Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

That's Right, I'm Back

Yes, it's been more than a year since my last meaningful post. During that time, I've completed one book and started another and posted more than 80 articles on, all of which has netted me a little less than eight dollars. At that rate, I could retire in roughly 125,000 years. I wouldn't mind, except there will probably be some kind of mass extinction between now and then, an event that, if I read the fine print correctly, invalidates my 401k.

If I get credit for nothing else--and perhaps I deserve credit for nothing else--don't forget that I was a Barack Obama booster as early as the fall of 2005. Of course, I had the advantage of living in the Midwest and spending a lot of time in Illinois during that stretch, so I was introduced to him in the summer of 2004 when he was running for U. S. Senate against the decidedly non-Illinoisan Alan Keyes.

So let me be the first to admit that some of Obama's supporters whip themselves into an enthusiasm that borders on fanatical, a fact that clearly makes some observers uncomfortable. Other criticisms of him--that he's shifted some of his positions for political expedience, that he's inexperienced, that his ego wouldn't fit into a Russian cargo plane, that he has some extremely unsavory friends and allies --carry varying degrees of validity. Such charges have, at one time or another, been leveled against most politicians, chiefly because hedging on principles, inflated self-opinions, and shady acquaintances encompass the reality not merely for public servants, but for all of us. Obama is flawed, which should have been obvious from the start. Everyone is.

Two common laments by Obama detractors ought to be laid to rest. One is the constant complaint that he gets a "free ride" or "preferential treatment" from the media, a notion that is repeatedly expressed by, you guessed it, members of the media. Clearly, there are media types who fawn all over the guy and shamelessly gush about his recent success. And he does get a lot of attention because he is youthful and charismatic.

However, dozens of writers, reporters, broadcasters, and commentators have taken a run at Barack, sometimes with a pretty vicious tone. Pat Buchanan, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Froma Harrop, Michael Medved, Marie Cocco, James Carville, and Geraldine Ferraro are just a few who have disobeyed the wholly imaginary directive to go easy on Obama. My personal favorite was when Buchanan, while savaging one of Obama's speeches, declared "no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans." Nice try! Yes, white Americans have done a great deal to assist black Americans. They have also done a lot of harm. But the real insult is the fact Buchanan is completely wrong; at least one group has done more to help black Americans than white Americans: black Americans.

The second bogus beef is Obama's handling of former mentor and pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. If you're uncomfortable with Obama's alignment with Wright in the first place, fair enough. Not everyone is satisfied with Obama's explanation of how he originally gravitated to such a man, though it does appear there is, or at least was, more to Reverend Wright than just wild conspiracy theories and condemnations of America. Still, the two had a long relationship that came to an end this past spring, and I believe I would have handled things exactly the same way Obama did. The first revelations of Wright's fanatical ravings appeared in footage that was several years old. In this instance, Obama condemned the remarks without abandoning the man. He said what he said but Reverend Wright was also instrumental in Obama's spiritual revival and, as alluded to earlier, he should not be defined based solely on his inflammatory rhetoric. Where's the big problem?

Of course, a lot of observers insisted Obama did not go far enough and should have cast Reverend Wright overboard right then and there. A few weeks later, when Obama did formally end their affiliation, some of the same people claimed he was unscrupulous because he abandoned his friend for political gain. Sorry, but I disagree. The first time Reverend Wright made news from old footage, but the second time he more or less torpedoed his protege' by granting interviews and reiterating some of his outlandish ideas. It's one thing to have fringe opinions--I can live with that in a lot of cases--but after Obama spared Wright all but a moderate rebuke, he spouted off again, this time on purpose and knowing his comments would make big news. What would I have done? The exact same thing. I'd have kicked him to the curb, spiritual mentor and father figure or not.

And let us not deceive ourselves: we all know a Reverend Wright, or someone out there who would be likely to embarrass us with his or her ideas or lifestyle. It's easy enough to say Obama should choose his friends more carefully and wisely, but so should I, and the same probably goes for a great many of Obama's detractors.

So I'm still voting for Obama, something I asserted nearly three years ago. He's not perfect; his ambition seems boundless, and I think he's capable of ruthlessness. Still, the "style over substance" cry and the claims he's never really accomplished anything ring rather hollow. During his recent rise to prominence, he has outmaneuvered and outcampaigned some of the most powerful political figures of recent history. He has revolutionized campaign fundraising, finally maximizing the power of the Internet. He's a mixed race guy with a Muslim name who has actually convinced a large portion of people to either not care about those things or, better still, embrace them.

Now I'm finished. I'm actually pretty tired of writing about politics and may take a break from it, though I would like to resume regular additions to this blog. The thing is, every zipperhead with a connection and an uninformed opinion can now be a "writer." Check out if you don't believe me; it's all a bit depressing and I'm part of it. Somebody free me from this, please! Or at least start paying me so I can cash checks while mortgaging my self-respect.