Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama's Craven Speech

You know, I really tried to have a bit of a mini-vacation. This week is spring break at the university so I thought I'd try to follow the sun, and spend at least a few days not thinking about politics.

No such luck.

I knew there would be continued fallout over the Obama/Wright fiasco, as Obama's attempt to playout the news cycle by releasing a Friday night blog posting on The Huffington Post was so obviously inadequate as to be laughable. (Whoever it was on Obama's staff that suggested that "tactic" should really be looking for another job today. That Obama himself said "Hey! That sounds like a plan!" doesn't speak too well of him either.) Still, I thought I could avoid it until I returned. However, absolutely lousy weather in St. Louis kept me indoors and, unfortunately, in front of a TV set when Obama's speech began on Tuesday morning. Like the idiot I am I watched the whole damn thing.

I don't have the stomach for an out and out fisking of it, and if you want that sort of thing there are plenty of places to find it, but here are some thoughts:

1) There was nothing "brave" about this speech. "Brave" would be putting yourself out there on a tough issue when you do not need to. This was a speech of political necessity, driven by panic, as evidenced by his attempt to avoid dealing with it via The Huffington Post.

2) Way too much time and energy was spent giving excuses for Wright's hate. There is no context which could make it understandable or excusable. In this Obama is hardly alone, as it a common weakness inherent in the liberal Democratic penchant for victimhood. The truth is hate is hate regardless of context. Imagine a Republican candidate who had an active member of the KKK as a "spiritual advisor". Now, do you think anyone would listen for a second to attempts to "contextualize" that person's views? Of course not, and nor should they.

3) The reactions on the web are about what you'd expect. The "true believers" have seen the promised land so they refuse to see anything else. Accordingly, apostates are treated to splutterings of rage and are to be smeared in any way possible. On the other hand, those of us who have remained apart from the "mania" were less impressed. Indeed, the only thing that could be called fundamental to the issue involved was left unspoken:

What they haven’t heard or seen is what they want to hear and see - an explanation as to why, given that level of hate was being preached in his church, Obama stayed there. They’ve heard his attempt at an explanation, but as should be obvious, it was rejected. And secondly, if the focus of the church was that of black anger and grievance, why did Obama choose it in the first place? He claims to reject that philosophy, but 23 years of attendance doesn’t support his claim.


4) There seems to be a newly developed cottage industry debating whether or not Obama threw his grandma under the bus for his own political benefit. That, to me at least, is uninteresting compared with the knowledge that Obama had to lie about his grandmother's "sins" in order to make it fit the narrative he was selling:

according to Obama’s 1995 book…she once confessed her fear of one aggressive black beggar who didn’t pass by her but instead confronted her, demanded money, and then gave her — an intelligent, level-headed woman who had worked her way up to a mid-level corporate management position — good reason to believe he would have violently mugged her if her bus hadn’t pulled up.

If this was some doofus politician like Bush or Biden who retold the story in a misleading fashion, you might view it as just their usual struggle with using the English language to get across what they really kind of, sort of mean. But Obama is so superb with words that it’s perfectly reasonable to hold him accountable for choosing to slander his own living grandmother for his political advantage.
(H/T The Anchoress)

5) The days of "Obama the morally superior choice" are now over. (Read this for further proof of that.) Granted, this will not affect the greatest mass of Obama supporters who are enjoying their role as the "Obama Inquisition" where support for any other candidate, Democratic or Republican, requires "justification." It is a decidedly ugly trait to see in a democracy, and I for one do not plan on getting used to it.

UPDATE:

Here is an absolute must read from Caroline Glick:

I was in 9th grade in the lead-up to the 1984 presidential elections. Most of the kids in the school were fired up about Jesse Jackson’s candidacy. I was personally offended by their support for a man who referred to New York as a “hymietown,” and I let my feelings be known. I don’t think that anyone thought worse of me for saying I didn’t support a man who was anti-Jewish. But then, it never occurred to me to care. If they had thought worse of me for standing up for my rights as a Jew, then that was their problem, not mine.

At any rate, I remembered my exchanges with my classmates about Jackson today as I read Obama’s speech about race and his pastor Jeremiah White. It was an excellent speech as far as it goes. But it left me feeling very uneasy about the quality of Obama’s character.

I was 13 years old when I stood up alone to all my classmates and told them that I thought they should be ashamed of themselves for supporting an anti-Semite for president. I was a child. But Obama came to Wright as an adult. And as an adult, he sat through 20 years of Wright’s anti-white, anti-Jewish, and anti-American vitriol and said nothing. Indeed, until just a few months ago, he was honoring him as his spiritual mentor. What does that say about him?

Don't stay here. Go over there and read the whole thing.

UPDATE X2: A welcome to all Donklephant readers dropping by. My post is what it is. I'm sorry if it doesn't solve any of the problems with race relations in America. In my defense, I never claimed I was attempting to. It is a look at the speech as a political animal only, with all the weaknesses and limitations such an approach implies. In a democratic society politics is nothing more than an endless argument about power. Its a necessary argument, but if we make it the primary focus of our social thinking than nothing will ever really change.

The truth is Obama's speech is inherently a political thing, and as such, not a very good vehicle to promote a different vision for the future. You can try to expect more from it, but I'm afraid down that path lies failure and disillusionment.

2 comments:

Lit3Bolt said...

Ok, what about white evangelical hate?

Every week, white evangelicals sit in pews and listen in rapt attention about anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual hatred spewing forth from the mouths of white ministers. Bush and Cheney and McCain can huddle with their spirtual advisors, the worst excess of white evangelism, who have spewed hateful things like "gays caused 9-11." Nary a peep heard from conservatives. No conservative has "stood up" heroically, alone against the vast sea of bigotry in WHITE churches. To them, such bigotry is justified. However, you can't justify bigotry in BLACK churches!! Hate is hate is hate, after all, and we must all condemn hate, especially among the blacks.

Because Obama attend a black church where hateful speeches are said, he is now guilty by association in a way no white politician has ever been. Don't give me false hypothetical comparisons to the KKK or whatnot. Let's think who white evangelicals hate. Maybe abortion doctors? Muslims? Catholics? Gays and lesbians? C'mon, if HATE is HATE is HATE, then we should condemn that HATE as well, right? If anyone listens to someone who preaches that hate, then that too, calls into their judgemnet. George W Bush met the Pope, a religious leader who believes all non-Catholics go to hell for eternal damnation. Does George Bush believe the same things as the Pope? Who can say?

It doesn't matter if Obama does not hold the same views as his minister. No one will ever find a quote of Obama using hate speech or pandering to anti-Jewish or anti-White or anti-American sentiment. But Obama's done, he's toast, stick a fork in him because he listened to hate. McCain? Well, he obiviously doesn't believe in what Hagee says, or Falwell. No guilt by association there. No media feeding frenzy. No gleeful conservatives finally free, momentarily, to crow about "reverse racism."

PLEASE, spare me the self righteousness. PLEASE stop trying equate "black racism" to "white racism." They are not equal, I'm sorry, the world is unfair to conservatives, boo hoo. History is on the side of African Americans. But first, trying condemning your own side first before you sneer at Obama.

Y'know, Charles Murray and Mike Huckabee agreed with Obama. They must HATE as well.

You hated Obama before. You just now know why. Now, THERE'S an excuse for hate.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

You are talking to someone who couldn't (and didn't) support Bush simply on the basis of his kow-towing to the racists and anti-Catholic bigots at Bob Jones University back in 2000.

As for what to make of religious beliefs and their claims to exclusivity, I wrote a little on the subject back in 2004, and I think it addresses some of your concerns.

The problem Obama is having is that his entire defense is based upon making moral equivilences, and that is a political game that is always a loser. The situation looks like Obama heard these things plenty of times and there is no indication or evidence that it ever bothered him. The reality of what is or isn't in Obama's heart at that point is no longer important politically.

PLEASE, spare me the self righteousness. PLEASE stop trying equate "black racism" to "white racism."

Not sure where I ever did that. Now, I quote something from a Jewish writer...but if you don't think anti-Semitism is a big problem than I can't help you.

And I don't hate Obama. He's a very ordinary politician (for what thats worth) with very little experience, a penchant for some serious lack of judgemnt, a penchant for surrounding himself with anti-Israeli advisors, and a pleasing persona. He's a very standard pol straight out of central casting. It's his supporters who are driving me nuts.

Dealing with them is as bad as dealing with the Ron Paul crazies...maybe worse.