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Obama liberalism problem

This Los Angeles Times story, partly based on a Pew Study, claims that Democratic strategists look at Obama’s challenges, they conclude that his liberalism and elitism are the issue, rather than race. I would only add to this that although Obama has not yet been stained by Chicago’s grime, it doesn’t mean that it has gone away.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Since the LBJ years, and especially since the Carter years, Liberalism is always an issue, probably THE issue. Just so long as Republicans are able to properly place that issue front and center. That's the key. When Republicans place Liberalism front and center, they prevail. But when Republicans desire to blend and to blur differences, so as to avoid partisan rancor, so as to avoid directly taking on the establishment and the media, then they lose. And they deserve to lose.

Apparently, even the LA Times can write an intelligent story now and then.

The thing is that you can't have it both ways. I don't know what sort of political science these experts are munching on, but when you listen to Obama you get the feeling that you are in a class taught by Dr. Foster. Dr. Foster could go listen to the KKK could associate with just about anything or anyone and nothing would stick. It might have something to do with gravitas, but whatever it is Obama has it, and this is what comes off as liberalism and elitism...everything and yet nothing touches him. He listens and understands and in so doing diminishes into categories that he is beyond. He goes to talk to folks hit by gas prices and tells them the opposite of what Clinton says. He doesn't set up an either or that is a softball and that makes folks feel certain about the answer. Socrates associated with Thasymachus but no one confuses the two. Plato understood thymos but in reading him one always feels that he is above it that he is reason alone, and in a tripartite soul that is what Obama exudes: Reason governing thymos and passion. When you hammer on Obama for not wearing a flag, for not being patriotic, you point out a politician caught up in "liberalism" in a sort of rationality without thymos, and yet when you hammer on the grime, Obama comes alive as more than the prototypical liberal...in questioning his judgement in associations you reveal a thymotic side...a side much more dangerously lived than the circumspect rationality politicians strive to project.

I am sure there is a lot of dirt in Chicago politics but in putting the focus on the corruption it isn't clear that one works to implicate Obama or clarify his motives and inspiration. You see Obama isn't really the sort to embrace the notion that one can transcend time place, culture, environment. It is really an audacious hope in free will that borders on faith...and for some unquantifiable portion of the electorate that faith may be more important than policy positions. With Obama, politics is as likely to be about Faulkner as it is about a pew study. Instead of being Jason as we could comfortably be with Clinton, we are stuck being Quentin.

John Lewis, I don't see that about Obama. I did, but no longer do. I did not read his books. From here, I just see another pol. playing a public role. Of course, I don't watch TV, either, just reading the news either the old fashioned way, or on my computer, watching his speeches on YouTube as someone mentions them.

Obama does seem barely smudged in the press, despite everything. I don't really wonder why at it. His tossing Wright over seems typical politics and a rational political calculation. Someone on the front page here once said he could not do that with integrity and I think that was correct. Watching him get through this campaign seems a process of the unwinding of whatever integrity he might have had. You tell me he's got soul and I think he's already sold it.

I read Obama's proposed policies and do not see reason there. Listening to his speeches, I am now conscious of being manipulated, and do not like it. Reading your comment, I think you read too much of yourself into Obama. Maybe other people do, too. Perhaps he's all polished up to reflect us to ourselves in his image. I say its gloss and I don't like it.

John Lewis: Socrates did not go to Thasymachus' church for twenty years, and he not only spoke up against the Thrasymachean doctrines, but refuted them so thoroughly as to leave egg all over Thrasymachus' face.

Kate, I liked your comment. I think a lot of folks are feeling that way now, manipulated. And there is a reason for it. Today, I noticed a quote from an old New Republic article (3/19/07) about Obama, and upon reflection, it's a very creepy quote. Speaking of his leftist mentor Saul Alinsky (of Rules for Radicals fame), Obama says, "It's true that the notion of self-interest was critical, but Alinsky underestimated the degree to which people's hopes and dreams and their ideals were just as important in organizing as people's self-interest. Sometimes the tendency in community organizaing of the sort done by Alinsky was to downplay the power of words and ideas when in fact ideas and words are pretty powerful. 'We hold these truths to be self evident, all men are created equal.' Those are just words. 'I have a dream.' Just words. But they help move things. And I think it was partly that understanding that led me to try to do something similar in different arenas."

Wow. In different arenas? The context of the article makes it clear that he was explaining to its author, Ryan Lizza, about his involvement with the black church. So CHURCH is the "different arena." And in that arena, apparently, there will be something different from self-interest that will help move things. Words and ideas. Obama laid it all out more than a year ago, told us of how he enjoyed moving us all with words and ideas. And what matters is not the truth of the ideas and words, but that they move us. 'All men are created equal.' Those are just words. Is there a there there in Obama? Or, is it just words?

The other shameful thing about this year-old article is that it plainly reveals that Lizza knew how radical Rev. Wright was, but that he squelched his reporter's interest in that fact and/or actively covered up what he did know for the cause.

Thank you, Carl, and that's a useful quote.

Of course, that idea of church as a "different arena" means that Wright and his church were important to Obama as long as useful, politically. There was nothing personal in it, not as implied in Obama's first statements when the story broke. Maybe Lizza saw nothing wrong with that. He wasn't moved by the fact of Obama's manipulative duplicity, because he didn't see it as a fact. But he did report those words, which were revealing of the fact. Maybe for Lizza the presumption is that everyone uses his church and the church for political ends. I know lots of people on the left who presume that anyone on the right claiming Christianity must be doing do for nefarious reasons, because to them the right is nefarious by definition. For a "good" man like Obama to use the church for "good" reasons would only be right in an end justifying the means way. Is this also what Obama is saying about his words and ideas.

I am on a Mencken kick today: “A professional politician is a professionally dishonourable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.” Which reminds of the student I had who was a single mom and a pole-dancer. She didn't like the job, but she made a good living at it for her daughter and herself, which ennobled the job, somehow. She wants to be a lawyer and maybe get involved in politics. She'd had to deaden certain sensibilities to do her dancing job. This relates.

The other comment I wrote this morning, with the other Mencken quote, was about decency in politics. Somehow, this also relates.

It's a busy morning and I haven't time to explain myself.

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