Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Bad Week Doesn't Begin to Describe It

Barack Obama had a bad week. Hillary’s wasn’t so great, but Obama’s was worse because of the Reverend Wright—someone he obviously cares deeply about on a spiritual and emotional level. Here’s the question. Should the candidates be responsible for what their supporters say? Both Senators have had to distance themselves from people who they thought would be helpful to the campaign—at least that was the case with Ferraro. But what was Barack thinking? Some people say that everyone knew about the Rev. Wright and his church. If everyone knew, I guess that included the Obamas—and they chose not only to remain members of the congregation but to have a very personal relationship with this man who, at least in sermons, hates the United States, White people and Jews. This makes a great many White people uncomfortable. (I can’t separate the Jews from the White people). This is a big problem during a general election.

I have been forced to ask myself, ‘what do I think?’ Mostly, I hate thinking, but not as much as I hate asking myself questions. However, in this case I think Obama needs to do more than say, “He’s like an old Uncle and I don’t always agree with him.” He needs to tell us what, beyond deplorable, he does think about the statements that were made. And I would suggest he do this by talking about his faith and love of this country. He needs to start defining the terms being used in the campaign and get back on his message of hope, faith and courage. Especially with women – Jewish or otherwise. Because for women it’s all about keeping their families safe—in our homes as well as in the world. Women want to be assured that Senator Obama will make the kind of changes that will make them safe through good health care, good schools, and a healthy economy. But they won’t participate in an issues discussion until they get beyond Reverend Wright and know he has a strong faith and loves the country.

It is getting impossible to read anything nice about Hillary or Barack. First of all... forget it. There’s no first of all. No one is looking for good news. It’s all about who said what to whom, whenever, wherever, whatever. The new term, and it may not be so new term, but in the last few weeks has become the ‘new’ way to talk about the Democratic campaigns, is to talk about ‘identity’ politics. Closest I can figure that means the exploration of one’s heritage, personality, leadership ability, and inner core, by discussing their color or gender. This discussion is, of course, specific to the Democratic candidates. McCain has no identity except the one that has recently attached him to George Bush. And while we’re on the subject of McCain—which maybe we were not, what about the McCain supporter Minister Haggee, who said (and this was the good stuff) Catholics were the anti-Christ. McCain did nothing to distance from him.

Back to ‘identity’ politics which I think used to be ‘constituency politics. I spent a long time trying to define the concept of identity and here’s what I found. One’s identity, according to Webster’s is: “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.” Whatever does that mean? It sounds like you need to take a philosophy course or maybe sign up for Weight Watchers in order to identify your identity. Can you create an identity? Sure, but I am always more interested in from whence these people come because it explains a great deal about who they are. For example, I was quite moved by yesterday’s N.Y. Times story about Obama’s mom. Without making excuses, I am trying to understand the identity of this person who wants to lead the nation.

Much like my connection with Michelle, both our dads had MS and both struggled to make a living so they could take care of their families, Stanley Ann (Barack’s mom) was also person with whom I connected. We were both people who followed our careers – maybe at the expense of our families, although neither of us felt that way at the time. We both wanted our children to remain with us but that didn’t happen. And although the distance geographically was not as far, I’m sure the emotional distance was equal or greater. There were differences, like Seth stayed with his dad, not his grandparents. He was a white Jewish kid with a white Jewish parent in a white Christian community—not too many discrimination battles to fight. It was painful to be without him but he had two parents. Of course there were also other differences. Stanley’s parents were supportive of her decision to marry a black man and in her absence they raised her bi-racial child. (a point not to forget we talk ‘identity’). My mother would have put her head in the oven and turned on the gas. Or probably she would have put my head in the oven and turned on the gas. I don’t think any of us who have not been children in this situation can understand what it must have been like for Obama. However, losing a parent, regardless of reason must have an impact on a child—especially a boy when he loses an ongoing relationship with his dad. We’re just sayin.... Iris


Anonymous said...

Bear Stearns

No one is talking about the crazy uncle.

Bear Stearns IS the news.

When the government starts bailing out the rich, welcome to the 1930s all over again.

W who ain't rich

Unknown said...

Iris, your thoughts about the campaign are terrific. Almost always, as usual, I agree with you. Few people think things through as thoroughly as you do. As far as Rev. Wright goes, I'm appalled by some of the things he said. I have heard Obama reject those things but I agree he is going to have to be even stronger about it. I also loved the story about Obama's mother, and I don't understand why he doesn't talk more about her accomplishments. I console myself, as a strong Obama supporter, that he may as well face things like Rev. Wright now because things will get even worse as the nomination fight becomes fiercer. And then there is the "real" fight after the conventions. Dusty Nix, editor of the local paper's editorial page, wrote the comment below that causes all us liberal Democrats to lose sleep:
"The near certainty that after two terms of a historically catastrophic Republican presidency the Democrats will still find a way to lose is almost awe-inspiring in its sheer political ineptitude."

bd said...

What's amazing is why the hell anyone would want to subject themselves to the abuse of at least half the population by running for president...or any other public office, for that matter.

G. Withers

p.s: Well written, Iris

florida said...

Well Obama must have read your blog. His Tuesday noontime speech was very moving and said what politicians rarely speak the truth about the racism that still exists, black, white, jew, christian,fat, thin, on and on. I hope we are all listening.

Anonymous said...

How about that Obama?
Confronting the reverend's remarks with the truth??
We all need to 'fess up to these underlying resentments & prejudices if we are to be united.
And then the perpetrating profiteers may have no where to run.