Our Imperfect Union
Posted by wordforit on March 21, 2008
Senator Obama’s Tuesday speech in Philadelphia left the mainstream press rapturous, his wife teary, and the commentators that prefer emotion to fact calling it a defining moment in American racial and political history. Perhaps, but a great speech like “A More Perfect Union” does not a great president make, as we have learned before, to our detriment. Unfortunately, the electorate has a short memory and is prone to infatuation; and Obama sings a sweet, sweet version of the same old song.
Senator Obama is a gifted orator, and I have often lamented the poor speaking skills of our legislators and the stilted rhetoric of the current crop of office seekers. I know a good speech when I hear one, and I give credit where credit is due. His speech strummed the most resonant liberal heartstrings: homage to family and church; loyalty to a cranky elder (his pastor); a message of hope against hopelessness; even an example of modern misery in the person of a single cancer-afflicted mother who lost her insurance, whose long-suffering daughter works Obama’s campaign. Using a white family was a brilliant rhetorical tactic. He even found space to smear conservative talk radio — truly remarkable.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s hateful ideology was effectively minimized, diffused and relegated to the fringes of Obama’s multi-cultural world, one of the kooks, annoying but tolerated in the abundant love of church and community. Senator Obama was compassionate, conciliatory and human. A performance is not genius however, and well-rehearsed lines are not necessarily inspired leadership, a truth that the Democrats have yet to learn.
Imagine for a moment the tables were turned and a Republican candidate attended a church that demeaned people of color, a church that tolerated anti-Semitic rants and supported racial exclusion. It would be condemned, loudly, repeatedly and it would likely end that candidate’s political career. The majority of Americans would approve, and rightly so, as we try very hard to be fair, despite Reverend Wright’s wild exaggerations. The inconsistency is extreme, and Obama has found his niche.
The left has given us yet another double standard, the racism-lite standard, where the full-bodied hatred only comes from whites and where black racists get a pass. Obama denounced Reverend Wright even as he defined him in the context of human suffering, a man molded by the injustice in his life, a victim of racism as he surely was, and a man deserving redemption. Even as the hateful words thundered from his lips, he was a victim, and deserving of our pity. A victim for which we all share responsibility, and in equal measure, guilt.
But as we are so often reminded, words have consequences.
A speech designed to lull us into a warm communitarian stupor does not change who populates Obama’s campaign staff. They are the left of the left, the progressive revisionists, and the leftovers of the Carter and Clinton administrations in all their folly. They are the socialists, the raging radicals, the globalists and the opportunists that do not learn from failure and cannot see beyond their insipid ideologies. The pleasing demeanor and the measured voice cannot hide the heart of Senator Obama’s loyalties. Change for change’s sake is usually a failure. Change for ideology’s sake often is a disaster.
Senator Obama certainly appears sincere and well meaning. In the confluence of ego, ideology and inspiration, he thinks the extremes he knows are equal to the extremes he will confront as President. He is profoundly naïve. He does not understand the devils that inhabit this world, or what it takes to defeat them. His pastor, his professors and his confidants have all deceived him.
Our nation is imperfect, as all human endeavors are. There is no nation, no people, no creed that is blameless of bigotry and injustice. Perfection is an illusion. The union we cherish is the gold tried by fire, shaped and hammered, yet changing in ways we cannot predict. That union is also a singular achievement, a shining hope that has lifted humanity in incalculable ways and continues to do so. What Obama advises us to do is what we have already begun and in large measure have already done. He asks us to “acknowledge” what we already affirm, every day.
“In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds — by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.”
Did you realize we succeed at the expense of others? Our prosperity is achieved on the backs of the disadvantaged, the black and brown and the hardscrabble whites. “Your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams,” as if we somehow as people pursue that course and condone it. It is an insulting insinuation and one that assumes we are as self-centered and self-serving as Reverend Wright portrayed us in his sermons. It is leftist boilerplate wrapped in a candy coating, and it is a lie.
Senator Obama has no special message for us, he has no new insight that will rid us of our human foibles or uplift our lesser angels. He is an inexperienced leftist Senator who gives good speeches, a mere performer, albeit a talented one. “A More Perfect Union” is nearly plagiarism, a shallow mimic of our Founders’ vision. To sell his candidacy, he must convince us we are in dire need of his leadership. Beyond his rhetorical sleight of hand, there is nothing to indicate he can lead us, no record of achievement, no experience, no special wisdom he can call his own.
In his speech, he handed us accolades as he called us broken, he said he cherished us as he told us we must change, he acknowledged our goodness as he called us selfish. Multi-cultural platitudes and sad stories of powerless victims are the façade of Obama’s hollow vision and the only way the left can sway the electorate: They must be convinced of their misery and destitution before they will accept the promise of salvation.
He says he seeks to unite us. It is his mantra and his banner. In the tenure of an Obama presidency, will his charity and forgiveness reach out to white intolerance in equal measure to that of Rev. Wright or the New Black Panthers that advertise on his campaign website? [since removed~WfI] Will he remain as unifying and measured as he appears today? Will he control the ideological impulses of the radicals he has embraced and to which he panders even as he tries to appear moderate?
In this very dangerous world with all its challenges dare we find out?