Countering The Far Right

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.

It is for temperamental, rational reasons – especially in foreign policy – that conservatives should not panic. Read the whole thing. It’s by Marc Andreessen, one of Netscape’s founders. Bottom line:

"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."

The Urgent, Clear Choice For Gay Voters: Obama

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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.

It’s time to be candid about this – because gay voters, in my judgment, could make the difference in Ohio and Texas and Vermont and Rhode Island. There are very large gay communities in Texas’ cities, and Ohio has the sixth largest gay community in the country. A plea: Do not sleep-walk into that voting booth with vague good feelings about the Clintons. Walk into that booth with eyes open and see what gay people have in front of them.

Now you may have many reasons not to vote for Obama, and no gay voter should vote on one issue. But solely with respect to gay matters, there is simply no choice here. Obama’s positions, candor, courage, generation and religious embrace of us are dispositive.

Yes, the McClurkin flap was poorly handled and a casualty of the usual gay-straight tensions in the African American south. But it is overwhelmed by Obama’s clear support and understanding of gay people and willingness to support our dignity at times and in places where others have not. I’ve seen it unprompted in private and unapologetically in public. I never saw it in the Clinton years, and Clinton herself is a victim of the defensive crouch that has immobilized progress at the national level for a decade or more. The current Washington set-up is broken. If you haven’t seen that these past few years, you have blinders on. It doesn’t deliver – and won’t, without a president who actually believes that gay people deserve full equality. Yes, it’s partly generational – Obama sees gay people in a way Clinton never will, as a function of her age and background. But it’s also, it seems to me, an indication that he really is a Christian. One day, it will seem as obvious that Christians should support gay equality as it is now obvious that they should have opposed segregation. What Obama does for gay people in a religious context is just as important as what he does for us in a political one. Both are vital – because it is the abuse of religion that is at the core of the hostility to gay dignity.

What Obama is doing on the gay issue has the potential transform it and help us as a society to move past it. No, he’s not a savior. No, we shouldn’t expect miracles. No, we should never delegate the work of our equality to anyone else. We, after all, are the ones we’ve been waiting for. But within the Democratic contest, the case for backing Obama at this point in time is, to my mind, urgent, vital, historic.

Gay Americans must not throw this chance away.

(Photo: Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty.)

A Sign Of The Times

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.

Farrakhan, Obama, Chicago

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.

Obama’s Open Letter To Gay Americans

Money quote:

As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.

The full thing after the jump:

I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans. Equality is a moral imperative. That’s why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBTAmericans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation.

In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.

Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system. The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense. We should have age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception. We should pass the JUSTICE Act to combat infection within our prison population. And we should lift the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. In addition, local governments can protect public health by distributing contraceptives.

We also need a president who’s willing to confront the stigma – too often tied to homophobia – that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. I confronted this stigma directly in a speech to evangelicals at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and will continue to speak out as president. That is where I stand on the major issues of the day. But having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones – and that’s what I’ve done throughout my career. I brought this message of inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention.

I talked about the need to fight homophobia when I announced my candidacy for President, and I have been talking about LGBT equality to a number of groups during this campaign – from local LGBT activists to rural farmers to parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached. Just as important, I have been listening to what all Americans have to say. I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBTAmericans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary. Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.

Obama Self-Parody Alert

Those wacky liberals have an organization called "Obamacycle" to make sure all campaign materials are environmentally recycled.

[Update: I garbled this. A reader corrects:

Actually, the organization is to get signs and other campaign materials, which are not available otherwise due to a huge back-order, into the hands of people facing upcoming primaries…we’ll save the actual recycling until after November…]

A Scot For Barack

And a cynic too. I need to get him in touch with my old friend, Niall Ferguson. Money quote:

I am without question a Barack partisan. And it’s fair to say that’s bloody weird. I’m a Scot with no vote in the American election. I am experienced enough to know that dumping this amount of hope and expectation onto a political candidate is bound to end in disappointment. And it’s surely pretty damn stupid to be this invested in a contest I have no power to influence even slightly.

So why? Why do I find myself doodling “If only Gore would endorse!” during boring phone calls and spending much of the working day scanning American political blogs for every last scrap of intel? Why, in short, do I care? 

Viva Obama! Ctd

A reader sent me the translation for the video below. Here it is, although I might have preferred in retrospect not to know:

Al candidato quien es Barack Obama
    To the candidate who is Barack Obama
Este corrido le canto con el alma
    I sing this corrido with all my soul.   

  Humilde fue nacido tambien sin pretencion
    He is of humble birth, and without pretension.
    Empezo por las calles de Chicago
    He began on the streets of Chicago
    Trabajando pa’ lograr una vision
    Working to achieve a vision
    Pa’ proteger la gente trabajadora
    To protect the working people
    Y traernos todos juntos
    And bring us all together
    In esta gran nacion.
    In this great nation.

    CHORUS:

    Viva Obama! (Viva!) Viva Obama! (Viva!)
    Familias unidas, seguras, y hasta con plan de salud.
    Families united, secure, and with a health plan.
    Viva Obama! (Viva!) Viva Obama! (Viva!)
    Un candidato luchando por nuestra nacion.
    A candidate fighting for our nation.

    Nada importa si eres de San Antonio
    It doesn’t matter if you’re from San Antonio
    Nada importa si eres de Corpus Christi
    It doesn’t matter if you’re from Corpus Christi
    De Dallas o Del Valle
    From Dallas or El Valle
    De Houston o Del Paso
    From Houston or El Paso
    Lo que importa es que votemos por Obama
    What’s important is that we vote for Obama
    Porque su lucha tambien es nuestra lucha
    Because his fight is also our fight
    Y hoy que tenemos la urgencia para un cambio
    And today we have an urgent need for change
    Vamos todos unidos
    We all go united
    Con nuestro gran amigo
    With our great friend.

    CHORUS:

    Viva Obama! (Viva!) Viva Obama! (Viva!)
    Familias unidas, seguras, y hasta con plan de salud.
    Families united, secure, and with a health plan.
    Viva Obama! (Viva!) Viva Obama! (Viva!)
    Un candidato luchando por nuestra nacion.
    A candidate fighting for our nation.