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Epiphanies: My Dawning Realizations about Barack Obama

Dawning realization

Epiphany: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment

Yesterday, Riverdaughter suggested that we make this “Epiphany Weekend” at TC. The idea is to look back over the past couple of years and recall the epiphanies that we had early on that made us so highly skeptical about Barack Obama as a candidate for President.

For me, the very first wake-up call I had about Obama was this diary at Dailykos way back in September 2005. In the diary, then Senator Obama lectured the Kos community about “tone, truth, and the Democratic Party,” which defending Democratic Senators who had voted to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court. In the diary Obama strongly criticized people at Dailykos and other liberal blogs who wanted Congressional Democrats to stand up for Democratic principles and stop rolling over for Bush on every issue. (I have used bold type to highlight a couple of sections.)

According to the storyline that drives many advocacy groups and Democratic activists – a storyline often reflected in comments on this blog – we are up against a sharply partisan, radically conservative, take-no-prisoners Republican party. They have beaten us twice by energizing their base with red meat rhetoric and single-minded devotion and discipline to their agenda. In order to beat them, it is necessary for Democrats to get some backbone, give as good as they get, brook no compromise, drive out Democrats who are interested in “appeasing” the right wing, and enforce a more clearly progressive agenda….

I think this perspective misreads the American people. From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon. They don’t think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent. They don’t think that corporations are inherently evil (a lot of them work in corporations), but they recognize that big business, unchecked, can fix the game to the detriment of working people and small entrepreneurs. They don’t think America is an imperialist brute, but are angry that the case to invade Iraq was exaggerated, are worried that we have unnecessarily alienated existing and potential allies around the world, and are ashamed by events like those at Abu Ghraib which violate our ideals as a country.

It’s this non-ideological lens through which much of the country viewed Judge Roberts’ confirmation hearings. A majority of folks, including a number of Democrats and Independents, don’t think that John Roberts is an ideologue bent on overturning every vestige of civil rights and civil liberties protections in our possession. Instead, they have good reason to believe he is a conservative judge who is (like it or not) within the mainstream of American jurisprudence…

In the rest of the diary, Obama attempted to make a case for the kind of “consensus-building” we have been watching since he moved into the White House–the kind where the Democrats compromise their values ahead of time and continue to compromise them in the face of Republican (and Blue Dog) objections.

Let me be clear: I am not arguing that the Democrats should trim their sails and be more “centrist”…. Too often, the “centrist” label seems to mean compromise for compromise sake, whereas on issues like health care, energy, education and tackling poverty, I don’t think Democrats have been bold enough. But I do think that being bold involves more than just putting more money into existing programs and will instead require us to admit that some existing programs and policies don’t work very well. And further, it will require us to innovate and experiment with whatever ideas hold promise (including market- or faith-based ideas that originate from Republicans).

Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will. This is more than just a matter of “framing,” although clarity of language, thought, and heart are required. It’s a matter of actually having faith in the American people’s ability to hear a real and authentic debate about the issues that matter.

Of course Obama never made clear what “core values” he would be willing to stand up for.

Reading this diary was my first wake-up call–it gave me my first real clues to who Obama really was. Before that, my only impressions of him were based on the speech he had given at the 2004 Democratic. He had come across to me as really smooth and slick, but nothing he said in the speech was really earth-shaking and none of it was memorable enough to stick with me. Still, I think I my overall impression was positive. But after reading Obama’s Kos diary, I my impression of him started to turn more negative. Continue reading

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Lock The Doors! Scary Black Man A-Comin’!

44331566-blago-burrisBig ol’ scary Roland Burris says he’s the Senator from Illinois so make way.  The Obamacrats say the idea of Burris sullying the sanctity of the Senate is so terrifying,  they’ll do whatever they have to do to keep him out and keep the country safe.  “Hide the women and children, go to the root cellar, get under the desks, run for your lives, for God’s sake, hide!”

Oh please.  For the Democrats in the Senate to say they’ll block the doors to prevent Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appointed replacement for Barack Obama (the not scary black guy)’s Senate seat, Burris (the scary black guy) from taking office, just because they’re miffed, is just plain silly and pretty durned funny.  So, too, is Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush (a formerly scary black guy)’s insistence on being…well, Bobby Rush, and warning people against “lynching and hanging”  just because they want to bar entrance to the hallowed halls of the Senate by the scary black guy just like George Wallace wanted to keep scary black kids out of school.  But, never you mind, the fun doesn’t stop there, no sireee, Bobbo!  Being scary on command can be a hoot.  I mean, like The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out, quoting KristenMcQueary, it’s not like Bobby Rush never endorsed a white person over a black one:

He went so far as to compare Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who in 1963 stood in the doorway of a University of Alabama school building to block two black students from entering. Reid and Senate Democrats pledged to refuse any appointee sent by Blagojevich, even Burris, who would be the chamber’s only black member.

Rush’s lecture, however, seems quite two-faced considering he chaired Blair Hull’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign.

Hull is white.

If sending a black senator to Washington is so important now, why didn’t Rush support a black candidate four years ago? Not only was Obama on the Democratic ballot, but Joyce Washington, a black woman and health care executive, was as well.

Never mind that Rush endorsed Obama for president over his good white friends, the Clintons, or that Rush crushed Obama when Obie made an ill-advised bid for Bobby’s Congressional seat, or that Obama’s hit man David Axelrod took Hull down hard on his way to the Senate, it’s a black thing, only summa y’all unnerstan’.  But, hey, let the good times roll on.

And, lest you think Senate Majority Leader Reid doesn’t like black people, not just because of the Wallace-esque door-blocking thing, but also because he tried to block Blagojevich from appointing any other black men, too, pish tosh, put those thoughts aside.  I’m sure he knows there haven’t been a whole lot of black people in the Senate; as Earl Ofari Hutchinson reminds us, it’s always been a “good old boy’s club” and, by golly, everybody just likes it that way!  Nothing personal, move along.  And those black folks agitating on Roland Burris’ behalf?  Misguided malcontents, the whole lot of ’em.  So what if there are no black Senators, y’all got a black president, how dare you play the race card?

Oh, the delicious irony.  Now it can be revealed just how racially manipulative the Obamacrats have been.  Just because Barack Obama received overwhelming support from black voters, easily deceived sycophants and other fools could be convinced that all black people love and support him alike.  Ha, ha.  What those sycophantic fools choose to ignore is that the illusion of monolithic support is easy to attain if you keep the relevant questions narrow.  In other words, if you ask 1,000 black people how they feel about, oh, health care, you’d probably get answers as varied as if you asked a similar number of white, Asian, short, or stupid people the same thing.  But if you ask them if they’d rather have a black Democratic president or a white Republican one on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, you’d probably be horrified if anybody picked the white guy.

Duh.

Oh, but now, the vilified, but shrewd Blagojevich has flipped the script.  By appointing Burris, and deliberately, in his familiar, yet inimitable “in your face” style, calling bullshit, Blago has forced the Obamacrats to paint themselves into a corner of hell in much the same way they manipulated him into the role of the face of Illinois corruption, hoping to deflect attention from their own systemic culplability.  And, since there’s no easy way out for either side, the yuckfest continues.

The Senate Democrats have no leg to stand on, and will have to abandon their saber rattling bluff.  Blagojevich is most likely guilty as hell, but, under our legal system that doesn’t count, especially since he hasn’t even been indicted for anything, merely arrested pending formal charges.  While that may be enough for the Illinois branch of the Obamacrats to achieve the desired results in their now accelerated, year long, Blagoenemy Madigan Clan led impeachment attempt, it’s hard to see how that would invalidate the Burris appointment.  Would a conviction subsequent to the appointment legally nullify it?

Add the Al Franken coup attempt to the drama and you’ve got Oscar worthy high camp comedy.  Shouting “we won!” while trying to squeak Franken through the Burris-blocked Senate doors could prove to be a tad embarrassing.   I mean, how can you certify Franken, when he hasn’t even really won, and not certify the legally appointed Burris, without looking like a bunch of modern day racist bigots using token black people, like the president-elect and Illinois Secretary of State, to do your quota-maintaining bidding?

Ya can’t.

Advantage Blago/Burris/Rush.

And, once we get the answers to the “why did U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald step in and arrest Blagojevich to prevent a ‘crime-spree,’ when he could have caught at least two high-profile, guilty as hell people redhanded,” and “who are all these new ‘multiple witnesses‘ and what are they and the people on the ‘thousands of intercepted converations‘ saying that’s intersting enough to make Fitzy file a motion seeking an extension,” it might be game, set, match.

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