him particularly unsuited to be the next occupant of the Oval Office.

Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Hackett recently wrote that Obamamania is simply "voting for a smile," or what we used to call in Oklahoma, "All bat and no cowboy."

Sen. Obama may have much to give in public life, much value to this state, this nation and indeed, in time, this planet. Just not now.

Critical analysis, the measurement of what Martin Luther King called the "content of their character" can only be truly judged through trial by fire, the irreplaceable roadmap of experience.

Experience without vision does not inspire, but vision without experience cannot deliver.

In this time of peril, we truly deserve both in the next president.

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