Or is the American public?
Archives For: Barack Obama
Look: the racial politics of all this was bound to happen at some point. We should not be surprised by the likes of Mickey Kaus or Sean Hannity or Geraldine Ferraro fanning racial resentment and fear. Since it is part of everyone’s emotional make-up in America, we were never going to get past these issues without going through them. And as we go through them, we shouldn’t engage in utopian notions that we could ever have a campaign in which these things would not at some point dominate. Better now than in October.
What matters now is how Obama gets through them. I fear a spasm of constantly ratcheting squalls of racial insecurity and loathing, which drags everyone down to the level on which the Clintons operate and where they feel most at home. Obama therefore has a brutal job to do. But he has so far shown the grace to pull it off. Patience, restraint, hope: that’s all we have to go on right now. But those three things can still win the presidency, if harnessed carefully enough.
A few days after I won the Democratic nomination in my U.S. Senate race, I received an email from a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical School . . .
[T]he reason the doctor was considering not voting for me was not simply my position on abortion. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had posted on my website, which suggested that I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose." The doctor went on to write:
"I sense that you have a strong sense of justice…and I also sense that you are a fair minded person with a high regard for reason…Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded….You know that we enter times that are fraught with possibilities for good and for harm, times when we are struggling to make sense of a common polity in the context of plurality, when we are unsure of what grounds we have for making any claims that involve others…I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."
So I looked at my website and found the offending words. In fairness to them, my staff had written them using standard Democratic boilerplate language to summarize my pro-choice position during the Democratic primary, at a time when some of my opponents were questioning my commitment to protect Roe v. Wade.
Re-reading the doctor’s letter, though, I felt a pang of shame.
It is people like him who are looking for a deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this country. They may not change their positions, but they are willing to listen and learn from those who are willing to speak in fair-minded words. Those who know of the central and awesome place that God holds in the lives of so many, and who refuse to treat faith as simply another political issue with which to score points.
So I wrote back to the doctor, and I thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position. And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own – a prayer that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.
And that night, before I went to bed I said a prayer of my own. It’s a prayer I think I share with a lot of Americans. A hope that we can live with one another in a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all. It’s a prayer worth praying, and a conversation worth having in this country in the months and years to come. Thank you.
Obama is not a woman, nor a white man. He’s who he is. To say that if he were different, things would be different is to say nothing at all. As a white woman, maybe he would have led a military coup and established himself dictator. Who knows!? Hell, if he were a slightly less inspiring speaker, or had an off-night at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he wouldn’t be in this position either. Similarly, if Hillary Clinton were a black man, it’s unlikely that she would have been a national political figure for the past 15 years, as it’s unlikely that she would have married another man from Arkansas, and unlikely that the country would have put an interracial, same sex couple in the White House. But so what? This is an election, not Marvel’s "What If?" series.
An update from the Clinton camp:
Mike Crowley unloads on their rivalry:
Each sees the other as a posturing phony.
I honestly don’t think the mutual animosity is that real. But Mike has more.
Max Fletcher points out something the cable shows should keep front and center:
Currently, according to the popular vote totals at Real Clear Politics, Obama leads Clinton in total votes cast 13,007,968 to 12,415,286 (a margin of 592,682). This total does not include the results from Florida or Michigan. However, it also does not include results from Iowa, Nevada, Washington, and Maine, which have not released popular vote totals.
If you add up the popular vote in all the states that the DNC allowed into the process, here’s the current result:
(margin: 705,691 votes)
We all know the Clintons’ delegate count is very hard to see overcoming Obama’s. But the popular vote is in a similar situation. If at the end of it all, one candidate has more delegates and more votes, why is there a question about who won?
Obama’s closing ad in Texas:
This is, in my view, an important part of the truth about Obama:
This is not some kind of liberal revolutionary who is intent on throwing everything up in the air and starting over.
Put the primary campaign speeches aside; take a look at his policy positions on any number of issues and what strikes you is how reasonable, moderate, and thoughtful they are.
And in person, that’s exactly what he’s like. There’s no fire in the eyes to realize some utopian or revolutionary dream. Instead, what comes across — in both his questions and his answers — is calmness, reason, and judgment.
"Smart, normal, curious, not radical, and post-Boomer. If you were asking me to write a capsule description of what I would look for in the next President of the United States, that would be it."
This is telling to me:
An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn’t trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent. So he took a different tack: "Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday," he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers. "I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian," he said, and the crowd seemed to come along with him this time.
To hear someone defend gay and lesbian dignity and equality from a Christian perspective and to do so in the context of a largely African-American crowd, is much, much more than any candidate for the presidency has ever done. It’s a break through. If it were just words, it would be one thing. But he has now done this repeatedly in front of black crowds, when he didn’t have to. And he has put his specific commitments in writing in an open letter.Continue Reading...
A reader writes:
I just heard a legitimate Obama ad on the Rush Limbaugh program out of WBAP in Dallas. I was astonished, but this kind of thing shows his genius and ability to think outside the box in reaching out to Rush’s very large audience in Texas.
A reader from Chicago writes:
Farrakhan is very much a part of the Chicago political landscape. While the white population has no respect for him, black Chicagoan’s are more ambivalent about the man. Many selectively denounce his worst statements while expressing admiration for his advancement of independence and personal responsibility among blacks.
This admiration is great enough that Chicago politicians, white and black, find it in their political interest to maintain friendly public relations with the Farrakhan, just as they do with Jesse Jackson. In their Chicago bases of operation, neither man carries the local controversy that a Sharpton does in New York. Both have very friendly relationships with the local political establishment powers.
So, while Fox News and the rest of the country rail against Farrakhan, here in Chicago there is relatively little open conflict with the man. To see Chicago Mayor Daley and Farrakhan together at a public event, arms over shoulders, laughing and whispering to each other, you’d never know that this is the same Louis Farrakhan known and despised by the rest of white America. It is within the Chicago political world that Obama’s perspective and approach to Farrakhan was formed. No Chicago politician, white or black, denounces Farrakhan. In exchange, Farrakhan leaves them alone for the most part. So, I don’t think this has anything to do with Obama’s real feelings about Farrakhan. Obama is just continuing with an approach that was part of his political training. His campaign, run by Axelrod (another Chicago veteran), bears all the markings. It may be time for Obama to shed some of the lessons of Chicago, but doing so runs against the grain of everything he learned while cutting his political teeth here.