Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog

I was busy doing my usual thing (track) when the Obama-Jeremiah Wright story broke, so I haven't had an opportunity to weigh in yet. I must say, I'm disappointed. I've always said I'm in the ABC (Anybody But Clinton) camp, and that I much preferred Obama, who I see (or at least saw) as fundamentally a decent guy with whom I disagree on the issues, over Hillary, who epitomizes scandal and dirty pool. And I have to admit, like so many hopeful white guys, I kinda like (or liked) Obama as a guy whose mixed ethnicity and unique background enabled him to transcend all the nastiness about racial issues that still persists in America.

Then comes word that Obama's pastor and "spiritual mentor," a guy whose sermons were the source of the title of Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, who married Obama and his wife, who baptized his children... in other words, a guys who has been pretty darned influential in Obama's life, has over the years spewed some pretty nasty stuff. He has said that rather than "God bless America," we should say, "God damn America." He has called us the U.S. of KKK A. He has said that AIDS was cooked up by the US Government in the 1970s to kill blacks, that "Israel is a dirty word," and that the 9-11 attacks were "chickens coming home to roost." Obama has gone from saying he wasn't in church those days, to a blanket repudiation of anything controversial Wright has said, to finally giving a major speech on race that was pretty darned good, but basically just changed the subject.

I'm left with just a couple of options in my thinking on this--and they keep going around and around. Option 1: maybe Obama believes this crap. If so, in my mind he has no business anywhere near the White House. Option 2: maybe Obama doesn't believe ANY of it, and his relationship with Wright and his church was just postioning to add some "street cred" to his Ivy-League, half-white, East-African background back when he was first getting involved in Chicago politics. That's better, but it puts him on the same level as Clinton when it comes to cynical political moves. Not exactly a "new wave" in American politics. (That said, at least he wouldn't make Bill Clinton first lady, so he still wins out in that particular match-up.) Or maybe there's a third option I can't get my head around... maybe he's much, much more sophisticated than a redneck like me. And maybe he has a unique ability to see why it's OK to call for shock-jock Don Imus' head for a racist comment but it's very different when the venom is spewed by a radical black preacher. Maybe he's able to hate the sin while loving the sinner so well that his embrace of a guy who is virulently anti-American isn't evidence of poor judgment on his part, but actually of SUPERIOR judgment.

Bull-hockey. I feel let down. Policy aside, I thought this guy had a chance to be good for America. In a way, I almost hoped he would win. Even considered voting for him (safe in the knowledge that my vote wouldn't change the electoral college), just for the sake of being able to say in class 20 years from now that I did. But the shine is off. Of course, I'm pro-life and pro-surge, so I was going to vote for McCain anyway. But I do wonder how many independents who favored Obama share my feelings and will turn away now.


mbellison said...

option 3: maybe he doesn't agree with wright on those views but knows a good side to him that hasn't come out in the 24 hour news cycle and is attracted to the church for reasons other than the political views of the pastor, like perhaps the community atmosphere

if the views and actions of the clergy of the congregation you attend can disqualify you from becoming president, consider me disqualified--my former rabbi got himself addicted to narcotics...and even before that, he occasionally said things with which I disagreed

bekster said...

It's like you said about the coffee... "seems sweet, but has a bitter aftertaste."

Based on what I saw of Obama in some of the debates, I still believe that he really believes in all of his causes (whereas Clinton gives me the impression she is just saying what people want to hear). Of course I don't really know what Obama really thinks, but I can see how he could like the guy, but not agree with everything he says. Still, that's a lot of pretty extreme stuff. You'd think that if he knew he wanted to be president, he would have purposely tried to distance himself from that kind of ideology. I don't know.

What I DO know is that I wasn't going to vote for him anyway, and I'm still not. I believe that he really is in earnest about the things he has been pushing for, but I don't share his goals. I don't think he's evil, though, like Clinton. I saw her on the news today talking about her Bosnia comments. She wouldn't even look at the camera or make eye contact with anyone in the audience when she made certain statements, which says a lot to me. She has this little laugh she does whenever she is backed into a corner that irritates the heck out of me. It's as if she's saying, "Ha-ha-ha, you silly people. How could you possibly have thought that about me? Don't you know I was just trying to be jovial with you?" I think she's trying to be charming, but she is SO not.

Coach Sal said...

Matthew, "occasionally saying things with which I disagree" isn't just an occupational hazard for ministers, it's a requirement. But if there is a pattern, apparently endorsed by the church leadership, of saying things that place you in the same category as David Duke or Louis Farrakhan... well, I'd get a new church. Changing churches over leadership issues is terribly painful (I've done it), but sometimes necessary. I actually can deal with the more overtly political stuff--even the whole US of KKK A. Even G-D America. But for whatever reason, the whole AIDS thing just rubs me the wrong way