"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I've got you under my skin

This is really starting to bother me. Last night, Barack Obama felt compelled to go on Keith Olbermann's show, no doubt to catch his young and "progressive" demographic, to denounce and distance himself from some of the excerpts of some of the sermons made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in 30 years of preaching. It wasn't pretty:

Richard Fuller says Obama is giving us the "politics of dignity." Well, maybe. Certainly that would explain his popularity and his success so far. But there's very little dignity in running as fast as he can away from Scary Black Men: first it was Louis Farrakhan, now it's Jeremiah Wright. There's little doubt, of course, that Louis Farrakhan is the nation's No. 1 Scary Black Man, since we don't have Huey Newton or the Black Panthers or Malcolm X around to scare us anymore. And most people in America know as much about Malcolm X or Huey Newton or the Black Panthers, as they do about Louis Farrakhan: which is to say, nothing, except a few cherry-picked examples here and there. But we have to accept that. The national narrative is set on these people, and it won't soon change, and political campaigns are not revisionist history educational affairs.

On the other hand, we know very little about Jeremiah Wright, or Barack Obama, for that matter. So we have to piece his story together from bits and pieces, and those bits and pieces are not subject to our control. Some people, as Grandmere Mimi reported in a comment below, still look at Mr. Obama and think: "the 'N' word." I've had someone tell me Obama needs to change his name. (Much has been made of his middle name being "Muslim." I've wanted to ask if "Barack" isn't Jewish, since it's the name of Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel. You see how silly our politics gets). On the issue of the Rev. Wright's words, at first Obama attacked the press, accusing them (as they were, let's be honest), of "cherry-picking" quotes from Rev. Wright's sermons. When that didn't stem the feeding frenzy, he had to jump the snark, and jettison his pastor. All's fair in love and war, and politics is certainly war; but war is certainly unseemly, at best. And it leaves me wondering just how scared of being a Scary Black Man, or being associated with Scary Black Men, that Barack Obama is.

In the meantime, the economy is almost literally going down the toilet. Bear Stearns' near collapse (which may come anyway) sent the market tumbling once again, and it's hardly the first financial institution to face disaster in the "sub-prime mortgage crisis." The Fed keeps cutting interest rates, but no one is noticing any effect. Gold went past $1000 an ounce, a sure sign of panic, and oil touched $110 bbl this week. And the cost of groceries has gone up faster in the last 12 months than anytime in over a decade. Why isn't Obama going on "Countdown" to talk about that? Why isn't his exclusive on HuffPost about rising food prices, rising gas prices, the plummeting dollar, the flight into gold, the near collapse of major American financial institutions? I caught him at lunch time on CNN, giving a speech, and he talked about the health insurance crisis, the war in Iraq, the mortgage crisis; so he can talk about these things. Why doesn't he use some of his "politics of dignity" to do that, and to tell journalists like Olbermann (and I like Olbermann!) that if they question what Jeremiah Wright says, they should ask Jeremiah Wright about it? After all, is no one else noticing that John McCain and George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton don't even seem to have pastors? Is this the problem? Does Barack Obama appear to be too much like John F. Kennedy?

That's the best answer I have for this foolishness.


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