Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Grandpa Broke up the Kegger?

Kathleen Parker likens McCain to "grumpy ol’ granddad breaking up the keg party" because of (what others here have called) his dusty old CEO speech. She thinks he should have acknowledged the thing that made her (involuntarily) smile upon watching Obama victorious. What was that thing? Parker argues that it was a kind of "born again" moment for America--a birth for which we all ought to get some credit as midwives. McCain’s laundry list of attacks on Obama didn’t take into sufficient account the feelings that Parker believes inspired her involuntary smile. She argues that McCain needs to get people "to avert their gaze from the shiny new object of their affection" before he can start hammering Obama with a point by point refutation of his policies. This election will not be about Obama’s policy prescriptions--and even less so about McCain’s--it’s going to be entirely about the "idea of Obama." In a race so personal and also so embedded in abstract (and undefined) things like "hope," is there any way that an ultimate victory by McCain can be seen to be "simply be a loss for Democrats -- and not a loss specifically for African-Americans?"

Parker said that she slapped herself when she caught herself giving in to the involuntary smile. A lot of people are not going to be as disciplined as she in this respect. Can McCain win without slapping them? I’m inclined to say "no." Thing is, that’s a tricky place to be in American politics.

It wouldn’t be the 2008 campaign season, however, if I didn’t close on a note of hope. If Parker is right and a good description for McCain is "grumpy grandpa breaking up the kegger" consider this: don’t kids act out sometimes because they actually WANT to get caught? If the American people are caught up in a childish infatuation and are about to take some radical step just because it makes them feel good, a good part of them is likely to be looking back over their shoulders to see if there isn’t someone shouting to make them reconsider. A kegger can be great fun . . . and McCain ought to acknowledge this . . . but in the morning there’s always a terrible mess to clean up. And then you have to worry about the consequences of the mess and the broken stuff and the stains in the carpet that won’t go away. Perhaps there are enough sensible Americans who can recognize the virtues of a fine drink without feeling compelled to get all drunk and crazy with it? McCain has to try to break up the party by suggesting there’s a better way to the same feeling. We can be good Americans who believe in racial equality without having to drink from this particular cup.

Discussions - 14 Comments

To compare the Presidency to those attending or breaking up keggers does a great disservice to the Presidence.

It is non-serious attempt at a serious subject, allowing Parker to justify her 'involuntary' act.

TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! But seriously -haven't we suffered from jumping off the wagon throughout our history? The presidencies of Jefferson,Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, JFK, and Reagan have all brought their respective hangovers (for better or worse). Or maybe a common theme within American history is the political equivalent of a binge drink now and again?

Julie, I think the analogy to teen-aged acting-out is an apt one. Obama represents adventure, and on some level transgression. He is so manifestly unqualified that one suspects many people are falling in love with him against their better judgment. Many others are liking him despite their better judgment. When otherwise sensible female commentators like Peggy Noonan and Ms. Parker go weak in the knees, we have a problem. I also agree with you that Obama himself -- the myth, if you will -- must be discredited. There needs to be a strong policy component to the campaign as well, but Newt's idea that we must stay away from Obama-bashing is ridiculous. The American people need and deserve a hard smack in the face.

I know many of the pundits/political scientists here on NLT have expressed a curious interest in Obama (the language he uses, etc.) Has everyone finally seen through all this, or do you all still find him interesting and noteworthy? I find him to be a hack who is well spoken and who knows how to sing my generation's tune. The scary part is all the individuals, who I generally disagree with but whose opinions I still respect, who I find are enamored with him. I'm asking this because it seemed when he first hit the scene he was afforded a special status - I'm not sure if it's simply because of his eloquence or because some among the wise actually thought there was something to him.

Is there any way that a McCain victory can be seen as a victory for America, and not simultaneously a loss, a verdict upon Black Ameiricans?


Let's say that Colin Powell was nominated, and went on to be defeated by Bill Clinton in '96. Some might say that Powell lost because of his race, but it's probable that most would say he lost because he lacked political skills, he lacked campaign experience, and that he was matched against a political master. Moreover, there wouldn't be any Wrights and Pflegers in the wings. And the fact that Blacks stayed loyal to the Democrats and voted against one of their own, would suggest that race wasn't the decisive factor, that there were others factors at play. So a Powell defeat would not be tantamount to some verdict against a wider community, such as Black America.

But we're not talking about former Chief of Staff to the Army, General Colin Powell.

We're talking about Barrack Hussein Obama, late of the "church" of "Reverend" Wright.

It's likely that by the end of the campaign season, Americans will have learned that Obama sought out Wright so that Wright could lay hands upon him, and "annoit" him with the oils of Black authenticity and radicalism, so that all Black Americans would know that Obama was "down for the struggle." And within Black America, that's not unimportant. Once Wright laid hands upon Obama, and marked him as one of his own, the radical spirit of Black liberation theology {supremacism ?} can then be said to have "rushed" upon Obama, like something you've read about in the Old Testament.

Thus was born "Barrack!"

His entire political career resulted from Wright's laying on of hands.

His choice to change his first name, {also commonly referred to as the Christian name} is thus not without significance.

It needs to be well understood that without Wright, there would be no Obama, --- no book, --- no book title, --- no raptures about "the audacity of hope," --- no interviews with Oprah. It's likely that he wouldn't even have made the Illinois legislature without Wright. Everything that he is, is in very large measure, attributable to Wright. The man that he is today, is the man that Wright fashioned.

That being the case, there's now no way that an Obama defeat can be seen as anything other than a verdict against Wright, against his theology, against his anti-Americanism, against his conspiracy theories, against what's been going on in that "church," as well as others, such as the congregation of Pfleger.

How would such a defeat entail a verdict upon the wider community of Black Americans? To the extent that Black Americans self-identify with Wright, {notice I didn't say Obama, but Wright} they will see the defeat of Obama as a verdict cast against them. Because they will think that Wright's "speaking truth to power" resulted in that "power" rising up against Wright's disciple, Obama. If however Black Americans share the outrage of ordinary Americans about what was transpiring in that "church," then no such verdict will be seen as cast upon the wider Black community.

Which means Wright IS a MAJOR player in this drama. And there's no getting away from it.

A good strategist sees the field, the whole field, and knows all the players thereon.

Wright is a player.

It's pretty damn creepy, --------------- but there it is.

4: Good question, Andrew.

Has everyone finally seen through all this, or do you all still find him interesting and noteworthy? Finally? Where have you been? Whatever has been noted about his persuasive abilities (even when acknowledging the kernels of truth in his rhetoric) has never been swallowed whole. He has been noted as a force to watch and a man to be reckoned with. His appeal over his opponents must be admitted if it is be something with which we can contend. Is he still interesting and noteworthy . . . uhhhh, yeah. He's within a hair's breadth of the Presidency. NLT called this a long time ago--started noticing his rise long before many others did (check the archives stretching back to '04 and probably before). Partisans who wish to defeat him had better pay attention to the things that have made him interesting and noteworthy in the eyes of so many Americans. You will lose (and deserve to) if you think he is where he is because Americans (and those who have accurately predicted his rise) are stupid.

Julie, first, let's drop this crap about "deserving" to lose. That's simply political Darwinism, which is no part of the philosophy that NLT purports to espouse. Second, let's stop the sentimental mush about the political intelligence of the American public -- it's a piety, and nothing more. Third, let's be fair to Andrew. I don't see him denying Obama's political success or dismissing him qua opponent. He does not deny the man's effectiveness with many voters. He denies Obama's quality, his worthiness, which is an utterly different thing. Andrew is not saying there's no point in understanding Obama's success. He's saying that NLT posters often talk about him as if he has real quality, not just political oomph. To call Obama "a hack who is well spoken and knows how to sing my generation's tune" is an excellent short summation of this figure. It does not deny his political seriousness as an opponent. Do you really think Andrew's characterization of the man is wrong?

I think, David, I know a hack when I read one. Obama may be many things--perhaps even disingenuous and in various other ways unworthy of the office he seeks--but I don't think "hack" is quite the right word . . . for him.

Andrew, on the other hand, probably just got carried away. He's wrong in suggesting that NLT was swept away by Obama (as you are wrong to suggest it about Noonan and Parker) but he is not substantially wrong about Obama. He just overstates his case with the word, "hack." The reason smart people on our side of the fence stood up and took notice of Obama is because we knew he was going to appeal. There is something powerful (and, therefore, at least partly true) in most of his rhetoric. The American people may not all be (thank God!) as smart as you, David . . . but when there is widespread appeal like this a wise man does well to ask himself what is true in it. What is the legitimate political sentiment into which this man has tapped? Find it, examine it, understand it, and then correct it and, thereby, re-direct it. If you can't do that you will deserve to lose because you have contempt for the liberties of the people you purport to wish to serve.

Ha! Very spirited. Brava. I suppose I just find the shallowness of the New Left and the degree to which it has permeated the nation (in particular the twenty-somethings) to be surprisingly worse than I thought. I believe the reason I seem to worry less about him than you think I should is because I do in fact understand him (as I said, many of my friends are enamored with him). I've given up on expecting any sort of meaningful political action from the Boomers, and since I'm at a point in my life where I can't really do anything about him, I find myself writing him off as a sheep in sheep's clothing despite the fact that he is politically effective. I've said it before on this blog: for the next 10-20 years all politics to me is simply damage control. I don't expect to gain any ground for a while.

You may be right, Andrew. It may be all about damage control for awhile . . . but many would argue it's been about that for a very long time. Indeed, from the beginning of time! You say you're surprised by the degree to which your generation has been taken in by the New Left. I don't think it's really accurate to say that they have been so taken . . . yet. I think there is a very good number of folks who have been taken in by this guy but their idea of him is different from (and not, I would add, simply bad) the reality of him. He's tapped into something supremely American and inspiring--and I, for one, am very happy to see that this American sense of youthful optimism is not yet dead. It's too bad that it is so ill-informed, I'll give you that. But this can be corrected or, at least, mitigated. It would be more hopeless if nothing and no one inspired them. It's natural that young people would be attracted to a guy like Obama--however ill-informed and even deceptive he may be. It's too bad that the GOP hasn't learned anything from it yet.

9: Julie, it is pure crap to say, as you have, that either a low evaluation of the American people's political intelligence (not of their ability to run their own lives), or a failure to be a "wise man" and "examine," etc., etc., Obama's appeal, implies a "contempt for the liberties of the people." That is a 100-percent non sequitur. Insinuating that I only "purport to wish to serve them" is even worse, a disgrace. If you had more class, I'd ask for an apology. You are right that we should try to understand Obama's appeal. You are wrong, once again, in implying that I have denied either the appeal (to many voters) or the need to understand it.

Then why do you refuse to engage in every attempt to understand it? Why do you react like an over-stimulated terrier on first sight of what you imagine to be a rat when a little inquiry may prove to you that it is only a shadow? You would be more useful if you spent your time panting for a chance to gnaw on the real opposition. But bark away and level your insults at me if you must. I'm used to terriers and I even--for all their faults--find them a bit endearing.

Drop the personal nonsense. It's way overdone and at this point it's boring. Your ridiculous accusation in the previous post is certainly no invitation to a rational discussion of Obama's unfortunate (and as I say, quite real, though misguided) appeal. If you're more interested in such a discussion, apologize for your indefensible snot. Then I'll be glad to have a discussion. If you stand by what you said, don't presume to ask for a discussion.

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