March 19, 2008

Finally, Politics for Grown-Ups

The furor over remarks by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's former pastor has been silly from the beginning. Not only has it epitomized a double standard for reportage - no mention has been made of hate-filled comments from clergy whom G.O.P. candidate John McCain has actively sought out for support; men like John Hagee, Rod Parsley or the late Jerry Falwell - it has been a distraction from the real issues of our time: Iraq, the economy and massive corruption, incompetence and lawlessness in the White House. After all, following the idea that Mr. Obama is a closet black radical to its logical end - that in winning the presidency he would somehow implement (or even be able to move forward) some sort of anti-white pogrom - quickly illustrates the ridiculousness of the whole situation.

All that said, Barack Obama's decision to confront this political crisis head on and do so in a thoughtful, mature manner completely free of the pandering and lowest common denominator cliches we have come to expect after seven years of "they hate our freedoms" (and other, like-minded pabulum) was courageous, powerful, effective, and perhaps most importantly, demonstrative of his capabilities as a leader. He seized the high ground and spoke like an adult with the ability to reason, demonstrating that he actually perceives nuance and sees the world as it is rather than as he believes it to be. What an amazing and thoroughly revitalizing change from George W. Bush, who, as Stephen Colbert pointed out so eloquently, believes the same thing on Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.

Glenn Greenwald has an insightful examination of Mr. Obama's speech yesterday and what he terms the candidate's "faith in the reasoning abilities of the American public" which I won't waste time duplicating. I will however, close with this: As the eager heir-apparent to George W. Bush's legacy, John McCain eliminated himself from my considertion set of viable presidential candidates a long time ago. (Well, for that and other reasons.) The choice to me has been Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for several months, and my opinion has been that Mrs. Clinton can probably be depended upon to govern well. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, looks like he can lead, and his speech on race (see video below or here for a transcript) has done nothing but reinforce that appraisal. I will unquestionably vote for either Democrat over the Republican nominee in the general election, but I cast my ballot for Barack in the Missouri primary, and I remain very happy with that decision.


Anonymous said...

Muslims Against Sharia call on Senators McCain and Obama to cut all ties with their racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic supporters.


PBI said...


Thanks for stopping by.

While John McCain has not addressed the views of his religiously bigoted supporters at all, Senator Obama has already renounced Pastor Wright. Is there something else he should be doing? Or did you not watch his speech?

Anonymous said...

"John McCain has not addressed the views of his religiously bigoted supporters"

Which leads us to believe that he agrees with them

"Senator Obama has already renounced Pastor Wright."

That's a bunch of crap. Unless he says something to the effect "I curse the day I met that racist fuck" that is not a renunciation, but rather an explanation.

PBI said...

First, I share your view of McCain, I think he either agrees, or doesn't care enough to disagree.

Second, I'd like to keep the tone here a little less on the personally aggressive side, and would ask you to do the same. If you're trying to convince me that your position is the correct one, declaring my own position - which I can certainly support (and will below) - "a bunch of crap" is probably not the most successful method of doing so. In any case, here is a paragraph from Mr. Obama's recent article at The Huffington Post:

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

Your comments lead me to believe strongly that you haven't read either the speech he gave Tuesday or the blog post I referenced above; I would urge you to do so. Even if you have however, if you will only be satisfied with "I curse the day I met that racist fuck" that's not ever going to be delivered, nor do I believe it should have to be; what is expressed in the preceding quote - and in the speech he gave Tuesday - is explicit, clear, and unequivocal. But then, as I wrote in the post's title, Senator Obama appears to be pursuing politics for grown-ups, something I value far more than any need to have the candidate attain what seems to me to be an arbitrary level of shrillness.

Anonymous said...

Let me elaborate on the "bunch of crap". I did read the part of the statement that you have quoted. I also read the "I cannot disown" part as well, which totally negates the first part. However, even if we were to entertain the sincerity of Obama's "condemnation" of Wright's statement, that makes him either a radical or a moron for the last 20 years or a total whore now. Personally, I prefer the total whore, because it is expected of the politicians (God knows both Clinton and McCain are), but not being a whore was the ONLY thing that Obama had going for him.

PBI said...

I disagree.

As he has said, Senator Obama has looked to Pastor Wright for spiritual guidance; not political, and I think his statements about not being able to disown Jeremiah Wright anymore than he can disown his grandmother are valid. (And I am very happy at the prospect of a president with separate political and spiritual agendas.) My own grandfather, for instance, was known to make racist remarks, but my father is his own man, and raised me to judge people by the content of their characters, not the color of their skin. (Or their religion.) Just because my grandfather said some things with which I totally disagree doesn't mean that I have to accept somebody else's declaration that I need to disown him, or that - when he was alive - I was somehow either whoring myself or radicalizing myself by being in his presence. I have my own mind, and I think Senator Obama very clearly does, too.

By accounts that I have read, Pastor Wright's most inflammatory statements have been relatively recent - basically post 9/11 - so I'm not sure that declaring that by being around him, Senator Obama "has been a radical for 20 years" can be said credibly. Even if it could be however, as I address in my post, I think the idea that he would lead some sort of radical black agenda - or that he even COULD, given Congress and other impediments - once in office, is hard to accept as viable. There is nothing in his political record or his own words to suggest it, and there would be nothing gained for him personally by doing so.

In closing, I think that Senator Obama has plenty more to offer than simply "not being a whore," but given your observations about the remaining field of candidates, let me ask you, for whom do you think you will vote, and why?

amy * stem * said...

Good post, PBI.