Ed Driscoll

John Edwards Was Right

There are two Americas. There’s the America where your religion is cynically tossed aside by the president thusly:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

And there’s there’s the America whose religion is suddenly thrust into the mainstream:

“This evening reminds us of both the timeless teachings of a great religion and the enduring strengths of a great nation. Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life. This has been especially true over the past 10 years.”

“In one month, we will mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts. It will be a time to honor all those that we’ve lost, the families who carry on their legacy, the heroes who rushed to help that day and all who have served to keep us safe during a difficult decade. And tonight, it’s worth remembering that these Americans were of many faiths and backgrounds, including proud and patriotic Muslim Americans.”

Obama’s Bitter Clingers remark was the ultimate Kinsleyesque gaffe, in that it helped to further illuminate his elitist worldview, back during a period when he was cynically trying to use religious rhetoric to advance his campaign. As Mark Steyn writes in After America, Obama “subsequently ‘apologized’ for his remarks by explaining that “I said something everybody knows is true:”

Well, maybe at a swank Dem fundraiser in California—and, if that’s not “everybody,” who is? This was an even more revealing remark than the original bitter-clingers crack. It deserves to be as celebrated as the famous response to the 1972 election results by a bewildered Pauline Kael, doyenne of the New Yorker, that nobody she knew voted for Nixon. Just as “everybody” knows “we can’t just keep driving our SUVs, eating whatever we want, keeping our homes at 72 degrees,” so nobody we know voted for Nixon and everybody we know agrees that those crackers are embittered fundamentalist gun-nut bigots. Oh, c’mon, I said something everybody knows is true.

But then, the complexities and contradictions one learns by studying religion sitting in front of the pulpit of Rev. Wright and gently taking in his dulcet tones are rather wide indeed.

It was at last year’s Iftar speech right around this time that Obama committed one of the great unforced errors of his administration, by coming out so vociferously for the Ground Zero Mosque, rather than staying above the fray and letting Mayor Bloomberg and local New Yorkers sort it out. At the American Thinker last August, J.R. Dunn described it as “Obama’s Point of No Return:”

With Obama, we have an abundance of riches: the multiple vacations, the legal harassment of the state of Arizona on behalf of illegals, the clownish response to the Gulf oil blowout. But when historians come to select the moment when Obama went over the edge of the world, I think they’ll find the great Iftar mosque speech of August 13, 2010 hard to beat.

During a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan, the president found it appropriate to come out in favor of religious freedom. Not in support of Christians being attacked by janjaweed gunmen, or Bahá’ís tormented by Iranian mullahs, or Jews being stalked by assassins, or even American citizens being told that they cannot pray in public, but in favor of a shadowy foreign foundation with suspicious financing and disturbing jihadi connections that wishes to build some kind of victory monument congruent to the site of the 9/11 massacre.

These doomsday statements work by putting previous suspicions and surmises about the president — always negative — into sharp relief, acting as verification and confirmation. Nixon had suffered a reputation as a conniver since his knock-down, drag-out 1950 battle against Helen Gahagan Douglas (it was Douglas who coined the “Tricky Dick” nickname). The tape gap fit so perfectly into that narrative as to crowd out everything else. Carter’s inept performance as president was rendered even harder to bear by his continual sanctimony and moral preening. The malaise speech merely added the patina of a whiner.

With Obama, suspicions have involved his status as an American. The foreign parentage, the registration in an Indonesian school noting him as a Muslim, the uproar over the birth certificate aroused misgivings that, despite media scorn heaped upon those noting them, he has never quite been able to put to rest. As of last weekend, his opportunities to do so are ended. Impressions trump arguments, and for most of the country, Obama will, from here on in, be a strange and untrustworthy figure — a man who does not understand what Ground Zero means to America, who utilizes American law and custom to support foreign interests, who speaks to strangers more clearly than to his own.

And has rather conflicting views on religion in general, depending upon which audience he’s speaking to. John Edwards was right: there are two Americas, and Obama’s prepared to say one thing to one group, and something else entirely to another.

Update: “Obama: I’m being vilified just like MLK, Jr.” And yet until actively campaigning for the presidency, he didn’t mind associating himself with Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright, men who certainly looked askance at MLK’s views of non-violence and racial harmony, respectively.

As spotted by William A. Jacobson at his Legal Insurrection blog. Interesting comments as well.

At Commentary, Peter Wehner explores “Barack Obama’s Emotional State of Mind:”

If there’s anything we have learned about Mr. Obama during the last two-and-a-half years, it is his obsessive need to advertise his moral superiority. He wants us to believe – he is desperate for us to believe – that his motivations are pure, that he is the only adult in Washington, that he is a champion for the national interest while his critics are champions of special interests. It is not enough for Obama to be president; he wants us to believe he’s Sir Galahad.

As Mr. Obama is increasingly overwhelmed by events, as he and his presidency shrink before our eyes, his worst tendencies are being exacerbated, his narcissism further exposed, his anger at an unaccommodating world more pronounced. A man of supreme self-regard is watching things crumble before his eyes. He is obviously not well equipped to process any of this. It is enough for one to feel, if only for a moment, some pity for Mr. Obama. These are not easy days for him, and certainly not for his country.

But which country? The country inhabited by bitter religious clingers, or the country inhabited by arugula-eating solipsistic elites?