It occurred to me this morning, that Senator Barack Obama is a lot like the late Enron founder and CEO Ken Lay. Ken Lay, when you examine his life, was man who seemed to do everything right and best in everything he did. Lay went to the University of Missouri, where he was the president of the Zeta Phi chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Lay earned a PhD in Economics from the University of Houston, and went on to work at Exxon Mobil. Lay was enormously successful and in short order served as a federal energy regulator and became undersecretary for the Department of the Interior before joining Florida Gas. Lay was experienced and in perfect position to build his new company, originally named Houston Natural Gas but renamed Enron in 1985. Basically, for decades Ken Lay had the golden touch, never putting a foot wrong and succeeding at everything he did.
Until he finally found a situation out of his control. And rather than deal with Reality and accept the damage needed to survive, Lay instead drove the company into the ground all the harder. Lay never meant to hurt anyone, I do believe that. But he did hurt a lot of people, anyway, precisely because he could not deal with a situation out of his control. Lay had never accepted that he could lose at something, and when he was faced with that reality he started lying and cheating, anything to evade the scenario he could not control.
Barack Obama is turning out to be like that, himself. Obama has enjoyed a fortunate role in every major undertaking of his life. His education included the prestigious Punahou Academy, Occidental College in Los Angeles, then Columbia. Immediately upon graduation, Obama was mentored by major political figures in Chicago, and he joined the Trinity United Church of Christ, whose pastor, Jeremiah Wright, became a defining influence for Obama by his own account (prior to his recent run for President). Obama then entered the Harvard Law School, and graduated magna cum laude. Obama was then hired by Miner, Barnhill, & Galland. Obama has been involved in politics since his community activist work in the 1980s, and his volunteer work for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign for President. Overall, like Ken Lay before him, Barack Obama has worked hard and been tremendously successful at everything he tried, never tasting defeat at all. Obama’s meteoric political rise to the top of the Democratic Party ticket has been nothing short of Enron-like in its speed and scale, given his thin resume and lack of accomplishments. Just a few weeks ago, it seemed that nothing could stop Barack Obama from becoming the next President of the United States.
Enron, however, was never as solid as its image. Accountants inside the company warned of serious, fundamental, problems with the company’s structure and cash flow, warnings that were ignored or out and out quashed. So, when Enron finally came crashing to earth it did so with little hope of financial survivors; even half a decade later, forensic auditors have been largely disappointed in their efforts to find a functional sector or salvageable property or resource. It is now become apparent that the Obama campaign is similarly hollow and rotted-out. Initially, there were some questions about the details of Obama’s policies, and inconsistencies between what Obama had said in different places. Rather than clarify his position and expand on his plans, Obama became evasive, even dismissive. The problem was made worse when Hillary Clinton’s eighteen million supporters demanded he show public respect for her efforts and the historical significance of her campaign. Obama was so busy making sure he got props for his own campaign (which was not, by the way, the first, second, or even third time that a black candidate had run for President), that he spent no real effort at all praising the significance of a major female presidential candidate. Obama then ignored a promise he made to help Clinton clear up campaign debts, and refused to even extend the courtesy of vetting Clinton for the VP nominee short list.
Then McCain tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate, and the cracks in Obama’s campaign became gaping holes. All those PUMAs Obama insulted and ignored began to rethink their support for the Democrat, and a bunch of women who thought this election had nothing of meaning for them decided that Sarah Palin made their support important.
The collective thought in Hopeychangeland?
Or various phrases with similar meanings.
You can learn some things about a person by their triumphs and victories. But you also learn about them, by how they address their mistakes, their setbacks, and their difficult times. John McCain screwed up his first marriage, he’s been very honest about that. But while he and Carol did not remarry, they did reconcile and she is very supportive of him. John McCain lost a bitter primary battle to George W. Bush in 2000. But he and President Bush worked out their differences and are solid allies who respect each other on many issues, even where they disagree. And John McCain spent over five years in a virtual hell, where he was physically and psychologically tortured, but during which time his fellow prisoners have said he was an outstanding leader and symbol of courage. That tells us some important things about John McCain.
Barack Obama has enjoyed many opportunities and advantages in his life, and there’s not a thing wrong in that. But we have not seen how he deals with his mistakes, how Barack Obama handles defeat, or how he faces serious adversity. But we can see what happened when a similar ‘golden boy’, Ken Lay, finally came face to face with something greater than his capabilities; Lay was just not up to the moral challenge.
The funny thing about Lay, is that he left Enron once, in pretty good shape. He came back to it when things were getting bad, and at that time he could have made a difference, when he actually could have saved the company and the investments of so many people.
But he could not handle a crisis of that type and scale, especially since it would have required him to admit that mistakes had been made, and that lies had been told. Instead, Ken Lay tried to cover them up and to protect his buddies. Ken Lay was inadequate to the task. His behavior over the past week indicates that Barack Obama is also inadequate for the role he desires to assume. When he found out that Sarah Palin had been nominated for Vice-President by the Republican Party, in spite of McCain’s congratulations the previous week Obama could not return the favor at first. Obama’s first impulse was to insult and attack, a practice he has repeated over and over again as he falls in the polls. Despite sending lawyers to Alaska to try to dig up something he could use to smear Palin, Obama’s campaign has only found lies and insults to use, and these only work against Obama. The promise of rising above petty bickering has been forgotten as Obama desperately seeks a way to slap down his opponent. Like a bad swimmer drowning in a riptide, Obama becomes more and more frantic in his behavior, first spewing puerile insults, then feigning innocence when called on it. He obsesses with his inability to counter the opposing party’s Vice-presidential nominee to such a degree that he completely ignores the issues and debates between himself and the GOP’s top-ticket nominee. The Democrats can do little more than stand by and watch in despair as their self-anointed Messiah proves no more than just another charlatan. When the test came, for all his expensive suits and crafted speech, Barack Obama was simply unready and ill-suited.