Friday, May 02, 2008

The Nutty Perfesser...

This post by Todd Zwicki over at The Volokh Conspiracy defending Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright seems to me a pretty good one, actually. I'm rather surprised it hasn't gotten more play in the blogosphere. Maybe it's because it doesn't quite fit into what's becoming the tripartite partisan narrative: the hard left defends Wright since he more or less thinks what they do (maybe excepting the "govt created AIDS" stuff); the right thinks he's a wacko and so is everyone who hangs out with him; and the libs think Wright is mostly wrong, but are more worried about his electoral effect (will he kill Obama's chance at winning the presidential race?). The virtue of Zwicki's post is that it notes, entirely correctly, that it's not quite right to judge people by their friends, since most of us have friends and close associates who have some peculiarity that, when looked at singly, makes them seem entirely crazy.

That all seems right, but I'm not sure it quite gets Obama off the hook. I don't think Obama should be judged per se because he's friends with Rev. Wright. Rather, it seems to me that his relationship with Wright at least illuminates something about Obama's social and political views. After all, according to Obama's own memoirs, it was the way that Wright connected the gospel to social and political critique that first really attracted him to Trinity. What's more, his membership in Trinity is but of a larger pattern, where Obama seems often to inhabit the most starkly left-wing precincts of our society. He does, as Zwicki notes, seem like quite the decent guy and, truth be told, I would probably rather have him as president than the junior senator from NY. But show me where he is friends with, regularly interacts with, and engages with some set of people who don't think The New Republic is some sell-out rag, and then I'll begin to think that maybe we should give him a bit of a pass on Wright. Otherwise, it's another piece to the puzzle that is Obama and the picture it shows ain't exactly to my liking.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My Bad

Alas, work has piled on, the usual array of office crises has intervened, and the defense of capitalism this year has proven more burdensome than even my rare and finely-honed bemused cynicism envisioned. Accordingly: My promised posts on Doug Feith's book will have to wait until next week at the earliest. May empires not fall on this tragic news. At least not the NewsWalk Empire.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sooo...

Rev. Wright has decided not to keep his head down until November. Instead, it's all about him - he sees just how the US govt is capable of "anything" (like infecting people with AIDS), that it's unfair to demand that he criticize Farrakhan (after all, Mandela didn't throw Castro under the bus!), that 9/11 occurred because we're terrorists ourselves, and so on and so on.

Hoo-buddy! We've all really wandered into the fever swamps now and Rev. Wright has decided, apparently, that he's not backing down an inch. No sir, he's got nothing to apologize for. And that Obama denunciation/disavowal? Just "politics," dude, can't you see that?

So Obama has a choice. He's certain to be asked about these sets of remarks; what does he do? If he continues to denounce Wright's views (as opposed to Wright himself), he's just setting himself up, isn't he? Isn't it clear that Wright just *loves* the attention and will play things up as much as he can? And eventually, he's going to have to start answering specific questions about specific claims - does *he* believe the AIDS stuff, etc.?

The problem is, though, that if he goes whole hog and gets serious about his denunciations, that is what will dominate the news for at least the next week, right up through the Indiana primary, and he'll be dealt another big loss. What's more, he's in danger of becoming *defined* by his association with the wackadoo fringe of American religion. But here's the real kicker: setting aside some of the more conspiratorial stuff (e.g. AIDS), what about Wright's views would the hard-core lefties that populate too much of American academia actually disagree with? America as structurally racist? Check. Islamic terrorism essentially "caused" by US foreign policy? Check. Israel as the "problem" in the Middle East? Check. How many of these folks will sit still if Obama goes after Wright's views - who will pen the first essay lamenting Obama's capitulation to monied Jewish interests? Or the lack of his "real" progressive politics?

I'd really be enjoying this more, though, if I didn't think that he wasn't still the odds-on favorite for the presidency. Gulp.

Why Barack Obama Shunned the Flag Pin

Via the often-elegant Don Surber---

Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.”—B. Obama (D-IL)



Some of us---many of us---believe this country is already great, despite its flaws and its checkered history. The flag pin isn't just about the war in Iraq. You have to lose all sense of perspective to believe that.

We massacred each other over slavery, and could have sat out World Wars One and Two and gave Germany and Japan free rein over Europe and Asia since it didn’t affect us.

As to what proto-president Obama believes will make this country truly great at last, well, I’m willing to listen.

Perhaps he’s thought of something new.

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N.B.---The invaluable Mr. Surber also includes this quote:

The reason that I don’t always wear a flag pin is not that I disrespect the flag, it’s that when I started wearing a flag pin after 9/11, I gotta admit that sometimes I would misplace it and so I didn’t always put it on.


Well, that's a perspective that every man in America who left his wallet on the dresser while hustling off to work could sympathize with, and that's every single one of us. You could vote for a guy who understands that.

Word up, Brother Barack. When all else fails, stick with the truth.

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