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Works and Days

Obama—an American Tragedy

March 15th, 2008 - 10:28 am

The Obama Implosion

In a nutshell, Obama just doesn’t get it. The more he keeps hedging and huffing about the demagogic (“God damn America”) Wright, while simultaneously preaching about ethics, tolerance, and healing, and the more his own prior sermons are juxtaposed to Wright’s venom, so the more Obama appears an Elmer Gantry-like figure.

He obviously either doesn’t fully grasp the degree to which his intimate relationship with a peddler of hatred offends Americans; or he feels that the Wright narratives are merely a wink-and-nod part of the local Chicago African-American landscape, and thus not that big a deal; or he finds some sort of psychological fix in listening to a surrogate provide a vitriolic, vicarious payback; or he is so indebted to Wright for providing him the requisite racial fides to start his career that he simply cannot say, “I was wrong to have been a part of Rev. Wright’s church; it is divisive and at odds with what I have tried to achieve in this campaign, and I’ve resigned from it.”

I pass on the fifth option that someone like Obama really believes the Wright lunacy.

Hard to Believe

Given Obama’s past sanctimonious dismissal of the Christian right (“The so-called leaders of the Christian right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us.”), he now is in danger of not just playing the hypocrite, but the fool as well. Referring to Wright as a “respectable biblical scholar” et al, is laughable—given that almost everything Wright seems to assert, whether about the Roman Empire or the origins of AIDs, is buffoonery.

The notion that Obama never heard any such nonsense is, well, nonsense—given that he frequented the church for 20 years, laughed off some of the Wright hyperbole in his own memoirs, and has a wife whose invective about America as not worthy of her pride, mean, etc dovetails with his pastor’s sermons. Moreover, his own past interviews belie his most recent assertion that Wright was merely his pastor, rather than a political advisor. And we learn that during those tough years in which Michelle Obama was whining about having to budget money to pay back those government-guaranteed student loans to Harvard Law School, the Obamas were giving thousands of dollars each year to subsidize the Wright hatred. Messiahs are supposed to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—and all the time.

This is hope and change and the new transparency?

The Dean Syndrome

What we have here is a bright, eloquent, and utterly insular candidate, incredibly naïve, with terrible judgment who is absolutely clueless about America. He seems an improved model of Howard Dean—opinionated, snazzy, faddish, riding on popular insanity—and then in one fell swoop (“Yeaaahhhhhhh”) ridiculous. It may well be that the old guard Democratic elite, as nervous now at the popular Obama hysteria as they were over the flash-in-the-pan Deanomaniacs, may have to impose a buyer’s remorse “Kerry solution” and step in as super-delegates to stop the hysteria nonsense and get behind the plodding Hillary workhorse. But unlike the Dean implosion, the Obama crack-up is much later in the game.

You see, the problem is that the Obamas have had two only audiences in their lives, both narrow and, worse, fawning: one, apparently a highly politicized and often angry Chicago African-American constituency that believes in AIDs conspiracies and the pathological role of the United States, and, two, a guilt-ridden elite white audience in the Ivy League and the media who does not object to, or in fact enjoys, being told why America is the sort of awful place Rev. Wright depicts.

Harvard Square and the Chicago Hood are not necessarily America

But leave that womb? Very shortly you enter the majority world of downtown Los Angeles, Toledo, Upper Michigan, West Texas, upstate New York, the Salt Lake City suburbs, northern Florida, East Fresno, or Reno. When those driving to work in those environs hear on the radio each morning the crudity and coarseness of Rev Wright’s snippets—and that they are directed at themselves no less and have a creepy quality when listened to rather than read—they more or less explode.

If Obama keeps talking about his new politics of hope and change while contextualizing Rev. Wright’s hatred, soon in the middle of one of Obama’s inspirational speeches, someone is going to stand up and shout, “Depart, I say; and let us be done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Apparently Obama’s saving grace so far has been the protective mainstream media that is teary-eyed and lip-biting over these disclosures, and, more importantly, the dramatic news breaking around Obama’s own tawdry mess—the Wall Street earthquakes, the Fallon resignation, the dollar, gold, gas, etc—which reminds us that while we fiddle over Rev. Wright, our world seems to be burning up.

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