Barack Obama: Right time, wrong candidate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yesterday in Philadelphia, Barack Obama delivered his speech about race and his relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Wright.   Some reviewers I’ve heard considered it to be on a par with Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.”  I seriously doubt it, and will be surprised if it is remembered or revered as long, by so many of all ethnic groups and nationalities.

As oratory goes, it wasn’t even one of the Senator’s best.  The introduction was stock Obama verbiage, the same emotional, historic prelude we’ve heard before.  (Am I the only one who keeps waiting for him to get to the point?)  That “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” suggests that Black churches and their memberships share similar views.  His comparison between Pastor Wright and the older white grandmother who raised Senator Obama was inappropriate.  The latter shared her personal fears and prejudices of two generations ago in private with her grandson – for whom she cared despite his bi-racial heritage.  The Pastor, on the other hand, shouted his prejudices from the pulpit of his church to teach his parishioners, impressionable children and budding politicians among them.

Over the past 20 years during which Pastor Wright has been his spiritual advisor, did Senator Obama become the voice of reason within his church, in opposition to the Pastor’s admittedly objectionable points of view?  Did he, at the very least, move his family membership from the Pastor’s church to another whose clergy offered points of view consistent with those which the Senator professes to be his own?  What conversations did he have with his two young children who were exposed to the Pastor’s preaching, week in, and week out, as they were growing up?

It’s not at all clear that the Senator who tolerated Pastor Wright’s rants can be expected to emphatically discourage those sentiments elsewhere in our country and in the world were he to be elected President.

I would have voted for Colin Powell for President, his Republican affiliation notwithstanding, without a moment’s hesitation.  I consider him an exceptional American, particularly well-suited, by virtue of his experience and intellect, for the office of President.  And I am certain there are other highly qualified African Americans, of both genders, that I and the electorate in general would enthusiastically support, and with whom we would entrust the management of our government, and the security of our country.  It may just turn out that Barack Obama isn’t one of them.  For all but a relatively few of us, this election has never been about race, or gender for that matter.

The Senator is emphatic about his rejection of Pastor’s Wright’s points of view, an assertion which I accept without question or skepticism, the timing and circumstances of his comments yesterday notwithstanding.  My problem with Barack Obama has nothing to do with the color of his skin – a ridiculous notion that distracts from the truth of the matter, although the argument may have worked for his campaign, until now.  (See “Channeling JFK,” posted March 14.)  It’s his lack of experience, and the overwhelming sense I have that he’s all talk, however well-spoken, and too little substance.  To these two, I now add a third concern:  That he lacks of the strength of character to correct prejudice, stand up against ignorance, and dispel anger whenever and wherever he encounters it.

He repudiates, but is slow to distance.  He objects, but does not change.  He explains, and thinks that is enough.  So next Sunday, or the Sunday after the Inauguration, when the Obama family goes to church, and should Pastor Wright happen to be the guest speaker that day, does the Senator sit there once again, accepting by virtue of his silent example what the Pastor has to say?  Whatever your ethnicity, what would you want your President to do?

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9 responses to “Barack Obama: Right time, wrong candidate.

  1. The fact that he would defame is own grandmother, who help to raise him and pay for his prep-school education in order to make excuses for his hate-mongering preacher is absolutely disgracefully !!!!!!!!

    I do not understand how people can praise him for his loyalty to Rev. Wright when that loyalty brings shame on a person that has supported and loved him since birth.

    This only goes to show how truly week-mined Sen. Obama really is that he could be so brainwashed by this hateful man he would turn on his own family.

    My only comfort is that should he win the nomination (which he probably will because the democratic party is so afraid of angering the black community) is that the 527 are gonna swift-boat him rite out of the presidency.

    This country can not afford to have a weak-mined, disloyal racist in the white house.

  2. Hi. To be honest, I almost didn’t publish your comment. You certainly have as much right to your opinions as I have to mine, and I want the pieces I write for WordFeeder to encourage dialogue on all sorts of issues. My problem is that I don’t just disagree with your last sentence, I find it objectionable and not something I was sure I wanted showing on my blog. Then it occurred to me that, if I didn’t publish it, I’d be guilty, to an extent, of the same shortcoming of which I accused Senator Obama in my article.

    I’m opposed to Senator Obama getting the nomination, and support the candidacy of Senator Clinton. My reasons have to do primarily with his lack of experience, and the naiveté inherent in many of his policies and professed style of management by consensus. I do not, however, think for a moment that he is weak-minded, disloyal or racist. Quite to the contrary, I consider Senator Obama to be an exceptionally intelligent, dedicated civil servant with the potential for becoming one of our nation’s finest Senators, and perhaps eventually, President. I just don’t think he’s ready yet, and believe that Senator Clinton will be a significantly more effective President to handle the domestic and foreign policy/national security issues we are facing today. -wf

  3. Do you remember the media firestorm about Mel Gibson’s father’ holocaust denial shortly before the Passion of the Christ was released in theaters? The man wasn’t even running for office and they expected him to disown his own flesh and blood for a lunatic belief that exists on the fringe of the fringe.

    Yet, with Barack running for president, the media for so long showed little concern for the more relevant rantings of his pastor (who he could disassociate himself from) that reflected real divides within American society- as opposed to the non-issue of Holocaust denial. Moreover, Obama based his book’s title on a sermon delivered by Wright, he sat in the congregation for 20 years; are we to believe he somehow missed some dozen or so odd sermons? He claimed there was nothing controversial about his pastor or church. Was he ignorant of his pastors long time association with Farrakhan and his visits to middle eastern dictators in Farrakhan’s company.

    While I agree that he isn’t “weak-minded, disloyal or racist”- in fact he is quite smart- I do think he has exercised severely poor judgment that displays his extreme leftward slant. A slant the far exceeds his usual vague cliches about hope and change. Furthermore, if John McCain attended Rev. Falwell’s church, and Rev. Falwell’s church had recently given an award to David Duke for his work with orphans, I ask, how would the press react? Would an announcement similar to Obama’s be sufficient?

  4. @totaltransformation: didn’t McCain deliver some speech or other at Falwell’s university?

    Overall: I’m unconvinced by your argument. You cite Obama’s lack of experience, but, by my count, Clinton only has four years more (she was elected to the Senate in 2000). I suppose you could count her years as First Lady, but I wouldn’t; it’s not an elected position, and her one major initiative (on healthcare) failed quite spectacularly, so I’m not sure why it might work now. I suppose I can’t argue with your opinion that he’s all style and no substance; I see the substance, including his bi-partisan Senate work and his initiatives concering immigration and small arms. But dispelling anger–was that not precisely what the speech did.

    As for his attending church; in fact, yes, I would want my president to. I want my president to sit and listen to many opposing viewpoints while still keeping an eye toward his (or her) own vision for unity in the future. Progress is never made by telling people they’re wrong; rather, it’s accomplished by educating people about how they could become right.

    Further, my own spiritual mentor has said things with which I have disagreed. A lot of people I respect have said things I don’t agree with (including the Dalai Lama). Disagreement and respect are not mutually exclusive, and, in fact, the latter makes the former possible, and the former is the way we come to change.

  5. Hi. Good comment. I, too, have real problems with the notion that somehow the Senator managed grow up within that particular church, especially given his personal relationship with its Pastor, without either being affected by its message or making a point to oppose it. As for the media, they’ve been almost amateurish in the way they’ve allowed their personal politics and feelings to influence their coverage and reporting. Please stop by again when you have time. -wf

  6. Whoops. My response at 4:24 PM was to the comment by “totaltransformation.” This one’s for “Will Entrekin.”

    Couple of things…

    First of all, thanks for stopping by.

    Second, I believe Senator Clinton learned from her first attempt to develop a univeral healthcare program, and that her current plan reflects that experience in a positive way.

    Third point: You’re absolutely right about wanting our President to listen to opposing views, and to be open minded about them — but to also challenge those which are fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of our democracy.

    Finally, as to the experience issue, my concerns are as much qualitative as they are quantitative. Senator Obama’s experience, such as it is, has somehow made him a true believer in the art of consensus-making. Senator Clinton, on the other hand, is a policy wonk who, I think, has acquired a far more practical understanding of how Washington and international relationships work, and will be much more effective for that reason. Senator Obama, in what I consider to be blatant proof of his naivete, talks often about changing the way Washington and international politics behave to accommodate his special vision and style. I don’t think we can afford to wait for him to realize what he’s up against.

    Talk to you later. -wf

  7. I’m sorry to see that during Holy Week, another man with a radical message of hope is being crucified by the Authorities, Press, and Gossips.

    Just goes to show that even after 2000 years, things never change…

  8. “didn’t McCain deliver some speech or other at Falwell’s university?”

    Yes, he gave a speech there. However, he didn’t attend Falwell’s church as a member. I am sure if he did the media wouldn’t let us forget it for a moment. 😉 As it is they hounded him for speaking there once (maybe it was twice).

    “I’m sorry to see that during Holy Week, another man with a radical message of hope is being crucified by the Authorities, Press, and Gossips.”

    Crucified? I hope you are using the language in a way in which you acknowledge it as extreme hyperbole. Otherwise to compare the usual political process with a crucifixion is nonsensical and deludes the meaning of crucification to a high degree.

  9. I read Senator Obama’s speech, but I’d like to do more research before I make any judgments of my own.
    Great read though.

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