Monday, April 30, 2007
Over the past few days, I have encountered two very interesting articles about Barack Obama, who John McWhorter thinks will be our next President. After ticking off the trinity atop the Republican field as losers against him in a head-to-head -- save Giuliani, who he thinks will have trouble getting past the primaries -- McWhorter says the following in a guest blog for The Economist:
Mr Obama has a once-in-a-lifetime charisma that Hillary Clinton could never approximate, and she also suffers from the handicap of not being black. For all of his other plusses, part of Mr Obama's appeal lies in the fact that many whites feel that voting for a black presidential candidate would be Doing the Right Thing. Leon Wieseltier has been explicit about this; he is not unique.On the flip side of some whites feeling like they are "Doing the Right Thing", by supporting Obama, others may find themselves painted as racists for opposing him -- or afraid enough of having this happen to shut up. This would have the effect of stifling lots of legitimate criticism of Obama in a dynamic reminiscent of one that has happened over and over:
Some object that white voters have often claimed to support black candidates only to refrain from actually pulling the lever for them. But does this unquestionably apply to the Obama case? Are all those swooning whites fighting their way into his appearances racists deep-down, chasing Mr Obama as a rock star but loth to vote for "one of those people" as a President? There are blacks, after all, who have designated Obama "the kind of black they're comfortable with". [bold added]
Ward Connerly has repeatedly witnessed [the] dynamic [described above by Shelby Steele] at work firsthand. "I've often had the experience of speaking in a room of 100 people, and knowing that 99 of them agree with me," he says. "But if there's one angry black person in the audience who disagrees, that person controls the room. He'll go on about the last 400 years, and institutional racism, and 'driving while black,' and the other 99 will just sit there and fold like a cheap accordion." [bold added]Needless to say, Obama won't do the confrontational dirty work himself, nor would he have to. The leftist media and the corrupt civil rights establishment will take care of that.
In Obama, therefore, we will have a charismatic candidate whose agenda will often go unexamined or unchallenged for either of the above reasons. The only people left standing will be the other candidate (who, even if he does not fold, will be reduced to sound bites in response), a few principled opponents, and actual racists. Our leftist media will happily do what it can to paint the former two groups with the same brush it uses for the last. In today's fashion of political "debate", this could well be decisive.
And what will we get if Obama wins? A man famous for being a leftist, and who, in his own words, "submitted myself to [God's] will" -- a member of the emerging religious left, who is big pals with Jim Wallis no less:
As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama is reaching out to both liberal skeptics and committed Christians. In many speeches or discussions, he never mentions religion. When Mr. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, does speak of faith, he tends to add a footnote about keeping church and state separate.Obama's spiritual mentor -- with whom he has already agreed to "publicly distance" himself (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) should he emerge from the primaries -- has a great many views that ought to be challenged. Among them:
But he also talks of building a consensus among secular liberal and conservative Christian voters. Mr. Wallis, the antipoverty advocate who calls himself a "progressive evangelical," first met Mr. Obama 10 years ago when both participated in traveling seminars on American civic life. On bus rides, Mr. Wallis and Mr. Obama would huddle, away from company like George Stephanopoulos and Ralph Reed, to plot building a coalition of progressive and religious voters.
"The problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect 10 point plan," Mr. Obama says in one of his standard campaign lines. "They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness -- in the imperfections of man."
He often makes reference to the civil rights movement, when liberals used Christian rhetoric to win change. [bold added]
On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. [Jeremiah A.] Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that "people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just 'disappeared' as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns."Obama is only too happy to make excuses for such inexcusable utterances.
"Reverend Wright is a child of the 60s, and he often expresses himself in that language of concern with institutional racism and the struggles the African-American community has gone through," Mr. Obama said. "He analyzes public events in the context of race. I tend to look at them through the context of social justice and inequality."Does he really mean this, and does he really mean it when he says, "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification"? Or is he just "publicly distancing" himself from the Rev. Wright?
It will be very interesting, and probably in the most morbid sense, to observe the Presidential race should Obama be the Democratic nominee. I think McWhorter has a very good point about the possible role of what I think of as White Guilt in his potential to be elected. But might his far-left politics obviate his personal and social advantages?
Possibly, although this would be predicated on him being too far "ahead of his time" in presenting religious conservatives with the full political expression of their moral philosophy as well as being otherwise unable to sway them that his "heart is in the right place".
On balance, I see Obama as having a high chance of being elected. This will sound like an unmitigated disaster to many of my readers (and it could well be), and I do not relish the prospect in the short term. But is there a silver lining?
We need look no farther than the pretend "war" our current President is busy turning into a negotiated surrender to our real enemy, Iran -- and to the current leaders of the Republican field. Pat Toomey talks about what he thinks each of these men should do to win fiscal conservative voters (Disclaimer: I am not a fiscal conservative, but a radical capitalist.):
- The boisterous maverick who opposed the Bush tax cuts with the same vociferousness as Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle will have to prove to conservatives that a President McCain won't stab them in the back again. [Aside from the fact that support for McCain-Feingold automatically makes a candidate unworthy of support, has Mr. Toomey ever read the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog? Too late. --ed]
- [Rudy Giuliani's positions include] opposition to NAFTA and support for McCain-Feingold. ... Rudy will have to reassure economic conservatives that underneath that Yankees baseball cap, there is a firm commitment to free-market, limited-government values that will benefit the country as a whole. [See my above remark on McCain-Feingold. Also, I have already addressed Giuliani's standing as a "fiscal conservative" at some length. --ed]
- Romney will also need ... to convince voters that he truly is an economic conservative by distancing himself from his recent labeling of the flat tax as "unfair" and assuring Republicans that his universal health care plan won't be revived under a Romney administration. [This man signed socialized medicine into law. 'Nuff said. --ed]
[Obama] has said he shares core Christian beliefs in God and in Jesus as his resurrected son, he sometimes mentions doubts. In his second book, he admitted uncertainty about the afterlife, and "what existed before the Big Bang." Generally, Mr. Obama emphasizes the communal aspects of religion over the supernatural ones.Obama will do what he can to make our lives a "communal" Hell on Earth if he is elected, and the blame will (perhaps) finally rest where it belongs: religion. Assuming we survive this Jimmy Carter on Steroids, we may profit greatly as a nation from the experience.
Having said this, I shudder to imagine what an Obama Presidency would look like. Would Obama, with opponents afraid to stretch their necks out too far, end up with a cowering, rubber-stamp Congress? Would he succeed in building a socialist-theocrat coalition, thereby morally reinvigorating the former and delivering political power to the latter?
I started this blog with John McWhorter's essay as my point of departure and I end with it as well. McWhorter goes on to speculate how an Obama Presidency will affect conversations about what it means to be black in America. Equally interesting will be whether whites in America learn (or we find that they have learned) that it really is okay to treat a black man as an equal, including expressing honest disagreement with him and stopping him if one honestly thinks he is wrong.