Meyer: Americans, feel pride re Obama!

Dick Meyer, writing over at NPR (when we all know he should be out there promoting his excellent book, Why We Hate Us) says we as a nation – regardless of our political affiliations or which way we’re voting – should feel proud, tonight, to watch an African American be declared the official presidential nominee of a major political party.

I would hope that as voters listen to Obama’s acceptance speech and watch his campaign, they will do so with pride no matter how they ultimately vote. And I would hope that voters will take a second look at their hearts and assumptions, their pride and their prejudices, as they weigh their votes.

It is natural and reasonable to expect more of the voters than the parties.

The article is not bad, and you should read the whole thing – as you may tell from his final line, he takes the Dems to task for not seeming prouder of this moment, and he grouses a bit about the GOP and makes some standard observations about race which – forgive me, Dick, I loves ya – sound a little stale, especially this part:

If Obama were not black, if he were the same man (man, not woman) in white skin, he would most certainly be far ahead in the polls.

Once upon a time I might have believed that. In another candidate I might still believe it, but I do not know if I believe it at this time, regarding this candidate.

I think Meyer could have made that point better, had Obama been running against Huckabee, or Romney or someone else on the right, but it does not quite work when pitting Obama against McCain.

Some people seem to forget that John McCain, for all that he is an “old guy” and a bit boring, is also a known entity and a man who has long-been respected by many centrists, independents and even Democrats. It seems to me just a little sloppy to assume that Obama’s numbers should be “huge” against a man as substantial as McCain, or that people who have liked and respected McCain for years would suddenly push him aside and commence swooning over Obama, if they only were not such racists.

You’d have to be pretty intellectually dishonest not to acknowledge that some of Obama’s polling problems are racial, but I frankly believe that his race is, if not the least of his problems, then certainly lower on the list, than many think.

The man won a landslide in Iowa, of all places – that already said a great deal about America’s growth on the issue of race – and the whole country was intrigued at that point and wanted to see more of Obama.

So, what happened? The whole country did not just suddenly become “more racist” than it was five months ago – but we’ve seen more of the man, himself, since then, and perhaps that is what has cut into lead everyone thinks he “should have” at this point.

It is also – again, perhaps – what has giving the Dem convention such a glum vibe, up to now.

Aside from coming off as elitist, presumptuous (that seal was a very bad idea, and so was Berlin) and thin-skinned, Obama has flip-flopped on issues that meant something to people, like the FISA, the campaign finance, etc. His campaign of change suddenly looks like any other campaign. He said he’d debate McCain “anytime, anywhere” and then refused pretty much every debate suggestion McCain made. People noticed – it did not reassure them that Obama believes he can hold his own, and we need to know that a president believes that.

This is an important election and everyone knows it. I think many people who were at first excited (or at least intrigued, as I was) about Obama have begun to feel that he is too inexperienced, too protected by an undeniably adoring press who won’t ask him a difficult question, and that he’s just a tad too slippery, as well. I think we’re a nation tired of slippery.

None of those things have to do with his race, they have to do with the man he is, the people he throws under the bus, and the fact that off-teleprompter he is almost as painful to listen to as Bush. And that’s saying something. I listened to Obama talking yesterday about health care and I got the same feeling I often get with Bush – “come on, spit it out!”

The next president doesn’t have to be glib – which is a good thing, because neither of these candidates are – but who the hell wants to listen to more stuttering and stammering and looong awkward pauses? I don’t. I love President Bush, but I won’t miss the stammers.

But back to race; I believe the issue is – as a whole – more interesting to boomers than to anyone else. As I wrote (I thought sympathetically) here, it is difficult to have come through 1968, and that whole exciting era of feminism, black empowerment, etc and not be particularly conscious of – or even fixated on – issues of race and gender in the political arena, today.

But I also think that much of the country – more than the “identity-fixated” press realizes – has moved on from those things, and they’re not primarily thinking of Barack Obama as a “black” man or Hillary as a “woman” – and that, I suggest, is what we should be proud about; not that we’re “still fixated, but in a ‘positive’ way,” but that these things have become so much less meaningful, altogether.

Barack’s race is not at the forefront of my consciousness, and I think that’s true for many Americans, and yes, that’s something the nation can be proud of – but I don’t know if other Americans, particularly those invested in identity politics (or addicted to the ease with which flinging a “racist” or “sexist” or other label can end a debate) will accept even the possibility that this might be true.

Recently an emailer, taking the lazy way out, rather than actually exchanging ideas, wrote to me that I was a self-hating woman because I don’t love Hillary, and that I am “afraid of strong women.”

I found that to be so much bullcrap, and said so. I am a strong and extremely capable woman and I was raised by strong, smart, capable and clever Irish/German women. My earliest heroes were Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and the journalist Nancy Dickerson; I just don’t happen to much like Hillary – but even disliking her, I’ve defended her now and again. Then a few weeks ago a I was told that I “hate Barack Obama because he’s black!” and found myself being called a “racist.”

I don’t hate Obama; I am the one who called him the Moses of the Democrat party, freeing it from the Pharaoh Clintons, and I was initially as intrigued by him as anyone.

But now, having watched him for a few months, I simply don’t see the presidential thrust. I don’t see him making me feel safe. I worry about the people he’s associated with in the past – because that does matter – but more than that, I worry about how his team is threatening media that run ads he does not like, or how he is trying to not simply dodge questions, but silence the questioners, even if it means using the Justice Department to do so. I also worry about his tendency toward the grandiose displays. These things matter, and they have nothing to do with race.

(By the way, when this idiot called me a racist, I wrote in response:

I hope, I hope, I HOPE that Obama nominates a gay guy or girl to his ticket, so I can immediately be called “a homophobe,” too – then I’ll have made the gynophobic-racist-homophobe trifecta!”)

It is always too easy to focus on race or gender or sexuality and say “it’s because of this one thing that that is happening, or not happening.” All the “isms” may be part of a list of factors, but not the defining ones.

Are the the Dems are downplaying Obama’s race, or just clueing in to the fact that people are tired of considering it at all, or of being threatened with the handy labels that get thrown about – putting a halt to real conversation and sending everyone scurrying for rhetorical safety – if one does not fall in line.

Perhaps instead of patting ourselves on the back and feeling “proud” because an African American is finally a serious contender for the White House, Americans should fixate less on race, wave off the anesthesia of “feeling good” about themselves, and stay alert to the fact that some of the basic freedoms we have been told were “under threat” by the Bush administration – like the right to free speech and free assembly – seem much more truly threatened these days.

And neither racism nor cowboyism has anything to do with it.

Rick at Brutally Honest has more thoughts on this subject.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • saveliberty

    I think what is often overlooked is the simple humanity in being able to laugh at your own expense. President Bush has this quality and it’s not seen by the liberal establishment. McCain does as well.

    Obama may have had it, but over the last several months, he is turning toward Caligula.

    I am waiting for the horses to be appointed to the cabinet.

  • saveliberty

    BTW I still think about your column where you defined a sin as treating people as things.

    It really is that simple. Thank you so much.

    [Your welcome but it was really Terry Pratchett's definition, not mine! -admin]

  • gcotharn

    I wish Dick Meyer had said: “Dems apparently believe if Obama were not black, if he were the same man (man, not woman) in white skin, he would most certainly be far ahead in the polls.” Then Mr. Meyer could’ve carried on writing his same article.

    Instead, I am left to wonder how a thoughtful person could blithely believe Sen. Obama would be leading the polls if he were white. How can this be?

    Is Mr. Meyer carried away by Sen. Obama’s JFK-lite impression when reading from a teleprompter? Has nostalgic love for JFK blinded Mr. Meyer to Sen. Obama’s lack of substance?

    Has a too strict MSM diet prevented Mr. Meyer from fully considering these things to know about Barack:

    1. Very left
    2. Has never been a reformer
    3. No notable professional accomplishment (beyond being elected)
    4. Historical ignorance
    5. Naivete
    6. Deeply deceptive

    which are fleshed out at the above link.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    Take pride? Yeah, I guess, from a historical perspective. Indeed, that is the NUMBER ONE reason that Obama became and stayed the frontrunner back in January. Folks wanted to create history. They want to heal the racial injuries. If Obama had been some white guy, he would have never been on the radar screen. He’d simply be as much as a lightweight as John Edwards, but without the ambulance chaser charm.

    It was a desire to take pride in America nominating a black man that got Obama where he is. And it is the desire of many folks to finally enter into a post-racial America, a colorblind America, that led so many to get over it so quickly and adopt a ho-hum, so-what attitude toward the nomination of a black guy to be president. Just like with Pope Nancy I, nobody in the universe cared, except for her and a handful of geriatric feminists, that a woman became Speaker of the House.

    That is one side of the race dimension to Obama’s candidacy. The other side is this — if Obama loses because of race, that is, if some people vote against Obama primarily or even significantly because of his race, it will be because of Democratic racism, not Republican.

    Conservatives and Republicans are not going to vote for Obama, not because he is black, but because they are conservative and Republican and he is liberal and a Democrat. Race is irrelevant to whether conservatives or Republicans vote for or against Obama.

    Race only comes into play as a voting factor when you look at the Democratic voter, or the Democratic-leaning Independent.

    But the other factor that is becoming fatal to Obama is what was warned about from such a long campaign — Obama is getting as old and stale as week-old unrefrigerated dead fish. And then throw in the never-ending Clinton soap opera and people are sick and tired of the entire Democrat machine. The campaign has gone on for over a year and a half already! In a normal year, you could expect that a fair portion of the electorate would not start paying attention until Labor Day, but this time around, we had an extremely high-profile primary season. The whole country knows and has known about Obama for a long, long, long time. And the thrill is gone. We done been there and done that.

    Promising change — something fresh and new — and pumping people up with supercharged emotion are excellent tactics if you have a short campaign, but people cannot stay on an emotional high for the guy forever. Eventually, the enthusiasm wanes, and you can’t get it back up for a long time, or at all if you have moved past the historical uniqueness and pride, past the emotional highs, and see Obama for the same old politician that we always have gotten, only a lot more clueless than usual.

  • http://conblogeration.blogspot.com Pastor_Jeff

    If Obama were not black, if he were the same man (man, not woman) in white skin, he would most certainly be far ahead in the polls.

    Sorry, but Geraldine Ferarro was right — if he were not black, he would never have gotten close to the nomination. He is John Edwards without the experience.

    In one sense, it is a positive sign that so many in America are excited about Obama’s candidacy and what it says about racial progress. At the same time, I think too many are excited about Obama precisely because or his skin color and what we’d like to believe that says about our open-mindedness — voting for Obama makes them feel good about themselves.

    There are certainly people who will oppose Obama because of his race; there are also many people who will support him for the same reason.

    We will really have made progress on race when we vote based on the guy’s platform and not his historic significance.

  • JohnnyL

    When discussing the Ayers relationship, all of the Pro-Bama folks do not want to discuss what kind of beliefs motivate Ayers now. From all that I have read, he still believes the same things he set bombs off for in the sixties are still present in America today. His beliefs are the same so you have to think how is he applying those beliefs to the education system. I’d like to hear hear from Obama as to what policies and education reforms that Ayers supports does he agree or disagree with and why. Condemning Bill Ayers for what her did 40 odd years ago is easy. Apparently saying anything constructive or substantial about his present day beliefs and how Obama feels about them is very difficult.

  • TheAnchoress

    Look, a few months ago, Obama was killing in the polls; now he is not. The “racist” argument does not make sense. Americans did not – a few weeks ago – suddenly realize that Obama is black, and find their inner racist.

    Some of his drop in the polls is natural – no one stays in the lead forever – and some of this is simply that the guy is not tested, not experienced, inconsistent and, lately, seemingly willing to say anything. He was exciting when he was about changing politics and the status quo. He’s not about that any more…or, perhaps, some simply have come to dislike the change they think they will see in him.

  • Joseph

    There are many things to address here. First some matters of fact. There is only one poll that actually tracks the race day by day and that is the Gallup rolling three day which has been taken every day since March 7. In that poll John McCain has averaged 43-44 percentage points and Obama has averaged 45-46 points. The widest gap between them has been Obama at 48 percentage points and McCain at 42. This is where it stands today, but immediately before the convention it was a 45-45 tie.

    The second truly reliable longitudinal measure that I know of is the Franklin/Blumenthal regression of multiple polls at Pollster.com, which shows that McCain’s support took a sharp upturn from 42 to 45 over the past two or three weeks while Obama’s numbers have weaved regularly back and forth around 46 for the entire summer. The numbers do not indicate anything but the closest of popular vote races with a stubborn cadre of undecided voters at around 9-11 percent.

    The most significant change has been McCain’s rise and not Obama’s fall, for no such fall has occurred. I would attribute that solely to the impact of McCain’s ads on the Republican base and perhaps on the strongly Republican leaning independents, but their relative lack of impact on anybody else.

    So I would agree that there is no reason whatever to think that any Democratic candidate would have been a runaway. Whether Mr. Meyer approves of it or not, we are still the same ideologically polarized country we have been for the past eight years and that counts for much more than any temporary advantage one party might have at the expense of the other in a given election year, and clearly more than the race or gender of the candidates.

    I suspect Mr. Meyer is about my age and has clear memories, as I do, of the last years of racial segregation by law and the smothering cloud of fear and hate that surrounded every question of race in every household in those days, particularly the question of mixed racial marriages. If you do not have these memories you do not know how bad it was and it is not possible to fully comprehend how much America has changed in the interval. I certainly am proud of what has happened and for the same reasons as Mr. Meyer, but the willed collective forgetting of what we once were by everyone but African-Americans, has taken its toll on our collective capacity to understand how much has changed inside each of us as well as in the public side of American life.

    If you clearly remember and honestly confront where we came from, this nomination still has an edge of miracle to it. And the miracle is how ordinary it actually appears at the moment.

  • http://www.justgrits.wordpress.com Obis_Sister

    I haven’t watched any of the convention either. I may watch tonight though – Hubster has even money that Obama will stroll out through a cloud of log like he’s a one-man NFL team.

    JohnnyL – good luck getting a straight answer out of Obama about anything. Like a lot of folks, at first I was intrigued. But thanks to the MSM saturation and his constant flip-flops on everything from the economy to national security to what he had for lunch yesterday, the shine is definitely gone. He’s slicker than Slick Willie himself, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Racism has nothing to do with it. Most conservatives cotton to MLK’s belief that you judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Too bad most liberal Democrats don’t understand that notion. If Obama had years of experience, maybe a governorship under his belt – it would be different. But with what he’s offering now, my son’s Chemistry teacher is more fit to lead America.

  • http://www.justgrits.wordpress.com Obis_Sister

    FOG – not LOG. Stupid keyboard!

  • Terrye

    So on one hand Mr. Meyer thinks we should be proud of ourselves and on the other, he apparently thinks we are racist. Or maybe it is sexist since Hillary did not get the nod.

    I have news for Meyer, Americans are not in the habit of electing liberals with no experience to the most important job in the world. If Obama were not a black man with a talent for speaking and a lot of charisma, we would never have heard of him.

  • kelleybee

    Cough…choke..gag..this good offering needs a warning sign at the top of the page. Between “the gynophobic-racist-homophobe trifecta!” and the election of “Pope Nancy I”, I almost destroyed my laptop.
    I agree with the Anchoress that Obama was an intriguing unknown a few months ago. As time moved forward his uber socialist position emerged and then quickly receded when scrutinized. The great silent majority that Prez Reagan often spoke about do not like chameleons.
    kelleyb

  • Sensible Mom

    If Obama were not black, if he were the same man in white skin, he would most certainly be … John Edwards.

    He’s accomplished just as little as Edwards. He’s only a good looking, far left liberal who speechifies well. So, to me, Obama has gotten farther than a white man with the same qualifications.

  • http://sthubertsrosary.com/default.aspx ShanaSFO

    Sorry, Mr Meyer, sir, I don’t care a bit for Obama and wouldn’t vote for him if he was the only guy on the ballot and soldiers had a gun to my head. I seriously don’t see a reason to vote for him. Call me a racist if you must, but you’d be committing calumny.

    I’m not ‘proud’ that the Dems chose an unqualified man to be presidential candidate. I don’t think its a moment to be proud to choose a man to be president simply *because* he’s black and not because he’s experienced, not because he’s distinguished himself in various and extremely difficult leadership positions and not because he’s extremely intelligent (and as the Anchoress capably points out in her piece, when it ain’t flowery & overly scripted, Obama isn’t sounding so bright). I think it is insulting and demeaning.

    He did *what* exactly to show his outstanding leadership? Sit around the Senate for 140+ days? Run some sort of federal housing plan for the poor for a few years and edit a law journal for a university? Look smug with a halo on a poster? Design his own presidential seal? Thats IT?

    Obama seems to me, from his posters, presentations and speeches, to be a very vain and unskilled man in a number of ways. He also seems unashamed of his blatant Marxism and the ‘shut up’ tactics used to silence anyone who brings up his creepy friends and lack of practical governing/political/leadership experience. I find that terribly alarming as well as thoroughly disgusting.

    The whole convention seems to be, in all honesty, a very whitey’s-guilty sort of thing; as if he only is getting the votes from the paler crowd because of the color of his skin and not the hard work, moral character and experience found in grey matter in his head and the beating heart in his chest. A kind of hidden guilty racism. Those going all gooey on him are the same ones that call people like Condi Rice or Judge Thomas an Uncle Tom, for heaven’s sake, even when they are more than qualified in practical experience, character, leadership, intelligence & knowledge for the job.

    McCain may be boring, an oh-Lord-not-another-RHINO “maverick” and kinda pasty in hue, but in the long run no one can take away from him his time as a tortured POW – who could have gone home alone but wouldn’t go without his men, and with all the years in Congress he has behind him. He has earned the respect of those who have served with him even when they vehemently disagree with his politics. He has already done in many practical & personal ways the things that Obama speak of as ‘change’ -like adopting or assisting in the adoption of poor children. Like housing ailing relations in one of those 7 houses. Like not having to throw his family & friends ‘under the bus’ as the saying goes, just to get a few more votes secured.

    I wouldn’t vote for Obama if he were white either, just as I twice didn’t vote for the ‘first black president’ because of his lack of moral character, his speakin’-out-both-sides-o’-his lips behavior & the kinds of ‘friends’ he had. ‘S not being a racist. That’s called making informed decisions. Jeff’s Evil Aunt shana

    PS I want a TRIFECTA T Shirt! Ladies Large, Blue.

  • chuck

    If Colin Powell were to enter the Republican Primary process is there any doubt he would get the nomination? If he were to run is there any doubt he would be elected? The difference between Colin Powell and Barak Obama is experience. Colin Powell has a record of outstanding accomplishment.

  • http://EasyOpinions.blogspot.com/ Andrew Garland

    I don’t care about Obama’s race. I care about his worldview that seems to pit class against class, and his roots in radical views.

    Politics for a voter is about understanding, ideas, and truth. What is a politician’s understanding and bias about the world? What are his ideas? Is he telling the truth about his thoughts and conclusions, or is he merely saying what we want to hear?

    More…

    More at http://easyopinions.blogspot.com/2008/04/is-obama-guilty-by-association.html

  • roylofquist

    Dear Anchoress,

    I am a life long Republican. The Republicans in Massachusetts were exceptionally proud to elect Edward Brooke as the very first black person to serve in the United States Senate.

    I am offended, a rare reaction from me, to see race introduced this way. The Republican Party was founded to abolish slavery. Abraham Lincoln was our first nominee.

    The Republican Party was the driving force behind the civil rights legislation of the 60′s. They voted in favor at three times the number of the Democrats. Mr. Meyers has voiced a vile canard. It’s best if we never meet.

    Regards,
    Roy

  • saveliberty

    Joseph, Gallup uses registered voters. Rasmussen uses likely voters. Rasmussen’s polling has shown itself to be the most accurate.

    The Obama campaign is afraid of McCain’s ads, which is confusing, because day in and day out, the candidate slams McCain. What does he think he’s engaged in? Politics is not about the other person running away from charges which he or she believes to be false.

    The ads that scare them the most deal with Stanley Kurtz’s investigative reporting of the Annenberg challenge.

    It is really hard to explain away sitting in a church for 20 years that overtly and clearly preaches hate. It is also hard to explain away why he would become friendly with a man, who in 2001 stated that when he was a terrorist, he didn’t do enough? Sure, Obama wasn’t there when the bombings took place, but why be friendly?

    The Democratic ticket is also in trouble because over 67% want offshore drilling. This is an issue that is getting traction.

  • saveliberty

    BTW Ayers and Dohrn also not only preached hate, but acted on it. Why was his career started in Bernadine Dohrn’s living room?

    He can’t explain away his judgment without repudiating his campaign of hope and change.

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  • Gayle Miller

    I don’t give a flying fig if Barack Hussein Obama is pink or purple. What I do care about is that he is a leftist radical masquerading as a patriot – something that he is not.

    His judgment is questionable BECAUSE of his associations with people like Rezko, Wright and Ayers/Dohrn and his failure to explain WHY he continued those associations for so long.

    Is Obama the puppet for George Soros? I continue to believe that he is. Soros is forever barred from the U.S. Presidency and I’m convinced that his way of skirting that interdiction is to put a puppet like Obama in the White House as his surrogate.

    Already we are seeing signs of our basic civil rights (freedom of speech, freedom of association and even freedom of the press – such as they are) being overrun and threatened.

    Senator Obama has achieved something of which to be proud but his way of getting there is deeply questionable, thus negating entirely the accomplishment.

  • Joseph

    This is from the Rasmussen website as of this morning:

    “The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows Barack Obama attracting 46% of the vote nationwide while John McCain earns 43%. When “leaners” are included, it’s Obama 49% and McCain 45%.”

    I don’t see much of a difference from Gallup or the Franklin/Blumenthal regression, do you?


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