Archive for November, 2008
What is the war on terror?
What defines it and at what point might we be able to declare “victory?”
One could suggest these questions might have been more relevant six or seven years ago when this debacle began after 9/11, but as we are still in a two-front war, still being affected globally by terrorism (See: Mumbai) and still hobbled under George W. Bush’s all-encompassing declaration of war on enemies both seen (mostly unseen), it’s still relevant today.
Frankly, I still don’t know what the war on terror means. I understand it’s an active roundup of people who seek to do harm on an international scale to innocents (For the record, the “Allied” forces have killed an estimated 90,000-97,000 civilian Iraqis since 2003.) and to catch those regimes who seek to intimidate and bully governments with which they don’t agree, but terrorism has existed since the Earth cooled (Possibly, but only possibly, is this an overstatement).
A few of many examples include:
- The Crusades
- The slaughter/scattering of the Native Americans
- John Brown, the Sons of Liberty, the Ku Klux Klan, the Irish Republican Army and numerous examples from the Cold War
Thus, terrorism is not a new thing. It wasn’t created on 9/11. And most importantly, it’s not a thing we can wrap our minds, our hands or our guns around. It’s a ubiquitous thing. Like the war on drugs, it’s so ubiquitous that we can’t even imagine it’s eventual victory. Acts of terror have pervaded for centuries. The fact that we are just now in the 21st century declaring a “war” on it precludes nothing from its history.
What does “victory” look like? What would that mean?
One supposes that it means eradicating those in the world who seek to do us (Us, meaning not only Americans, but innocents around the world) harm. But how does one carry this out to its end? To declare war presupposes that said war predicates an enemy and the possibility of victory over that enemy.
But we don’t have a clearly defined enemy. We have a group of erratic, ever-shifting, ever-evolving group of networks. They have no defined “nation” and no defined “allegiance.” Unless that allegiance is said to be to Allah. And if that’s the case, we are waging a war, ultimately, against a mythical god. One can see, then, how the war on terror, taken to its extreme, can appear wholly absurd, and not only ubiquitous, but otherworldly. For, if the god supposedly served by radical Islamic terrorists orders its subjects to kill infidels (or to kill anyone) in its holy text is not worthy to be served, praised or even acknowledged.
Moreover, the War on Terror is like a giant, never-ending escape clause, excusing us from the guilt of all kinds of atrocities that otherwise would not be put up with. When will this mythical war end? What defines its victory? What does victory even mean? It’s not a war against Iraq or a war against Afghanistan. It’s a war against an ideal, an intangible. At this point, we can not predict its end. And if we somehow knew what victory would mean, we shudder at its far-reaching, centuries-long consequences.
Not much more than a rant today, but I reference this story out of Long Island, N.Y., where a Wal-Mart employee, 34, was trampled to death by a throng of shoppers as the store opened. Just as some of those same shoppers had stuffed their bags and were halfway through their sausage and egg croissant breakfast, Jdimytai Damour of Queens was pronounced dead at 6 a.m.
First, how deluded do people have to be to not look and say something like, “Oh wait! There’s a person down here!” How does one continue walking, feel a hump under their foot, feel the incline created by a depressed cheek, nose, chest or stomach and keep going? Wal-Mart floors are pretty smooth and they certainly haven’t invented speed bumps for shoppers yet. Perhaps they should.
This episode says much about how crazed we have become about holiday shopping. Is it, perhaps, time to take a step back and begin to pare back how much we buy for people who have never wanted for anything their entire lives? People are starving everywhere. Not just in Africa. Just down the block, people are without adequate clothing. I’m, perhaps, too idealistic for my own good, but this Christmas fever is appalling. Christmas fever that results in miscarriages (Yes, there was a miscarriage in this episode as well), injuries and deaths is unconscionable. If just for one year, we took the billions spent in needless merchandise and put it toward taking care of the sick, feeding the hungry and clothing the destitute, the world would be radically changed for the better. But true willingness to make this become a reality, even in what some call a Christian nation, escapes us. People simply are not willing to give up their dust-collecting treasurers to help make this a better place to live in, at least not in America. They’ll give up some, sure. A donation here or there. But that’s about the extent of it for most of us. And I’m certainly in included. I’ve got a my fair share of stuff I don’t need. I simply speak of the ideal, not reality, but I would hope might be reality at some point in the future.
Returning to Damour, I wonder if next year, will the 100s of shoppers involved in this man’s death, at least who knew what they had done after the fact, will look at the Christmas season any differently. I would hope so, but time heals most things, especially bad memories, so in that regard, I’m not hopeful.
The ironies of the modern Democratic and Republican parties are stark. One hundred fifty years ago, the Republican Party was a trailblazer in social and moral reform. It alone helped tumble slavery, while the Democratically-controlled South resisted, seceded and eventually surrendered a Civil War that a few in the South, paradoxically today calling themselves Republicans or Libertarians, are still waging. At one time, the Republican Party was the progressive party, while the Democrats floundered in an intrisincally flawed and morally decrepit economic system.
Something changed around the 1920s and 1930s, as the Democratic Party began garnering support under Frederick D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a series of programs geared to refuel the ailing numerous elements of the economy and American life, fresh off the heels of The Great Depression.
Throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government, look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth… I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms. — “A New Deal,” Stuart Chase
Then Republicans began equating New Deal policies as synonymous, or at least, similar to socialist ideals, thus, in part, creating the tension that laid the foundation for what we consider our modern Democratic and Republican parties. Democrats, then, made great gains in the Civil Rights movement of the mid-1960s, while many Republican’s hail the Reagon years as the epicenter of all that is conservative and fiscal.
So, in light of Barack Obama’s recent nomination to the presidency, where did the Republican Party slip a disk? It was not merely in the George W. Bush administration’s failings in Iraq and New Orleans or the economy. Those were certainly fire-starters, but the problem begins elsewhere. I would argue that it begins with the folks who are seemingly still waging the Civil War, allbeit in less explicit ways, 150 years after the fact. It begins with a party seemingly stuck in the past.
On the surface and most immediately, the party lost the election for any number of reasons: the novelty of a candidate like Barack Obama; the downward-spiraling economy, which sped quickly on Bush’s watch; equations, real or imagined, made between Bush and John McCain; Sarah Palin … the list is long.
The general failing that has been accumulating over the years begins with the party’s seeming inability (or unwillingness) to move on, to modernize itself in our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religion society. It certainly doesn’t revolve simply around Iraq or the economy. The world of the 1940s and 1950s, perhaps the heyday of what some would consider to be the “good ol’ days” in America, is no better or worse than today with regard to moral uprightness. Mass murderers still killed en masse, genocidal dictators still touted their claims of positive ethnic cleansing and racists still supported the axioms of Jim Crow and the segregated South. All these elements go in cycles, and just because we aren’t witnessing modern versions of The Crusades of the Holocaust, doesn’t mean tragedies far worse than genocides in Darfur and famines in Africa, won’t crop up again at some point in our history.
Many Republicans, at least those not yet attempting to anaylse where the disk skipped, are still locked in a time, real or imagined, where America was more morally upright and more partitioned into separate ideologies, social classes and races. The world appeared more black and white then (no pun intended). But, for good or bad, this no longer represents America today. The inability to recognize this has led to the coinage “the stupid party.” I include this not to trivialize the matter or make jokes because it’s not funny in the least. Quite literally, the Democrats picked up the most votes of those with college educations, post-graduate degrees and the like.
The Economist on Nov. 13 put it this way:
The Republican Party’s divorce from the intelligentsia has been a while in the making. The born-again Mr Bush preferred listening to his “heart” rather than his “head”. He also filled the government with incompetent toadies like Michael “heck-of-a-job” Brown, who bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina. Mr McCain, once the chattering classes’favourite Republican, refused to grapple with the intricacies of the financial meltdown, preferring instead to look for cartoonish villains. And in a desperate attempt to serve boob bait to Bubba, he appointed Sarah Palin to his ticket, a woman who took five years to get a degree in journalism, and who was apparently unaware of some of the most rudimentary facts about international politics.
Republicanism’s anti-intellectual turn is devastating for its future. The party’s electoral success from 1980 onwards was driven by its ability to link brains with brawn. The conservative intelligentsia not only helped to craft a message that resonated with working-class Democrats, a message that emphasised entrepreneurialism, law and order, and American pride. It also provided the party with a sweeping policy agenda. The party’s loss of brains leaves it rudderless, without a compelling agenda. — The Economist, Nov. 13, 2008
And further down, we read that the party is
… trapped in an ideological cocoon, defined by its outer fringes, ruled by dynasties and incapable of adjusting to a changed world. The movement has little to say about today’s pressing problems, such as global warming and the debacle in Iraq, and expends too much of its energy on xenophobia, homophobia and opposing stem-cell research.
The article concludes by mentioning a book titled, “Ideas have Consequences” by Richard Weaver. The party’s lack of fresh, salient ideas about how to handle our most pressing issues and the unwillingness to step into the 21st century — and even more, a seeming inability to recognize that need — has gotten the party to its current predicament. Ideas have certain consequences, but a lack of ideas, perhaps, breed even more dire results.
Interestingly, Crime State Rankings 2008 has shown that two Southern states, one of them my own, is in the top five most saturated by crime. Nevada tops the list, while New Hampshire is the least dangerous. Some seem to claim that the trend here is that states more populated by blacks or Hispanics appear to rank higher on the list, while more widely white-populated states rank lower. I disagree on this point (and will soon in an upcoming post), based on the nature of this study, and the nature of the havoc whiteness, as defined by its innate superiority, has wreaked on this world, both past and present. But for now, here are the top five rankings, which are calculated based on six areas of crime. A post addressing the disparity between the severity of crimes committed by white folks and crimes committed by black folks will be forthcoming.
Motor Vehicle Theft: 1
Motor Vehicle Theft: 19
3. New Mexico
Murder: 10 (tie)
Motor Vehicle Theft: 8
4. South Carolina
Murder: 4 (tie)
Motor Vehicle Theft: 15
Motor Vehicle Theft: 2
Rock bands, like people, should be remembered for who they were in their prime, not for who they became in the moment when they realized their star was fading fast on that cyclic train to eternity.
Listening to NPR today while working at the office, I heard, perhaps, the most interesting quote coming out of the automaker bailout hearing, which took place Wednesday on Capitol Hill. I didn’t have time to make a note of it or search for it at the moment, but after work, after searching the Internet for a good 30 minutes, I finally had the bright idea that, “Hey, I work for a newspaper, I can check the AP wire.” So, here it is with comments following:
During the House hearing Wednesday, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., asked the three auto chiefs seated at the witness table before him to raise their hands if they had come to Washington on commercial airliners. No hands went up. Then he asked if any planned to sell their corporate jets. Again, no hands went up.
Sherman and Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., told the auto executives they were having a hard time justifying to their constituents bailing out companies whose chiefs fly around in expensive private jets.
Ackerman said there was “a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off them with tin cups in their hands. … It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo.”
A Senate vote on an automotive bailout plan, which would also extend jobless benefits, could come as early as Thursday, but it clearly lacks the necessary support to advance. — The Associated Press (Link to full article)
Thus, Sherman was essentially making the point that it was sort of hard to convince his constituents (and I would argue, the general American public) that bailing out companies whose owners say they want to save their companies (probably for their own vested interests and their expensive cars and jets), but don’t seem to care enough to make personal sacrifices to save money (Flying commercial: Oh, the tragedy!). Ackerman’s observation, “It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo,” was spot on. And I add this: Is Toyota, Nissan, Honda or BMW in dire straits? No.
Let’s compare American automakers with European ones, noting first, that most auto companies have taken a downward spiral during the last year because of the shakiness in the global economy. But American automakers are in far worse shape.
Closing shares for Wednesday, Nov. 19:
Toyota, 59.76; Honda, 19.89; Nissan, 6.78 vs. …
Ford, 1.26; GM, 2.79.
Why is this the case now? It’s probably multi-fold, with part of the reason consisting of the general economic climate right now and the other being that American automakers for years have made inferior products. There’s no bones about it, and perhaps now, it’s coming to a head. That’s not a knock on Ford and the like — I certainly want to see American products flourish — but it’s just the truth, and it’s no secret.
Consider this from former presidential nominee Republican Mitt Romney in a guest column to The New York Times:
First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.
That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.
Add to that economic mismanagement and the poor leadership and you have what we saw today. You have automaker execs flying in on private jets asking for donations from the feds, which, in itself, is ironic and a prime example of why they should be allowed to suffer their own fate. It’s really unfortunate for the thousands in the Detroit area dependant on this bunch for their livelihood. My suggestion: go South: apparently it’s set to become the new Detroit. Many have already.
Quite a bit of talk has sprung up recently about the Fairness Doctrine. Some Democrats, like Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have worked quite extensively (Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is another supporter) to have the legislation reinstated, while many Republicans, suggest the doctrine is specifically targeted toward silencing, or at least, dulling influence from conservative-dominated talk radio.
The Fairness Doctrine, which seeks to mandate that broadcasters give opposing viewpoints to an issue (or have both conservative and liberal viewpoints represented by separate programs, etc etc), dates back to the mid-20th century when it was introduced and put into law and then added to the Federal Communications Commission regulations. In 1987, Congress tried to turn the regulations into law, and Reagan handed down a veto. It hasn’t been enforced by the FCC since. Now since Barack Obama was elected, word is that the Democrats will attempt to reinact such legislation.
In a December 2004 interview with Slaughter, Bill Moyers asked,
Is somebody going to say, “Is this just a question of a Democrat who feels she’s not getting her message out and she’s mad?”
SLAUGHTER: No. It isn’t. I mean I get reelected, I’ve done extremely well in my district because people appreciate that I fight for things. I think all Americans would feel the same way I do exactly if we just had the ability to tell them. Reinstating the fairness doctrine would make a major difference in this country.
Near the beginning of the interview, Slaughter said,
I was so committed to it (the doctrine) and I kept doing bills. Because the airwaves belong to the people. I think we’ve good and sufficient examples now of what has happened to us with media consolidation — the fact that the information coming to us is controlled, the fact that at least half the people in the United States have no voice because they’re not allowed in on talk radio.
Actually, the airwaves belong to whoever owns them. Perhaps in some metaphorical sense, airwaves are part of the public domain, but radio stations are not. They are privately owned and those owners can do with them as they like. It just so happens now that, apparently, conservative-minded individuals have a hold on talk radio at the moment.
One question Democrats will have to answer is the one Moyer raised: Aren’t Dems just trying to get some more elbow room in the media, particularly in radio? And this is a valid question. One can’t convince us that Dems have some unbending, irrevocable hunger for fairness that transcends party lines. That just isn’t believable because some who claim to be journalists don’t even possess that, which is unfortunate. But that’s for another article.
Obligating broadcasters, newspapers or cable news to use their mediums to present separate viewpoints sounds irresponsible to me and is tugging pretty hard, if not trampling, on the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Part of me says, “Yeah! Let’s make our media more balanced!” while another part can’t support anything, be it censorship, governmental stifling of thought or governmental addition of thought, that infringes on the press. I agree wholeheartedly that some in the press today (FOX News, most talk radio) have all but reverted back to the 19th century brand of journalism, when newspapers were nothing more than sounding boards to political parties. Others aren’t so brazen, however, offering liberal-only and conservative-only talk shows on their channels (Keith Olbermann, D.L. Hughley, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, to name a few) as seasoning to their 24/7 line up of what we are to believe is balanced coverage.
Be that as it may, even though some “journalists” and broadcasters have trampled on journalism itself, that doesn’t give the government the right to trample on it as well, in order to squash the tramplers at their own game. This goes back to a larger picture, which I’ve written about before, that one of the flaws in this country, from giant financial institutions (Wachovia, Merrill Lynch) to computer corporations (Microsoft), companies are allowed to grow and grow seemingly without checks. They thus expand to the point that their very non-existence could crumble our economic infrastructure. Thus it is with the media corporations, like Rupert Murdoch’s universe of FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, etc, etc. Give one person huge assets and a set of political ideologies, and in which direction will he attempt to take those assets? Of course, wherever his ideologies take him.
It is ironic that our oldest modern medium, radio, is today dominated by a party stuck in the past and grappling with how to modernize itself. While this seems wholly appropriate at this point, it’s not the job of the government to modernize talk radio, for that would be constitutional infringement. Nor is it the job of radio, TV or any other media to be the one and only source for people’s information. As Moyers said in his interview with Slaughter, residents have enumerable sources from which to get data. The informed person will seek out those enumerable sources, not being satisfied with just watching Hannity’s America or Keith Olbermann or listening to Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham. Those programs success speaks to the fact that Americans, at this point, aren’t willing or are too lazy or to stuck in their own entrenched ideologies to do that, and we have a long way to go in that regard.
So, how do we raise a new consciousness of self-learning, to teach people to seek out multiple viewpoints and multiple ways of looking at complex issues? Part of that obligation falls to the press. While some calling themselves part of the “press” fail miserably, others — I would start with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times — do a fine job of painting an accurate and fair picture of the American landscape. Most of that obligation is with teachers, professors and parents (and more so to the latter). This is where it must begin.
John McCain apparently climbed out of the woodworks Tuesday to conduct an interview with Jay Leno for the “Tonight Show,” meanwhile, Sarah Palin has, after her running mate’s defeat, been all over the place. For instance, her recent interview with Matt Lauer, where she chatted with him (with hubby present at times in their Alaska home) about the race’s negative turn down the home stretch, the decisive Obama win and the supposed tensions between Palin and folks within the McCain camp.
A few highlights:
Lauer: When you did know it wouldn’t go well for you?
Palin: I — you know, I didn’t know until the — the…
Lauer: Right up through election night?
Palin: Absolutely. I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them was, perhaps, a bold step that would have to be taken in casting a vote for us, but having to put a lot of faith in that commitment we tried to articulate, that we were the true change that would progress this nation. So again, the margin was pretty surprising to me.
She apparently had great faith in the Bradley Effect: “I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them …” (she could have easily said:) that they were about to vote for a black man (half black) and that person’s whiteness would not allow that to happen. Thus, white people’s whiteness would, in secrecy, with only God watching, choose the familiar over, what some would call, a risky black vote. But with a 52.6 percent win in the Electoral College and a nearly 10 million vote advantage in the popular vote, we must conclude that would have been faulty reasoning, for the white And black vote were heard that day. Here is Palin’s full response:
I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them was, perhaps, a bold step that would have to be taken in casting a vote for us, but having to put a lot of faith in that commitment we tried to articulate, that we were the true change that would progress this nation. So again, the margin was pretty surprising to me.
I can’t make sense of it either, and my version seems more comprehensible. Regardless …
Lauer: There is this feeling — and some of this comes from leaks and other just perception, people getting a gut — that there was increasing tension between you and Senator McCain in the final stretch of this campaign. Tell me what the relationship was like.
S. PALIN: We have a great relationship. Had from day one. Had the first time that I met him last year, he and his wife. I just have been great admirers of them, of their family, of all that Senator McCain has accomplished. Never once was there any inkling of tension between the two of us. Perhaps within the campaign there were campaign staffers who…
Lauer: Well, describe that for me. Who was butting heads?
S. PALIN: You know, I don’t even know. That inside baseball stuff regarding the way a campaign works on that level — I certainly didn’t get bogged down in any of the potential skirmishes or perceived problems.
When asked if she was disappointed that she wasn’t able (by staffers) to give the speech she wanted, she said,
A little bit because again — not — not for me personally to get to be up there on the stage and give one last speech, but to be able to say, “This is an American hero. Let us be thankful for what he just offered our nation. Now, let’s all work together to support the new president.
On this point, I believe her, and I believe her because she not only gives accolades to the loser, the “American hero,” McCain, but to their opponent. And I also believe that her and McCain have nearly always been quite candid and close with one another, and it was likely McCain’s campaign officials, not the man himself, who saw the damage Palin was doing (i.e. disasters interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, to name a couple).
Lauer then brings up the wardrobe issue, and I don’t care. Next line of questioning.
Lauer appears at Palin’s home in Alaska and says,
While we were there, we had a chance to talk to Governor Palin about the highs and lows of the campaign and what the future holds for her.
Meanwhile, it is now 7:30 on a Tuesday morning, the 11th day of November 2008. I’m Matt Lauer reporting live from Anchorage, Alaska. Meredith is back in Studio 1A in New York City.
And, Meredith, do you think the producers would let me get away with calling this my ends of the earth trip?
VIEIRA: I don’t think so. Nice try, Matt. But, uh-uh. I don’t think so. You’re coming back and then going out again.
But I’m actually looking forward to dinner with the Palins.
What was your biggest surprise when you met the family?
Lauer: You know what, this is a very down-to-earth family. You know, over the last couple of months we got used to watching Sarah Palin on the road with the Secret Service around here and state troopers everywhere. None of the trappings of the campaign remain. She is someone who drives the 45 miles between Wasilla and Anchorage every day herself — no driver. And when she’s home, she is a working mom, cooking dinner, as I mentioned, for her family and for visitors. And so I think that it’s just that how down to earth she appears to be is what really surprised me most.
Here, with the “I’m actually looking forward to dinner with the Palins” Lauer inserts himself into his own story as one of its characters, which is precisely the opposite of what a journalist should do. I’m not suggesting Lauer was a journalist in the first place, just that he wears that badge.
VIEIRA: And her kids — those kids are so cute. Looking forward to it, Matt.
Here, Viera finds her way into the plot.
Lauer then begins talking about, perhaps, Palins’s shining moment, that of her speech before the Republican National Convention.
And, you know, I knew that it was an opportunity to be there representing the middle class, hard-working American families facing challenges that certainly my family faces.
The middle class! The Middle Class? Palin, Todd and the gang may be middle class in thought and expression (They appear to be down home enough) but appearance can be deceiving. Their combined salary would by far not qualify for Barack Obama’s proposed tax breaks for those making under $250,000. Not only do they not represent suburban America, they certainly don’t represent those who can’t even afford to live in suburbia.
Then, Lauer turned to asking Palin about personal attacks on her family, of which, I care nothing about that sensationalist stuff either. Next, talk segued to the economy.
S. PALIN: Well, I think the economic collapse had a heck of a lot more to do with a collapsed campaign effort than me, personally.
Palin, in my view, was the only element that gave McCain’s campaign life. Without her, his campaign was limping, if not six feet under. And that essence was this: her vibrance (Read: relative youthfulness), oratory ability and her appeal to the everyday person, whether deserved or not. But, what led to McCain’s loss were, in part, these factors, in this order:
- Obama’s eloquence, gift of oratory, gift to inspire, youthfulness, and most importantly, his message of change in the wake of a disastrous eight years;
- Palin’s lackluster performances at debates and wholly defunct interviews with Gibson and Couric; and
- McCain’s oldness (both physical and metaphorical) and his perceived (whether real or not) connection with the policies of George Bush.
And thinking about post-Election Day, why has McCain done less interviews, while Palin is seemingly everywhere? Again, her youthfulness, her beauty (Yes, this is a totally valid reason … We, as a people, naturally gravitate toward that which is pleasant and beautiful) and her apparent possibility in many people’s minds of being a potential presidential candidate the next go around. For McCain: Who knows whether he will be here in four years, much less as a presidential candidate (and to listen to his concession speech is to conclude that he has asked that question as well). For Palin, the door is wide open. Write any nonsensical blog and include the word “Palin” as a keyword and one will get hits because people identify with that very word. And that of itself, frightens me a bit. Frankly, the thought of her leading this great nation (in McCain’s absence) is one reason of many why my vote slid elsewhere. And here, we return to the interviews she has conducted. While Palin has said she can’t even think that far ahead (to the presidency in 2012), I can. Mark my words, this won’t be the last we hear of the governor from Alaska.
Referencing a WordPress blog post that I found today, here are three of the better political cartoons about Obama’s election posted on that site, or at least the better ones in my opinion.
Obviously, this cartoon is based on this famous image. Note: McCain floating on a George W. Bush inner tube, the black woman (replaced by a white woman from the original painting) and an erudite-looking white man rowing, the Capitol, the melted icebergs, Sarah Palin nearly out of the picture and Obama looking regal and dressed as a revolutionary. Appropriately, the river crossing and subsequent battles culminated in a new day of freedom for America.
This was the more subtle of the Martin Luther King Jr.-based cartoons from the post. Here, we see MLK’s famous Dream materialize. True, Obama is only half white, but he is also half black and carries within him a burden that has been carried by oppressed people for decades and centuries, as evidenced by his numerous references to King himself. Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia, if it had been framed in the context of the racial strife, in a different era, in the context of segregation and a not-so-patient hope for a better today, would have went down as, arguably, the landmark speech in American history. It will still critically important and will be, and should be, studied in its strength in structure and rhetoric.
Not since Abraham Lincoln has a American president (or president-elect) meant so much for the centuries-long battle for equal rights in this country. It’s unfortunate that it was only after the Black Codes, lynchings, segregation, the back of the bus and other atrocities that we can finally move forward in a real, tangible way. Sure, we have slowly moved forward as a nation and would have continued, with or without Obama. The Civil Rights movement spurred it on, time and the eventual shift in social conscious did the rest. But here, as Obama makes the leap of which many black folks have only dreamed, Lincoln, not the current president, passes the torch.
What is the nature of the myth? He hasn’t even taken office, and folks apparently think he can raise towers, raze others and raise people from the dead.
The truth is easily-swayed people will hop on the bandwagon of anyone who stirs their hearts. And I will be the first to admit, Barack Obama (even now, as I listen to R.E.M. perform a rendition of “I Believe”) has stirred my heart. But I am cognizant of the momentous task ahead of us. Fixing Iraq, extricating terrorists from Afghanistan, calming fears at home and repairing a tattered economic system that has necessitated a gigantic government bailout are on the minds of many. Getting elected and inspiring millions will not be enough.
Believe me, I recognize the fervor for this man and understand it, but in my view, even Obama himself would argue that someone should not support him purely on ideals, but on his hard-fast solutions to the problems that confound us.
In 2009, we will need real, hard-fast solutions to those issues, and the solutions’ success will be paramount to our next president’s success or failure in the annals of history. And of the fervor now? It is a moment in our history that should not be forgotten, for the election and inauguration of a black man (half black) to the highest office in the land is momentous. But the onus is on him to perform, meanwhile, the world watches.