Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bong hit beatitudes

Well the topic of the weekend seems to be Barack Obama stepping in some rhetorical doggie pooh. I actually found his comments on the bitter religious gun nuts populating our Republic unremarkable and not the least bit surprising. You see I've been following the Illinois Senator pretty closely since the summer of 2006. So I found yesterday's "gaffe" to be perfectly in line with my impression of him. In other words, what he said yesterday in San Francisco was nothing new, and his comments in no way contradicted what he really does think about Americans and American politics.

The best example I have that demonstrates the consistency of his political philosophy comes from a puff piece the Chicago Sun Times ran in October 2006. The piece highlighted Obama's deep thoughts on deep things as expressed in his blockbuster book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. I have reproduced highlights from the article below. I want to stress, so that it is perfectly clear, that these are Senator Obama's own words and thoughts. They are not, I repeat NOT, the scribblings of a college sophomore showing the effects of 27 bong hits. And so I present the musings of Senator Barack Obama:

On democracy and values:
"In a country as diverse as ours, there will always be passionate arguments about how our democracy works. But our democracy might work a bit better if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect: if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his gun as they feel about their library books, and if the conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of their right to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do of their right to worship."

On his guiding principle:
"I find myself returning again and again to my mother's simple principle -- 'How would that make you feel?' -- as a guidepost for my politics. It's not a question we ask ourselves enough, I think; as a country, we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit.

"We wouldn't tolerate schools that don't teach, that are chronically underfunded and understaffed and underinspired, if we thought that the children in them were like our children. . . . And it's safe to assume that those in power would think longer and harder about launching a war if they envisioned their own sons and daughters in harm's way."

On political ideology:
"I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP."

On phony politicians:
"Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith -- such as the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps (off rhythm) to the gospel choir or sprinkles in a few biblical citations to spice up a thoroughly dry policy speech."

On foreign policy:
"Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur? Are our goals in Iran regime change, the dismantling of all Iranian nuclear capability, the prevention of nuclear proliferation, or all three? . . . Perhaps someone in the White House has clear answers to these questions. But our allies -- and for that matter our enemies -- certainly don't know what those answers are. More important, neither do the American people."

On his first impressions of President Bush:
"I had found the president to be a likable man, shrewd and disciplined but with the same straightforward manner that had helped him win two elections; you could easily imagine him owning the local car dealership down the street, coaching Little League, and grilling in his backyard -- the kind of guy who would make for good company so long as the conversation revolved around sports or kids."

On many Americans' yearning for spiritual connection:
"They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives, something that will relieve a chronic loneliness or lift them above the exhausting, relentless toll of daily life. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them -- that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness. "If I have any insight into this movement toward a deepening of religious commitment, perhaps it's because it's a road I have traveled."


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