Bob Dylan was recently interviewed by the Times of London in light of the opening of his art/exhibition in London next week. At the end of the interview Times writer Alan Jackson couldn't let the American songwriter leave without asking for his take on the American political situation in the face of the November 2008 election.
Here is Dylan's response verbatim:
Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval. Poverty is demoralising. You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor.
"But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up...Barack Obama.
"He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to."
He added: “You should always take the best from the past, leave the worst back there and go forward into the future."
Both the Times of London and ABC News have taken Dylan's comments as a full endorsement of the senator from Illinois. I wonder . . . .
Was Dylan simply commenting or making observations about the political situation in the U.S.? Does this sound like a full endorsement? Knowing Dylan as I have since the early 60s, it is not unlike him to provide a cryptic response to an open ended question.
Is Obama going to make some kind of lasting change? I heard him say the word "change" twenty-nine times in his "acceptance" speech for the presidential Democratic nomination the other night. That's a start.
But saying the word "change" does not indicate any change. Bob Dylan in his song "The Times They Are A Changing" expressed more content than Obama did in his entire speech. What is Obama going to change?
Obama mentioned that "we will start taking care of the sick." Has he gone into the ERs of America where people without medical insurance or American citizenship are still taken care of and their babies are still delivered free-of-charge?
What about the fact Obama mentioned that people don't have jobs? Has anybody gotten a job in the past eight years? Of course! Will there be no jobless people if he becomes president? Sure, if he raises taxes and the hard working members of our society start paying highly increased taxes for government created jobs? But once that happens I'll be bringing home less because I am being taxed more. Obama will not bring change but higher taxes and bigger government.
Missing from his "acceptance" speech was any mention on the war on terrorism or his stance on our ally in the Middle East - Israel. Is he going to bring change by pulling the troops out of Iraq? What about the rise of terrorism if our presence is gone from Iraq? Yes, he'll bring change: Increased terrorism and more freedom for Islamic extremists.
Israel's existence is in danger. As Israel celebrates it's 60th Anniversary Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kept up his virulent anti-Israel and antisemitic statements, likening Israel to a "dead fish" and a "stinking corpse" and calling it a "false regime" which "from the point of view of the nations in the region does not even exist." He also stated that Israel "will be wiped off the map of the world, and that "the day will come when the Muslims uproot it.
Ahmadinejad added that the elimination of Israel would benefit the entire world, since Israel caused harm to humanity at large - and especially to Europe, which was "bearing the political and economic burden of this false regime."
I did not hear Obama speak of this serious danger of the very existence of evil. I did hear his pastor Rev., Wright liken the United States supporting Israel as supporting "state sponsored terrorism." And if Obama gets any closer to the pro-Palestinian former president Jimmy Carter, he will most likely lose the Jewish vote, if he cares.
I wonder if my friend and musical hero Bob Dylan has taken into account that Barak Obama surely has the rhetoric of change but mostly what he says is vacuous and lacking substance.
I close with the words from one of Dylan's songs Political World from the album Oh Mercy, in which the artist wonders if peace is really part of the process for the politician and the world we live in. Is Obama for peace or for appeasing the anti-war segment of our society that ignores leaders like Ahmadinejad who speaks death and destruction of other nations:
"We live in a political world
Where peace is not welcome at all,
It's turned away from the door to wander some more
Or put up against the wall.
We live in a political world
Everything is hers or his,
Climb into the frame and shout God's name
But you're never sure what it is."