The Continuing Obamenon

May 2, 2008 at 10:55 am 14 comments

The campaign of Barack Obama is a fascinating story, a bonus in a year where the contentious race for the Democratic nomination has already been pure entertainment for a conservative Republican like me.

Much has been made of the Jeremiah Wright debacle. One definition for that word is “a great disruption.” Whatever your feeling on the matter, can this be argued? One thing that is clear is that Obama should not be surprised. From a one year old New York Times piece (via Best of the Web):

Few of those at Mr. Wright’s tribute in March knew of the pressures that Mr. Obama’s presidential run was placing on the relationship between the pastor and his star congregant. Mr. Wright’s assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.

Mr. Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate who says he was only shielding his pastor from the spotlight, said he respected Mr. Wright’s work for the poor and his fight against injustice. But “we don’t agree on everything,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve never had a thorough conversation with him about all aspects of politics.”

It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase “Giving all praise and honor to God,” a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” after one of Mr. Wright’s sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.

The article concludes:

Mr. Wright, who has long prided himself on criticizing the establishment, said he knew that he may not play well in Mr. Obama’s audition for the ultimate establishment job.

“If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” Mr. Wright said with a shrug. “I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.”

 I don’t support Obama. I don’t like his policies. I’m less concerned about his Church associations, notwithstanding his pastor’s nuttiness. How he has dealt with those is an interesting window into who he is.

What else tells us about him? I liked this post from Eric at The Tygrrrr Express. Eric is also a conservative, but like many (including me) he can’t help but be impressed with Obama. He does possess formidable political gifts. This excerpt illuminates one of them:

Bill Kristol correctly pointed out that many of Obama’s answers lacked substance. Even if that was true, the fact that I did not notice that during the interview only goes to show how effective he was. To go back and watch it again, and judge the performance in a harsher light, would be unfair.

I know this has happened to me- Obama exudes a kind of reasonableness. I know this is what makes him a palatable choice for many people, even Republicans that should know better.

We’ll keep watching the Obamenon unfold.


Entry filed under: Commentary, Politics. Tags: , , .

Tub Time The Zuiikin Folks are at it again

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Massimo  |  May 2, 2008 at 11:42 am

    When I began my graduate studies at the University of Chicago some years ago, Barack Obama, then a state senator, was one of the featured speakers at new student orientation, somewhere between the student health nurse lecturing us on “safer sex” practices and the University Police chief reassuring us that Al Capone was dead. I vaguely remember Obama’s saying, winkingly, that the history of Chicago politics offered plenty to study. (I’m sure he now wishes it were otherwise.)

    Frankly, I was more impressed with the police chief, who seemed wise, witty, and competent, three things Obama emphatically is not.

  • 2. TRussell  |  May 2, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    For the sake of argument, let’s concede Barak Obama is an effective communicator.

    Well so was Adolf Hitler, but we wouldn’t want him to be our president. Right?

    Oratory skills do not alone qualify a person to lead a nation.

    Why all this focus on a skill that is ancillary to doing the job?

    Maybe we should listen to Obama and focus on the issues.

  • 3. lemare  |  May 2, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I can’t remember if I voted for Obama for senator or not. I certainly didn’t vote against him (ALAN KEYES???). I hold myself partially responsible for his momentum over the last few years.

  • 4. Massimo  |  May 2, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    LeMare, a woman we both know lost out on (escaped?) a second date when on our first she boasted of voting for Obama. Some things are just turn-offs.

  • 5. lemare  |  May 2, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    I think a couple we know (who are hot as a sauna in dolce and gabana) voted for obama.

    What’s an Illinois Republican to do? The repubs are often worse than the democrats (Judy Barr Topinka???)

  • 6. Massimo  |  May 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Voting for Obama instead of Keyes is one thing. Boasting about it is quite another. There are some things that, if they must be done, should be kept as dirty, shameful secrets: voting for Obama, eating at White Castle, and watching Lifetime.

    I think one member of that couple you mention (decked out in Gucci, Versace, and Pucci) once wrote me in for Cook County Water Commissioner. There are always alternatives.

  • 7. lemare  |  May 3, 2008 at 2:44 am

    I do not brag about voting for Obama (if I, in fact, did), nor do I boast voting for Mayor Dailey (which I KNOW i did), and I certainly don’t boast about voting for that repulsive JBT for governor…

    But any channel that features Golden Girls and The Nanny reruns is fine by me. And I’m saying it out loud.

  • 8. Sportsattitude  |  May 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    While I did vote for Obama, I have only ever eaten at White Castle once (during my “lost” years) and I only have watched Lifetime for reruns of “Reba” and “Still Standing.” I do agree completely with the fact being a witty speaker does not alone qualify someone to be in the most powerful position on Earth. Nor does being the wife of a former President or a prisoner of war from decades ago.

  • 9. Joey  |  May 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    I am always proud to vote for the Irish, provided their last name is not Madigan, which is why I didn’t mind voting for Mayor Daley, and why I felt less uncomfortable voting for some guy named O’Bama (and, yes, I would have voted for one Mr. Ryan had his wife’s divorce lawyer and the cowardly Judi Barr Topinka not decided to make Mr. Obama president instead). Judi Barr Topinka shall not receive forgiveness in this world nor the next, neither shall her hairstyle go unpunished when the Revolution comes.

    PS, I am really depressed that this discussion is even taking place. I long for the days when closely paraphrasing Karl Marx, even during a Democratic debate, made one a pariah and erased whatever virtues a candidate might otherwise have been thought to have.

    BTW, history is watching.

  • 10. Joey  |  May 3, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Also, I’ve never understood this compulsion people have to admit their admiration for otherwise despicable people, or for people with despicable views.

    I suppose there’s an argument to be made along the lines of intellectual honesty, but I’m still with Massimo: there’s no reason to talk about it publicly. Contain your admiration for Obama: his personal positives are so overshadowed by his political negatives that the positives do not bear mention. My word. Some of you sound like Chris Mathews with his perpetual Obama chills running down up his leg.

  • 11. Joey  |  May 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    And another thing (the last thing, I promise), I think saying, “But he’s a good communicator,” is sort of like saying, “But they have free healthcare in Cuba.” Nice, but it mitigates nothing.

  • 12. lowdogg  |  May 5, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Joey- I don’t want a stalwart like you getting too depressed, but I think the discussion of Obama is important, given the fact that he may well be his party’s nominee. Therefore it is important to deconstruct the appeal of a man who is ideologically unfit (in my eyes and yours I presume).
    To some extent conservatives made this mistake with Clinton, a man whose likeability masked a pernicious lack of personal morality. I think to be victorious in the Fall you have to address Obama’s positives without praising them, but also beware coming across as the mean man attacking that nice young man, especially with craggy John on the ticket.
    As in marriage, the way you deliver the message is often the most important thing (initially at least). If you blow that it is all over. Trust me.

  • 13. lowdogg  |  May 5, 2008 at 9:16 am

    I also just wanted to use the term “Obamenon” as “Obamania” is a bit used up at this point.

  • 14. Joey  |  May 5, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Lowdogg- you write, “To some extent conservatives made this mistake with Clinton, a man whose likeability masked a pernicious lack of personal morality.” Maybe, but I think that’s mostly revisionism. No doubt Clinton was likable. But would he have beaten George Bush Sr. if the latter had not raised taxes? I’ve always thought of that episode in presidential politics as an example of why conservatives never win when they waver from conservatism, and why liberals always win when they adopt conservatives’ social and economic positions (except for anything having to do with sex, of course, because liberals will always be libertarian on sex).

    You could argue, I guess, that voters’ expectations of liberals and conservatives line up as follows: 1) Liberals are expected to be more open to change and difference, and to be nice; 2) Conservatives are expected to be consistent and ruthless. So, when Democrats adopted the Republicans’ ideas on free trade and welfare reform, it was easier to take because of Clinton’s likability–his changes weren’t flip-flops, they were liberal openness to difference; and he was at least nice enough to convince us that welfare reform wouldn’t hurt too bad. Conversely, Republicans are usually rewarded for being consistent, even if they are mean about it. So, in that sense, it sounds like we agree, Lowdogg.

    McCain is a hard pill for me to swallow, because he’s ruthless and inconsistent.


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