Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations

1. I can’t believe how good Obama’s speech was. The Constitution perfecting itself over time is the perfect idea for his post-racist (that’s not really post-racist) candidacy. The Wright stuff has caused him to shine, and "God damn America" has morphed into invoking God’s judgment as a way of motivating us toward civic perfection, of dedicating us as a people under God to working on behalf of a biblical proposition. And Obama seems to have been the primary author of his own speech. I’m still not for him, but I hope we’re all over misunderestimating him. His critics will blame him for not repudiating Wright, but of course he couldn’t do that. He had no choice but to spin him, and he did.

2. Poor Hillary. The poll in the USA TODAY reminds us how high her negatives are in almost every area but problem-solving or competence. Americans seem to admire Obama and McCain highly and almost equally.

3. Nobody cares that Florida ain’t voting again, because nobody really believes that the result would affect the outcome of the convention.

Discussions - 14 Comments

The "God damn America" stuff recast as God's judgement is arguable from a certain religous perpective (Robertson made a similar point from the Right in the aftermath of 9/11 but he was not indulged) But the stuff about about AIDS being created by the US government to target blacks is crazy, vile, and morally indefensible. Thats what grabbed me. The "chickens coming home to roost" thing has become familiar in the last seven years (blowback and all that), and not just from Pator Wright. The AIDS thing seems impossible to finesse. It demostrates an bottomless, unappeasable hatred of the US, and I fail to see where it can be convincingly fit into any tradition of reasonable dissent. I didn't notice where Obama addressed it. It might be ignored, but I don't know how you spin it to a national audience. Have Wright's (and Obama's)critics made a rhetorical error by focusing on the "God damn America" line rather than on Wright's deranged, hateful, slander regarding the origin of AIDS?

There is a great deal in Wright's words that can be used against him. "God Damn America" is utterly vile, and is not in the standard tradition of assertion that America is under God's judgment. It is clearly a political and cultural hate statement, not a theological point, as those of Falwell and Robertson (for which they immediately apologized, did they not?) arguably were. It is also only one of many horrible statements by the Rev. Wright. Obama's candidacy has become morally untenable. Politically, Professor Lawler may or may not be right to say he had "no choice but to spin." But that presumes his candidacy should be kept alive. From Obama's standpoint, it clearly should. From that of No Left Turns, I would think it shouldn't.

Does NLT have a standpoint? I thought we were just folks here: citizens making arguments to each other. Agreeing with Peter about the quality of the speech does not commit anybody to vote for Obama.

Mr. Frisk,

I just looked up both Mr. Wright's "God damn America" speech and the Falwell/Roberston exchange. I had forgotten that Falwell said the terrorists have given us "probably what we deserve" Yes they apologized, as they should have. Of course Wright's "God damn America" comment is an example of hatred for the US and any attempt to spin it is just spin. But its context allows it to be recast to the moderately attentive as being in the prophetic tradition of Jeremiah. It is spin that might sell to the general public just well enough to preserve Obama's viability. I believe Obama's formulation was something to the effect that Wright was a "fierce critic" who sometimes went too far. Anyway, it muddies the waters. I believe that AIDS thing is much more difficult to spin, maybe I'm wrong. I get the feeling that Obama will be difficult to sink no matter what gets thrown at him. Where Professor Lawler is right is that Obama showed himself to be brilliant at extracating himself from political jams. As a conservative, that makes me anything but happy, but it seems to be the situation we are in.

"NLT" stands for "No Left Turns," which obviously IS a standpoint. That standpoint is very, very far removed from Obama, who would be a very great "left turn" indeed for America. I don't care about the fact that somebody has not committed to vote for Obama. Lots of people are undecided. I don't give them points for that -- undecided voters tend to be relatively ignorant voters. I care about the fact that somebody will not close the door on the possibility of voting for him. I consider that a bad thing in the context of a right-wing site. To even talk of Obama as someone who PERHAPS ought to be president is surely a "left turn," and therefore at odds with the spirit and purpose of a site that, in its very name, rejects "left turns." I don't object to the fact that some people speak in this way of Obama. I do wish they were countered more vigorously at times. If they are not, NLT is in danger of losing its identity and becoming what Steve Thomas wants: a chat facility with no standpoint beyond a common interest in public affairs.

The Left I worry about is to the left of Obama, but then I'm cranky and old-fashioned.

Pete, no question, Obama "will be difficult to sink." That's why conservatives need to focus on sinking him now. The more people working to sink him, and the harder they work, the better our chances of winning this pivotal election. Do lots of voters like the guy? Yes. All the more reason why we shouldn't be saying things that increase their number.

Mr. Frisk, I'm glad we agree that neither of us wishes to see Obama as President. Conservatives ought to do what they can to defeat him. But that does not mean we should not analyze his political strengths or give due credit when he gives an effective performance. There is a place for polemic, but there is also a place for a detached look at our weaknesses as conservatives and the advantages of our political opponents. NLT and especially Professor Lawler provide such a place. We should seek to be open and honest about our situation - which is not good - even at the risk of giving aid and comfort to our critics. Brutal honesty might even be an important step to recovering the political inititive in the long run.

1. I can’t believe how good Obama’s speech was.


Never underestimate the persuasive powers of a bullshit artist.

Some of today's reactions to Obama's speech remind me of Democratic reactions to Reagan's best speeches.

You know . . . I'm feeling charitable right now . . . perhaps too charitable after that glass of wine I had while cooking dinner. But I heard Dennis Miller say today that he thinks Rev. Wright is just a cranky old Marine who got called the N. word too many times as a young man. That might not be too far off, it seems to me. I know some cranky old white guys who have formed some pretty stupid opinions for less cause. On the other hand, nobody gives them a pulpit or cheers wildly at their "speeches" (such as they are) anymore. In fact, people more or less ignore them. Isn't the rub in there somewhere?

11: "Cranky old Marines" who are simply responding to slights of 40 years ago do not place themselves in front of a microphone every Sunday and make themselves into "leaders" of "the community." Wright is in no way a regular guy. He is a dedicated reverse-racist and leftist radical. He has a very substantial following in black Chicago -- a frightening, though unsurprising, fact in itself. And there may, less than a year from now, be a man who has been influenced by him in the White House. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

8: Pete, we should certainly KNOW what we're up against. That does require us to acknowledge Obama's technical skills as a salesman -- and the various illusions and pathologies that have created an enormous market for him. All ideologies, and all comparably successful candidates, fulfill certain psychological needs. (James Burnham pointed out in his book "Suicide of the West" that liberalism would not be so powerful if it didn't fulfill such a need.) But to talk favorably about Obama in substantive terms --if, in fact, we really mean that he's more superficially "interesting" than most candidates or more technically "appealing" -- encourages people who like Obama to like him more. And that we should stay away from.

9: Mega-dittoes, Michelle.

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