Saturday, March 22, 2008

Judas!

Just when you think Clinton and her closest advisers can't get any more hyperbolic or self-aggrandizing, James Carville speaks: “Mr. Richardson’s endorsement [of Obama] came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic."

Which of the Clintons is Christ in this analogy? I like to think that Carville is embracing a radical feminist theology.

On the other hand, if Bill is Jesus, the role of Mary Magdelene is so predictably cast.

And how does Obama fit in? I'm not as biblically literate as I should be: who is it that Judas endorses? Satan? Or, paraphrasing Dylan, did Judas Iscariot have God on his side?

Or perhaps James Carville is merely suggesting, as other serious thinkers on the internets have, that Obama is the Antichrist.

In the end, I think this simply betrays the ultimate martyr complex that lies just below the surface in the mind of Clinton and all her supporters. If someone doesn't support her it must be because they're evil and misguided, not simply because they disagree.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Trinity United Church of Christ

The internet and cable TV have been awash with images of Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former pastor, saying "God damn America!" and "America's chickens are coming home to roost." I will withhold comment on these statements - more than enough has been made of them. What I do want to say is the one time that I, a non-religious white man, attended Trinity United Church of Christ I was received warmly by the members of the congregation, and I was extremely moved by the service and the powerful sense of community that permeated the space.

My mother and stepfather are UCC members and make a point of attending Trinity (the country's largest UCC congregation) when they are in Chicago to visit my brother and me. I joined them a couple years ago on Father's Day. I was late getting there, of course, and when I walked in the lobby there were just a few people waiting to get in to the sanctuary - latecomers like me. A woman walked up to me and said, "Good morning. You must be looking for your mother. They're already inside - you'll have to wait to go in until there's a break in the service." I thanked her and thought, how did she know I was looking for my mother? And immediately laughed to myself. How many other young white men would be coming in this morning?

Rev. Wright gave a thoughtful and empowering sermon about fatherhood and the importance of honoring fathers in the black community and the responsibilities that fatherhood entails. The choir was amazing and nothing like what we had in the Lutheran churches I grew up attending. And when we 'passed the peace,' I was warmly greeted by those in the pews in front and behind me and when I somewhat shyly extended my hand to shake the hand of the middle-aged woman next to me I was very touched when she waved that off and gave me a big hug.

Whatever Rev. Wright's political views, there is no doubt in my mind that the congregation at Trinity is one that welcomes all people and practices the love that is so central to Christ's message. I wonder how much those messages will be played and replayed on CNN and Fox News.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Framing the Debate

"As the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down." President Bush

"We have given them the precious gift of freedom and it is up to them to decide whether or not they will use it." Hillary Clinton

"The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops" Barack Obama

"Americans are rightly concerned about how much longer our nation must continue to sacrifice for an Iraqi government that is unwilling or unable to secure its own future." Nancy Pelosi

I have been disappointed of late to realize what a good job the Neocons and Republicans have done at framing the debate around the war in Iraq. President Bush began in 2005 with his "stand up/stand down" explanation of how America will extricate itself from Iraq. Essentially, leading Democrats have flipped this on it's head without questioning the underlying assumption. Democrats have basically adopted a "stand down/stand up" approach - as we begin withdrawing our troops this will force the Iraqi government to take control and a country divided will become a country united.

On one level, this is correct: there is no question that as we begin to stand down, Iraqis will begin to stand up - with guns in hand. Hillary Clinton characterized our presence as babysitting a civil war. What she doesn't acknowledge, what none of the Democrats seem to acknowledge, is that America created this mess and America cannot simply wash its hands of it because it's no longer politically popular. To withdraw in the hopes that democracy will magically take hold is as fantastical as the Neocons' hopes that invading Iraq would bring democracy to the middle east.

I acknowledge that I am no expert, but it seems to me that whatever success has occurred in Kosovo (and that is an open question), it is because it was NATO-led and UN administered. It surprises me that Obama, who continually talks about improving our image around the world, doesn't talk more about reaching out to our allies to help build a stable Iraq. To be fair, Obama repeatedly says we must be "as careful getting out as we were careless getting in." But why not elaborate on that? Why not come forward with some type of plan? Distinguish himself from the pack? For that matter, it surprises me that Hillary doesn't come out with a Kosovo-type proposal for Iraq. Isn't that one of the great successes of the Clinton presidency?

I often say that there must be people who are much more intelligent than me thinking about these problems. I hope some of them will start to speak up. Because, whether they want to acknowledge it or not, Democrats seem to have bought into the Neocon myth that there is a relationship between military action and the creation of stable governments. The Democrats keep saying there is no military solution to this problem; unfortunately they fail to see that they too are embracing a military solution. Who will stand up for intelligent international diplomatic intervention paired with massive aid?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Your dreams...

... do not have to come at the expense of my dreams."

I'm guessing Barack is not speaking to Hillary when he says those words, but the message of his speech today was still very strong: America is not post-racial, and there are still very many real divisions, but we have an opportunity to move forward.

Barack demonstrates yet again what it is that draws his supporters to him - a core belief in the ability of Americans to see beyond divisions and to focus energy on the points at which our interests merge.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Denounce and Reject

In the last debate Clinton insisted that Obama reject the support of Louis Farrakhan. I thought she was right to call him out on that. Now it's Hillary's turn. Geraldine Ferraro's comments are race-baiting pure and simple, not simply "personal" as Clinton has characterized them. She must say something more than "I disagree." She must show that she won't tolerate this type of rhetoric and ask Geraldine Ferraro to leave her campaign. Obama's advisor had to resign for calling Clinton a "monster," Geraldine Ferraro should be asked to resign for flat out saying that Obama wouldn't be winning if he wasn't black (well, biracial, but what's the difference right? Much too tedious to make nuanced distinctions- must... get... schizophrenic narcisist into the White House at all costs).

And since when did being a black male become so popular in America anyway? What "fairy tale" is Ferraro living in? If this type of rhetoric is acceptable, can we then turn this thing on it's head and characterize Hillary's "down scale" supporters as being more racist than they are sexist? Should Obama begin taking that tack in the race against Hillary - you're only winning cause rural white folks are more scared of a black man being in charge than they are of a white woman being in charge? How far do you think he would get with that type of rhetoric?

God, I'm tired of the Clinton campaign. And the nerve of these two to offer Obama the vice presidency when they're losing the election. WTF?! I guess this post is a little less measured in tone than I've been, but as I said, I'm tired of the Clintons. And no, before I hear anything about it, I'm not saying that Geraldine Ferraro is equal to Louis Farrakhan. Cause god knows barely sublimated racism coming out of the mouth of an older white woman is so much more palatable.

Everything is fair in politics because it's all about winning. And that's why if Clinton is the nominee a lot of people will be staying home in November because they're tired of the anything-goes game. Why vote when it's one cynical Washington old timer against another? Obama is certainly not perfect, but at least he tries to appeal to the better side of people. Clinton trades in fear mongering and negativity.

As Bill Clinton once said, "you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope." (see March 3rd post)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hillary is Mike Huckabee

She may believe in evolution, but she also clearly believes in miracles. Obama's support may be largely faith-driven, but his position as the front-runner in this primary is all about the math. Inspired by Jonathan Alter's article on Newsweek's website (http://www.newsweek.com/id/118240), I went to the Slate delegate counter (http://www.slate.com/features/delegatecounter/) and did a little calculating of my own. Putting in the numbers being reported for Wyoming (61-39, Obama), Hillary Clinton would have to win by greater than 62% in each of the remaining primaries in order to gain the lead in pledged delegates. I don't need to rehearse the improbability of Hillary winning (let alone by large margins) in states like Mississippi or North Carolina. The simple truth of it is, the math doesn't lie. So what is Hillary hoping for? Could it be that she is hoping that the sky will open up, celestial choirs will sing, and superdelegates will see the light and suddenly realize that they should do the right thing and vote for her?

The superdelegates is all she has to go on at this point, that and overturning the disqualification of Michigan and Florida - not re-dos, but awarding delegates based on the voters that already voted, meaning awarding MI delegates based on a ballot that didn't have Obama's name on it. The odds of these two things happening are not in her favor. As Poker Bluegill might say, any good gambler would walk away from this table.

But miracles do happen, and it wouldn't be the first time Democratic voters were delivered a leader who failed to win the popular vote. Clinton's unwavering confidence that what is good for her is good for America will likely keep this battle going until the convention. By that point, barring any miracles, we will have an Obama candidacy weakened considerably by a Clinton campaign that will continue to do McCain's job for him. It's three a.m. and a phone is ringing at the White House... Clinton's strategy increasingly suggests that she is willing to have John McCain answer that phone no matter what it costs the country.