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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
On Roosting Chickens...

There are a lot of people who think Obama gave a courageous and balanced speech on race. I think that is true to a certain extent, but only in so far as this was a speech about race, isolated from the politics of the moment. Obama supporters would be on much stronger ground had he given this speech on its own and disavowed his former pastor's reckless words without prompting. The problem, of course, is that wasn't the context in which he gave this speech.

The context of the speech is that Obama had spent a year minimizing his pastor's comments as "not particularly controversial" and denying that he had ever heard him say anything of this nature. Turns out, that wasn't the case. Now, rather than owning up to his mistakes, and saying he screwed up and should have said something, Obama has chosen instead to give everyone a lecture about how they should approach racial issues (surprisingly enough, the real solution to our racial problems is government run health care and electing Obama president).

The problem is, America really isn't all that interested in this dialogue on race. In fact, neither was Obama until it suited his political needs. Just a few weeks ago, his campaign workers led supporters in chants of "race doesn't matter" after the South Carolina victory. For Obama, man of courage, this speech wasn't about helping America's race problem, it was about solving Obama's race problem.

It is just not really all that courageous to disavow comments after the political firestorm. That's not real courage. Courage would have required Obama to disavow these comments when it wasn't a political necessity. This speech coming now is an ass saving endeavor, not a principled articulation of core principles.

Sadly, he even failed at that. His speech essentially says, hey, Rev. Wright said horrible things, but so did Geraldine Ferraro and my grandmother and the talk radio hosts. He even goes so far as to criticize those who were too quick to attack Geraldine Ferraro when it was his campaign doing the attacking less than a week ago! That's not taking responsibility for Wright, it's just a fancy way of excusing him. Sure he's angry - but so many of us are angry, and hey, you may not understand his situation, so please put this in its proper context.

Is there a proper context to spread the lie that white political leaders created the AIDS virus to kill black people? Is there a proper context to understand his church's decision to give an award to Farrakhan? Is there a proper context that would enable me to trust leadership of my nation to someone who would expose their children to that sort of hatred and lies just because it would get him some votes?

Many white Americans are just not going to play the racial guilt game. Seriously, how many people do you think started to listen to the speech and then heard Obama start his speech discussing the very timely issue of slavery and concluded, "Ok, I see where this is going... what's on cinemax?" That may not be fair, but that's reality.

The issue yesterday and, still today, is not about race in America. The issue is, who is Obama? Today, Obama says that those remarks were reprehensible and wrong. Yet he sat through those and similar remarks for 20 years and said nothing. Obama asks us to believe his words, even though he has never backed up these particular words with even a hint of action.

I wasn't ever going to vote for Obama, but I actually liked the guy. I had hopes that if Republicans lost the election, perhaps he was a decent guy who could heal some racial wounds, despite his politics. Now, I see the guy as the worst sort of political phony -- willing to use race relations, his grandmother, whatever is handy, to save his politically hide.

Why Didn't Obama Dump Wright Sooner?

The question keeps coming back to me -- why would Obama be this stupid? If he's just a calculating politician, why wouldn't he have distanced himself from Wright much earlier?

The reason, I think is that Obama was not originally running this race to win. Everyone believed Hillary! was the lock. Obama viewed this race as a freebie: he had the freedom to run the race, get some national exposure and establish himself as the political voice of black America. When he lost, everyone would say what a great job he did, and nobody expected him to win anyway, so his reputation could only be enhanced. He'd have a huge fundraising base to work off of in future runs, he's have national name recognition, and he's sell some books in the meantime. If he had cut ties with Wright before the campaign, he would undermine his credibility with black ministers and black activist groups -- and building credibility with these groups was exactly the point of the entire exercise. Obama viewed this as an opportunity to supplant the old black leaders like Sharpton and Jackson.

As we now know, things progressed much quicker than Obama ever imagined. Once things started progressing, Obama knew this moment was coming but feared that it would come at a moment that would doom his campaign. When would this have been better, before Iowa? South Carolina? At some point, Obama figured he had to just ride it out and, perhaps, distance himself just after he secured enough delegates.

Was the guy serious about running for president? I don't think he was. He had the endorsement of the New Black Panthers party on his campaign web site. Seriously, the "New Black Panthers." The "Old" Black Panthers were a militaristic gang of radicals, drug dealers and cop-killers. Can you imagine a serious presidential candidate putting the "New American Nazi Party" on their web site? That doesn't make sense for a serious candidate.

It may be that he believed Wright when he said that a black man could never be elected president. Ironically, racism may yet destroy the first serious black presidential candidate -- but it is the racism of Rev. Wright and militant black nationalism.

If that happens, some people may even suggest that's a good example of "the chickens coming home to roost".

so let me get this straight.
barak h. obama is not a secret muslim sent to overthrow the U.S government from the inside but instead a radical black militant sent to overthrow the U.S. government from the inside.
hilarious. Never mind the actual facts. you guys really are too much.
but then again you've elected a president that has us fighting two wars, brought about the worst economic times in more than three generations, lost an american city, and has put the cost of all of it to our children. The best part was him tap dancing in front of cameras a week ago.
heckava job guys.
in the immortal words of yoda
the race wars begun they have
Worst economic times in more than three generations? You can't be serious? Your time frame conveniently leaves out the horrible yet grand economic experimental era of the 1970's (fond youthful memories of double digit inflation and unemployment numbers, gas lines, grain embargoes, price controls, terrific despair and lack of pride in our country). Having graduated from college in the late 1980's I can tell you that the economy in the early 1990's was far far worse than now - Bush 41, the Democratic Congress, and then Clinton, contributed greatly. It was only when Clinton lost Congress and finally pushed aside his wife and her socialist friends in his Cabinet, the high tech boom kicked in (dangerously fueled by speculation), and TAX CUTS pushed by Republicans, that we came out of a horrible recession.
I hate Bush's spending, and blame Congress for weak banking laws, but I haven't picked up a paper in ten years that has said anything above the fold about high unemployment rates, or double digit inflation. The foreclosure problem is only a problem for those who sold lousy mortgages and for those that foolishly took them and became overextended (mainly double income white couples social climbing to upper class neighborhoods). Energy is a HUGE problem, but because its been ignored for decades. High energy prices, a weak dollar, and speculation are all feeding off of each other and have been throughout the Bush term, but the economy has been strong and grew despite these problems. The Bush tax cuts have been great for America - unemployment and inflation have been very low, more people own homes in America today than ever before (biggest contributing sector - working class, lower middle class families), there have been more small businesses created (providing maco flexibility) and college graduates have been able to find good jobs right out of school (not the case in the late 80's and early 90's). That being said, the world economy is vastly different and developing economies are having a far greater impact on supply and demand than ever before. America needs to come to terms with that and yes, better prepare than we have been for potential global scarcity issues with food and energy. The recent energy bills passed by Congress ('05 and '07) are horrible and the Farm Bill debate is less than encouraging - neither give me great confidence that we are positioning ourselves properly for the future global economy. And please don't quote Yoda again - it reflects poorly on smart people and Skip and maybe TJ are the only ones that appreciate and get excited (too excited) over geeky Star Wars and science fiction references.
you really are not serious are you? do you have access to the internet? I think a someone named greenspan might disagree with your economic assessment. btw obama wrote the speech himself. the only president I can imagine writing a good speech is maybe reagan. maybe. tj should factcheck before posting obvious falsehoods.
You should follow your link, anonymous. Greenspan wasn't talking about the economy, he was talking about the financial crisis in the banking industry.

The banking industry exists within our economy, of course, but it is not the whole of it. We have low interest rates, low unemployment and relatively low inflation.

The dollar isn't strong and the banking industry is a mess. Not the best economy, to be certain, but hardly the worst.
I posted this comment earlier, but it doesn't appear.

1. Obama's campaign was able to have the New Black Panther Party endorsement link deleted from their site, right? It was there for months and, after they took a hit from it yesterday it took them what, a day, to remove it? Do you really believe that the KKK could post on Obama's site and it would stay up there for months because they have no control over content? Right. They get a pass for a day, or a week, but that's been up there for months and again, only after it became a political problem for them did they do something about it.

2. I was a speechwriter. Obama didn't write that speech himself. Kerry peddled this same line of crap when it came to his convention speech -- in Kerry's case, he even went to the trouble of writing the speech out in longhand to show he did it himself. No serious politician writes their own speech for a major event like this. It isn't that they couldn't do it, mind you, it is just that professionals do it better. That's what they do. Also, it takes valuable time out of the candidate's schedule that is better spent doing other things -- like raising money, campaigning, resting for the speech, whatever. A speech like this took 40 man hours plus. Do you really think that Obama set aside 40 hours this week to write this "himself." Of course not. Like all politicians, he played a big role from start to finish. But it was written by speechwriters, in consultation with the candidate. This is how major speeches work and anyone who believes otherwise is deluding themselves.

As I said in the other post, Healing our 200 year old racial divide and writing his own speeches too. Is there anything that this Obama guy can't do?

- TJ
of course obama didn't write the speech himself, I mean it's not like he wrote two best selling books himself right? whoops he did. facts seem to have a funny way of getting in the way.
Anonymous - C'mon! Argue from an intellectual standpoint - not an emotional one. Stop being such a grouch....and your arguments would have more depth to them if you didn't use only the Daily Kos as your source of info.
Anonymous, you don't read clearly enough. I didn't say Obama wasn't capable of writing the speech. My point is that he didn't write the speech. Those are two different things. He's obviously a smart guy and an articulate one, at that.

Presidential campaigns are not thrown together things -- they hire people to do little things, like make copies, get coffee and write speeches.

My experience is that candidates have a lot more input on big speeches than they ordinarily do on the day to day stuff. So Obama probably had more input on this speech than any other speech this entire campaign.

That said, it's just silly to believe that he wrote the speech himself. There is zero chance that he didn't have at least one and probably several speechwriters working on the speech. His entire political fortunes are on the line and he's going to say, forget the professionals, I'll do this myself?

As for the books, it is possible that Obama wrote them himself. More likely, he had a ghostwriter. Have you tried to write a book? It ain't easy. Imagine writing one while holding down a 6 day a week job as a US senator.

I'm not saying the guy's a dummy. By all accounts, he's brilliant. He may even be the 1 politician in a thousand who writes all his own work. It just isn't likely.

The fact that he didn't credit speechwriters or a ghostwriter for his books isn't surprising. The Kennedy's denied for years that JFK had help on Profiles in Courage. Turns out, it was the work of several people. Kennedy contributed the main idea, did some editing, but the bulk of the work was done by Ted Sorenson and some other academics.

Don't get your panties in a bunch every time someone disagrees with you, anon. I wasn't saying Obama isn't smart. This has been a tough week for you Obama people, but hang in there, he still has a better than even chance of winning. It will be a long campaign and you are going to give yourself an ulcer.

Politicians use speechwriters. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's just how the game is played. For a speech like this, there are no exceptions to this rule, regardless of what the candidate/campaign says or how much effort goes into peddling the myth.

Little known fact: all the blog posts made by "Sip" are actually compiled by a committee of professional writers. Sip just takes all the credit.

TJ is correct. Sip's posts are always the work of a writing committee - especially for a particularly important post. And we don't worry that Sip gets all the credit. We're here for him, and we silently support him - just like Obama's team silently writes for him, and Obama delivers it.

We speech writers get our satisfaction out of seeing our words blogged or spoken by Sip/Obama, and knowing that our talent make them look good.
Sip's sports picks on the other hand - are always his own - so don't ever listen to Sip's sports picks - he drinks swirlies...
Jason usually knows what he's talking about....except in this case, as Sip has been towards the top of SCG in the sports picks. (Side Note: Jason must have been dying watching the Duke game the other night.)

Swirlies are a good thing...hope they have them in Minneapolis this summer.
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