Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama's Hope, Limbaugh's Despair

The loud and not very illuminating arguments about Sen. Obama and former pastor Jeremiah Wright ignores an idea or two worth considering, as put forth by Steve Chapman at Reason - that however bleakly Wright sees America, Sen. Obama sees something much brighter and Wright supports him, not the other way around.

Chapman writes:

Wright apparently sees this nation as defective and divided beyond repair. Obama thinks the defects are only a part of the story, and that a unity transcending ancient racial distrusts is achievable.

What has fueled his candidacy is neither black anger nor white guilt, but a desire by people of different complexions to minimize the role of race in our society. In his book,
A Bound Man, Hoover Institution scholar Shelby Steele writes that Obama is "a living rebuke to both racism and racialism, to both segregation and identity politics... [H]e also embodies a great and noble human aspiration: to smother racial power in a democracy of individuals."

If the pastor truly believed his more vitriolic comments, he would have no choice but to treat Obama as a fool for aspiring to the presidency. Instead, Wright has been forced to entertain the notion that white people would choose a black male for the most powerful office on Earth.

When Ronald Reagan ran for governor of California in 1966, liberals attacked him for getting support from members of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, which regarded Dwight Eisenhower as a Communist agent. Reagan responded, "If anyone chooses to vote for me, they are buying my views. I am not buying theirs."

A pertinent question is whether the attention given Wright will impact the Obama campaign. My gut tells me if a person were seriously opposed or seriously supportive to Obama, the pastor's views will changed nothing. However, the Senator's speech did, I think, provide more proof that his approach to government is far more hopeful than despairing.

For true despair, one need only witness the hearty despair voiced by Conservative Entertainer Rush Limbaugh in his "Operation Chaos" promotion. His goal - to create chaos in the Democrat nominating process by urging Republicans to register as Democrats and cast votes for Hillary Clinton in order to bolster her bid for the nomination.

His tactic is a good example of the "dirty tricks" of the Nixonian era (though the tricks are a part of the modern political era too). He seeks to avoid confronting issues and candidates with a debate of merit. As buffoonish clown, he ridicules without purpose, revealing a despair that his views (and those of his fervent followers) have no relevance in the current political world. Jeering at everyone from the sidelines where GOP nominee John McCain has banished him, he offers caps and shirts and other items for sale to equally despairing fringe-dwellers, hoping to line his pockets and keep some media attention as his commentary holds less and less credibility.

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