Sunday, March 23, 2008

Basra, liberation theology and Iraq

After the Read More! Basra today. Ratzinger on Liberation Theology. Iraq: from enemy to ally. Has Obama betrayed the Palestinians?

The Daily Telegraph

Five years on from the invasion of Iraq, the apparent success of the American surge and growing stability in Basra are providing cautious grounds for optimism. There has been a palpable change in the atmosphere in Basra since Britain formally handed over control of the province to the Iraqis last December.

What Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger thought of liberation theology in 1984.

Liberation theology is a phenomenon with an extraordinary number of layers. There is a whole spectrum from radically marxist positions, on the one hand, to the efforts which are being made within the framework of a correct and ecclesial theology, on the other hand, a theology which stresses the responsibility which Christians necessarily hear for the poor and oppressed, such as we see in the documents of the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM) from Medellin to Puebla. In what follows, the concept of liberation theology will be understood in a narrower sense: it will refer only to those theologies which, in one way or another, have embraced the marxist fundamental option. Here too there are many individual differences, which cannot be dealt with in a general discussion of this kind. All I can do is attempt to illuminate certain trends which, notwithstanding the different nuances they exhibit, are widespread and exert a certain influence even where liberation theology in this more restricted sense does not exist. ...

In trying to arrive at an overall evaluation it must be said that, if one accepts the fundamental assumptions which underlie liberation theology, it cannot be denied that the whole edifice has an almost irresistible logic. By adopting the position of biblical criticism and of a hermeneutics that grows through experience, on the one hand, and of the marxist analysis of history, on the other, liberation theologians have succeeded in creating a total picture of the Christian reality, and this total view seems to respond fully both to the claims of science and to the moral challenges of our time, urging people to make Christianity an instrument of concrete world transformation; it seems to have united Christianity, in this way, with all the "progressive forces" of our era. One can understand, therefore, that this new interpretation of Christianity should have exercised an increasing fascination over theologians, priests and religious, particularly against the background of Third World problems.

The Cardinal who was to become Pope Benedict argued that any answer to liberation theology would have to present alternative solutions to the problems the liberation theologians purported to solve. And this is the problem that Barack Obama's speech so carefully evaded. It isn't that Wright's liberation theology is wrong, just that mistakenly fails to acknowledge its already considerable achievements.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. ...

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

But that's begging the question. The world's general economic standard of living has also risen since the 1960s. But not much of that has come from "liberation theology" so much as greater enterprise, trade and technology. There are severe problems facing many black Americans. The unasked question is how responsible Wright's ideology was for some of "that cycle of violence", some of the "welfare policies [that] for many years may have worsened" the erosion of black families is never addressed. Obama's own city of Chicago has been under a Democratic Party monopoly for decades controlled by a "machine" whose concept of civil rights was to create an African-American "sub-machine". How much of "the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods" in Chicago is due to very policies America has not yet had enough of? How much of the poverty in the Third World is actually due to the Marxist nostrums they have not yet had enough of?

Caroline Glick at the Jerusalem Post.

US Vice President Richard Cheney's visit to Iraq on the fifth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom was given scant coverage in the media. And yet it may go down in history as a pivotal moment in the transformation of post-Saddam Iraq into a beacon of democracy and freedom in the Arab world.

Hours after Cheney's departure, the Iraqi presidency council announced that it had approved the Iraqi parliament's provincial elections law. This long-awaited act will facilitate Iraq's development into a federal state and so cement the grassroots-level political progress that has made such strides in the last year as a result of the revised US counter-insurgency or "surge" campaign.

The Electronic Intifada remembers Barack Obama before he became the frontrunner:

The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.

As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, "Keep up the good work!"

But even though Obama had taken off his coat, he was holding something close to his chest. "Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency."

Money and votes, but especially money, channelled through sophisticated and coordinated networks that can "bundle" small donations into million dollar chunks are what buy influence on policy. ... Obama's about-face is not surprising. He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power. ... Only if enough people know what Obama and his competitors stand for, and organize to compel them to pay attention to their concerns can there be any hope of altering the disastrous course of US policy in the Middle East.

Ali Abunimah's article can be good or bad news depending on how cynical you are. Some may see in Abunimah's lament proof that Obama "is someone we can do business with". Others may be disappointed in Abunimah's realization that Obama is just another Chicago politician. Maybe the definitions are equivalent.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.



Blogger Elijah said...

"Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, "Keep up the good work!"

Sen. Barack Obama says that a pro-Hamas op-ed printed in his church's bulletin was
"outrageously wrong"
The Talkback commenters of the article seem to need more convincing

3/23/2008 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The most interesting puzzle I've come across for a long time is Barack Obama. What disturbs most people about him doesn't bother me.

For example, his dialogue with Abunimah rings no alarm bells. It's exactly what I would expect from a person of his background and history. The disturbing part is this:

"Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency."

And here's why. I occasionally run into guys from the "old days". Back from the anti-Marcos underground. And a lot of them are still doing exactly the same thing from then. Living in the same old dumps, meeting in the same holes in the wall, spinning the same old schemes and meeting with the same old failure. I'll bet most people know the type.

And while one may disagree with them in every respect, in one way alone do they keep one's admiration. They never sold out. Either from incapacity or principle they've stayed what they were. Some of them asked me once to explain the best way forward. I said go into politics and start running force office before you get too old. But they never could.

Ralph Nader, in a way, is like that. He's a futile man. Always looking to recreate his moment of remembered glory. Never calculating. Never thinking, never figuring six years in advance of 2008 how much better it would be if he could position closer to AIPAC. Far less capable than Obama. But looking back over the years, I've asked myself 'would I trust a guy who was buddies with Rezko just a few years afer he was an urban poor community organizer?' Yukking it up with a slum landlord? Can you trust a man that smooth? My own personal answer to that question was 'no'.

But going to back to business, Obama's mutability is almost a plus. He'd be a great politician. Maybe better than most. And if I were AIPAC I'd talk to him, simply because you'd talk to anyone who looks like he's going to win. And there'll be smiles all around, toasts all around. All as phoney as three dollar bills. That's business. But simply as man to man, I'd trust Barack Obama about as far as I'd throw the Brooklyn Bridge.

Having said that, I'll hasten to add that you often don't have the luxury of selecting a politician on the basis of whether or not you'd want him to be your friend. It might even be true that you should never elect a politician who you would want to be your friend. Or as Groucho Marx could have said, "Don't elect him to a club that you would want to be a member of." It's a judgment of the club more than the man.

The problem of course is that while we don't require much morality of a politician (and even a criminal for that matter); they must at bottom have a sense of loyalty. Be a "stand up" man for something, even something perverted. Loyalty to the gang; to his boss; to the man who hired him. To something. I haven't figured out what Obama is loyal to, except to himself.

Bill Richardson was called out by Hillary for refusing to stay bought. He wasn't crook enough to stay straight. And therefore Carville called him a Judas. He should know. But just as I would advise Obama (were I advising him) never to trust Richardson out of sight, I myself would watch Obama. The man's full of moves; all of them slick.

What he is I've long suspected. Who he is, I've yet to make up my mind about.

3/23/2008 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Well, he is loyal to the Rev. Wright.
That is a puzzle in and of itself.

I haven't yet come across any announcements or PR indicating what Carloine Glick was referring to in JP article. Given the AQI efforts yesterday some pause is understandable. But if the Iraqi governing council (?) did agree to a provincial election law, that is huge. I would expect some verification somewhere.

3/24/2008 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I missed it too. But

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday praised Iraq's presidential council for signing a law that paves the way for provincial elections, which Washington sees as crucial to helping reconcile the nation's factions.

The three-member presidential council ended its objections to signing off on the measure on Wednesday, two days after Vice President Dick Cheney visited Iraq on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the war.

3/24/2008 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Over a decade ago, I observed that Bill Clinton was the Ultimate Liberal. The essence of modern liberalism is that there are no absolutes, no rights, no wrongs, just points of view, and all are equally valid – but some may be more valid than others at a particular time and circumstance. The logical conclusion of this non-thought process was the liberal that did not even profess to believe in liberalism; he could not embrace his own philosophy because to do so would essentially admit that the very concept of a philosophy has value. And that would admit that the philosophy is wrong.

I think that Obama is probably the next step of liberal evolution beyond Bill Clinton. The problem is, given their principles of non-belief, we have no way of knowing what that is. And that’s the way they want it.

3/24/2008 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

"Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency."

You see, the problem with Obama is that he is engaging in great deception. When you "court the pro-Israel constituency" while, at the same time, you accept foreign policy advisers who are unanimously anti-Israel and perhaps even Jew-hating (Samantha Power, Robert Malley, Zbigniew Brezhinski, and Anthony Lake) you aren't telling the truth. And there are so many other ways Obama does not tell the truth about what he really thinks.

The ciphers to how and what Obama thinks are still the two most important women in his life: his mother and his wife. If you probe them, you have very important missing pieces in the narrative about him.

Those of us who have done our due diligence knew about Rev. Wright many months ago. Moreover, I agree that the controversy over Rev. Wright actually obscures from view far more important and far-reaching facts about Obama that the media will never shed light on unless forced kicking and screaming.

3/24/2008 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Obama - the "Puzzle"? - Nope...Just "subtle, serious and patriotic" to quote the neo-con Abigail Thernstrom in post-Speech National REview Online." What bothers me about Wretch's returns to the subject of OBama (and Fred's too!) is the readiness to assume the worst (though the "puzzling" offers the pretense of thought). On this score, let's recall the cherry-picked piece re Obama's muscling of the pol he replaced in the State Sen. Despite the invocation of gangster movies and the Wretch's dark threats about his horrific actions - it all looked like pretty light stuff when I went and read the whole Trib piece. And BTW - I noticed that Wretch not pass on to his readers the fact that the Trib - AFTER their most recent conclave with O re REzko in which he fully answered EVERY question had - re-upped on their endorsement. This is a REPUBLICAN newspaper ya'll. Here's the ender from the March 16the piece...

"We fully expect the Clinton campaign, given its current desperation, to do whatever it must in order to keep the Rezko tin can tied to Obama's bumper.

When we endorsed Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination Jan. 27, we said we had formed our opinions of him during 12 years of scrutiny. We concluded that the professional judgment and personal decency with which he has managed himself and his ambition distinguish him.

Nothing Obama said in our editorial board room Friday diminishes that verdict.


We said in that same editorial that Obama had been too self-exculpatory in explaining away his ties to Tony Rezko. And we've been saying since Nov. 3, 2006 -- shortly after the Tribune broke the story of Obama's house purchase -- that Obama needed to fully explain his Rezko connection. He also needed to realize how susceptible he had been to someone who wanted a piece of him -- and how his skill at recognizing that covetousness needed to rise to the same stature as his popular appeal.

Friday's session evidently fulfills both obligations. Might we all be surprised by some future disclosure? Obama's critics have waited 16 months for some new and cataclysmic Rezko moment to implicate and doom Obama. It hasn't happened.

Obama said Friday that voters who don't know what to make of his Rezko connection should, in the wake of his discussion with the Tribune, "see somebody who is not engaged in any wrongdoing ... and who they can trust." Yes, he said, he comes from Chicago. But he has risen in this corrupt Illinois environment without getting entangled in it.

Obama tries to live by "high ethical standards," he said. Although "that doesn't excuse the mistake I made here."

Obama should have had Friday's discussion 16 months ago. Asked why he didn't, he spoke of learning, uncomfortably, what it's like to live in a fishbowl. That made him perhaps too eager to protect personal information -- too eager to "control the narrative."

Less protection, less control, would have meant less hassle for his campaign. That said, Barack Obama now has spoken about his ties to Tony Rezko in uncommon detail. That's a standard for candor by which other presidential candidates facing serious inquiries now can be judged."

I've cut and pasted a couple more recent repub endorsements below, starting with Abigail Thernstrom's. But let me end this with an expression of wonder re Wretch's passing on - without registering any skepticism - of the comment by the "Electonic Intifada" guy. Can you imagine Wretch offering the Electronic Intifada man as the MAN to trust on ANY OTHER subject cept Obama? Shouldn't Wretch be slightly skeptical of this guy's version of events. But, nope, E.I. is dissingn O so he must be telling the truth. Well, I bet E.I. is lying on him. THoub I could well imagine O speaking warmly, maybe even encouraging him to keep argufying. I often argue with one family member re Arabs/Israelis... And often times, in order to open her up to a point that might stick somewhere down the line, I HEAR a lot, w/o resisting every aspect of her pov...I have no doubt O is capable of doing that. Sure it's good politics. But I'd put the emphasis on GOOD not POLITICS...Especially after his great speech.

Subtle, Serious, Patriotic
Barack Obama and a “long march.”

By Abigail Thernstrom

I guess I’m not supposed to like Senator Barack Obama’s Philadelphia speech — at least if I want to keep my conservative credentials intact. But I did — and join Charles Murray in celebrating its subtlety, seriousness, and patriotism. What other prominent contemporary black politician could or would have given such a speech?

Yes, Rev. Jeremiah Wright is full of hateful, anti-American rhetoric, but his views are clearly not those of the Illinois senator. Indeed, the Philadelphia speech had something of Martin Luther King Jr.’s belief in what Obama called his “the decency and generosity of the American people.” As King did, Obama appealed to our better angels, asking Americans to join him in continuing the “long march . . . for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring, and more prosperous America.” And he distanced himself from those who, like Wright, depicted 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 is right with America. . . . ”

↓ Keep reading this article ↓

Goldblatt: The Cognitive Gap

Hoekstra: Pelosi’s Vacation Alibi

Hegseth: Iraq’s Window of Opportunity

Hanson: The Obama Crash and Burn

Editors: Averting a Crisis

Robbins: Speech Impediment

Dunphy: What Price ‘Diversity’?

Murdock: Chilling Confirmation

Craig: The Water from His Side

Flashback: Did We Need To Know It Was Easter Sunday?

Steyn: Post ‘Post-Racial Candidate’

Barone: Millennial Indicators

Norman: Preferred Tournament

Spruiell: The Politics of Friendship

York: Reverend Who?

Holton: Iranian Entanglements

In effect, that last sentence distances him from the entire civil-rights community, which conditions membership on the belief that white racism is endemic — even where it can’t be seen, touched, smelled, or otherwise detected.

Anger and alienation are arguably the most worrisome aspect of black urban life and culture, and Obama talked about the “bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.” The depth of that bitterness should not be underestimated — or ignored. In 1997, two social scientists, Paul Sniderman of Stanford and Thomas Piazza of UC Berkeley, actually surveyed black opinion in Chicago. Only 17 percent of Chicago blacks in the Sniderman-Piazza sample said they disliked Louis Farrakhan. Forty-six agreed (as Rev. Wright has charged) that the federal government deliberately brought guns and drugs into the inner city to destroy blacks, while a more modest, yet alarming, 28 percent signed on to the notion that white doctors invented AIDS, releasing the disease into the black community.

And thus, when Obama said he could not “disown the black community,” he was talking about a community in which dysfunctional families and a dysfunctional ideology make for a dangerous brew. But it was, for better or worse, the community to which he belonged. And, it might be added, the community to which he had to belong if he had any hope of building a political career based on Chicago’s south side. He worked as a community organizer, but those he worked with saw him as too Harvard, too privileged, not truly one of them — and certainly not destined to stay, since he had other options in life. Joining that church, one can assume, was part of a quest to belong.

In describing Trinity, Obama struck another and too seldom heard note: one of appreciation for the strength of African Americans who have suffered as no other group has in the nation’s history. Gunnar Myrdal (An American Dilemma) wrote disparagingly of black culture as nothing more than a distorted and pathological version of white culture. Obama’s description of the parishioners in his church gave white listeners a glimpse of a world of faith (with “raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor . . . dancing, clapping, screaming, and shouting”) that has been the primary means of black survival and uplift.

Rev. Wright, as Obama says, is the product of a certain era — thankfully gone. (As are Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, and most civil-rights icons, he could have added.) Do I wish Senator Obama had walked away from Trinity Church? Sure. I suspect the reasons he did not do so are psychologically complex. In any case, Wright’s Afrocentric, hate-America views, are clearly not those of Obama himself, who lives, as he says, in the only country on Earth in which his story is even possible.

“The complexities of race,” as Obama says, remain unfinished American business. Much of the commentary on the Philadelphia speech suggests Obama is pulling us backwards. I think not. I wasn’t happy with it from beginning to end — far from it — but it contains important messages: Blacks must not “succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe they can write their own destiny.” And, working together, whites and blacks can “move beyond some of our old racial wounds.”

Does “moving beyond” mean massive new government programs unlikely to solve the basic race-related problems? Probably, but that is a topic for another day.

— Abigail Thernstrom is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Endorsing Obama
Today I endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence and genuine good will. I take him at his word that he wants to move the nation beyond its religious and racial divides and to return United States to that company of nations committed to human rights. I do not know if his earlier life experience is sufficient for the challenges of the presidency that lie ahead. I doubt we know this about any of the men or women we might select. It likely depends upon the serendipity of the events that cannot be foreseen. I do have confidence that the Senator will cast his net widely in search of men and women of diverse, open-minded views and of superior intellectual qualities to assist him in the wide range of responsibilities that he must superintend.

This endorsement may be of little note or consequence, except perhaps that it comes from an unlikely source: namely, a former constitutional legal counsel to two Republican presidents. The endorsement will likely supply no strategic advantage equivalent to that represented by the very helpful accolades the Senator has received from many of high stature and accomplishment, including most recently, from Governor Bill Richardson. Nevertheless, it is important to be said publicly in a public forum in order that it be understood. It is not arrived at without careful thought and some difficulty.

As a Republican, I strongly wish to preserve traditional marriage not as a suspicion or denigration of my homosexual friends, but as recognition of the significance of the procreative family as a building block of society. As a Republican, and as a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception, and it is important for every life to be given sustenance and encouragement. As a Republican, I strongly believe that the Supreme Court of the United States must be fully dedicated to the rule of law, and to the employ of a consistent method of interpretation that keeps the Court within its limited judicial role. As a Republican, I believe problems are best resolved closest to their source and that we should never arrogate to a higher level of government that which can be more effectively and efficiently resolved below. As a Republican, and the constitutional lawyer, I believe religious freedom does not mean religious separation or mindless exclusion from the public square.

In various ways, Senator Barack Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundamentals, but I am convinced based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view, and as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them.

No doubt some of my friends will see this as a matter of party or intellectual treachery. I regret that and I respect their disagreement. But they will readily agree that as Republicans, we are first Americans. As Americans, we must voice our concerns for the well-being of our nation without partisanship when decisions that have been made endanger the body politic. Our president has involved our nation in a military engagement without sufficient justification or clear objective. In so doing, he has incurred both tragic loss of life and extraordinary debt jeopardizing the economy and the well-being of the average American citizen. In pursuit of these fatally flawed purposes, the office of the presidency, which it was once my privilege to defend in public office formally, has been distorted beyond its constitutional assignment. Today, I do no more than raise the defense of that important office anew, but as private citizen.

9/11 and the radical Islamic ideology that it represents is a continuing threat to our safety and the next president must have the honesty to recognize that it, as author Paul Berman has written, "draws on totalitarian inspirations from 20th-century Europe and with its double roots, religious and modern, perversely intertwined. . . .wields a lot more power, intellectually speaking, then naïve observers might suppose." Senator Obama needs to address this extremist movement with the same clarity and honesty with which he has addressed the topic of race in America. Effective criticism of the incumbent for diverting us from this task is a good start, but it is incomplete without a forthright outline of a commitment to undertake, with international partners, the formation of a world-wide entity that will track, detain, prosecute, convict, punish, and thereby, stem radical Islam's threat to civil order. I await Senator Obama's more extended thinking upon this vital subject, as he accepts the nomination of his party and engages Senator McCain in the general campaign discussion to come.

Published Sunday, March 23, 2008 9:18 AM by Doug Kmiec
Filed under: Iraq, John McCain, Douglas W. Kmiec, Barack Obama, OLC, 9/11 plotters, speech, Roe, abortion, terrorism, rule of law
About Doug Kmiec
Douglas W. Kmiec is Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University. He served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (U.S. Assistant Attorney General) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Former Dean of the law school at The Catholic University of America, Professor Kmiec was a member of the law faculty for nearly two decades at the University of Notre Dame.

3/24/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

"he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view"

can you show some actual examples in the senate where he worked with those with opposing points of views

Which legislation or sponsored bills?

3/24/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

Nah, Obama's not a puzzle. He's a Pol. An old-fashioned, glad-handing, two-sides-agaisnt-the-middle machine politician. The difference is, in the day and age of the Internet, you can't compartmentalize your stories any more. Obama should have learned this with the NAFTA flap (FLAPTA?).

For decades, politicans have been trying to be, if not all things to all people, at least enough things to enough people to get 51% of the vote. Democrats especially, have become the party of identity group politics, which requires not a unified message for all, but individual messages tailored to each identity group. In fact, universal appeals are seen as phony by committed identity groups, since they've conditioned themselves to believe a universal appeal is a covert attempt to perpetuate the oppression they've convinced themselves they suffer.

So, you have a different message for different audience. Tell Brother's that you're one of Chicken-Roost Wright's Hate-Whitey flock. Tell Whitey you're for reconciliation. Tell the Palistinians you're a Hamas man in spirit, and tell the Israelies you're with them. Tell Ohio union members NAFTA stinks, and tell Canada you don't mean it.

Used to be a slick guy who could remember which town he was speaking in each night and keep the stories straight among different groups could keep his constituents in the dark about what he was telling the other guys. But these days, those pesky Interwebs keep knocking over the walls between speaking halls.

3/24/2008 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Elijah and co,. - from an earlier post...

"Obama's most important achievement as a State Senator was the bill he got through the Illinois legislature which mandated all police interrogations and confessions be videotaped. The idea was to stop cops from beating confessions out of suspects. Charles Peters recently offered an account of how Obama got his 'heart and soul' bill passed over the initial objections of the law enforcement establishment, Illinois’s Governor, Republicans who were 'automatically tough on crime,' Democrats who were scared to seem 'soft on crime,' and anti-death penalty advocates who worried that Obama’s bill 'by preventing the execution of innocents would deprive them of their best argument.' When the police lobby proposed to limit the videotaping to confessions, Obama held out 'knowing that the beatings were most likely to occur during questioning.' He not only prevailed, he was so persuasive 'that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0.' And then Obama talked the Governor into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

Peters argues that Obama’s successes in the Illinois Legislature (where he passed other significant legislation) indicates 'Obama’s campaign claim that he can persuade Americans to rise above what divides us is not just rhetoric.'"

The Peters article celebrating Obama's bill actually echoes the piece that first brought O to the attention of a national audience - it was by a guy named William Finnegan in The New Yorker. Finnegan is a very good journalist - the kind who notices what's genuinely NEW in the world...He picked up on the fact that O was not simply the sort of "progressive" who would "brother" white libs into feeling good about him (and themselves) - but that he was exceptional black politician whose positions were neither Sowell-like NOR Neo-liberal and yet he'd managed to get traction with white people outside elite circles...How'd he do it? He listens and he believes - because his own life experience has taught him this - you don't have to agree with someone to LEARN from him/her...

3/24/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

ABC News sent Terry Moran to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, to explore Barack Obama's record as a state Senator and, deep in his Monday story on World News, Moran acknowledged a reality rarely mentioned in network campaign coverage:

"Obama was...considered a reliable liberal Democratic vote in Illinois, voting for most gun control measures, opposing efforts to ban so-called 'partial birth abortions,' and supporting hundreds of tax increases."

Obama says he understands the criticism of his voting record, but argues that the Senate is so ideologically polarized it is hard not to end up on one side or the other.

"The only votes that come up are votes that are purposely designed to divide people," he said. "It's true that if I'm presented with a series of votes like that, I'm more likely to fall left of center than right of center. But as president, I would be setting the terms of debate."

Of course he is not a leftist, he "would be setting the terms of debate."

For example, just last week-

..."The 'white community' must invest more money in black schools and communities, enforce civil rights laws, ensure fairness in the criminal justice system and provide this generation of blacks with "ladders of opportunity"

3/24/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

African Americans who have suffered as no other group has in the nation’s history...

Gee,I would have thought that distinction to belong to the Native Americans. We didn't herd the black people into their own encampments, and we didn't kill them off in mass purges.

A percentage of immigrants to the U.S. have come from backgrounds involving slavery (Thailand, most of the Middle East, most of Africa) and NONE of those ex-slaves from elsewhere have claimed the victimhood status of American black people.

It ceases to be a shame and now is just a disgrace.

And preachers like Wright are a bottom-line cause of that disgrace.

3/24/2008 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Mr. Rezko and Prof. Rashid Khalidi, a mentor of Obama's at Columbia University, have extensive ties to Arab terrorist groupls. Prof. Khalidi was a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which, as you know, was kick started by the Soviets and its founder was Yasir Arafat. Neither of these men are persona non grata to Sen. Obama. If you combine these associations with my prior list of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic academics/former government service people, the picture becomes a little clearer. Then, add to the mosaic Obama's remarks to a group of liberal Jews in Cleveland, OH last month where he stated BOTH support for Israel and an anti-Likud stance - you get the picture, benj?

Oh, and I forgot to mention the close ties of Trinity Church's pastor has with Louis Farakhan, a man who has a long career issuing forth from his mouth hatred of Jews and Israel, and the picture becomes even more clear.

3/24/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cobb said...

I've been thinking that some folks are considerably puzzled by Barack Obama. I don't think I am, and so I offer my take on who his constituents want him to be, and therefore the direction in which he has driven his ambition. It inevitably takes him across people like Wright, not because Wright is whom he is, but because he's a liberation theologist and that is a well-know checkbox on the list of Boule prerogatives.

Obama has obviously come across the political imperative of the Talented Tenth. It's hard to say exactly where or when but it is clear to me that this is the case. I believe that he has been drafted into black leadership in rather the same way all gifted black individuals do in this country. I cannot imagine that he didn't get through Harvard Law without some notion that he could succeed in accomplishing the lifting of all boats in ways black predecessors had not. As Spengler says, you may find Obama in his women. That is something I do not doubt. Michelle Obama, unquestionably gets Barry the proper profile - she is Felicia Rashad to his Bill Cosby. If he was ever confused about his blackness, as callous as it sounds, Michelle is the trophy wife to get him into the right circles of the liberal black upper class where Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas have their caberet cards cancelled.

There has to be some enormous temptation for Obama to swoop in and inherit the legacies of great black leaders and continue the Struggle that lives on in utopian dreams of millions of black Americans who feel unheard in the current political system. Temptations such as these will lead one to great black political churches like Trinity.

3/24/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

I don't think Obama knows who he is.

And those who support him don't know who he is.

And the campaign strategy is founded on the idea that it doesn't matter. That is what he means when he says it about you.

The Democrats must win. Their base is foaming at the mouth, and will hang someone if they lose. There is enormous money, people and organization made available. Obama's campaign is similar to the sub-prime mortgage market, where enormous sums of money were looking for somewhere to go, pushing the market to it's destruction.

The campaign is organized to empower volunteers. You can log in and get a list of phone numbers to call, and a broad outline of what to say. What does Obama say about X? What any given volunteer feels that day.

Any time Obama has revealed anything about himself, it has almost universally fallen flat.

But that voice. Those looks, that demeanor.

I'm certain Obama didn't think that this campaign would get this far. He thought he would put up a good showing, and next time, either in 2012 or 2016 would show up in force and win.

This is the oddest situation in politics that I've seen. I somehow don't think it will end well.


3/24/2008 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Top 10 Proof that Surrender Works: the Vatican, Sweden, Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic.

3/24/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ratzingher is proving to be anything 'but' a place-holder Pope. Wonder if he reads of Pope St. Pius V ?

3/24/2008 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

This is the oddest situation in politics that I've seen. I somehow don't think it will end well.

I predict that the superdelegates will meet behind closed doors in a smoke-filled room, and emerge with a puff of white smoke to declare Al Gore is the Democratic candidate.

3/24/2008 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think a good primer for understanding Barack Obama would be this article about his political life in Chicago.

3/24/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...


Harry Truman caused a stir when, as President of the United States, he attended the funeral of Thomas Pendergast, a notorious Kansas City boss.

Does your respect for Barack Obama increase knowing that he didn't break his friendship with Jeremiah Wright even when it would have been politically convenient to do so? Barack Obama has also been loyal to Emil Jones Jr., and has sent his district earmarked projects (called steak, not pork), repaying an old political debt for being treated as the teacher's pet of the Illinois Senate. These earmarks may not help Barack Obama's reputation as an ethical politician who puts the national interest above all else, but it may just show that he stands by his personal mentors.

3/24/2008 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Interesting analysis, but puzzling to me in that you equate social justice with patronage. It hints at a kind of double talk and double standard that the civil service act declared somewhat illegal, plus or minus points for being a vet, handicapped or member of a classified minority.

So am I correct in my interpretation that where Lincolnesque reconstruction aimed at creating opportunities, today opportunity alone is not enough? That members of the black community would squander the opportunity because it isn't good enough, or because it isn't enough period? What kind of carpetbaggers would you employ to such an end?

I do not believe Mr. Obama has tied his political fortune to such a notion. Building a community in America should mean building the kinds of community standards that hold citizens accountable to one another, and uses the resources of the community to further opportunity to succeed. You cannot and ought not depend on someone else to dole out the goodies, you cannot depend on anyone else to provide for you as a matter of patronage what you can get for less burden on your soul and less weight on your conscious by actual legal contract opposed to social contract.

The greatest flaw in the current BLT, Civil Rights mix is the expectation that Obama or anyone would somehow provide a class of persons with patronage. Anyone who has the power to grant you patronage has the power to take it and a lot more away. I do not believe I would trust anyone who could or would do that for me or rather to me.

I do not understand it. It does not make sense to me unless..., Is it the determination of the black body politic that it has been rendered so hapless that it must rely on government, because self reliance has been punished so harshly in the past that as a people you are biased against self determination. Is it possible that you are a prisoner of a culture that has been part inherited and part impressed by force and coercion upon you. How great a hold would such conditioning have on a whole class of people?

Is that what is really the essence of the arguments about not understanding what it is like to be a black man in this country? Is it a form of victim-o-logy that seeks to reward its victim-hood and punish non victims? No wonder Condi and Clarence tore up their membership cards.

Am I missing something?

I think Obama would serve as a uniter best by stating how he proposes to stop this train wreck?
I think the audacious hope he alludes to is one that frees the community to rely on itself, encourages families to form more permanent and lasting bonds and rewards individual effort in education and business. I cannot judge from past or current records, (although his work with Senator Lugar is promising) if that is indeed where he is heading. I do not think he can publicly state as much either, for he would stand to loose the vote of the very patronage prone so necessary to his election.

Contrast this gut feeling about Obama with the actually knowing where McCain stands, on all the issues. I am happy that you are content with O just making the speech, but I hope you are determined to work for much much more, individually, with justice for all.

3/24/2008 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...



I imagine that the Tribune would favor the home town candidate, and in a place like Chicago, could overlook the political education of Chicago's sons. I do not think at this point in history that we can afford to elect as president of our nation someone who is beholden to Saddam's bag man for his home loans. I don't know what the Tribune asked Obama, I tend not to trust journalists to get much right these days.
I have a real problem with the idea that we will be electing a man whose economic plan, from what I gather of it, can be shown historically to stifle the very activity he claims to wish to stimulate. I don't get it, is that hope or something else?

3/25/2008 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Hey Wade - take your point re Trib - though the warmth of their endorsements (going back to 04 campaign?) underscores my sense that O does have the capacity to connect with folks who disagree with many of his policy positions...- I cut and pasted the Trib stuff (along with other repub endorsements)because I do want to push back against the phobic quality of much of the discourse here re O - And I do think Wretch deserves some of the blame for that. Write what you like of course. And, maybe I'm just too biased toward O to see, but when W. looks at, say, Iraq - He'll give someone who SEEMS to have some facts a shot (I'm thinking of that Rosen piece in RS that he linked to recently) even if he's not buying their analysis - but w/ Obama he's only pointing his readers toward doomy stuff that would nurture their cynicism/paranoia - Not that most need a lot of help on that score...Just came across an interesting piece by a good writer on a momkent of history in the making that seems mildly relevant to our time and your own experiences back on that bus...

The Soiling of Old Glory
By Scott McLemee

It was three months before the Bicentennial and a group of high school students in Boston were saying the Pledge of Allegiance. One of them held a large American flag. But this was not the commonplace ritual of citizenship that it might sound. The teenagers, all of them white, were just as swept up as their parents in the protests over court-ordered desegregation of the Boston public schools; and much of the rhetoric swirling around the anti-busing movement appealed to the old patriotic tropes of resistance to tyranny, defense of the rights of the citizen, and so on. The kids who milled around in front of City Hall in Boston were enjoying their chance to share in the Spirit of ‘76 while also skipping class on a Monday morning.

The people in the anti-busing movement were not, they often insisted, racists. It so happened that a young African-American lawyer named Ted Landsmark had a meeting at City Hall that morning to discuss minority hiring in construction jobs. He turned the corner and walked into a scene that would be recorded for posterity by Stanley Forman, a photojournalist for The Boston Herald American. In a picture that won Forman his second Pulitzer Prize in as many years, we see Landsmark in the right-hand half of the image. Dressed in a three-piece suit, he is the only black person in the crowd. But what dominates the scene is the teenager who had been holding the American flag a little earlier, during the Pledge, and now wields it as a weapon, seeming to drive it like a lance into Landsmark’s body. Forman later titled his photograph “The Soiling of Old Glory.”

Frozen in mid-action, the image is brutal. But what makes it especially so is the expression on the kid’s face – a look of pure hatred and rage, his teeth showing, his upper lip curled in what seems to be (according to some research in affect theory) the universal physical manifestation of disgust. Other people in the crowd look on with what seems to be interest or even pleasure. It appears that nobody is ready to help Landsmark. A man standing just behind the lawyer seems to be holding him, so that kid with the flagstaff can get a clear shot.

But according to Louis P. Masur in The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph that Shocked America, just published by Bloomsbury Press, the picture is a misleading in that regard. Masur — a professor of American institutions and values at Trinity College, in Connecticut — analyzed the other images the photographer shot that day and finds a different story unfolding.

“The man who, in a a previous image, is in motion racing to the scene has arrived and is grabbing Landsmark,” writes Masur. “It would appear that he has joined the fray to get in his punches and, worse yet, is pinioning Landsmark’s arms so that the flag bearer has a clear line of attack. In fact, the person holding Landsmark is Jim Kelly, one of the adult organizers of the protest, and he has raced in not to bind Landsmark but to save him from further violence.... He dashed in to try to break up the fight. In another photograph taken a moment later, he can be seen holding his arms out wide trying to keep the protesters back as Landsmark stumbles to safety.”

Knowing this, writes Masur, “changes our understanding of the photograph.” To a degree, perhaps, yes. But no degree of recontextualizing can gainsay the interpretation of the scene offered by the victim of the assault. “I couldn’t put my Yale degree in front of me to protect myself,” Landsmark told a newspaper reporter a few days after the attack. “The thing that is most troubling is that it happened not because I was somebody but because I was anybody....I was just a nigger they were trying to kill.”

The image is iconic. It does not simply reproduce an event; it crystallizes something out of life itself.

“The camera freezes time,” as Masur writes, “giving us always a moment, a fraction of a narrative that stretches before and after the isolated instant.” The Soiling of Old Glory reconstructs some of that narrative – drawing for the most part on published sources, especially the account of the Boston busing crisis given by the great American journalist Anthony Lukas in his book Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1985).

Protesters often insisted that they hated busing, not African-Americans — but as someone put it at the time, nobody went out to beat up a school bus. Masur treats the photograph itself as a turning point in the crisis. “However strenuously the anti-busing movement emphasized issues other than race,” he writes, “the photograph shattered the protesters’ claim that racism did not animate their cause and that they were patriotic Americans fighting for their liberties. The photograph had seared itself into the collective memory of the city and installed itself in the imagination of both blacks and whites.”

Masur understands the photograph as leading, “at first, to turmoil and self-scruitny, and later, to progress and healing.” Such a perspective is bound to be appealing to many people, especially given the desire now to imagine a “post-racial” America. In any case, the photograph itself certainly sticks in one’s memory – and not just as a document of a particular conflict. An analyst must try to account for something of its power; and this task is not any easier given the relative neglect by scholars of photojournalism itself as a topic for critical study.

Unfortunately, in the course of meditating upon the image, Masur sometimes exhibits rather serious failures of what is sometimes been called “hermeneutic tact.” This is a feel for the limits of interpretation: a sense that ingenuity might, beyond a certain point, involve a kind of violation of what the process will bear. Hermeneutic tact, like the social kind, is impossible to codify. But you know when someone has violated it, because you wince.

At one point, the author claims that the mob member wielding the flag like a spear “suggests the stabbing of Christ in the side by the Roman solider Longinus, who afterward was converted to Christianity and was canonized.” No, it doesn’t – not even if you squint really, really hard. Here, free association leads to something akin to a context salad. Likewise with some musings about the title Forman gave his photograph: “The verb soiling means defiling or staining,” writes Masur. “But with the root soil, it also suggests planting. Flags are thrust into the ground as statements of control, whether by explorers in the New World or by American astronauts on the moon. In an extreme act of desecration and possession, the protestor, it seems, is trying to implant the flag into the black man and claim ownership.”

We now have a precise technical term for this sort of thing, thanks to the efforts of Harry Frankfurt. A good editor would have found a way to remove such passages, or at least buried them in the quiet graveyard of the book’s apparatus. They are distracting yet take nothing away from the lasting power of the image itself. Looking at it, I felt the urge to reread Frederick Douglass’s “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro” – a speech from 1852 that Masur, oddly enough, never cites, though it is hard to think of a more pointed and fitting account of how certain beloved symbols may serve as instruments of oppression. More was happening within the frame of Stanley Forman’s action shot than any single analysis can quite exhaust.

3/25/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Cobb said...


i think you have illustrated exactly why the majority of african americans are not rebublicans - precisely because republicans don't make high falutin' promises about social justice as patronage. to put a blunt point on it, what is affirmative action but 'social justice patronage'?

when you consider the ways that the left will measure inequality in our society and their insistence that spending on national defense instead of entitlements is generally a sort of class warfare, you can see how obama's angle operates.

as for lincolnesque reconstruction, you have to get back to the philosophical divide between booker t washington and web dubois. duboisians, which include black nationalists, are for bold demands from a vanguard in petitioning from the government with legal strategems and, especially by black power folks, with militant activism. washingtonians are more about self-help, self-reliance with few social demands through a politics of petition. so black liberation theologists would be more likely to make demands of government and of white society. the terminology of social justice is more or less the arrogance of victimhood - blacks will be portrayed as the gravest victims of a wayward america, and thus most deserving of recompense that has never adequately been given. i think you'll find reparations talk very much in evidence amongst black liberation theologists.

african americans are not biased against self-determination. everything in the premises of black nationalism whether it be the militant separatist flavor or the cultural pride flavor is about creating black agendas for, by and of black people. the question is whether or not our rights as citizens to get whatever we want from our government is obstructed by others. from a black agenda perspective, everyone pretty much accepts that this is what racial politics is all about - that white elected officials will not deliver the requisite pork to black constituencies out of fear white backlash. but there is a multicultural opening, there is a tradition of white liberal concession.

let's take the example of enterprise zones. in the late 80s maxine waters struggled mightily to get tax abatements for new investors into her district. since when have republicans ever been against tax abatements? but in the wake of the l.a. riots, and the failure of jack kemp in the polls, maxine waters couldn't get jack. that's how racial politics works.

the reality is that the first generations of black politicians were weak on economic issues, and majority minority districts never did particularly well in getting pork. the maxine waters of the world were not particularly adept at economic stimulus, so they stuck with what they knew, and everything became a civil rights issue at the federal level.

civil rights, social justice, equality. this is the acceptable currency of black political demands in america. what does it really mean? it means pork. social programs pork. democrat pork. and as long as blacks and latinos occupy the same realestate in america and can be more or less accurately portayed as downscale people with special needs, and limited access to the mainstream - which is largely true for education, healthcare, etc, there will be a permanent gripe and a permanent revolution for redress.

this is what obama and his part of the left are bound and determined to deliver. how does he sell that to the majority?

3/25/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...


Thanks for the clarification. That was a connection I had just not made, till now. I will agree with you on Affirmative Action, in that it is how the program was perceived and used. It is not nor was it the intent. Like many things begun with a certain purpose, that purpose will changes as new markets and newer marketing enter the picture. It takes a special person to learn beyond the expectations of a free ride, and a bigger person to accept the limitations of human nature.

Black run business awarded contracts by virtue of AA, whether deserving or not, whether competent or not cannot compete with the slander of their "special" status. It is a shame, when other lucrative business opportunities are snagged by those less deserving and shady to boot. In the wake of the repeal of AA laws and even before the repeal, minority run businesses have been disappearing. I wonder if it is due to the distinction of having an unfair advantage, or a perception of less than quality performance, even if it not the case.

The market is reshaping and adjusting, there is opportunity to improve and grow. I wonder how Practitioners of Social Justice patronage will sell the opportunity short this time.

3/25/2008 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

I read the endorsement by Abigail Thernstrom with a nagging sense of familiarity and a great deal of empathy. She seems to parallel my own thoughts.

But I found the last paragraph inexcusable, a touchy feely grasping that promotes the abdication of the duties and responsibilities of the position the writer holds in favor of... an agenda akin to patronage? Doing what we know works, promoting what has a track record of success no matter how seemingly meager or slow, ought not be subject to "massive new government programs unlikely to solve the basic race-related problems."

Yet that is what the author of the endorsement suggests we should be willing to do. That, IMO, is just nuts.

I do think you are a little wrapped up in your prejudice toward Obama. But you are aware of it, and willing to look at where it affects your judgment of events and people. I have determined long ago, to just try to do the right thing, and I have found it is a ton of tough sometimes to figure out just what that "right thing" is.

I admire folks who have determined what for them is the right thing and stick by it. In that context, I too admire Obama's stance in regard to Reverend Wright. Lacking any sinister motive for the loyalty, it says a lot about the man.

3/25/2008 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger HotAire said...

If anyone wants to keep accusing the pope of "surrender", they might first read this:
in which his Easter baptism of a convert from Islam is discussed. So far, the response has been very low-key. I can only hope that more muslim leaders are starting to learn that religious freedom must apply to everyone.

3/25/2008 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Benj, RE Soiling old Glory,

I have trouble with photos that are said to capture a generation a movement or any accurate depiction of what occurred. I know that there were variations of what that photo should mean, and I appreciate your efforts at recreating as best as can the actions of the individuals.

There is one act that is not explained away easily, that of the flag bearer. The look on his face as captured by that film is difficult for me to view given the limitations of my computer, but the reality of most acts of this type are usually unthinking, impulsive and if reproached immediately, are a matter of shame for the actors.

They had just exchanged pleasantries bits of food and balled up paper with black students attending a nearby high school and were in a mood for a fight. some of the things that witnesses heard "were get the nigger" as one tried to trip the lawyer and others jumped him. No doubt this was what people thought was captured by the photographer.

But in the 15 to 20 seconds that the fracas lasted, Landsmark was punched, kicked, and had his nose and glasses shattered by four or five youths gathered there before police, rally chaperone's and other adults could respond.

Landsmarks story is in itself an inspiration.
Any one wishing to learn more can find it here,

My son and daughter were both taught by a lady who rode on the first bus of that integration plan. She and her brothers made history. I have seen her picture as a little girl and the angry mob greeting she and her brothers. It was an uncommon act in an uncommon era and her face displayed a sense of stoicism beyond her years.

The snarl of the teenager is a dramatic contrast to the image of that little American child. It is a small world we live in, sometimes upside down but always smaller than we suspect, and I am left wondering how small that teenager must now feel.

3/26/2008 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Oh yeah, Landsmark was never struck by the flag pole.

3/26/2008 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Thanks for the link Wade - That was a interesting read re Landsmark. SHould underscore the piece I posted wasn't mine. It's by a writer named Scott McLemee - writes a regular column for an online journal called Inside Higher Educationm, ranges all over - good stuff...Appreciate your comments re doing the right thing and "ton of tough" - more than you can imagine!! Regards, b.

3/26/2008 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

PS - O mentioned in a S.C. speech the fact that he had been a supporter - elderly white lady who once was a big Strom Thurmond fan...I think O's (Movement-derived) ethic of generosity would give everyone - From the Wrights to that poor S.O.B. with the flag - another shot at growing up in public...But you're right to worry about that kid - reminds me of the nice line in that piece you linked re guy who got beat-down in the photo - none of the black or white kids involved back in the days of busing in Beantown are sitting pretty on anyone's corporate boards today...And God Knows, we all know it's no fun being thought a racist in our time...

One more quickie - Just watched "Bobby" - movie from 06 that's set in the Cali Hotel where he was shot. Lotsa Altman-lite slices of American dailiness. For the most part VERY badly done - Clunky, obvious, didactic etc etc. But. A couple scenes work - and (though sometimes I'm of a mind so fine no idea could violate it man when it comes to art) the big personal/poltical connection is mildly ponderable. When Bobby (on the soundtrack) keeps talking authenticity, forbearance, non-violence, do recall that political models of mind/character matter. Sometimes even more than policy details. Especially in a democratic culture.

I looked again at McCain's book "Hard Calls" as I was riding home on the train last night - found him talking up yet another white guy who made a big diff in the country's unsteady movement toward racial justice - Felix Frankfuruter gets some for not pushing too soon to get the Court to overturn Plessy...(Waiting - for Warren and the composition of the Court to change to allow for unanimous Brown v. Board...) Here's McCain's words:

"I think the most laudatory distinctions awarded to decision makers can be fairly claimed by those who have chosen to do the right thing, and their timing was perfect"

I think O's timing re WRight was pretty perfect. (It may just be HIS time for so many reasons that have more to do with history than personality.) I think he singlehandedly defined a great swatch of anti-american discourse as OLD HAT...At the same time he was challenging you/me to realize the past is never past...Let me come back one more time to the line at the top of O's speech re Islamist horror. I think O is welcoming to all Americans with a residual sense of fairness (and history). But there are folks he ain't going to cry over. He's not soft on Islamism...

3/26/2008 10:15:00 AM  

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