A little more than a month ago, a Philadephia newspaper wrote that Obama's speech on race was a great performance. I didn't exactly believe that I heard anything great. What people were calling Obama's "Lincoln Moment" I was calling his "I am not a crook" moment. The only thing I did agree with was that it was a performance. Though nothing that was going to end up at (pardon the pun) Lincoln Center.
Yesterday Obama took to the stage again and gave us another performance. While we are still waiting for Tom Shale's review I think the consensus is that it stunk. And by his demeanor and body language I could tell that Obama could hear the boos as he walked off the stage.
The candidate who has been telling us over and over that he, not Clinton, is the one with the judgement to step in on day one, decided it was time to renounce his close ties and association with Wright and his anti-American, anti-white,anti-semitic ideas on day 6,205 of his relationship with Wright. Maybe Obama's new slogan should be, "Better late than never."
Only Obama's explanations, retractions, and attempts at damage control. arent sticking. And his credibility is in shreds. He seems to be confirming everything many thought about him based on his speeches, demeanor and manner. That he was a snake oil salesman in a new package trying to tell us he is good for what ails us. A Prof. Harold Hill beating the drum, telling us we have trouble right here in River City and that he was the one who would fix it, selling his hope like it was soap on a rope. What some people called "inspiring" rhetoric, I thought had all the inspiration of a "thinking of you:" greeting card, blank on the inside so you could fill it in yourself and feel it was from him. And a lot of people did.
There were also the tinges of megolomania, like his congratulatory speech after losing Texas Ohio and Rhode Island that made it sound like he was the winner and that the nomination process was over ( in many ways it was only he didn't realize it then). And who could forget his press conference after Super Tuesday when Clinton landslided him in New York, California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey and he humbly told the media that it meant nothing because in a general election he could win those states too. The fact that the people of those stated didn't want Obama to be the one to carry them but wanted Clinton seemed to him to be besides the point. Up until that moment, I had no idea that when Obama spoke of rejecting the politics of the past he was talking about elections.
And then there was his message that simply the act of electing him would be enough to prove that America isnt the bad place of Uncle Jeremiah's speeches,and would show the world that America is beyond racism. Not a very clever ploy if you take to heart Martin Luther King's admonition that people should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. But it was one that a lot of people swallowed. Obama was offering absolution. Vote for me and you can say "look ma, I'm not a racist".
He, his campaign and his followers, (it's hard to refer to them as "supporters") tried to put forth the argument that if you are for rising beyond racism and moving to a higher level then he is the one you vote for and that will be change enough. And if you aren't then don't.
It's snake oil to be sure to say that simply electing an African American, regardless of his qualifications or lack of, regardless of his character or lack of, will be an act that will show the world we are now different, that we have conquered our demons. Its an argument even some journalists like Andrew Sullivan has swallowed whole. But they dont call it snake oil for nothing. It just doesn't work. And Im sure Andrew Sullivan, along with Keith Olbermann, Jonathan Alter, Jim Vandehei, Bill Richardson, Senator Leahy and others who called for Hillary Clinton to drop out, as far back as early March, are waking up this morning trying to figure out why they are feeling so lousy.
The fact that Obama has gotten as far as he has is proof enough that America has gotten beyond racism. Its not his success. Its America's. And now any black man or black woman, or anyone of any ethnicity can say that if they have what it takes, they have as good a chance to be President as anyone. For that,.having Obama around as a symbol, has been useful. But now everyone can see through what was apparent to many from the beginning.
Far from being a new kind of politician he is an old one in a new package. He lies. He whines. He bobs. He weaves. He loses 3 out of 4 primaries and the next day Mr. Rejecting the Politics of the Past is screaming for Clinton's tax records. He makes the idea of voices being heard one of the center pieces of his campaign but is now doing all he can to keep the legitimate voices of 3 million people in Florida and Michigan from being heard because they are not saying what he wants to hear.
When Obama said he never knew of or heard of any of Wrights hate speeches in the 17 years he has known him, it was Nixon saying, " I am not a crook". Obama has proved he will say anything to get elected.. Whether its about NAFTA, or Wright. All anyone has to do is look at Obama's responses immediately after the controversy broke to see how dishonest he was willing to be and saying what he thought he could get away with.
At first he accused the press of cherry picking Wrights comments. When that didnt work, he called Wright an uncle, a member of the family who says things with whom he sometimes disagrees ( presumably things like the US creating AIDS and exporting it to Africa to commit genocide.). When that didnt work he was "denouncing" him but not disowning him. All within a week. Now,he is throwing Wright out of the house. Presumably for the same things Wright has been saying and Obama has been hearing for 17 years.
Obama took the title of his book from one of Wright's sermons and called Wright his spiritual mentor. Is he now telling us to reject his own book? He has talked about the role of his church in his life and the importance its played. Is he telling us "never mind"? Where exactly was Obama on Sept 16,2001? If he was in Chicago and what he says about the role of his church in his life is true, its beyond credibility that on the first Sunday after the 911 attacks Obama would not have gone to church, assuming he could have. And if he didnt its beyond credulity that he heard nothing about Wrights speech that day, about how America deserved it and how it was pay back for the evil America had done in the world.
Does anyone believe that in all of the 17 years that Obama has been going to that church, the church that played such an important part in his life, he knew nothing of Wright's 911 sermon? He wasnt there? No one told him? Not even his wife? Never heard a word of Wright's accusations that America created AIDS and exported it to Africa until it was on YouTube?
If not ,then why did he revoke his invitation to Wright to deliver an invocation on the day he declared for President? Obviously someone thought it wasnt such a good idea.And obviously Obama agreed. For political reasons..But not before Axelrod,his campaign manager tried to sell the snakeoil that it was because it was cold that day and they wanted to shorten the program.
Obama has now realized as of yesterday that Wright has shortened the program.
So yesterday we heard again from Obama about Wright. This time saying all those things that werent particularly controversial a month and a half ago are now are outrageous. With Obama we're supposed to follow the denouncing ball.
Far from Lincoln Moments,these are Obama's " I am not a crook" moments. Except he is a crook. And what he has stolen is everything from his supporters that they thought he was giving them. And now its time for them to take it all back.
The irony is, that yesterday Obama actually did have a Lincoln Moment. Because his speech personified one of Lincoln's most famous admonitions. You cant fool all of the people all of the time.