The Two Obamas and Me, Part One
by Chris Bowers, Mon Dec 04, 2006 at 05:22:27 PM EST
"No one would say that Dr. King should leave his moral vision at the door before getting involved in public-policy debate," he answers. "He says, `All God's children.' `Black man and white man, Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic.' He was speaking religiously. So we have to remember that not every mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy. Who ever said that any mention of God is automatically threatening a theocracy? Did the woman who asked the question say that? If not, then why did he respond that way? Even if she did say that, why is what one woman in a crowd at Eastern Illinois University the equivalent spokesperson for the left as, I don't know, Sam Brownback is for the right? Where is the equivalence in making everyone on the left accountable for every statement of every random person who shows up to any event or a protest and, say, the right being only accountable for what Dick Cheney says?
I find these left wing strawmen disturbing on a very personal level. Whenever a right-wing pundit or politician uses those exact same strawmen, I feel as though I am personally being attacked. This isn't paranoia--right-wing politicians probably are referring to me when they make statements like that, since their intention is often to slander any American who would refer to herself or himself as a progressive or a liberal. The problem is that when Democrats who seek to capture the "middle ground" use the exact same strawmen, I have a hard time believing they are not referring to me. What's worse, is that when it comes to someone like Barack Obama, for who I worked and tried to get elected, I am not really sure what I did to deserve being talked to that way. And yes, it actually hurts to be made a scapegoat by someone you wanted to see in office, and that you helped--even if only slightly--to achieve that office. A single phrase keeps going around in my head whenever I hear Obama use one of his strawmen: I helped you, man. Why are you treating me like this? Is this a sign you don't want me to help you anymore? Do you honestly believe that attacking me is more valuable than I help I can provide?
Unlike, say, Ann Coutler, I don't actually believe that Obama thinks he is referring to the entire left when he makes statements like this. However, since he never actually says who he is referring to, I simply have to assume that, like Ann Coulter, he is referring to the entire left, and therefore also to me. And yes--call me naïve, or call me thin-skinned--but that hurts me. He could clear this up by stopping any use of these left-wing strawmen altogether. There is no need for Obama to use these strawmen in order to make himself look more like a "uniter." (Of course, I don't even see how insulting your fellow Americans makes you a "uniter" in the first place). In the end, all his use of these strawmen does is obscure the great Obama that I quoted at the top of this post. I like that Obama. Everyone in the netroots likes that Obama, as his favorables from the BlogPac netroots survey shows. Like I did in Illinois, I imagine virtually everyone in the netroots would be willing to work, bleed, and walk through the fire for that Obama. There is no need, before revealing the first Obama, for him to indicate that he isn't one those shrill lefties who you heard about from Ann Coulter. There is no need to throw your friends under the bus while saying what you believe.
This man has potential for all-time, worldwide greatness for the first half of the 21st century. However, if he insists on continuing to use left-wing strawmen to describe himself and what he believes then, to use his own words, he will just become another "DLC-type commentator" more worried about being "tagged as a liberal" then about doing what "people need." I mean, is there a reason you differentiate yourself from left-wing strawmen before stating your opposition to the war unless you are worried about being tagged as a liberal? I can't possibly imagine one. This can't all be the media putting words in Obama's mouth and trying to form this triangulating narrative around him. Part of this problem starts with Obama himself.
I will probably have more on this tomorrow. There is so much here that I need to get off my chest, both personally and politically, when it comes to the rise of Obama. I can't say it all in one post. This man just potentially means so much to so many people in America and around that world, that we need to encourage him. He should be neither dismissed outright nor embraced uncritically.