Obama, Embarrassed

A mostly political Weblog.
June 9 2008 9:13 PM

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(Continued from Page 62)

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. ... Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America;

OK! Then:

As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity;

Doesn't Obama mean Rev. Wright's comments were 'not only divisive but wrong,' rather than the other way around? Isn't it worse to be wrong than "divisive"? Is unity the overriding virtue for Obama?

The only other Souljah-esque passages I picked up were a half-sentence on welfare [E.A.]:

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened.

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Also, a crucial but non-specific allusion to the way black anger "keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition," and an anti-victim paragraph about

taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

All good, but Obama can be very pointed and specific when he wants to be (e.g. "purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap"). Here he keeps the anti-victim language at a muffled level of high generality. Obama doesn't talk about never-married mothers, for example, or non-marrying non-working fathers--all things Bill Clinton was able to mention. Obama talks about general "responsibility" and a failure to spend time reading. (Also note that it's not necessarily a violation of liberal orthodoxy to say that welfare policies worsened the black family problem--many liberals lamented that welfare checks went mainly to mothers, supplanting the role of fathers. The liberal solution, though, was to put the fathers on welfare too.)

Troublesome Equivalence II

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street .... [E.A.]