Ask not

If Barack Obama were president today, he would be working with both parties to send two more combat brigades to Afghanistan and pass an emergency economic stimulus including a second tax rebate.

Today Americans are suffering extreme economic pain while they believe our government stinks like a dead fish. They are disgusted by gridlock, deadlock, partisanship, ideology, obstruction, corruption and status quo politics as Washington fiddles while Americans burn.

Barack Obama, with all of his brilliance and human imperfections, wants to change this. He is not only the first African-American to be nominated but is under sustained attack of racial and religious bigotry by forces representing the dead hand of the status quo and the ugliest remnants of the past.

Obama aspires to be the voice of a generation. His performance, everything considered, has been remarkable.

Like Franklin Roosevelt in July 1932 and John Kennedy in July 1960, Obama is a work in progress, with a mission to mobilize the mighty forces for change, against the mighty forces that profit from the present.

Let’s be clear. Like FDR and JFK, Barack Obama is a politician, not a saint, an idealist without illusions, with an ennobling vision of politics that could transform our times.

On the great war of our age, George Bush and John McCain are obsessed with the wrong war. FDR understood the challenge was fascism. JFK understood the challenge was communism.

Obama understands that our vital missions today are killing the terrorists who regroup and winning the war that deteriorates in Afghanistan.

Obama has heard the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. It is Obama, not Bush, not McCain, who is the leading advocate of reinforcements for Afghanistan while supporting a careful disengagement from Iraq.

So: Obama will be accompanied to Iraq by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), two of the upper chamber’s most admired veterans and advocates of a sensible, bipartisan national-security realism.

Like FDR and JFK ,Obama values our power in the battle of ideas. Like almost all commanders, he knows that torture hurts our cause.

If Barack goes to Berlin, he will be met with huge crowds applauding the idea of an American president who can lift the spirits of free men and women everywhere. It is the power, goodness and inspiration of this that threatens certain conservative politicians in the U.S. and Germany.

Like FDR and JFK, Obama seeks to inspire people to great goals and aspirations, breaking through the gridlock. Two of his closest advisers are Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), strong Democrats with an ability to cross the aisle to get things done.

Soon the book of the year will be published by Stephen Mansfield: The Faith of Barack Obama.

Mansfield is a conservative Christian who will not endorse Obama but will speak powerfully to America of Obama’s deep faith.

It is profound that a Democratic nominee issues a call to action common to the great religions: to feed the hungry, cure the ill, clothe the needy and be stewards of the earth.

Obama challenges Americans to act. He inspires Americans to participate. He rallies Americans to an elevated vision of civic life. He motivates small donors, registers new voters, excites young people and asks Americans what we will do for our country, to make tomorrow better than today.

That, folks, is change.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit and as contributing editor of Fighting Dems News Service. He can be read on The Hill Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.

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