I know I can obsess but when it comes to those who could become president, I believe a little more than casual focus is warranted. Below are some further provocative writings by Victor Davis Hanson and a person unknown to me, who lives in Chicago. It was sent by a fellow memo reader who believes it factual.
What is important to remember is that the two Democrat candidates, in order to get the nomination, have mostly avoided the critical issues of the day and focused on their personal merits. The candidates were ably assisted in their evasiveness because, as I have said repeatedly, the press and media set the agenda by their print and questions. We must not tolerate this because it is a disservice, it is unprofessional and,in time, will undercut our very freedom. Democracy's need a free press and media and the press and media need to be responsible and objective. They certainly have demonstrated a zealousness in criticism of GW but I submit their liberal bias squelches their objectivity when it comes to their own "darlings."
Freiderich Hayek , the economist, not Rev. Wright, most influenced my thinking and I urge all to read "The Road To Serfdom." Then, if you have not, also read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." If these two books do not impact your thinking or reinforce it I will be very surprised. Both books warn us about the dangers of socialism, government enslavement and the threat they are to our independent ways and freedoms.
A free society is made safe by active involvement of an informed and critical thinking citizenry willing to defend itself when threatened.
(See 1 and 2 below.)
1) The Wrong Wright: Can Obama right the wrong in his campaign?
by Victor Davis Hanson
This article originally appear in NROs The Corner as several postings, “Race and the Democrats.”
I recently listened to, and read from, various disgusting excerpts of Rev. (“God damn America!”) Wright, the Obama pastor and his Ward Churchill-like “chickens coming home to roost” rhetoric.
The problem is that he is not simply a well-meaning black pastor, sounding themes of African-American self-improvement. His loopy references about the past, and the many sins of a white racist America, coupled with his promiscuous use of slurs about other races and religions, (and his own country), put him clearly in the camp of extremists. In other words, he is a nut, and the more Obama’s tries to pooh-pooh that, the worse it gets. Most who could sit through those diatribes and venom each week might find it difficult to have a balanced view of so-called “white” people or the country at large.
I’m surprised that Obama has not dealt with the issue more forcefully, since the Rev. will become a media fixation. And, given his temperament and zest for attention, he will delight reporters and journalists with weekly doses of his gratuitous slanders. And it won’t do to suggest that such worry is “guilt by association” or that Rev. Wright is analogous to other controversial religious figures endorsing other candidates. Wright baptized the Obama children; Obama belongs to and attends his church and has listened in the past without objection to these extremist sermons; and he took his “Audacity of Hope” book title from a Wright lecture. In that incestuous context, Obama’s weak disclaimer, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial," is as disingenuous and ‘old politics’ as they come.
As far as the latest racial controversy among Democrats in a campaign intended to transcend race, it is hard to know quite what is going on. It is true, as alleged, that were Obama not African-American with an exotic name, a rookie senator without much experience, or reputation from his state legislator days, would not be receiving the current mainstream media adulation or public attention.
But that said, should an Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson have had African or Middle-Eastern names, it would have done neither any good, since both utterly lack Sen. Obama’s eloquence (not seen since JFK) and sense of decency that so reassures voters — at a time of great national insecurity about the economy and the war.
In truth, one key to Obama’s success is that, on the one hand, his education, diction, charisma, and mixed racial ancestry reassure white, Asian, and Latino voters that the senator is firmly within the American mainstream while offering a promise of novelty-lite and “change” and “hope” to boot. And for the more elite among them, he raises the additional ante of psychological redemption at little cost — that his election proves that we are not only not currently racist, but also can be given atonement for the sins of our grandparents and beyond. Overseas that magic wand reinvents Americans as a revolutionary society led by the “other”, and not to be targeted any longer and caricatured as the old white oppressor.
On the other hand, a tripartite name like Barack Hussein Obama, silhouetted at times by the fiery racialist rhetoric of Rev. Wright, and the serial lamentations of Michelle Obama, also provides a clear subtext to the African-American base, and the hard Left — Obama has real fides; he is one of the people; and he expects and enjoys such lopsided racial solidarity.
Astride the Fence
Is this tightrope walking sustainable? I doubt it. At some point, given the high bar he has set for candor and the new ‘change’ politics, Obama will have to be honest and explain the difficulty of reconciling these constituencies—perhaps emphasizing that he is concerned only with the issues, and, given his mixed racial and varied cultural background, assorted groups sometimes see in him superficially only what they wish.
He should address it head on, since the tiny droplets of Michelle’s sloppy rhetoric, the Wright outbursts, the old radicals in the closet, the snippets in the memoirs that assume a sort of hard left view of the United States abroad, and more to come will coalesce in the mind of the voter into a deluge of far left criticism of America. So far he has been lucky to have critics like Ferraro whose inferred logic is full of holes (e.g., I was once nominated as VP only because I was a woman, but as an obscure congresswoman without accomplishments I would have nevertheless been a great VP; but Hillary is not there because she is a woman or Bill’s husband, but [unlike Obama?] has real gifts that earned her such stature); others will be more circumspect and effective in their dissection of the Obama contradictions.
Since Billary has almost mined out the racialist ore, expect them to tap this vein of easy anti-Americanism that characterizes Obama’s associates unless, that is, Obama preempts the inference that there is too much easy anti-Americanism emanating from his associates. Each time the Rev. Wright’s latest clip is played, Obama is going to lose voters — unless he explains how and why such sentiments are not his own, and how and why he could attend such sermons without being ill at ease.
You see, the Michelle Obama and Rev. Wright rhetoric — while welcome to some African-American audiences and elite whites — simply outrages the working classes of all backgrounds, most of whom have never had opportunities to go to prep schools like Obama did, or private schools where his children are enrolled, or Columbia/Harvard and Princeton/Harvard from which he and his wife graduated, or worked in elite positions for blue-chip law firms as this power couple once did.
In short, class can often trump race. The notion that very privileged people, with elite educations and income, seem to be suggesting (as well as being at ease with others who do) that the country is currently somehow pathological or unfair is not simply something that bothers the less fortunate, but literally enrages them.
Why? Because ingratitude, even the perception of it, is one of our strongest of emotions.
The problems with Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama are fivefold. They won’t go away, but they will raise dilemmas for him that have no analogy, no parallel with other religious leaders of dubious past declamations who have supported the other candidates:
1) The Obamas were not merely endorsed by, or attended the church of, Rev. Wright, but subsidized his hatred with generous donations, were married by him, and had their children baptized by this venomous preacher; there is nothing quite comparable in the case of Sens. Clinton and McCain.
2) Rev. Wright’s invective is not insensitive or hyperbolic alone, but in the end disgusting. And when listened to rather than read, the level of emotion and fury only compound the racism and hatred, whether in its attack on the Clintons, or profanity-laced slander of the United States and its history, or in gratuitous references to other races. Its reactionary Afrocentrism, conspiracy-theory, and illiberal racial separatism take us back to the 1970s, and compare with the worst of the fossilized Farrakhan — and have no remote parallel in the present campaign.
3) Sen. Obama has proclaimed a new politics of hope and change that were supposedly to transcend such venom and character assassination of the past. Thus besides being politically dense, he suffers — unless he preempts and explains in detail his Byzantine relationship with the Reverend — the additional charge of hypocrisy in courting such a merchant of hate. And then he compounds the disaster by the old-fashion politics of contortion and excuse by suggesting the Rev. Wright is not that controversial, or is analogous to the occasional embarrassing outburst of an uncle — some uncle.
4) There is a growing sense of betrayal among some of his supporters. Sen. Obama promised to transcend race; millions of sincere people of both parties took him at his word and invested psychologically and materially in his candidacy. Part of his message was that collectively America had made great progress, and their Ivy League and subsequent careers, in addition to his rhetoric of inclusiveness and tolerance, bore witness to that progress in racial equality. Now we learn, that for much of his career, he was not only attending hate-filled sermons against “rich white people” and the “g-d d——d America” (in hopes of solidifying his racial fides in regional Chicago politics?), but subsidized that ministry of intolerance. So while he promised an evolution beyond the race-identity politics of Jesse Jackson or the Rev. Sharpton, his own minister trumped anything that either one of those preachers might have sermonized. All in all — a betrayal.
5) The timing is especially troubling. In delegate mathematics, Obama seems to have the nomination; but this scandal — and it is a scandal despite the best efforts of sympathetic journalists to downplay it — will only cause worry for the super delegates, who now must either nominate a candidate (no doubt the vast right-wing conspiracy is examining the multi-volume DVDs of Rev. Wright’s collective corpus of hatred) who will bleed all spring and summer, or “steal” the nomination from the “people” and “hand it over” to Hillary.
So now in place of a critical discussion of issues from taxes to the war, welcome to the Politics of Change.
The modified hangout, and the modified modified hangout
Despite the serial profession of a new politics, there is something Nixonian about Obama's recent disclaimers over his racist pastor's diatribes. At first he tried to blame the messenger:
"Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor.”
The problem is not cherries, Senator, but an entire orchard. The most egregious slurs are not from two decades past, but post 9/11 and especially in 2006. And Obama should have learned from Nixon that when there is something there, it is best to get out in front of it in a manner that anticipates more disturbing revelations. Yet the modified hangout then followed;
"It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS."
This is a de facto defense of, not a distancing from, Wright, and begs the question of why? And the AIDs evocation is especially damning since the reverend has made it clear that HIV was our own creation, apparently part and parcel of some U.S. government conspiracy. Is Obama now suggesting that Wright did important civic work with AIDs even though he promulgated a belief that the virus was fabricated by our own government? And then comes the modified modified hangout:
"But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church."
That makes it even worse, because now Obama hints that he might have been in fact aware of the Wright rhetoric, but gave him a pass because he was “on the verge of retirement,” as if the albatross were about to disappear anyway, and with it the cause of prior embarrassment. And the evocation of his marriage and his children’s baptisms in such an extremist landscape should not be cited as reasons to stay in it, but rather should have been evoked as causes why he should get out — and not have his family further tainted by it. And it goes on and on:
“And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.”
“Judgment” is the wrong word here, because the entire Wright liaison is proof positive of terrible judgment. And the problem is not judging Sen. Obama “on the basis of what someone else said”, but on the basis of his own generous subsidies to someone who spewed forth not mere speech, but hate speech.
And when Obama announces, “The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation,” he only will prompt investigative reporters to rush to substantiate whether the Senator was there when any of this calumny was preached, or has given a hint that he was aware of it in the past. No doubt every word he has written, interview he has given, and people he has talked with will be examined to see whether that astounding statement is in fact true. For some strange reason, Obama has now banked his entire campaign on his word and assurance that he did not hear on a single occasion any such screed.
I hope he is correct. But if one were to collate the reverend’s views on what his congregation should think of the United States, and, further, his writs against Americans as “selfish, self-centered egotists who are arrogant and ignorant” with Michelle Obama’s own astounding statements that hitherto she had no pride in the United States, and considered America “just downright mean," and Americans “guided by fear" and (in the words of the New Yorker profiler) who summed up her views as ‘we're a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents’ the echoes are eerie.
Without sounding dramatic, I think his campaign has seriously underestimated the effect of the Wright tapes on the average American voter (again, the problem is not just the transcript, but the delivery, most notably its fury and coarseness), and the senator’s own abject inability honestly and forthrightly to explain the close relationship of the Obamas to Reverend Wright, apologize for such a lapse of judgment, and move on. His advisors are culpable here, and apparently in their spin have no clue that they are making things worse rather than better.
Instead, we have heard first “cherry-picking” and then that the reverend does not represent his own views, but not a hint of contrition for an association with such a demagogue and hate-monger. I think this will not go away, and ultimately damage Obama beyond repair, for it strikes at the heart of his very candidacy — that he was a healer who has transcended racial divides, and was introducing a new credo of transparent and painfully forthright politics. The Wright scandal and his reaction thus far belie both. This was precisely why Hillary stayed in the race, and mirabile dictu, perhaps what she imagined would eventually transpire.
Whatever one’s views, this is both a travesty and a tragedy.
2) Obama: Why 23 years of silence?
By Peggy Shapiro
This is a quiz.
Imagine that person A hears person B give sermons which are filled with hatred for the U.S.A., include an exhortation to sing “God Damn American” rather than “Gold Bless America and claim that the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attack, speeches which accuse the nation of creating the AIDS crisis to destroy Africa, speeches which include diatribes such as “"We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We [white America] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life…”
What is the reason that the Person A does not walk out, does not quit the church, does not publicly or privately chastise the speaker, but silently remains in his seat and comes back for more of the same?
A. Person A agrees with Person B. Their ideas about the United States are basically similar.
B Person A slept through 23 years of sermons and didn’t hear these statements.
C. Person A does not have the courage to confront Person B.
The media has been asking Barak Obama this question, and he strongly denies having the some of the same opinions as his pastor. We don't know precisely which ones the two men don't hold in common, but let's be generous and not attribute distain for the U.S. for the man who wants to assume the presidency. So let’s eliminate option A.
Obama is praised for his ability to be a good listener and would not sleep through hundreds of sermons by a man he considers his “mentor” and “spiritual guide.” Wright did not make his outrageous comments once or twice; they appear in dozens and dozens of his sermons which ABC recently purchased. Obama must have hade a hint of Wright's controversial harangues as he told a Wright, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.”
That eliminates option B.
The most benign reason would be that Barak Obama avoids confrontation even in the midst of the ugliest provocations. Wait! What does that say for his character if he cowers before belligerence and hate? Doesn’t Obama promise that one of his first acts as president would be talks with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? If Obama couldn’t muster the courage to speak up on behalf of decency and unity when he faced his minister, what will he do when Ahmadinejad launches similar missiles of hate against the U.S, and Israel? Will he politely let evil take the day?
Obama and his spokespeople are attacking the questioners and offering a variety of convoluted explanations for his silence. The fact is, there is no good answer to that question.