Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wright's Impact on Obama Candidacy

While racial prejudice still infects America, it is not nearly as much as years ago. America will elect a Black president one day, and we are probably there now. Public policy has been anti-discriminatory for over 40 years. While the application has been imperfect, government at all levels has been moving in the right direction, too slowly at times, stupidly at times, excessively pushing at times, but always moving in the right direction. The question now is not one of public policy, but rather private acceptance.

And the question is no longer primarily one of skin color, but rather of cultural difference. I maintain that "diversity" is unnatural, and no amount of public policy will ever change that. Television and radio commercials that declare we have to accept diversity may have some effect, but only on a few people and in a relatively small extent. Only assimilation through a general blending of cultures will result in acceptance of a "lesser" diversity. All immigrant groups to this country, such as the Irish, Germans, and Italians, retained some aspects of their culture, but generally assimilated into the broad American culture. Granted these were all White immigrant groups, and mostly voluntary. That no doubt makes a huge difference.

I think Whites in America have, for the most part, come to realize the color of one's skin makes no difference; but the acceptance of the Black culture is very, very difficult. Rev. Wright seems to embody what we think that culture is like, or at least a big part of it. As I said in an earlier post in this thread, Wright, in stressing differences, seems to make the case for segregation and continued prejudice.

So I see his impact on the Obama campaign as two-fold:

1. Given that Wright thinks what he thinks, and given that Obama was a part of that religious-political culture for such a long time (and presumably still is), to what extent does he believe--perhaps down deep and mostly well-hidden--what Rev. Wright is saying? Might Obama be harboring thoughts that will result in his pushing policies that his supporters wouldn't support if they knew he would push them? Was his statement about clinging to religion and guns a small look through his public armor into the real Obama?

2. Rev. Wright has given a reason, and maybe permission, for White America, which desperately wants to absolve itself of the sins of our ancestors for their part in world-wide slavery, to vote against Obama for racial reasons.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Who is Barack Obama? Part 2

Fred Barns has hit upon an important distinction in trying to understand the Senator from Illinois. Obama calls himself a "uniter" rather than a "divider." He speaks in platitudes, and states these thoughts and ideas with an excellent grammar, a sonorous voice and a winsome style. And, as Barns notes, these are exactly the kinds of traits people most desire in their political leaders (in an ideal world). Since not much is really known about Obama, his record being a rather short one, the question is really this: if he says he represents these ideals, is there any evidence that he can deliver on them? Barns answer:

Senator Obama, the most exciting presidential candidate in decades and the likely Democratic nominee, is ... running a strikingly personal campaign that places far less emphasis on ideology or a partisan agenda than on the man himself, Obama the person. He's running as a new kind of national leader who rejects "the same old politics" and intends to change the way Washington works and the country is governed.

This self-description is idealistic, lofty, and extravagant. He further characterizes himself as someone who unites political foes, rejects partisanship, will end polarization, and is neither a liberal nor an elitist. If what he says is true, he comes close to being what most Americans say they seek in a president. But is he telling the truth?

Let's look at Obama's claims for himself without either flyspecking them for flaws or setting the bar too high. No one should expect a politician to be brutally candid in talking about himself. That's asking too much. Exaggeration is acceptable. Dishonesty isn't.

After which comes a healthy laundry list of challenges the Senator faces in living up to the claim. You can read the rest here.

Along comes Andrea Mitchell on NBC's Meet the Press today. Her view of the world (BTW, she is married to Alan Greenspan, believe it or not), is that any question about Obama in any category from Democrat or Republican alike, can only be interpreted as one thing: a latent racism.

Don't like Obama's plan for this or that? Ask why he stuck with a pastor who over 20 years of preaching would on occasion say things "that divided the nation" etc.? Oppose him on his plan to run out of Iraq? All these complaints are latent racism, you see.

Mitchell gives no one any ground to oppose Obama on any point in any manner. And she says, racism is a real problem in the country and in the campaign. This is after over 70% of Americans say they have no problem with an African American president, and BTW the largest percentage on record since the question was raised.

It seems to me the MSM is NOT color blind like they should be. If someone were to overtly oppose Obama on the color of his skin rather than content of his character, I could understand a charge of racism. But Red, Yellow, Black and White - all - should be allowed to come under the klieg lights of the democratic process for the examination for their ideas, proposals, and behavior when coming before an American voting constituency.

It is "racist" NOT to treat all the same in this regard.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Battle Ready versus The Battle Axe

Off the bat, let us dispatch the remarks being made in the current issue of Newsweek Magazine that Barack Obama is "pulling away in the polls," and that he will not be "Swift Boated." 

Them's fighting words.  More importantly, they are the words of an angry MSM who do not want to see their candidate lose momentum, though he is.  But I do not see him winning the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday, and though the polls show him within single digits, I'll stick my neck out and say he will lose by double digits.  He's losing support among gun owners and church attendees.

NBC's Meet the Press, today, somewhat put this into perspective with the actual polling data.  It doesn't look to me that Obama is "pulling away."  But Hillary Clinton didn't impress anyone either.  In last Thursday's ABC debate in Philadelphia, they both got clobbered.  They could not handle the excellent questions from ABC. 

NY Times columnist David Brooks has a keen eye for strategy, and he says in his recent column and repeated again today on NBC, that Barack lost the veneer of being "one of us," when the issues began and now continue to pile on, and they clearly demonstrate that Obama is not one of us, rather he is as conventional a liberal as they come:

RUSSERT: David Brooks, back in January you said Barack Obama “may be changing the face of American politics.” This week you said something much different, that he’s been ground down and probably would have a difficult time being elected.”

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he’ll have challenges. And, and I don’t know if it’s the tragedy of Barack Obama, but, but the challenge of Barack Obama. The man has extraordinary gifts. The man is extraordinarily thoughtful for a politician, enormously deep in the way he thinks about the world. And I think he really does want to have a discussion, really change American politics. But it’s been 15 months since he’s been running, and the last three months have been different. And the conversation we just heard on this show, the tone of that conversation, believe me, is very different from the tone of Barack Obama’s speech in Des Moines three months ago. And the campaign has changed him. And I think it’s changed him in two ways, which has made him less inspiring for a lot of us who are not orthodox liberals. It’s changed him because he seems like a more conventional politician, trading jibes about who’s throwing which negative ad at each other, which is not particularly hopeful. And then he’s had to chase Democratic primary votes, he’s become much more orthodox liberal. He, he seems very traditionally liberal on trade, on the war, in the debate. He made an ironclad promise to bring American troops home in 16 months after he’s elected. We don’t know what Iraq is going to be like two years from now. Why is he making ironclad promises for a policy that won’t be enacted for two years? So it’s become a much rougher season, and it’s really taken him away from the most inspiring parts about him.

Brooks also said that nonetheless, Obama's nomination is all but official, and that though she will likely fight on into June and beyond, Hillary's goose is essentially cooked, but Obama will have crossed a line into the conventional, which will make the job for the battle hardened and battle ready John McCain, all that much easier.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Economic Hardship = Bitterness = Clinging?

Obama’s statement saying people in small towns in Pennsylvania (and, by extension, throughout America) are bitter over the economy, and that their bitterness has translated to love of guns, reliance on religion, racial hatred, opposition to immigration (legal or illegal), and fear of trade agreements is wrong on many fronts. About all that is accurate in the statement is what is implied but not actually stated: differences exist between people in small towns and large metropolises, the differences being in interpretation of the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, how we deal with our fellow citizens and residents, and the potential for isolationism.

Is small town America bitter, specifically over the state of the economy? I doubt this it true for most of small town America. The small towns I live in and work in are not, but that’s merely anecdotal. I think for the most part Americans understand that the economy is never stagnant. As technology advances, some jobs become obsolete and other jobs are created. My dad was pushed into early retirement because technology advanced beyond his ability to change. Should he have been bitter against a government for allowing technology to advance? How silly to think so. I doubt there is so much bitterness as there is fear--fear of the unknown.

Does small town America embrace religion at a greater rate than big city America? Probably, but why? This is a sociology question, I suppose, and far beyond my ability to answer. I seriously doubt it has anything to do with economic hardship translating to bitterness.

Does small town America want greater access to firearms than bit city America? Probably, but why? Is this merely a closeness to hunting fields, and a cultural difference that results? Probably so. Again, I seriously doubt it has anything to do with economic hardship translating to bitterness.

Is small town America more racist than big city America? I’m going to guess no, that if accurate gauges of public opinion could be had, we would learn that the racist component of society is about the same in both. This is opinion only, but

Is small town America more opposed to immigration than big city America, especially as this relates to illegal immigration? Again, I would like to see data on this, but I suspect it is not true. I suspect Americans across the board--urban, suburban, small town, rural--are all about equally opposed to illegal immigration and supportive of legal immigration. That would be except for those locations where a large amount of illegal immigrants already live; that would tend to skew the data.

Is small town America more isolationist in terms of trade policies than big city America? Where is the evidence of this? Small town America tends to be closer to agriculture, less so to manufacturing. Since America is a net exporter of agricultural products, it stands to reason small town America would favor less isolationist trade policies.

Senator Obama describes these as "clinging", thus putting a negative connotation on each, and attributes them to bitterness at the current state of the economy--ot so much the current state, but rather of the change in the economy over a 25 year period.

I don’t see this as a gaffe on Senator Obama’s part, but rather a statement of his deeply held beliefs of what is wrong with America. The truth about what he believes is slowly coming out, speech by speech, as he is forced to campaign against Senator Clinton. Voters must try to figure out what policies he will promote if he believes economic bitterness results in clinging to religion and firearms, racism, anti-immigration, and isolationism. Personally, I fear the policies he would promote.

I think this also shows the ignorance Obama, a product of big-city America, has of small town America. He doesn’t understand small town America, he doesn’t understand why anyone would have a different belief than he does, and he’s come up with his own reason for it.

If you want to see bitterness, just wait for the tax increase that would come if the Bush tax cuts are rolled back.

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