Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Obama Kerfuffle

I had to search the logfiles of an IRC channel I frequent to reassure myself that until this past weekend I had not really considered the race angle in regard to the 2008 presidential race. Yup, pretty much what I thought -- all this time I've thought of him pretty much a leftist. A Liberal. Perhaps I even had a chuckle about Marxist connections after the Che Guevera flag flap. Up until this past weekend.

Then the Rev. Wright material flooded the blogosphere. I took humor in the ensuing frenzy. And still, it was the character issue that was being noted (finally) in the mainstream media that I was most tickled by. And as the raging waters continued flowing, the racism angle started to rear. I could be amused and have an oddly quizzical expression towards a white middle-class type of Obama supporter, but to me that still wasn't the issue.

And then came Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech. It arrived in my RSS reader amongst my usual conservative-leaning subscriptions. In fact, I skimmed right into the meat of the speech, before I realized it was his speech. The first paragraph was my hook not to skim and move on to the next item in the reader. And then I got to paragraphs two and three and I had to take a closer look at what I was reading because it seemed to be taking a turn I wasn't expecting. And then I discovered that it was "the speech".

For me, this was the point at which I felt Obama made race an issue; previously he had "transcended race". And with this speech he chose to embrace it, to wrap himself in it fully. And essentially to transform from an unabashed Leftist and inexperienced candidate whose grand rhetoric lacked substance into merely on opportunistic black politician like those who have gone before him.

I've shared piles of articles and snippets on the feed, and pretty much everybody has already aired his views. For ease of future reference, let me just capture the "highlights".

And then I encountered "the speech". Up to this point, it was to me just news about a presidential candidate caught in a tough spot: backpedaling on an issue of his character. After listening to a podcast of "the speech" and reading the transcript, mixed in with others' similar reactions around the blogosphere, I had to accept that from that point onward that Obama no longer "transcended race".

No comments: