Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Did You Think of Obama's Speech? I'm Not Sure.

Barack Obama said a lot of the right things in his speech in Philadelphia yesterday. The only problem is--I'm not sure if I can trust him. I agreed with some of the things he said, but I wonder about some things that weren't said, and I also wonder about the potentially hidden meanings of others.

Some of the Things I Agreed With

In No Other Nation - I agree with Obama's implication that America is something to be uniquely proud of:
I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Reverend Wright's "Profoundly Distorted View" - I appreciated very much that Obama publicly chastised Jeremiah Wright for his overtly racist statements:
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
There is Much More to Reverend Wright Than a Couple of YouTube Videos - I am willing to believe that Wright's racist comments are aberrations of his real personality.
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Some of the Things I Disagreed With

The Black Experience - I know many blacks have been in groups of white people where they have felt intimidated by them. Perhaps based on that there is the "black experience".
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
On the other hand, I've been in groups of black people in which I have felt severely intimidated because of my color. I have been told by a black woman that as a white man I have no value. If Obama is serious about overcoming the racial divide in America, he shouldn't just give a nod and a wink to the racist facets of the "black experience".

Throwing Grandma Under the Bus, But Not Dad - Greg Allen hosted General Jerry Curry on The Right Balance this morning. Their conversation included a discussion of Obama's speech. Greg Allen made a good point, which I'll paraphrase. If Obama can say this:
I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, ... and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
then why did he not admit that his black father left him when he was two years old?

The Potentially Hidden Meanings


The "Long March" - When I hear this term, I immediately think of its pregnant meaning. Obama, who must have known what the term implies, said:
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us...
Mao Tse Tung endured a long march of his own--to a power that ceased only upon his death.

Socialist Antonio Gramsci talked of the "long march through the institutions", advocating a patient, gradual change away from individual liberties and toward socialism, where the government takes care of everything for everyone. This, by the way, is why I will not vote for Barack Obama--his agreement with Antonio Gramsci on at least most things "social".

The Fervor of Unity - Barack Obama has used the word unity nearly ad nauseam in his campaign speeches. The way people swoon when he talks of such unity has me a bit creeped out. Unity behind what? I can think of several people who had unity behind the wrong principle:
  • Benito Mussolini was adored by Italians. Women swooned. He was a marvelous speaker.
  • Franklin D Roosevelt unified the people, many in worshipful genuflection, behind socialistic policies that still wrack the American economy today.
  • Adolf Hitler was adored by fellow Germans. Not that Obama is thinking about putting all whites in concentration camps or anything, but their meteoric rises to "rock stardom" are eerily similar.
  • Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara suckered the Cuban people hook, line, and sinker. It was only after the Cubans realized they had been lied to that they were forced to choose whether (1) to suffer abuse, torture, and/or death, (2) to escape to the United States, or (3) to become one of the "unified".
Unity behind the wrong principle is much more scary when people are unified a person just because of his innate skill as a pied piper. It is the principles that the man espouses that must be listened to--not the clarion call of the rhythmic, polished voice.
. . .
So...yes, Obama said a lot of good things. Did he mean them? And his preacher might be a good man. Does it matter? In this context, I don't have to care, really. Because Obama's socialist policies speak much louder than his eloquent words.




6 comments:

  1. I had a problem with Obama equating Grandma's private epithets as morally equivalent to his pastor's extremely public and virulent hate mongering. That's a nice way to politicize Grandma.

    When Obama said that Sunday morning is the most racially divided hour of the week, I couldn't help but wonder why he had chosen to promote and encourage that kind of divide.

    The whole message was that rich white men are the source of everyone else's problems. I don't much get off on victimology. It doesn't do much to help those that buy it to actually improve their lot in life.

    And finally, I didn't care for Obama's proposed solution to the divisiveness he finds so unacceptable, but which he has helped promote: raise taxes, expand socialist programs, restrict trade, and surrender in Iraq. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is not a recipe for healing racism.

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  2. Oh, you mean yesterday's speech? Today's speech was better.

    "[H]ere is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country - a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions. A gap between Washington experience, and the wisdom of Washington’s judgments. A gap between the rhetoric of those who tout their support for our troops, and the overburdened state of our military."

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  3. On that particular statement ("security gap") I completely agree with Barack Obama.

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  4. I only watched the very beginning of Mr. Obama's speech, but it seemed consistent with what I have seen in other speeches he has made. He is very eloguent and speaks well, but he also appears to believe what he says. While his political agenda may be on the other end of the political spectrum from mine, I think he would be an excellent candidate to draw the nation together again. While he may be rising similarly to Adolf Hitler, his speeches seem to promote change from corruption and a move towards unity. Hitler mounted his campaign on anti-semetic principles. Similar rise, different approaches. Obama's campaign appears to have been consistent from the beginning he has spoken from the heart and not changed his campaign to try and get more votes. Unlike Hillary who went from believing in experience and her past to suddenly wanting change...

    While I may or may not be voting for him (I'm still undecided at this point.) I would be proud to support him as a president, should he be nominated and subsequently elected. We could do far worse than an eloquent man who speaks with dignity.

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  5. I remember as a child my parent's and other's excitement when Ronald Reagan was running for president. Recently I've actually heard him called a "rock star politician" too. A lot of the excitement over Obama is a reaction to people's sentiments toward the Bush administration and their desperation to have a president they can believe in again.

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  6. Cindy,

    You raise an excellent point. It was a travesty that Bush was elected President (of course the Gore and Kerry alternatives were equally bleak). People are clamoring for something genuine in their leadership, but I have come to the conclusion that Obama is not it.

    Ronald Reagan may have been referred to as a rock star, but I'm fairly confident that he would have been embarrassed by having the term applied to him.

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