Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Musings on Obama

There is no clearer example of the problems with the politics of personality than Obama. We have this fixation on the great hero that will swoop in and make all things righteous again. We keep looking for the white knight to save us from ourselves.

This is an All-American obsession. It is shared between left, right, and center: only the names of the heroes have been changed to protect the guilty. For the right the hero is Don Renaldo, the Gipper. Regan is treated like a god in the Republican Party, he could do no wrong. For the Left the heroes are at least FDR and TR. And everyone is madly in love with JFK, the great saint and martyr of US political discussion.

We do injustice to them and ourselves with this idolization. FDR was a great leader, he gave hope in the dark days of the Depression; but he lied like a rug about our involvement in WWII prior to Pearl Harbor. Regan, he actually could and did give into logic and political reality. He did (horrors of horrors) raise taxes. He damn near gave up the Cold War store to Gorby in Iceland before cooler heads prevailed. And JFK? Most of JFK's legacy was put in place by LBJ. It is a cruel thing to say but domestically JFK was much more successful as a dead man (martyr) then he ever was alive.

Obama is just another example in a long list of heroes that fall apart on closer examination. He is young, he is very charismatic and he does not physically fit the mold of a typical pol. He gets a lot of millage out of the fact that he is mixed-raced. On a quick glance he IS very appealing.

The Devil though is in the details. As pointed out when you look at policy positions, oops-aw-shucks we see a very typical D.L.C.-hack politician.

Obama reads the polls, Americans support the death penalty by a 2/3 majority. No "serious" candidate has ever opposed the death penalty-ever. Obama is not clueless, he knows that with his skin-tone he would be mercilessly swift-boated by the right-wing noise machine, eviscerated by the corporate hack-pack media, and demolished by HRC if he opposes the Death Penalty.

It is the same type of sad story with the Gay issue. The little detail here is that Obama has to appeal to the black church-goers in S.C. if he has any chance of winning. Those black evangelicals are even more homophobic than their white racist Dominionist brethren. So the GLBTs get kicked to the curb and the ex-gay gospel singer stays. A small olive branch is extended to the rainbow set in the form of a gay-friendly minister. Obama is acting like a typical pol. trying to be all things to all people.

Of course Obama thinks he can end the culture war. This is because he does not get the culture war. The very survival of his family depends on inclusion. His very existence depends people reaching across boundaries. Compromise is the very warp and woof of what Obama is as a man. It really does not occur to him that there are bad actors in the opposition.

Obama trumpets his Christian values and maybe in this regard he is being honest. Hard to say, real Christians don't need to advertise. It is possible that Obama's deeply held Christian values, the admonition to unto other as you would wish they would do unto you, turns him into a conscientious objector in the culture war.

Being kind, maybe Obama as a Christian has a blind side to real goals of Pat Robinson set. Is he seeing them as just poor misguided souls who have misinterpreting Jesus' message of love? Maybe he just does not understand that their agenda has nothing to do with sanctifying the nation and everything with imposing their will on others. On the other hand there is the possibility that Obama has bought into his own hype and really egomaniacally believes that he alone can heal this rift.

In the end it is less about Obama's faults than our own. We are electing the leader of the free world not a beauty queen. Unfortunately, our election is more and more resembling the Miss America pageant and less and less resembling a mature discussion of where we want to go as a nation. Yes, Obama is turning out to be just a pretty face with a great back story. But is he really to blame? We let the corporate media dish out this swill. We let them set the stupid talking points of HRC’s laugh and Edwards' haircut and Al Gore's sigh. We buy into the deadly authoritarian clap-trap that all it will take to fix our problems is one great leader.

Sorry kids, our government depends on the participation of We the people. We need to put down the remote and get to work. We need to bird-dog and badger our representatives, we need to call into the Media titans and bitch when the fail to cover the real issues. We need to call the sponsors of the Sunday bobble-head shows and tell them to pull the plug on Terrible Timmy and his ilk.

Democracy starts at elections, it does not end there. We have to follow Nelson Mandela's advice and keep the pressure on. We will have to do this no matter who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. We have a boat-load of DINOs in the Senate that need to be shown the doors. We also have some congress-critters who need to be investigating opportunities in the private sector too. We have 8 years of radical-right-wing rule to clean up. We have a ton of unfinished business to rectify. It is up to us, we have to save ourselves.

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