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Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Black And White And Read All Over

Many of those made aware of Geraldine Ferraro's undiplomatic remarks will have to admit to themselves that she has a good point. And the point has been made, further, by the reaction of the Obama campaign, which as she has noted,  has angrily, and falsely, and with transparent malice, described her remarks as "racism." The promiscuous use of that word, that charge, in American public  life, is getting tiresome. And Ferraro is having none of it.

The proposition that were Obama not black, he would not at this point in his career have run for President, and would certainly not, given the slenderness of his experience, be the most likely candidate of the Democratic Party, cannot be disputed. It can go unmentioned -- until Ferraro dared to mention it -- but it cannot be disputed. Could Obama, were he a white candidate, with precisely the same experience, that is with scarcely more than two years of national office, and prior to that only office as a state representative, even dare to consider running for President? And would he, were he not black, be supported, as he was the other day in Mississippi, by 85-90% of black voters, who are clearly voting out of racial solidarity? And would he be supported by quite so many white voters, who have described their desire to "get beyond race" and "Obama promises hope" and a "post-racial" (whatever that is) world, and so they are not voting for the energy policy, the war policy, the education policy, the environmental policy, the trade policy, of Barack Obama, based on his own previous history as a legislator, or on his presentation of policies in sufficient detail to be examined, but rather on the basis of his being an articulate presenter of "hope," and a supposed "agent of change," though what exactly those "changes" would be, and how he, who has never yet guided any major substantive legislation through the Senate, would manage as President to convince others to join him in those "changes," is not entirely clear. Such voters are, with their votes, merely validating themselves (and isn't that what the vote right now should do -- make you feel good about yourself?), and validating the country too -- I was unaware until recently that the United States needed such validation.

Now our benighted country can at long last "get beyond" its "racist past" in the most effective way possible, by whites voting in droves, in a kind of Big Gather, for the black candidate. Barack Obama, who has been in the Senate for a little more than two years, has no legislation to his credit, has even by the admiring New York Times been described as a glamorous candidate who left the drudgery of Senate work to others while he early on planned for a Presidential run, and whose chief encouragers, such as Tom Daschle, told him he should run precisely now, before he had done much of anything in the Senate -- there are quotes to that effect in the article on Obama's Senate career that appeared in last week's Sunday New York Times (March 9) -- because, as he was advised, when you do things you inevitably make enemies, and so best to run before you do those things, and make those enemies. And that is why people are not quite sure about Obama, but they attribute to him whatever views that they will find most attractive, because they want, for various reasons, to support him, and are determined, in order to convince themselves that this makes sense, to find reasons that they weave out of whole cloth. Obama's tactic is to remain, as much as possible, a tabula rasa on which as many people as possible can write their own sentiments and desires, and then read them back to themselves. And the beauty of it is that on this particular slate, the hideous squeaks of real chalk on a real slate or blackboard cannot be heard, because real writing would offend now this group of voters and now that, and that tabula remains still largely rasa, and that is the point -- not to present policies, but to keep from making any clear enemies.

All (imagined) things, to all people -- or as many of them as can be kept benevolently guessing as possible. And he has been treated with kid gloves. Why, for example, have his longstanding and apparently close ties to the Reverend Lawrence Wright not been made the subject of great interest, or Obama's brief and dismissive explanations simply accepted, without more? The disturbing views  and worldview of the man whom Barack Obama describes as a friend, mentor, and general all-round inspiration (and source of the phrase "The Audacity of Hope"), have not been sufficiently considered. Just imagine a white candidate, who for two decades had been the member of a church with a white minister who held something like the views of Rev. Wright, except that the word "white" should be substituted, in all of Wright's sermons and statements, for the word "black." Such a candidate would not, for one minute, have a chance. And it is only in the last year that there has been a studied attempt by the Obama campaign, for obvious reasons, to diminish or hide Wright's opinions, which at the very least Obama has no record of having publicly -- or privately -- opposed, during the nearly twenty years that he was a member of Wright's congregation.

No, Obama's main claim to fame are a few books, which some find touching and heartrending, and others -- such as Bruce Bawer, find quite disturbing. They are, predictably, about Finding My Identity which, of course, means Coming To Terms With The Father I Never Knew. He's black, he's white, he's read all over.

But what are his policies, beyond the platitudes that may remind some of Obama's friend and fellow speechifier of uplift Deval Patrick? And  by the way, just how is Deval Patrick doing in Massachusetts, where he appears to be gambling the state government's economic future on highly dubious assumptions about three -- count them, three -- proposed gambling casinos and has in every way proven such a disappointment to his most ardent supporters? 

Policies, please. Some may relish the opportunity to Prove Themselves. Those of us who do not feel that we have any obligation to prove ourselves, on race or on anything else, will want a little more substance. Start with energy policy and environmental degradation, then a little on how most cleverly and effectively to deal with the menace of Jihad -- including the Money Weapon, Da'wa, and demographic conquest. Then something about health care, and why you think requiring everyone to have medical insurance is a bad idea. And then, finally, how do you propose to improve the collapsing system of public education, and the raising of standards back to the level of only a few decades ago? That's enough for a start. No need for any more platitudes (or plongitudes) about the need for "change." We all get it. All the candidates get it. We all agree that "change" is necessary. And then? Just give us those details please, about environmental policy and its inevitable corollary, energy policies, and about the problem of Jihad (and by all means stick to the withdrawing-from-Iraq policy, but make sure it is presented not as part of an appeasement of Iran or other Muslim polities or peoples, but presented as part of a much more effective, and certainly less expensive, policy to deal not merely with "terrorism" but with the Money Weapon, Da'wa, and demographic conquest, especially in the historic heart of the West, Western Europe. And of course tell us how you would improve schools, and save education from the idea that it is nothing more than vocational training. Barack Obama  may very well be the best candidate. But how can we know, if we have little more than those calls for "change" to go on.

So give us those details. Spell out those policies.

We're all ears.  

Posted on 03/12/2008 2:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
12 Mar 2008
Send an emailRebecca Bynum
I just heard Ferraro on the evening news and she said that the Obama campaign pushed the story to the national press. It was just some remarks she made in response to a question after speaking to a small group somewhere - I didn't catch where (350 people). She was outraged that they called her a racist and said they'd have a harder time pulling that off now. She was livid.

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