Saturday, March 15, 2008

Barack, We Hardly Knew Ye

"I gave them a sword."
Richard M. Nixon

The first election in which I was age eligible to vote was the Nixon-McGovern contest of 1972, and I'll own up to being a McGovernite. Nixon, after saying he had a "secret plan to end the (Vietnam) war" in 1968, instead added 20,000 more American fatalities, carpet bombed the North, and invaded Cambodia in his first term. George McGovern seemed the serious and sober anti-war candidate, capable of inspiring young people back into the fold after the death of Bobby Kennedy, and bringing the war to a quick conclusion. After the excitement of the Democratic convention, compared to the Nixonian, obnoxious, "Four More Years!" balloon drop spectacular, the polls gave McGovern a decent chance to win the election. I recall the morning I picked up the newspaper and saw the headline, "Eagleton Admits Shock Treatments," and I knew it was over. Although Sargent Shriver was hustled in to try to add some Camelot pixie dust as a second Vice Presidential choice, the damage was done. In George McGovern's first major decision as his party's nominee, he had chosen Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri as his running mate before discovering that Eagleton had undergone electric shock therapy, and that error in judgement proved politically fatal. After seeing the televised portions of the sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright last night, I had that same heart-sinking feeling about the campaign of Barack Obama.

I've heard more than my share of black preaching for a white boy, because I like it. I've heard preachers reach peaks of hysteria where you're sure their next stop must be the emergency room. But Rev. Wright's expurgated sermons are so inflammatory, they include something to offend nearly everyone, and regardless of Obama's denunciation of the words but not the man, he should have distanced himself from his pastor long ago. This reflects poorly on his judgement. Did Obama not see this coming? It wasn't as if these sermons were surreptitiously taped and leaked to the media. They were for sale to the general public, and the Rev's words "God damn America," regardless of the context, will be ringing in voter's ears right up until the election. I am an unabashed liberal, but I'm also a realist who has lived his entire life in the South, and I believe the words of Rev. Wright have just blown up the Barack Obama campaign.

Obama was quick to appear with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and Anderson Cooper on CNN to denounce his pastor's incendiary remarks, but his reference to Wright as "an old Uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with," stumbles on two fronts. For whites who are blind to the anger in the black community that Rev. Wright expresses, but who are considering a first time vote for a black candidate, Obama's remarks at this date may seem too little, too late. For black voters, the word "uncle" has negative connotations of its own. As in the case of George McGovern, this goes to the heart of the issue about Obama to undecided voters, his judgement. He can distance himself from Rev. Wright to the earth's end, but he has given his political enemies enough ammunition to torpedo his chances. I can see Fox News, or any swift-boat type ad now: regardless of what Obama says, they will show his minister saying, "Goddamn America," along with the photo of Obama embracing him. Some will argue that John McCain has accepted the endorsements of John Hagee and Pat Robertson, but it's one thing to accept the backing of a controversial preacher and another to be his congregant.

And it's not as if Rev. Wright was unaware of the impact of his words. His post 9/11 sermon about "Chickens coming home to roost," triggered a memory of the exact same expression being used by Malcolm X following the assassination of John Kennedy. He was referring to the CIA attempts to kill Castro, but his words were interpreted by the public as showing Malcolm X as unsympathetic to the Kennedy family and a nation in mourning, and won him the enmity of all. Rev. Wright did not choose those words carelessly in reference to 9/11. His opinions regarding this country's conduct in past wars are validly debatable, but most folks will hear his comments as meaning, "We had it coming," and that's the one statement that 3,000 innocent lives refute in the public mind. In light of the uplifting campaign Obama has run so far, this is worse than blood in the water. This is like throwing giant buckets of chum to the circling sharks.

These pronouncements, along with the Rev's conjecture that "We started the AIDS virus...We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty," are going to make white Christians lose their minds. The whiplash over this is still simmering, lost momentarily in the basketball playoffs, but come next week, and the week after, Obama will be able to speak of nothing else, and engage in nothing other than damage control for a damage that may be beyond controlling. Hillary won't have to do a thing but sympathize because Fox News, Hannity, Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Coulter, and O'Reilly will do all the necessary butchering for her. I watched Obama at a rally in Plainfield, Indiana today, and though he was relaxed and seemed non-plussed, and the crowds stood and cheered as always, there was something amiss in the room, as if the electricity had been displaced by anxiety. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think Obama needs divine intervention to recover from this. And I wouldn't be asking Rev. Jeremiah Wright to perform the intercession.


Anonymous said...

Are you worried about what you now think about Obama, or about what others will think?

The parameters of public remark have really shrunk in the "land of the free and the home of the brave" if we are forced to denounce our friends, beyond saying we don't share certain of their beliefs.

ghg said...

I don't think it'll stick to Obama, Randy. Although Hillary's bullshit shook me a bit when I saw what her red phone accomplished in 2 days before Texas, I believe that the need in the country for something fresh, more honest than we are used to, and easy to love will trump any crap. Hillary has shown herself to be too hungry for power, and McCain is literally and figuratively, too stiff. If we don't have an Obama Presidency I'll be more disappointed than I was late one night in early Nov of 2004. A lot of people are putting more than their usual gut and heart into this election. Obama will move the electorate.

Anonymous said...

Yes, an extremely serious breach of judgment. "Too little, too late".

The thrill is gone!

Anonymous said...

I'm not done yet--- jeez, give the man a break. We have to remember that he did not say those horrible things.Now given that, what was he thinking?? Of course he should have denounced the Brotha'and you can be sure if he's not kicking his own ass, then "Mama" is.But let's give him a break and see what he comes up with. The other choices are so terrifing that I shudder to think what our fates will be.

A Christian Prophet said...

It's not about the pastor. If Obama's THEOLOGY is seen for what it is the election is lost. See:

cindy said...

I am an Obama supporter, but months ago I became aware of the Rev. Wright controversy. His rants regarding America and his association with Louis Farrakhan including his visit with Farrakhan to Libya to meet with Colonel Gadaffi in the 1980s. I was troubled not so much by Wright's rants, as I was by the lack of judgment on Obama's part in maintaining such a close relationship with Rev. Wright. I also was surprised that not many journalists were asking about this.
I am troubled but I still believe he is the best choice, unfortunately I also believe that this is his Achilles heel and that it is "too little, too late".

Anonymous said...

What kind of bigot is this Christian Blogger? I am a Christian but I would distance myself from this dangerous person anytime I could. Randy, how did you attract someone like this?

jane bach said...

Too little too late.....maybe.......why didn't he distance himself from this man?? Who knows why!!....Maybe he didn't distance himself because he never felt it was that big of an issue... THAT'S WHAT WOULD CONCERN ME......more than what his preacher had to say....his preacher isn't running for President ....Obama is......I have never trusted Barack Obama, and therefore, have never been a supporter...not because of anything other than I have never been able to get a real sense of who he is, and what he really believes....just a strange feeling about, I feel like my instincts were correct..... I continue to think what I have always thought.....Hillary for President!.....oh, and I love you Randy. :)

Anonymous said...

Why do you have to be so blinkin' right all the time? Tisk tisk -- what a bloody shame!
Oh, I guess we're stuck with a pants suited hysteric or an old Hawk -- what the fuck!

Anonymous said...

Randy, you are way too bright and too good a writer to limit your readers to your blog. FIND someone with influence to peddle your wares to the NYTimes or another major.

You are so on the ball!!!!!

Congratulations, love, peace, blessings, and DEMOCRATS, if they can ever get their act together.

Thanking you for me, and for the others to whom I forward your blog

davethedog said...

Calm down Chillens, the world has changed from when Eagleton stuck his tongue in the electric socket. It reminds me of a recent experience. It showed me that sometimes things that are first seen as bad, can be ultimately be seen as a gift.

I was surfing the cable TV and I came across an awards show. It had the red carpet, beautiful women in fancy gowns and men in tuxedos. It was on Showtime and was the awards for "Adult" films. As a filmmaker myself, it was my duty to watch.

During the show, which had an opening comic and an all female jazz band, a young woman won a "best of" category. She manuvered her ultra-high heeled shoes up the stairs to the microphone. With tears running down her face, smearing her make-up, she held the statuette and began thanking everyone.

She thanked her studio and the producers, she thanked the director and the camera crew, she thanked her manager and her attorney, finally as she was leaving for the wings, she ran back to the microphone and looked at her leading man and said, "I'm sorry, I almost forgot to thank you for sticking your 10" cock up my ass".

There endeth the lesson!!


Anonymous said...

Next we'll see the Reverend on Larry King and Obama on the 700 Club.

Anonymous said...

--racist birds of a feather flock together, your idol Obama isn't qualified to run for dog catcher

Marvell Thomas said...

I'm old enough to remember the presidential campaign of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. At that time the country was all abuzz with the insidious notion that voting for this young, charming, decidedly Catholic fellow would turn over our country, lock, stock and barrel, to the dictates of His Eminence, the Pope. In spite of this barrage of anti-Catholic fear mongering by Republicans, Protestant clergy and their much-too- impressionable congregations, JFK won the election. As president, he certainly had more than his share of challenges, but none had anything to do with taking orders from the Papacy.

Randy, I've admired your thoughtfulness and honesty for some time time now and I cringe when you reply to events with what appear to be unthinking emotional responses, instead of your normally reasoned and insightful writings.

We all need to relax, take a deep breath, and continue to allow Barack and Hillary to bring to us whatever they have to bring to us without fear from "guilt by association" promoters.

Having said that, Mrs. Clinton seems to not be held to the same standards of "denunciation and rejection" that beleaguer Mr. Obama. Are the remarks of Pastor John Agee considered more benign than the remarks of the fiery Rev. Wright? And if so, why?

At the end of the day, this is all bullshit. We all need to understand what we're dealing with here. We CANNOT allow ourselves to be manipulated and led around like a cow with a ring in it's nose by people looking for their fifteen minutes of fame or by others with thinly-veiled self-serving agendas...bloggers and the broadcast media alike. If we don't come to grips with the game, we all lose.


Anonymous said...

Divine intervention? Well? It is St.Patrick's Day! Me heart goes out to the Irish lad....O'Bama! However, his minister, the Rev Jeremiah "NAH NAH NAH..." Wright can kiss me lily white...uh..kelly green... blarney stone of an arse. Peace to America and to the world! FatherFarken

Anonymous said...

By the way! Randy! You are brilliant! McGovern picked Eagleton because he was depending on the crazy vote...but they went to Nixon. After this election...with Hillary's Aunt Geraldine and Barack's crazy uncle in the attic... we may all need to hook up to some good old fashion shock therapy! SLAINTE! The Farken priest

Sputnik57 said...

Thank you Marvell. As I told Wintermute, my attitude toward Obama has not changed because of his minister. My concern is about the visceral response of some of our lesser informed brethren of the rouge-necked variety, who live in giant population arcs all around us, and how these remarks will be used to inflame them. So far, we've seen a remarkably mature campaign and restraint among the GOP. But we both know, from local politics alone, how ugly it can get. This is one of those occasions where I really hope I'm wrong.

TRossini said...

Earlier post was so "right-on", Randy should be a New York Times writer. You think, feel and experience the same BS we all are exposed to everyday and are very note-worthy in your opinions and the feelings you project. I get a little "writer's cramp" just trying to think my expressions, let alone putting it all down for people to respond to. Cudos and may your thoughts never tire of sharing. Good Luck, Randy!

Alan said...

The biggest problem with Barack’s comments is his latest revelation. He has repudiated what the Rev. Wright said, but claims he was not aware of what he said until around October of 2007.
I have a hard time believing Barack’s total ignorance of the comments. If my Rabbi made comments 1/20th as inflammatory it would be the talk of the Congregation. I only go about 4 times a year and that is out of respect for my family, but I can guarantee you I would have been told of the comments. Saying he was not aware of the comments makes me wonder how honest he is.

Marvell said...

Thanks for your reply, Randy. No malice was intended and I happily stand corrected.

Sputnik57 said...

My apologies to those whose comments did not appear. I had shifted to a new format and had an option enabled that I was unaware of and consequently lost nine comments. It wasn't censorship, just a mistake that I'll correct.