Saturday, May 31, 2008
Fast forward. Do you all still think they like or even respect white folk?
There's been a rumor this week that Rush Limbaugh has a tape of Michelle in the pulpit at Trinity raving about whiteys. (Is that how it's spelled? I've never paid all that much attention to race until the Obamas showed up on the scene to spoil everything.)
I believe the Obamas hate whites. Especially Michelle. She surely looks downright mean and I'm not kidding about that. I have an excellent imagination but I cannot imagine these two in the White House (can it be repainted to acceptable African colors?--what are those green, red and black?) To have these two people in the White House and their coterie of America haters--this is like the cheapest Hollywood B movie.
It's one thing to have someone as dumb as John Kerry in there, but two people with the deep resentment, hostility and animus to hate the majority of the country?
I hope the rumor is true. That Sean Hannity does have the tape, that Rush has the tape, that Hillary has the tape. I hope they play it. I hope the majority begins to ask the same questions I'm asking now.
What would it be like to have a President who hates you? Let me rephrase that, what would it be like to have an American President who hates America?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.
Dan Quayle was roundly abused by the media for spelling potato with an e, but Barry can say Wellsleyan instead of Wesleyan and no one mentions it. He visits 57 states and that's not a lack of geographical knowledge it's exhaustion in the service of the proletariat. We the little people don't know anyway. To paraphrase Mr Mom: 57 states, 58--whatever it takes. The Imperial United States has crushed them all anyway.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Michelle Obama is fair game
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | May 25, 2008
ON THE website of the Tennessee Republican Party is a short video in which residents of Nashville talk about the pride they feel for their country. One man, for example, mentions his esteem for the First and Second Amendments. A Vanderbilt graduate student says he was proud when Ronald Reagan told Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall - "and I was prouder when it came down." A young professional woman extols the "academic and job opportunities that women have in this country." A police officer named Juan says he is proud of having immigrated to the United States, learned English, and become a citizen of this "land of opportunity and the best country in the world."
The video makes its point by alternating these upbeat comments with clips of Michelle Obama telling two different audiences in February: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." In an understated press release announcing the video, the state GOP welcomed Mrs. Obama to Nashville and remarked: "The Tennessee Republican Party has always been proud of America."
One would have to have skin of microscopic thinness to take offense at so gentle and indirect a critique. No surprise, then, that Barack Obama took offense, reacting as if his bride had been slimed by slurs akin to those that enraged Andrew Jackson when he ran for president. (During the campaign of 1828, supporters of John Quincy Adams maligned Jackson's mother as a "common prostitute" and mocked his adored wife, Rachel, as a "convicted adulteress" and a "strumpet.") In an interview on ABC, Obama growled that Republicans "should lay off my wife," and described the inoffensive Tennessee video as "detestable," "low class," and reflecting "a lack of decency."
If Republicans "think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign," he added ominously, "they should be careful."
Ooh, very fierce. But unless Obama is prepared to emulate Jackson - Old Hickory defended his wife's honor by fighting duels, in one of which he killed a man - he stands no chance of putting his wife's remarks off-limits to criticism. As long as he keeps sending her around the country to campaign on his behalf, everything she says is - and should be - fair game.
And unfortunately for Obama and his allegedly sunny politics of hope, what Mrs. Obama seems to say with grim regularity is that America is a scary, bleak, and hopeless place.
Here she is, for instance, in Wisconsin:
"Life for regular folks has gotten worse over the course of my lifetime, through Republican and Democratic administrations. It hasn't gotten much better."
And in South Carolina:
America is "just downright mean" and "guided by fear . . . We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day."
And in North Carolina:
"Folks are struggling like never before . . . When you're that busy struggling all the time, which most people that you know and I know are, you don't have time to get to know your neighbor . . . In fact, you feel very alone in your struggle, because you feel that somehow it must be your fault that you're struggling so hard . . . People are afraid, because when your world's not right, no matter how hard you work, then you become afraid of everyone and everything, because you don't know whose fault it is, why you can't get a handle on life, why you can't secure a better future for your kids . . . Fear is the worst enemy. It . . . creates this veil of impossibility, and it is hanging over all of our heads."
There is also her creepily authoritarian vision of life under an Obama administration. From a speech in California:
"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone . . . Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual - uninvolved, uninformed."
Michelle Obama is undeniably smart, driven, outspoken, and charismatic. She is also relentlessly negative about life in these United States. True, she is not the one running for president. But she is Barack Obama's closest confidante and adviser; if he is elected, her influence will be considerable. That is why her words matter. And why, whether her husband likes it or not, Michelle Obama is a legitimate issue in this campaign.
Jeff Jacoby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, May 23, 2008
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 23, 2008; A17
When the House of Representatives takes up arms against $4 gas by voting 324-84 to sue OPEC, you know that election-year discourse has entered the realm of the surreal. Another unmistakable sign is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.
Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chávez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure -- then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration's refusal to do so not just "ridiculous" but "a disgrace."
After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity.
Should the president ever meet with enemies? Sometimes, but only after minimal American objectives -- i.e., preconditions -- have been met. The Shanghai communique was largely written long before Richard Nixon ever touched down in China. Yet Obama thinks Nixon to China confirms the wisdom of his willingness to undertake a worldwide freshman-year tyrants tour.
Most of the time you don't negotiate with enemy leaders because there is nothing to negotiate. Does Obama imagine that North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela are insufficiently informed about American requirements for improved relations?
There are always contacts through back channels or intermediaries. Iran, for example, has engaged in five years of talks with our closest European allies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to say nothing of the hundreds of official U.S. statements outlining exactly what we would give them in return for suspending uranium enrichment.
Obama pretends that while he is for such "engagement," the cowboy Republicans oppose it. Another absurdity. No one is debating the need for contacts. The debate is over the stupidity of elevating rogue states and their tyrants, easing their isolation, and increasing their leverage by granting them unconditional meetings with the president of the world's superpower.
Obama cited Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as presidents who met with enemies. Does he know no history? Neither Roosevelt nor Truman ever met with any of the leaders of the Axis powers. Obama must be referring to the pictures he's seen of Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, and Truman and Stalin at Potsdam. Does he not know that at that time Stalin was a wartime ally?
During the subsequent Cold War, Truman never met with Stalin. Nor Mao. Nor Kim Il Sung. Truman was no fool.
Obama cites John Kennedy meeting Nikita Khrushchev as another example of what he wants to emulate. Really? That Vienna summit of a young, inexperienced, untested American president was disastrous, emboldening Khrushchev to push Kennedy on Berlin -- and then nearly fatally in Cuba, leading almost directly to the Cuban missile crisis. Is that the precedent Obama aspires to follow?
A meeting with Ahmadinejad would not just strengthen and vindicate him at home, it would instantly and powerfully ease the mullahs' isolation, inviting other world leaders to follow. And with that would come a flood of commercial contracts, oil deals, diplomatic agreements -- undermining the very sanctions and isolation that Obama says he would employ against Iran.
As every seasoned diplomat knows, the danger of a summit is that it creates enormous pressure for results. And results require mutual concessions. That is why conditions and concessions are worked out in advance, not on the scene.
What concessions does Obama imagine Ahmadinejad will make to him on Iran's nuclear program? And what new concessions will Obama offer? To abandon Lebanon? To recognize Hamas? Or perhaps to squeeze Israel?
Having lashed himself to the ridiculous, unprecedented promise of unconditional presidential negotiations -- and then having compounded the problem by elevating it to a principle -- Obama keeps trying to explain. On Sunday, he declared in Pendleton, Ore., that by Soviet standards Iran and others "don't pose a serious threat to us." (On the contrary. Islamic Iran is dangerously apocalyptic. Soviet Russia was not.) The next day in Billings, Mont.: "I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."
That's the very next day, mind you. Such rhetorical flailing has done more than create an intellectual mess. It has given rise to a new political phenomenon: the metastatic gaffe. The one begets another, begets another, begets . . .
Washington Post http://tinyurl.com/6dpy92
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Politics: Barack Obama puts the little lady off-limits, imposing a new double standard on presidential politics. At least Hillary didn't say, "Lay off my husband."
Read More: Election 2008
Whatever else we've thought about Michelle Obama, we've never doubted that this outspoken Princeton- and Harvard-trained lawyer was capable of fighting her own battles. But now her husband says no. Pick on her and you're going to have to deal with him. As he told "Good Morning America" this week, "Lay off my wife."
How manly. How chivalrous. How hypocritical.
Both spouses of the leading Democratic contenders have been active on the stump, occasionally making news. Bill Clinton riled up the Obama camp early on with comments such as his claim that Obama's anti-war record was more "fairy tale" than reality. Obama's minions jumped all over him for once comparing Obama with Jesse Jackson. Clinton can give as good as he gets, and no one treats him as an innocent victim. That's how it should be.
Michelle Obama has stirred up some criticism, too. Republicans have not let her forget that she told a couple of audiences in February that she was "proud of my country" for the first time in her adult life. That line reinforced the impression that, for someone who has achieved so much, she is strangely disaffected and angry. "America's Unhappiest Millionaire," she was dubbed in National Review after one of her grim stump speeches.
But now her husband has laid down a rule: Michelle can say whatever she wants and not be called on it. He specifically went after a group of Tennessee Republicans running TV ads that compared his wife's appearance of late-blooming patriotism with the views of some other Americans.
The ads weren't kind, but they were no rougher than some of the jabs thrown by Obama and his friends at Bill Clinton and at John McCain (who is "losing his bearings," as Obama recently said of his 70-something rival).
How to treat spouses of presidential hopefuls is an old question, but it's not that hard to answer. The trick is to observe what these wives and husbands say and do. Are they acting like would-be co-presidents or are they preparing for the more traditional background role? Are they Hillary Clinton, or more like Laura Bush?
Michelle Obama's role is still a work in progress, and she may be no Hillary. At the same time, she's not shy about sharing her political thinking with the rest of us.
Barack Obama's new rule reminds us of the classic "Seinfeld" episode about the Bubble Boy. The "boy" was a grown man kept behind a plastic barrier because of some rare disease. No one dared say a harsh word to him, and he repaid this kindness by bossing everyone around. Barack Obama seems to want the same privilege for Michelle, surrounding her with a bubble that keeps criticism out while letting her say whatever she wants.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Who "sent" Obama?
Updated May 18, 2008 with information from Nell Minow, daughter of Obama mentor Newton Minow and sister of Obama's Harvard professor, Martha Minow.
Updated May 3, 2008: Ken Rolling, first Executive Director of the Annenberg Challenge, had been a program officer of the Woods Fund; Republican activist claims Ayers is "advisor" to Barack Obama.
In Chicago politics a key question has always been, who "sent" you? The classic phrase is "We don't want nobody that nobody sent" - from an anecdote of Abner Mikva's, the former White House Counsel (Pres. Clinton) and now retired federal judge. (And someone I campaigned for while in high school when he ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress in the early 70s.) As a young student, Mikva wanted to help out the his local Democratic Party machine on the south side of Chicago. In 1948, he walked into the local committeman's office to volunteer for Adlai Stevenson and Paul Douglas and was immediately asked: "Who sent you?" Mikva replied, "nobody sent me." And the retort came back from the cigar chomping pol: "Well, we don't want nobody that nobody sent."
So it is reasonable to ask, who "sent" Barack Obama? In other words, how can his meteoric rise to political prominence be explained? And, of course, in an answer to that question might lie a better understanding of his essential world view. When I started looking at this question a few weeks ago I quickly grew more concerned about the kinds of people that seem to have been very important in Obama's ascendancy in Chicago area politics. It is the connection of some of these people to authoritarian politics that has me particularly concerned. And a key concern of this blog has been the rise of authoritarian tendencies in the global labor movement.
The poeple linked to Senator Obama grew to political maturity in the extreme wings of the late 60s student and antiwar movements. They adopted some of the worst forms of sectarian and authoritarian politics. They helped undermine the emergence of a healthy relationship between students and others in American society who were becoming interested in alternative views of social, political and economic organization. In fact, at the time, some far more constructive activists had a hard time comprehending gorups like the Weather Underground. Their tactics were so damaging that some on the left thought that government or right wing elements helped create them. There is some evidence, in fact, that that was true (for example, the Cointelpro effort of the federal government.)
Today, however, many of these individuals continue to hold political views that hardened in that period. Many of them have joined up with other wings of the late 60s and 70s movements, in particular the pro-China maoists elements of that era and are now playing a role in the labor movement and elsewhere. And yet this question of Obama's links to people from this milieu has not been thoroughly explored by any of the many thousands of journalists, bloggers and political operatives looking so closely at Obama.
The most recent effort was by Jonathan Kaufman in the Wall Street Journal who argued that a critical connection for Obama was his links to some in the wealthy and prominent Jewish community in Chicago. This article contains some important insights and is well worth reading. But, I think Kaufman gets it wrong.
So, who did “send” Obama? The key I think is his ties not to well connected uber lawyer Newton Minow, as Kaufman suggests, but more likely to the family of (in)famous former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers – not just Bill Ayers, but also Bill’s father Tom Ayers and his brother John as well. Obama was a community organizer from about 1985 to 1988, when he left Chicago for Harvard Law School. During that time a critical issue in Chicago politics was the ongoing crisis in the public schools. A movement was underway from two angles: below in black, latino and other communities for more local control of schools and from above by business interests who wanted to cut costs. (For a fascinating account and analysis see Dorothy Shipps, The Invisible Hand: Big Business and Chicago School Reform, Teachers College Record, Vol. 99, #1, Fall 1997, pp. 73-116 or her later excellent book on the subject: School Reform, Corporate Style: Chicago, 1880-2000 (Kansas 2006.))
A 1987 teachers’ strike brought those two sides together to push for a reform act passed by the Illinois legislature in 1988 that created "Local School Councils" (LSC) to be elected by residents in a particular school area. According to Shipps, the strike "enrag[ed] parents and provid[ed] the catalyst for a coalition between community groups and Chicago United [the business lobby] that was forged in the ensuing year." (The full story of this complicated process is provided by Shipps in her book.)
The LSC’s were to be made up by a majority of parents and have the power to hire and fire principals thus creating a new power center in the school system against what both reform groups viewed as the bureaucratic and expensive school board, on the one hand, and, on the other, the teachers union. In my view these types of councils are reminiscent of the manipulative "community" bodies set up in regimes like those of Hugo Chavez and the Sandinistas - used to control genuine democratic movements such as trade unions. Dorothy Shipps argues, as I will suggest below, that there is an alternative approach that is genuinely democratic and possibly more effective in improving outcomes for students.
Active in the local control from below, on the "community" side of this effort, was Bill Ayers who had returned to Chicago in 1987 as an assistant professor of education at the University of Illinois' Chicago Circle campus, after surfacing from the underground and earning his Ph.D. at Columbia. Another ally in this battle at the same time was Barack Obama’s Developing Communities Project (DCP), as Obama notes briefly in his Dreams From My Father. (See also, "Meeting on School Reform Halted," Chicago Tribune, Feb. 19, 1988 at 3; and "Black Parents" A letter to the Chi. Trib. on Aug. 23, 1988 from a DCP member defending the 1988 local control reform bill) The DCP had its origins in the "radical" movement started by Saul Alinsky. (It should be remembered Alinsky's world view was one that is and was often in tension with many in the trade union movement - for example, Alinksy was an almost uncritical admirer and biographer of trade union bureaucrat par excellence John L. Lewis. For one independent approach that urges re-examination of the Alinsky view of unions today in light of rise to power of SEIU's Andy Stern, see Staughton Lynd, Commentary: Another World is Possible, Working America, March 2008).
Ayers, of course, had long held what the left once knew, broadly, as “maoist” politics – a view of the world that was opposed to Russian style bureaucratic communism from above, instead advocates of this approach supported sending revolutionary cadre to “swim among the masses like fish in the sea” or attempting to establish guerilla foco as romantically theorized by Regis Debray and carried out with disastrous results by Che Guevara.
Today one of the approaches used by these types is the "long march" through the (presumably "bourgeois") institutions. (See this discussion of it by "Progressives for Obama" supporter, Fidelista and former SDS leader Carl Davidson.) Of course, the "long march" referred to is that taken by Mao and the Red Army in 1934. Now, Davidson et. al apply the concept to the tactics of the "left" inside various "reform movements" such as the anti-war movement. Davidson was one of the organizers of the 2002 anti war rally at which Obama first spoke out against the war.
Here is how Ayers in 2006 described his approach to "electoral politics" in an interview with the left wing Chicago magazine, In These Times:
"ITT: [A]ren’t progressives putting high hopes in November? Even leading Republicans admit that the Dems are likely to recapture at least one house of Congress.
"So what? That’s not the point, Ayers says. Electoral politics is a tool to connect causes, like gay rights, disability rights, voting rights, human rights. 'That’s how you use electoral politics. Not as an end in itself, but as an organizing mechanism. Our deepest belief, I think, is that we need to connect all these good projects and build the movement. …we should always be positioning ourselves, thinking, okay, if I’m involved in this next election, how am I positioned to help contribute to building a movement, raising consciousness, making the connections, and that’s a real tricky business.'"
Bill Ayers appears to be attempting to lead a similar "long march" in the education world. Ayers is a vigorous advocate of local control along with a related concept called “small schools,” most likely because he believes it gives him the potential to build a political base from which to operate. He has discussed these ideas in speeches and writings on his blog. As he said in a speech he gave in front of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in late 2006: "Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!"
Bill raised money to start the Small Schools Workshop in the early 90s and eventually hired another former maoist from the 60s (and actually someone who was a bitter opponent of Ayers as SDS disintegrated) named Mike Klonsky to head it up. [Bill's brother John later got in on the small schools approach also, raising money in part from the Annenberg Challenge program started by Bill and chaired by Obama (see School Leadership in Times of Urban Reform edited by Bizar and Barr).]
A leading figure in the Chicago business groups that were lobbying for cost cutting and "efficiency" in the Chicago schools in the 1980's was Bill Ayers' father, Thomas Ayers. Tom Ayers, of course, was a very prominent Chicago business man, a retired head of Commonwealth Edison, a lifelong liberal, and a supporter of open housing campaigns (in which my parents participated when I grew up in Chicago in the 60s) as well as Martin Luther King. According to Dorothy Shipps, Tom Ayers co-authored a report of a joint public-private task force on school reform and was later nominated to head up Chicago United, a business backed school reform group, by Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, but was opposed successfully by black community activists.
When the 1988 Reform Act was passed a group called Leadership for Quality Education (LQE) was formed, according to Shipps, by the elite business lobby that was in part behind the new reforms, to train the newly elected local school council members. Some 6000 LSC members were elected. And they became a huge thorn in the side of school administration in Chicago.
Interestingly, one LSC member was John Ayers, son of Tom and brother of Bill. In 1993, John was made head of the LQE - which, by then, according to Shipps, was caught in the middle of the battle emerging to re-centralize control of the schools in the hands of the mayor.
In the fall of 1988, however, Obama left the city to go off to law school. My best guess, though, is that it was in that 86-88 time frame that Obama likely met up with the Ayers family. I will explain why I believe that in a minute. Interestingly, after his first year in law school Obama returned in the summer of 1989 to work as a summer associate at the prestigious Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. This in and of itself is a bit unusual. Very few top tier law students work for big law firms during their first summer. The big law firms discourage it because if you work for them in the first summer you are likely to work for a second firm the following year and then the firms have to compete to get you.
So, why or how did Obama - at that point not yet the prominent first black president of the Harvard Law Review (that would happen the following year) - end up at Sidley?
Sidley had been long time outside counsel to Commonwealth Edison. The senior Sidley partner who was Comm Ed's key outside counsel, Howard Trienens, was a member of the board of trustees of Northwestern alongside Tom Ayers (and Sidley partner Newton Minow, too). It turns out, Bernardine Dohrn worked at Sidley also. She was hired there in the late 80s, many contend, because of the intervention of her father-in-law Tom Ayers, even though she was (and is) not a member of any state bar. She was not admitted in either NY or Illinois because of her past jail time for refusing to testify about the murderous 1981 Brinks robbery in which her former Weather Underground (now recast as the "Revolutionary Armed Task Force") "comrades," including Kathy Boudin (biological mother of Chesa Boudin, who was raised by Ayers and Dohrn) participated. She was finally paroled after serving 22 years of a plea bargained single 20-to-life sentence for her role in the robbery where a guard was shot and killed and two police officers were killed. The father of Chesa Boudin, David Gilbert, was sentenced to 75-to-life, with no chance of parole, after a trial in which he refused to participate. Chesa is the co-author of a recent apologia for the regime of Venezuelan "left" strong man, Hugo Chavez.
I can only speculate, but it is possible that Tom Ayers introduced Obama to Sidley. That might have happened if Obama had met up with Bill and Tom and John Ayers prior to attending law school when Obama's DCP group was supporting the reform act passed in 1988. Or it might have been Dohrn who introduced Obama to the law firm. Dohrn's CV indicates that she left Sidley sometime in 1988 for public interest work prior to starting a position at Northwestern (again, hired there by some accounts because of the influence of Tom Ayers and his Sidley counsel Howard Trienens). Obama and Dohrn would likely not have been at the firm at the same time, although if Obama and Dohrn met before Obama left to attend Harvard Law School, she might have discussed the firm with him and introduced him to lawyers there.
My best guess, though, is that it would have been Tom Ayers who introduced Obama to Sidley and that would have helped him get the attention of someone like Newton Minow. And that would have come in very handy later in Obama's career as Kaufman suggests. Recently I heard from Nell Minow, daughter of Newton Minow, who tells me her sister Martha, a Harvard law professor, had Obama as a student at HLS and that she called her father to tell him about Obama. While Nell contends on the basis of this anecdote that her family met and supported Obama before he met Bill Ayers, she was unable to provide me any evidence of when in fact Obama met Ayers, either Bill or Tom.
In any case the summer of 1989 was eventful for Obama as he did meet his future wife, Michelle, there, already a lawyer and working as a Sidley associate. Michelle was Obama's first supervisor or mentor there. Obama went back to Harvard in the fall of 1989 where, of course, he became president of the law review in the spring of 1990. After graduation in 1991 he went back to Chicago to run a voter registration campaign (which would turn out to be an important step in his career).
Then Obama joined a tiny, little known (outside Chicago, at least) public interest law firm called Davis Miner Barnhill. The partner who hired him was Judson Miner. Miner was a well known left wing lawyer in Chicago who had been counsel to the progressive black mayor in the 80s, Harold Washington. But Miner possibly also had ties to the Ayers family. He was law school classmates with Bernardine Dohrn at the University of Chicago (both Class of 1967). He formed a lawyers group against the war after graduation and organized a left wing alternative to the local Chicago bar association.
Then, in late 1994 or early 1995, Obama made what I think was probably the key move in his early career. He was named Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million grant program to funnel money into reform efforts at Chicago schools. It turns out that the architect of the Annenberg Challenge was Bill Ayers, who designed the grant proposal and sheparded it to success. The purpose of the program was to defend the clearly failing local schools council effort that had been put in place back in 1988. The first Executive Director of the Challenge was Ken Rolling, who came there from the much discussed Woods Fund (where he had been a program officer) and where Obama and Ayers would later sit side by side on the board of directors.
A report authored by Dorothy Shipps on the first three years of the Annenberg Challenge program, when Obama was its Board chair, concluded: "The Challenge sought to build on the momentum of the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act which had radically decentralized governance of the Chicago Public Schools."
While apparently several hundred school principals had been fired by the LSC’s, kids were still doing poorly in schools and there was chaos of a sorts in the system. (See Shipps, Invisible Hand, for a summary of the problems.) Interestingly, Shipps concludes that the local control movement in Chicago, though backed by radicals like Ayers, gave "business the clearest voice in systemwide reform." She argues that a district level democracy effort such as an "Education Assembly" is required rather than the parochial local control approach:
"A large districtwide elected group intended to serve as a legislative body, such an assembly would have both the staff and structure of one. This alternative vision of democracy rests on citizenship and stewardship even as it builds on the private interests and knowledge of concerned parents and neighbors. As an example of a different form of democratic governance, it serves to remind ordinary Chicagoans that they now have no systemwide forum through which to debate broad issues of equity, standards, and accountability."
This represents a very different vision than that of Ayers & co. (not to mention of the charter school business group approach now in vogue). In fact, in retrospect the Ayers/Ayers (business from above, local activism from below) joint campaign against both the Chicago School District bureaucracy and the Teachers Union is reminiscent of the kinds of alliances one finds in neo-stalinist regimes like that of Cuba, China or Sandinista-run Nicaragua. In the Chinese Cultural Revolution, for example, Mao appealed to local activists to attack the party bureaucracy. These authoritarian movements often try to build their power against democratic institutions like unions. Well-intentioned liberals even from the business community are often willing to support such efforts because they view the traditional labor movement as even more of a threat than the neo-stalinist authoritarians like Castro, Chavez or Ortega. While many on the left try to portray such movements as a new form of democracy, they are anything but.
One educational policy analyst called the early 90s Chicago school system "dysfunctional." The former business allies of Bill Ayers and the local control advocates broke away from their support of the LSC's in favor of recentralization of power in the hands of Chicago's new Mayor Daley. According to Shipps,
"for six years, LQE [led by John Ayers until he later joined up with the charter school movement] remained a strong advocate of the 1988 reform. But in 1993 Club [ Commercial Club of Chicago ] members decided the LQE's support for community organizing and voter turnout campaigns was not producing better schools, resurfacing their initial skepticism about political decentralization as a reform strategy. Moreover, they determined that the role of outside agitator might suit community groups, but was ill suited to corporate leadership. It was creating a rift between Club leaders and the central administrators whom they hoped to influence. Club leaders were increasingly convinced that central office accountability was a necessary component of results. As the fundamental divisions between the business view of administrative decentralization and the political version held by community activists reemerged, activists felt betrayed. They protested the 'pull-back' loudly, but succeeded only in becoming less central actors in future reform efforts."
Now the business groups backed re-centralization through a 1995 bill that gutted the power of the LSC’s.
But the Annenberg Challenge money came through anyway due to the efforts of Bill Ayers, among others, and since it had to be matched 2 to 1 by corporate and foundation money, the Board Chairmanship would have allowed Obama to be in touch with the powerful money interests in Chicago, such as the Pritzkers (Penny Pritzker is now head of Obama's fund raising efforts) and others that Kaufman mentions in his story.
Thus, we have one possible answer to the question: Who "sent" Obama? It was the Ayers family, including Tom, John, Bill and Bernardine Dohrn.
It is highly unlikely that a 30-something second year lawyer would have been plucked from relative obscurity out of a left wing law firm to head up something as visible and important in Chicago as the Annenberg Challenge by Bill Ayers if Ayers had not already known Obama very well. One possibility is that Obama proved himself to the Ayers's in the battle for local school control when he was at the DCP in the 80s.
One guess as to why Obama does not play up his educational experience more thoroughly now – it certainly could be of use to him one would think in beefing up his “I have the experience to be President” argument – is that it would lead to a renewed discussion of the Ayers connection, which is clearly toxic for Obama. This likely explains why Obama tried a kind of head fake when asked about Ayers by George Stephanopoulos in the TV debate with Clinton prior to the Pennsylvania primary. Obama said Ayers was a "professor of english." Yet, Obama chaired the Annenberg Challenge for three years and served on its board for another three years, working closely with Ayers on grants to Chicago schools. And he did not know that Ayers was a professor of education? That strains credulity.
Perhaps this would be of just historical interest if it could be firmly established that Bill Ayers no longer has any role in the Obama campaign. But that is not something we know for sure yet. In a recent television interview with Greta Van Susteren (granted, it was on Fox), John Murtagh, a Republican town council member from Yonkers, New York, said that Ayers is currently an "advisor" to Obama. Murtagh has a particular and understandable sensitivity to the Ayers-Obama connection besides his Republican politics: his father was a New York Supreme Court (in NY the Supreme Court is a trial court) judge who presided over a trial of the "Black Panther 21" in 1970-71.
Murtagh was 9 years old at the time. During the trial Murtagh's home was fire bombed and Murtagh claims the Weather Underground was responsible for that bombing along with several others in "solidarity" with the Panthers. He charges, specifically, that Bill Ayers' wife Bernardine Dohrn later took credit (apparently on behalf of the entire WU group) for the bombing. Accounts sympathetic to the Panthers confirm the role of the Weather Underground. (See David Barber, "Leading the Vanguard: White New Leftists School the Panthers on Black Revolution" in In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement, edited by Jama Lazerow and Yohuru Williams (Duke 2006).) The Panther 21 were acquitted of the bombing-related charges made against them, after a lengthy trial.
Certainly Ayers' politics remain unapologetically authoritarian. He recently traveled to Venezuela - only the most recent of several such trips - and delivered a speech in front of Hugo Chavez in which he spoke of education as the "motor force of revolution" and his interest in "overcom[ing] the failings of capitalist education" and said he thought Chavez was creating "something truly new and deeply humane." He closed his speech by mouthing typical slogans of the authoritarian left: "Viva Mission Sucre! Viva Presidente Chavez! Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta La Victoria Siempre!"
As it turns out, there are other ex-SDS types around the Obama campaign as well, including Marilyn Katz, a public relations professional, who was head of security for the SDS during the disaster in the streets of Chicago in 1968. She is close (politically) to Carl Davidson, a former vice president of SDS and longtime Fidelista, who is webmaster for a group called Progressives for Obama, that is headlined by other former 60s radicals like Tom Hayden and the maoist Bill Fletcher. Davidson and Katz were key organizers of the 2002 anti-war demonstration where Obama made public his opposition to the Iraq war that has been so critical to his successful presidential campaign. Davidson apparently moved into the maoist movements of the 70s after the disintegration of SDS.
Now that we have some idea of who "sent" Obama, the left and labor movement deserve to know more about how the exhausted ideas of the authoritarian side of 60's politics may still be influencing the thinking of a potential U.S. president. Maybe Andy Stern's endorsement of Obama makes more sense, now.
In any case, imho, if either Hillary or Obama wins they will keep our troops in Iraq for at least three years and possibly longer....makes you want to run into the arms of Ralph!
So because saudis, for example, are sitting on a sea of petroleum but can't grow anything but sand and their vast underclass is starving while the princes go whoring to London, Michelle's babies will have to give up their Oreos?! Oh the freaking humanity!
Obama camp spies endgame in Oregon
1 day ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Barack Obama set his sights on November's general election Saturday as he campaigned in Oregon, where he hopes to declare victory in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Obama has said Tuesday's primaries in Oregon and Kentucky could mark the end of his drawn-out battle with rival Hillary Clinton, and his campaign pressed home that message by announcing a symbolic return to Iowa that day.
Iowa was the scene of the Illinois senator's first victory in the 2008 presidential nominating race, and his campaign noted Saturday it is "a critical general election state that Democrats must win in November."
Polls show Obama leading in Oregon, where 52 delegates are up for grabs, while Clinton is ahead in Kentucky, a state with 51 delegates that has a similar demographic to West Virginia, where she won a thumping victory Tuesday.
His campaign says he needs just 17 more pledged delegates won through state votes to reach a majority of 1,627, not counting the "superdelegates," party officials who can vote either way at August's Democratic national convention.
Using a baseball analogy, Obama said May 8 that if after Tuesday's primaries "we have a majority of pledged delegates, which is possible, then I think we can make a pretty strong claim that we have got the most runs and its the ninth inning and we have won."
The official finishing line is 2,025 delegates, including superdelegates.
During a rally in Roseburg, Oregon, Saturday, Obama presented himself as the front-runner almost without question, attacking presumptive Republican nominee John McCain on foreign policy, the environment and healthcare.
Reviving Friday's furious row sparked by President George W. Bush's suggestion that Democrats wanted to appease terrorists, Obama said that not talking to North Korea and Iran had only made those states stronger.
"I want everybody to be absolutely clear about this because George Bush and McCain have suggested that me being willing to sit down with our adversaries is a sign of weakness and sign of appeasement," he said.
He also attacked McCain's plan for a gas tax holiday to cope with rising pump prices, which Clinton supports, as well as his other environmental plans, saying the Republican had consistently opposed fuel efficiency standards.
"For him to come to Oregon as an environmental president, but his big strategy is to do more drilling and to have a gas tax holiday for three months, that's a phony solution," he said.
Pitching his message to Oregon's environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to "lead by example" on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.
"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.
The Illinois senator also argued that the differences between his healthcare plan and that of Clinton "pale in comparison to the differences we have with John McCain," whose proposals would only work "if you're healthy and wealthy."
The escalating rhetoric between Obama and McCain has evoked the kind of campaign battles more common in the immediate run-up to an election -- and emphasized further Obama's pole position in the Democratic race.
But Clinton has vowed to keep fighting until the end of the primary season on June 3, and campaigning in Kentucky Saturday, she defended the plan for the gas tax holiday and accused McCain of having no idea how to fund it.
"Senator McCain said let's give everybody a gas tax holiday but doesn't want to pay for it. I think I've got the best plan. Let the oil companies pay it out of their excess profits," she said.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Remember Americans, only YOU can prevent global warming! So be sure to recycle religiously, cram yourself into the smallest possible bicycle-powered car you can, use only one square of toilet paper, and change all your light bulbs to those crummy dull ones with a nice dab of mercury in the center.
China needs your help and hopes you are all just that stupid. Here's some China news by the numbers:
30: Number of nuclear power plants being built in China
500: The number of coal-fired power plants China plans to build in the next decade
97: New airports to be built in the next 12 years, bringing the total number to 244 by 2020
160: Cities in China with populations that exceed a million. In the USA there are nine; in the UK just two
0: Miles of motorway in 1988
30,000: Miles of motorway today
6.3 million: The number of passenger cars registered in 2007 (compared with 2.3 million in 2004). More than 1,000 new private cars hit the roads every day in Beijing alone.
Source: The dragon awakens: China, how did it happen? - Asia, World - The Independent
China knows all Americans with correct and compassionate thoughts will be glad to sacrifice for them.
Vanderleun : May 12, 08 |
Friday, May 16, 2008
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, May 15, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Foreign Policy: Barack Obama claims he's not an appeaser. But when President Bush attacked those who "seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists," why was the senator sure he was talking about him?
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks" is the famous Hamlet quote referring to pleas of innocence that actually indicate guilt. Did Obama, the near-certain Democratic Party nominee for president, "protest too much" in complaining about Bush's speech to Israel's Knesset on Thursday?
Addressing lawmakers in Jerusalem in a special session of the legislature commemorating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, the president made comments with which few Americans could find fault.
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," the president said.
"We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' "
According to the president, "We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
That infamous senator, William Edgar Borah of Idaho, wasn't even a Democrat; he was a "progressive" Republican, an isolationist who in 1919 helped wreck Woodrow Wilson's internationalist dream of a League of Nations. So why would Obama issue such a stinging statement in response to the president's remarks?
Obama called it "sad" that he used such a speech "to launch a false political attack." He added: "It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel.
"Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power — including tough, principled and direct diplomacy — to pressure countries like Iran and Syria."
According to the senator, "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."
Judging from the standing ovations the president received, our Israeli allies — who have the most to fear from a nuclear Iran — disagree. Moreover, Kennedy's blockade of Cuba, Nixon's Vietnamization (reneged on by the post-Watergate Democratic Congress) and Reagan's years of defense buildup and "evil empire" saber-rattling before agreeing to a Soviet summit all belie Obama's invocation of those presidents.
Furthermore, the terrorists themselves know a President Obama will engage with them. The chief political adviser to Hamas' Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh is on record as saying, "We like Mr. Obama, and we hope he will win the election."
Earlier this month, Obama described the takeover of West Beirut by Hezbollah gunmen as a "power grab" and declared, "It's time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus."
Letters found on the seized computer of Raul Reyes, the warlord with Colombia's Marxist-Leninist FARC terrorist group who was killed in an army strike in March, happily reported that "two gringos" he met assured him that Obama would win the election.
"Lord, if I could only have talked to Mahmoud" will be words of little comfort to future victims of nuclear terrorism.
Monday, May 12, 2008
May 12, 2008
By EDWARD N. LUTTWAK
Chevy Chase, Md.
BARACK OBAMA has emerged as a classic example of charismatic leadership — a figure upon whom others project their own hopes and desires. The resulting emotional intensity adds greatly to the more conventional strengths of the well-organized Obama campaign, and it has certainly sufficed to overcome the formidable initial advantages of Senator Hillary Clinton.
One danger of such charisma, however, is that it can evoke unrealistic hopes of what a candidate could actually accomplish in office regardless of his own personal abilities. Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.
This idea often goes hand in hand with the altogether more plausible argument that Mr. Obama’s election would raise America’s esteem in Africa — indeed, he already arouses much enthusiasm in his father’s native Kenya and to a degree elsewhere on the continent.
But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.
Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.
His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).
With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)
It is true that the criminal codes in most Muslim countries do not mandate execution for apostasy (although a law doing exactly that is pending before Iran’s Parliament and in two Malaysian states). But as a practical matter, in very few Islamic countries do the governments have sufficient authority to resist demands for the punishment of apostates at the hands of religious authorities.
For example, in Iran in 1994 the intervention of Pope John Paul II and others won a Christian convert a last-minute reprieve, but the man was abducted and killed shortly after his release. Likewise, in 2006 in Afghanistan, a Christian convert had to be declared insane to prevent his execution, and he was still forced to flee to Italy.
Because no government is likely to allow the prosecution of a President Obama — not even those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries where Islamic religious courts dominate over secular law — another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.
At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.
That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.
Edward N. Luttwak, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is the author of “Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace.”
Sunday, May 11, 2008
May. 11, 2008 12:00 AM
Regarding "The bell tolls for Clinton" (Editorial, Thursday):
Actually, the bells toll for the Democratic Party.
The party leaders have done what the Republicans have been trying to do for the last 50 years. They have killed it.
This was not done by Hillary Clinton, but by the liberal leaders - John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and the rest. They wanted the most liberal candidate they could find. So who was the most liberal senator in office? Barack Obama. They supported him and did everything they could to stop Hillary.
Bill Clinton, as a president, was not the liberal they wanted. He did more for the country than had been done since Harry Truman.
So with a Black candidate, they knew that the Blacks would vote for him just because he was Black, not that he could do the country any good.
Now it looks like they have what they wanted, a very liberal candidate who has no program except change, and even these men should know that you don't get anything done in Washington unless you know how to play the game. Clinton did, and all of the good Democrats have done so, but now we want change.
Two years ago, everyone was talking about Hillary as the next president; that would have worked.
I guess we will have just the one party to vote for from now on, because the leaders of the Democratic Party don't know how to win. They have all lost many times before and will bring on another loser.
Obama should do better than Parker did in 1904, but he will still lose. - Jack McGaw,Sun City West
Saturday, May 10, 2008
His associates in Chicago, his carefully chosen bromides, and even the background he has decided to embrace explain much about Senator Obama's quest for power.
May 8, 2008 - by Evan Sayet
In a world where genetics and not culture matter, Barack Obama was “half black.” In the real world, however, he is a white kid who called himself “Barry,” attended private school in the paradise of Hawaii, and went home each night to a mother and grandmother from the plains of Kansas. The influence of Barry’s black (African) father was negligible at best, providing him with little more than the name that the child quickly rejected in favor of the more Anglo moniker he used every day of his young life.
Here’s a brief description — from Obama’s own website — of the people who didn’t abandon him when he was a toddler but, instead, changed his diapers, did his homework with him, and nurtured Barry into adulthood:
Barack’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in small-town Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression, and then signed up for World War II after Pearl Harbor, where he marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Her mother went to work on a bomber assembly line, and after the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved west to Hawaii.
But somewhere along the way Barry, always an ambitious lad, came to realize that there was more to be gained by being black — by going from “Barry” to “Barack” not only in name but in agenda.
The “black” Barack would get what the white Barry couldn’t: a sense of uniqueness, the benefits of affirmative action, the embrace of the “multiculturalists” in academia, and later the path to personal power and riches he sought in the overwhelmingly black wards of Chicago.
But simply calling himself “Barack” would not be enough to win him admittance to and support from the leftists in the universities where he first taught and then amongst the power brokers in the political movements whom he’d need to underwrite his thirst for power. To win their trust, allegiance, and support, Barack needed to do more than call himself “black” — after all, people like Condoleezza Rice and Bill Cosby call themselves black — he’d have to prove he was “authentically” black (i.e., held radical leftist positions).
Barry, always quick on the uptake, realized there could be no better way to prove his “true” identity as a black man than by joining the Afrocentric, anti-white, anti-Jewish church of Jeremiah Wright. In fact, he would, as always, go one step further; he’d become Wright’s protege. Similarly, Barry knew there was no better way to prove his leftist credentials to the folks in academia than to sidle up to terrorists — both foreign and domestic.
Soon he would become friends and colleagues with William Ayers — whose group had murdered Americans in the 1960s and, as recently as just a few years ago, in the wake on 9/11, proclaimed that the only regret he had is that it didn’t succeed in murdering more of his fellow citizens. And, just in case his resume wasn’t strong enough, he’d cozy up to Edward Said, the Islamist/Arab apologist who sought to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.
It’s not that Barry necessarily believed in any of these causes — it’s hard to know if Barry believes in anything other than Barry — it’s that these are the kinds of things you did if you wanted money, power, and fame. And Barry wanted money, power, and fame.
Whatever doubts Barry — now insisting on only being called by his father’s African name, “Barack” — may have had about kicking in with hate-mongers, racists, and terrorists were quickly assuaged as the benefits began to roll in. In what seemed like no time Barry was teaching law, and then they made him a state senator and then a U.S. senator! His wife was given a cushy job at the university and the couple’s income rose to nearly half-a-million a year while they slept comfortably each night in a mansion purchased only with the “help” of Chicago mobster Tony Rezko.
And Barry’s friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators invested wisely. The young, handsome, articulate “black” man was good to his mentor at the church of hate, making sure to “kick back” a taste — nearly twenty-thousand dollars (virtually every penny the “caring” Obamas gave to charity) in 2007 alone. The university’s kindness to Ms. Obama was repaid by her husband’s advancing their radical agenda first in the state legislature and then in the United States Congress, where Barry would soon become the single most leftist of all U.S. senators. The terrorists, who would hold fundraisers for Barack, would be repaid by Barry in droves, with him not only supporting their agenda as a legislator, but using his first major national exposure — the nationally televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention — to spread the canard of an evil and bigoted America picking on the innocent Muslims, a standard tactic of the terrorists to dissuade legitimate investigation into their plots.
Yes, Barry’s arrangements were working out well for all.
But Barry got too big for his britches. His ambition soon exceeded his handlers’ needs. Barry wouldn’t be happy with the half-million dollars a year that he and Michelle were pocketing — in fact, Michelle would publicly complain about the struggles of getting by on such a piddling sum. It wouldn’t do for the Obamas to live in that crowded little mansion the mobster helped them secure; Barry and Michelle wanted to live in the White House. It simply would not be sufficient for Barry to share power with 99 other senators; he wanted all the power for himself and he wanted it now!
And thus, despite the fact that he had finished less than one-third of his first term as a junior senator from Illinois, Barry quickly announced that he planned to become president!
But soon Barry realized he had a problem. A big one. For the first time since he was a child, getting his way meant he had to connect not with the powers in the God Damn America community of the left, but the God Bless America community of the rest of America. But how could he win over mainstream America while not raising the ire of the people to whom he owed everything and who hated everything about America? How could he attract the folks without angering the people who not only made him but, as Barry would soon learn, could also break him?
But Barry, as always, had a plan. He would run as the Seinfeld candidate — the candidate about nothing. He’d use meaningless bromides that would soothe the one side but not offend the other. His speeches would be packed with empty words like “hope” and “change,” knowing that what each side hoped for and the change they envisioned would be diametrically opposed, but neither side would know which one he meant.
At first Barry’s cohorts on the left were displeased. He wasn’t shoving their message down America’s throats the way his predecessors — Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson — had. The old racist questions began to be thrown out about Barry. The leftists publicly challenged him, demanding to know if he was “black enough.”
But as Barry’s maneuvering began to see him succeed where Sharpton and Jackson had failed, Barry’s handlers saw the genius of his ways. Besides, while Barry wasn’t doing the things they wanted him to do — attacking America and Americans — they saw that he was using his surrogates, most obviously his closest and most intimate adviser, Michelle Obama, to do it for him. Yes, Barry was all smiles. Michelle was paying the angry black woman, advancing the hate-America-always crowd’s agenda by portraying America as “mean,” with a damaged “soul,” and with absolutely nothing (except Barry) to be proud of. No, it wasn’t what they had expected, but now so close to having their man in the White House, the preacher of hate and the terrorists would, in the words of Jeremiah Wright, allow Barry “to do what politicians do.”
And for more than a year Barry’s strategy paid off. Anyone who questioned him on his affiliation with his hate-mongering mentor or his work with terrorists or his affiliation with mobsters would be dismissed as “engaging in the politics of old” or “distracting us from the real issues,” with the legitimate questions going unanswered.
On those rare occasions when a question of substance could not be dodged, Barry would use his lawyerly skills of obfuscation and equivocation to, for example, “reject” the words of Louis Farrakhan while, with a wink and a nod to his cohorts, letting them know that he still highly respected the “minister.” And the left let Barry do what politicians do.
And then the roof caved in.
Videotapes of Barry’s hateful mentor began to surface through media sources his leftist allies couldn’t control. Fox News — especially Sean Hannity — was on the story and then talk radio and the blogosphere. When the first of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons of hate was posted on YouTube and people could see for themselves what the old media had been covering up, there was rightful outrage. Barry’s numbers began to plummet. He started to lose vital primaries. His whole act was falling apart. Barry knew he had to do something, for not even Chris Matthews — he of the tingling thighs — could help him now.
So Barry, the “post-racial candidate,” whatever that means, suddenly become the racial candidate — the guru of race, in fact — who would lecture the rest of America about all racial truths.
Barry, of course, knew from the start that this would have to be his greatest dance yet. The whole dynamics of his game would have to change. Now, instead of satisfying everyone by saying nothing, he’d have to hop back and forth from foot to foot, trying to soothe the rightful fears of the God Bless America crowd on the one hand and then cleverly signal to his people that he was really still on their side and that he hadn’t gone “white” on them. And, truth be told, Obama did as good a job as he could have possibly done. He’d be Barry one moment and Barack the next; he’d throw one side a bone and instantly snatch it back only to throw it the other way; he’d call the clearly hateful remarks of his mentor “racist” but then explain how it was really the white man’s fault that the man was that way. Yes, he’d give his handlers a little tap, but, to make up for it, he’d throw his own white grandmother under the bus.
It was a masterful performance. But it failed. It failed for the same reason that John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, et al. constantly failed: it was exquisitely full of nuance about things that aren’t all that complicated. With regard to the hate speeches of Jeremiah Wright, there can be no “on the one hand this and on the other hand that.” Either he agreed with his mentor of twenty years or he didn’t. Either the white man invented AIDS to murder people of color or they didn’t. Either innocent Americans deserved to be burned alive by the thousands on 9/11 or they didn’t. Barry’s game-playing served only to expose him as a cheap politician at best or someone in agreement with a hateful, anti-American, anti-white, antisemitic preacher.
But this wasn’t the worst of it for Barry, for his attempts at equivocation didn’t sit well with the God Damn America crowd either.
It was one thing for Barry to fail to play the angry black man for them and say nothing, but now he was saying things, things like comparing his benefactor, his mentor, the man who made Barry everything he is today, to a “crazy uncle” and, worse still, comparing him to some lily-white cracker woman from Kansas! It was time to do to Barry what Barry had done to his mother and grandmother: it was time to throw Barry under the bus!
Evan Sayet has rapidly become one of the most in-demand speakers in the country. His talk to the Heritage Foundation last year has become a phenomenon, with close to half-a-million viewers. It can be seen (and Evan can be reached) via his website at www.evansayet.com. The book Regurgitating the Apple: How Modern Liberals ‘Think’ — based on that talk — will be available soon.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I would prefer to write about a happier subject than Michelle Obama -- and few subjects are more unhappy -- but I just can't get her dumb-as-a-stump speech out of my mind. Hugh Hewitt was playing it on the radio yesterday afternoon, so I heard parts of it on the drive home from work. It was an odd juxtaposition. Driving up the coast, to the left of me, the beautiful blue Pacific. But further to the left of me, the bluest waves of bleak rhetoric you'll ever hear coming out of the piehole of a would-be first lady.
I'm just kidding about the "dumbbell" crack, of course. I don't really believe Michelle is stupid. Rather, I believe she's psycho. To put it another way, never mark something down to stupidity when it is much more easily explained by mental illness. Hewitt took some callers during the speech, and to a person, everyone thought she was not just deranged, but palpably disturbing in a way that only an unhinged person can be, since they are leaking their mind parasites all over the place, to such an extent that they are the last person to notice them. As the PowerLine boys put it, "she is woefully deficient in the ability to see herself as others see her."
One caller remarked that if Obama can't even cheer up his morbidly depressed and paranoid wife, how is he supposed to lift the nation's mood? Put Zoloft in the drinking water?
I wish I had a full text of the speech, so I could fisk it line by line. (Hewitt's website has the link to it, but don't listen to it if you are vulnerable to depression.) As Hewitt writes, "This is the rhetoric of resentment and victimization.... [T]he radio audience reacted with a combination of astonishment and anger. Michelle Obama discounts all the good that is going on in the country, skips over the deep generosity of Americans, and ignores the astonishing economic and social progress made in the U.S. since the close of W.W. II, as she indicts [every] aspect of American life. Her very grim vision chills those who do not share it, which I guess to be the 'vast majority' of Americans."
You just have to be so ahistorically narcissistic to share Obama's bleak vision of the United States. Your mind has to essentially circle in a tight spiral around your own myopia and provincialism, so that it is simultaneously petty, and yet, grandiose and presumptuous. Far from having doors closed to her, this is a woman who has probably never been confronted and brought down a peg, one of the sad legacies of white liberal guilt. This is the very reason why left wing black "thinkers" tend not just to be such cringeworthy mediocrities, but downright embarrassments, such as Cornell West, whereas conservative black thinkers such as Thomas Sowell or Shelby Steele are as brilliant as they come. The left systematically substitutes compassion for standards, which is not a recipe for excellence, to say the least.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with race and everything to do with it, in that left wing ideology systematically rots the mind, but especially in more vulnerable communities (Dennis Prager also discusses this in a column today). In other words, it doesn't so much harm a tenured white leftist professor (at least economically) to adhere to his pathological views, since he's got a lifetime gig at our expense. The people who suffer from the white leftist's dysfunctional ideas are the underclass -- even if they are upper class, like Barack and Michelle, who certainly prove that poverty is not just a state of mind, but more importantly, a state of the soul. When white liberals sneeze their viral ideas, urban blacks catch a head cold. They publish and blacks perish.
I am reminded of P.J. O'Rourke's "graduation speech," in which he mocks those who complain that "Some people make more money than others. Some are rich while others are poor. We'd better close that 'income disparity gap.' It's not fair!"
"Well, I am here to advocate for unfairness. I've got a 10-year-old at home. She's always saying, 'That's not fair.' When she says this, I say, 'Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That's not fair. You were born in America. That's not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you.'"
That's what I want to say to Michelle Obama: Damn right, life isn't fair. It's not fair that someone as dense as you attended Harvard law school. It's not fair that you pull down $$273,618 for being a "vice president of community and external affairs," whatever that is. It's not fair that that crook Tony Rezko sold you that prime lot at such a discount. It's not fair that the liberal media are in the tank for your husband. It's not fair that he's going to surrender to our enemies, placing me and my family in jeopardy. It's not fair that American blacks are the most wealthy and prosperous the world has ever known. And most of all, it's not fair that your husband made a million bucks from his vacuous book, The Audacity of Hope, but Gagdad Bob hasn't even seen a royalty check for his spiritual classic!
There is also some incisive analysis at PowerLine: "Michelle Obama seethes with bitterness. While she preaches the gospel according to Barack, she wears resentment and bitterness on her sleeve. It is therefore painful to listen to her. She's apparently even still angry about her SAT scores. She didn't test well in school, she explains. Somehow, she has overcome.
"Mrs. Obama seeks to convey convey the impression -- she expands on the theme at great length -- that Senator Obama's campaign is, to borrow Joe McCarthy's formulation, the victim of 'a conspiracy so immense...' It is not clear whether the Obama campaign can overcome the power of these sinister forces.
"According to Mrs. Obama, the Obama campaign has been constrained by nameless forces constantly changing the rules of the game and thereby preventing Senator Obama from securing the nomination. Who are 'they'?... 'They' seem... (incredibly) to include the mainstream media. These nameless forces have approximately the same specificity as the names on Joe McCarthy's list."
As an example of how clueless Michelle is about her projections, one of the central themes of her speech is how frightened Americans are, and how Obama is going to somehow heal this. But if America is controlled by the dark, conspiratorial forces of her imagination, we have every reason to be frightened, and no reason to believe that Obama is equipped to take on an enemy so simultaneously nebulous and ubiquitous.
In this regard, her cognition has the exact structure of a clinical paranoid -- big on generalities, short on specifics. Rather, the paranoid just knows that someone is out to get them. Furthermore, if you don't agree with them, you're one of the people who is out to get them. You are inducted into the conspiracy. So there's your proof that it exists!
In an amazing display of unintentional irony on stilts, Michelle accuses the rest of us of "victimizing our children" with our bleak and frightening world view. This from a woman who deliberately exposed her own children to the hateful ravings of a racist conspiracy monger week after week, in the one place that should be free of such poison!
The Obama's campaign slogan ought to be, We Didn't Make It, And So Can't You! At NRO, Yuval Levin writes of The Unhappiest Millionaire, and her weirdly nostalgic, dystopian and dyspeptic vision:
"In fact, a great bulk of Mrs. Obama’s speech is devoted to nostalgia for a simpler time -- an odd approach for a progressive, yet an altogether common one on the left today. She describes a steady downward path from that golden age of distant memory. 'We know where we’re living,' she tells the slightly confused audience, 'this is where we are right now, and this has been the case for my entire lifetime: that trajectory of hope has gotten more difficult for regular folks.'”
What. Is. She. Talking. About.
"This view of America has been a real problem for the Left in the Bush years. As the liberal labor economist Stephen Rose has put it, 'What progressives generally say about the economy is unrelentingly pessimistic -- stagnant wages, rising costs, overwhelming burdens of debt. It’s a message that doesn’t resonate with the middle class -- not only because it’s overly negative (by itself political poison), but because it’s simply flat out wrong.”
Byron York also has some good analysis. The left always uses and abuses children for political purposes, and he describes a particularly vivid and disturbing example:
"[Michelle] tells the story of a ten-year-old girl she met in Newberry, S.C., before that state’s primary.... After the rally, the girl came up to her and said, with great seriousness, 'Do you realize when your husband becomes the next president of the United States, it will be historical?'
"Everybody laughs; what a cute thing for a child to say. But then Obama asked the little girl what that would mean for her. 'It means that I can imagine anything for myself,' the girl said.
"The crowd begins to applaud; they think they’re hearing a happy, inspiring story. But that’s not where Mrs. Obama is going.
“'And then that little girl started to break down in tears,' she continues. 'She sobbed so hard. She was crying big, huge tears. And I had to think, why is this little girl crying so hard? And I thought, you know what’s going on? This little old girl gets it.”
“This little ten-year-old girl knows what’s at stake. She knows that she’s already five steps behind.... She knows that her hopes for college are already dwindling.... She knows that if she gets sick, maybe has an asthma attack, instead of going to a doctor and being treated, she’s going to be sitting in an emergency room for hours on end.'”
Again, this is not a stump speech. This is a cry for psychological help. Why on earth would you steal the innocence of your children and indoctrinate them with any political ideology, let alone this deeply depressing, hopeless, fearful, and defeatist view of the world? Indeed, one of the main responsibilities of a parent is to shield your children from such concerns until they are old enough to be "disillusioned" by the world. For in order to cope with the rigors of adulthood and deal with its inevitable disappointments and frustrations, we need to internalize a deep well of love, trust, and security from our parents, otherwise we will spend the rest of our lives searching for the Lost Entitlement of Childhood.
Which it certainly appears that Michelle is doing. She is in essence inflicting her own childhood on the rest of us. Hey, I didn't say it. She did. For this little girl -- who is "suffocating under a veil of impossibility" -- is "in all of us."
Speak for yourself, Michelle. You're confusing projection and empathy, condescension and compassion.
Such a different vibe from just a generation ago, when Aretha could sing with such positivity of being
Young, gifted and black / Oh what a lovely precious dream / In the whole world you know / There are billion of boys and girls / Who are young, gifted and black / And thats a fact!
So saith the First Lady of Soul. So cheer up, Michelle. Forget what they told you at Harvard. You're not young, shafted and black!
When you feel really low / Yeah, there's a great truth you should know / When you're young, gifted and black / Your soul's intact!
posted by Gagdad Bob at 5/06/2008 08:28:00 AM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, May 05, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: Barack Obama wishes questions about his associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and other radicals would end. But maybe the reason they won't is that there's a pattern: Marxism. It's not hiding.
When one looks at Obama, it's shocking how radical and anti-American his closest associates are. Taken separately, the black liberation theology of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or fundraiser William Ayers' unrepentant past as a 1960s terrorist or Obama's openly pro-Che Guevara volunteers in Houston might be dismissed.
But taken together, and given Obama's closeness to his friends, it's fair to ask whether Obama doesn't share their extreme-left views. Yet whenever he's asked, he gets mad and avoids the issue.
Maybe that's not surprising, given that Obama himself began his career as a Chicago community organizer and worked on projects there influenced by Saul Alinsky. The Marxist Machiavellian of the Chicago scene advised budding revolutionaries in his 1971 book "Rules For Radicals" to conceal their radical affiliations to attain greater power. That works well for Marxists.
But Obama's friends seem to be giving him away. If this sounds extreme, take a look at some of the activities of Obama's associates:
Wright is an adherent of black liberation theology, an explicitly Marxist interpretation of the Bible whose aim is to stir up class and race hatred to advance communism. Created by a rifle-toting Peruvian priest in the 1960s, it's now discredited in religious circles.
"Liberation theology isolates a few verses, takes them out of context, and then exaggerates their meaning," said the Rev. Bob Schenk of the National Clergy Council, on "Hannity's America" last weekend.
But Wright clings to it. And recently, he loudly praised the Marxist Sandinista dictatorship of Nicaragua.
Not by coincidence, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's president, endorses Obama. "This is not to say that there is already a revolution under way in the U.S. . . . But yes, (Obama and friends) are laying the foundations for a revolutionary change," said Ortega.
If that's not enough, Wright's also made pilgrimage to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in Havana in 1984, alongside the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Cuban-American writer Humberto Fontova noted Jackson and his entourage cheered "Viva Fidel" and "Viva Che Guevara" on the $300,000 trip paid for by the Cuban Council of Churches.
Then there's Obama's friend ex-Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, another Marxist. Not only did Ayers set off terrorist bombs against "the establishment" with no regrets during the 1960s, he told the New York Times "we didn't do enough."
Now it's come to light that he posed for a photo in Chicago magazine in 2001, stomping on a U.S. flag in an article flogging his terrorist memoir, "Fugitive Days." At the time Ayers was touting his anti-Americanism, Obama served with him on the Woods Fund board and Ayers made a $200 donation to Obama's state Senate campaign.
Ayers has since lectured the Marxist dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, on using public education as an instrument for advancing "revolution." Meanwhile his stepson, Chesa Boudin, has gone to Caracas as an "adviser" to the anti-American Chavez.
Oh, by coincidence, Chavez and Castro are two of the dictators Obama said he'd like to give face time as president of the U.S.
It gets worse when one looks at Obama's political organization.
Obama's own Web site has held at least 15 favorable mentions of Che Guevara, according to a count by blogger Henry Gomez.
When an Obama precinct captain in Houston flew a Cuban flag bearing Guevara's likeness, Obama said only it "disappointed" him and "does not reflect (his) views." He never publicly ordered the flag down, nor rejected Guevara's blood-soaked communism.
Another Obama supporter, acting in Obama's name, secretly contacted Colombia's Marxist FARC terror chief Raul Reyes to tell him that Obama would cut off U.S. military aid to Colombia to hinder its war against FARC, as well as deny Colombia free trade, a strategy FARC considers key to overturning Colombia's democracy.
If Obama repudiated that secret messenger, we didn't hear it.
Some pundits dismiss Obama's ties with radicals as an opportunistic association with Chicago political machines to advance his career. But the depth and breadth of the contacts seem deeper.
Obama himself has promised to meet with the hemisphere's Marxist dictators who have systematically dismantled or are in the process of dismantling democracy all across our hemisphere.
This stinks, frankly. Why does someone who says he represents "change" have so many Jurassic Marxists in his camp calling the shots? He needs to repudiate this crew now.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
By SUSANNAH CAHALAN and VERONICA HINKE in Chicago and BRAD HAMILTON in New York --
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's loose cannon of a spiritual adviser, stole the wife of a parishioner - after the man sought Wright's help in saving his troubled marriage, the former husband told friends.
Delmer Reed, 59, confided to pals that he believed the minister moved in on his wife while Wright was counseling the couple at his Chicago church in the early 1980s, The Post has learned.
"That's exactly how he said it," Reed's divorce lawyer, Roosevelt Thomas, told The Post.
"It looks like Delmer might have been right," he said, because after Delmer and Ramah Reed were divorced, she got remarried - to Wright. "Either that or this was the biggest coincidence in the world."
Asked about the relationship between Wright and his ex-wife, Reed told The Post, "Oh, the things I could tell you."
Initially, he didn't believe the rumors.
"People were telling me that my extremely attractive wife was seen with the pastor," Reed said. "But I didn't believe it. I thought, 'So what?' "
Was he wrong in the end?
"Well, yeah," he said.
Asked if Wright broke up his marriage, Reed laughed, then said, "I told my kids I wouldn't say anything to hurt their stepfather, so I'm not saying anything."
But he said he's been hounded by the press and "offered money" to tell his story.
A spokesman for the Wright family flatly denied the allegation yesterday.
"This story has no merit whatsoever and is not based on facts," said George Lofton. "They had problems throughout the course of their turbulent marriage, and the couple never received marriage counseling from Rev. Wright or anyone else."
But Reed, a former investigator for the Illinois secretary of state, told The Post he and his ex-wife went to Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for counseling when their marriage hit the skids over his demanding work schedule.
"I spoke with [Wright] four times over a few months," Reed said in an interview at his upscale home in Lemont, Ill.
"Her father asked me to go to counseling. We thought we'd be together forever. I decided to try to work this out."
Asked if he's forgiven the pastor, Reed nodded.
"I let it go," he said. "I don't want my kids to hear anything negative about their stepfather."
He added: "I'm not a vindictive person; I'm a forgiving man."
But years ago, Reed did express anger about the situation, said Harold Davis, who said he learned about the matter through mutual friends.
"Jeremiah knew all the weaknesses of the couple, and he started focusing on the wife, her vulnerabilities, and started doing things she wanted Delmer to do - spending time with her, taking her to the movies, that sort of thing," said Davis, who heads the Chicago branch of football great Jim Brown's Amer-I-can youth program.
"Everybody knew Jeremiah took the man's wife," said Davis. "It was common knowledge."
The Reeds, longtime sweethearts who grew up on the same block on Chicago's South Side, have two children, Nikol, 30, and Nathan, 27. The couple got married in 1975 and split in 1982. Their divorce was final in 1983.
Ramah, 59, married Wright, 66, six years after she divorced Reed, although she and the reverend were a couple for years before getting hitched. They remain together and have a daughter, Jamila, 13.
Wright, who divorced his wife, Janet, in 1978, has two adult children from his first marriage.
Reed said his wife served him with divorce papers in 1982 in an arrangement they worked out together. The grounds were "extreme mental cruelty."
"We agreed that she would say anything she wanted to say to get a divorce," Reed said.
"When I saw the words, I thought, 'Was this necessary?' But I decided [to] let her do what she had to do. I was innocent. I was a good boy. It was amicable. We were sitting arm in arm when we signed the divorce papers."
Obama has severed all ties to Wright, but his former adviser continues to be a nightmarish problem for his campaign. The fiery minister, under fire for his racially and politically charged sermons, has toured the country defending his views and claiming Obama has distanced himself for political reasons.
Activist Derrick Mosley, a self-styled minister who has clashed with Wright, said there's an "unwritten rule" that pastors don't counsel married couples separately - as Wright did with Ramah Reed, he said.
In 2003, Mosley said, "I called him on the carpet about the indecorous manner in which he'd obtained his wife."
In response, said Mosley, "he ranted and raved from the pulpit. He got up and announced, 'If Derrick Mosley is in the building, I want you all to arrest him.' "
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Grandma Got Over at the Press Club
By Mark Steyn
Four score and seven years ago… No, wait, my mistake. Two score and seven or eight days ago, Barack Obama gave the greatest speech since the Gettysburg Address, or FDR’s First Inaugural, or JFK’s religion speech, or (if like Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books, you find those comparisons drearily obvious) Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech of 1860. And, of course, the Senator’s speech does share one quality with Cooper Union, Gettysburg, the FDR Inaugural, Henry V at Agincourt, Socrates’s Apology, etc: It’s history. He said, apropos the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, that “I could no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother.” But last week he did disown him. So, great-speech-wise, it’s a bit like Churchill promising to fight them on the beaches and never surrender, and then surrendering a month and a half later, and on a beach he decided not to fight on.
It was never a great speech. It was a simulacrum of a great speech written to flatter gullible pundits into hailing it as the real deal. It should be “required reading in classrooms,” said Bob Herbert in the New York Times; it was “extraordinary” and “rhetorical magic,” said Joe Klein in Time — which gets closer to the truth: As with most “magic,” it was merely a trick of redirection. Obama appeared to have made Jeremiah Wright vanish into thin air, but it turned out he was just under the heavily draped table waiting to pop up again. The speech was designed to take a very specific problem — the fact that Barack Obama, the Great Uniter, had sat in the pews of a neo-segregationist huckster for 20 years — and generalize it into some grand meditation on race in America. Senator Obama looked America in the face and said: Who ya gonna believe? My “rhetorical magic” or your lyin’ eyes?
That’s an easy choice for the swooning bobbysoxers of the media. With less impressionable types, such as voters, Senator Obama is having a tougher time. The Philly speech is emblematic of his most pressing problem: the gap — indeed, full-sized canyon — that’s opening up between the rhetorical magic and the reality. That’s the difference between a simulacrum and a genuinely great speech. The gaseous platitudes of hope and change and unity no longer seem to fit the choices of Obama’s adult life. Oddly enough, the shrewdest appraisal of the Senator’s speechifying “magic” came from Jeremiah Wright himself. “He’s a politician,” said the Reverend. “He says what he has to say as a politician… He does what politicians do.”
The notion that the Amazing Obama might be just another politician doing what politicians do seems to have affronted the senator more than any of the stuff about America being no different from al-Qaeda and the government inventing AIDs to kill black people. In his belated “disowning” of Wright, Obama said, “What I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that — that I am about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the — the commonality in all people.”
Funny how tinny and generic the sonorous uplift rings when it’s suddenly juxtaposed against something real and messy and human. As he chugged on, the senator couldn’t find his groove and couldn’t prevent himself from returning to pick at the same old bone: “If what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it in front of the National Press Club, then that’s enough. That’s — that’s a show of disrespect to me.”
And we can’t have that, can we? In a shrewd analysis of Obama’s peculiarly petty objections to Rev. Wright, Scott Johnson of the Powerline website remarked on the senator’s “adolescent grandiosity.” There’s always been a whiff of that. When he tells his doting fans, “We are the change we’ve been waiting for,” he means, of course, he is the change we’ve been waiting for.
“Do you personally feel that the Reverend betrayed your husband?” asked Meredith Vieira on The Today Show.
“You know what I think, Meredith?” replied Michelle Obama. “We’ve got to move forward. You know, this conversation doesn’t help my kids.”
Hang on. “My” kids? You’re supposed to say “It’s about the future of all our children,” not “It’s about the future of my children” — whose parents happen to have a base salary of half a million bucks a year. But even this bungled cliché nicely captures the campaign’s self-absorption: Talking about Obama’s pastor is a distraction from talking about Obama’s kids.
By the way, the best response to Michelle’s “this conversation doesn’t help my kids” would be: “But entrusting their religious upbringing to Jeremiah Wright does?” Ah but, happily, Meredith Vieira isn’t that kind of interviewer.
Mrs. O is becoming a challenge for satirists. My radio pal Hugh Hewitt played a clip on his show of the putative First Lady identifying the real problem facing America:
“Like many young people coming out of college, with their MAs and BAs and PhDs and MPhs coming out so mired in debt that they have to forego the careers of their dreams, see, because when you’re mired in debt, you can’t afford to be a teacher or a nurse or social worker, or a pastor of a church, or to run a small non-profit organization, or to do research for a small community group, or to be a community organizer because the salaries that you’ll earn in those jobs won’t cover the cost of the degree that it took to get the job.”
I’m not sure why Michelle would stick “pastor of a Church” in that list of downscale occupations: her pastor drives a Merc and lives in a gated community. But, insofar as I understand Mrs. O, she feels that many Harvard and Princeton graduates have to give up their life’s dream of being a minimum-wage “community organizer” (whatever that is) and are forced to become corporate lawyers, investment bankers and multinational CEOs just to pay off their college loans. I’m sure the waitresses and checkout clerks nodded sympathetically.
Michelle Obama is a bizarre mix of condescension and grievance — like Teresa Heinz Kerry with a chip on her shoulder. But the common thread to her rhetoric is its antipathy to what she calls “corporate America.” Perhaps for his next Gettysburg Address the senator will be saying, “I could no more disown my wife than I could disown my own pastor. Oh, wait…”
Whatever one thinks of Senators Clinton and McCain, they’re as familiar as any public figures can be. Obama, on the other hand, is running explicitly on a transcendent “magic.” It doesn’t help when the cute girl in spangled tights keeps whining about how awful everything is and the guy you sawed in half sticks himself together and starts rampaging around the stage. The magician has lost control of the show.
© 2008 Mark Steyn