March 2007 Issue
THE WAY I SEE IT
THE OBAMA DILEMMA
In America, a public figure or a candidate running
for public office, especially for U.S. president,
has to brace himself or exult, when something
deemed derogatory or sensational by the mass media,
is discovered about his life, that of his family,
and even those of his associates. It's like a
ticking time bomb, or a lifetime opportunity,
awaiting somewhere down the road, biding its moment
to explode or to be exploited, for whatever it's
worth. One's lifework could go under just for
one moment of indiscretion, like for example,
the Chappaquiddick Island incident of Senator
Ted Kennedy. Another's career could also get catapulted
even for just one, short, shining moment of fame,
epitomized by Senator Barack Obama's keynote speech
in the 2004 Democratic national convention.
In this year's presidential election, Senator
John McCain survived, for now, the revelation
of his alleged quid pro quo acceptance of political
contributions and his supposed dalliance with
a planted pretty lobbyist. She was working for
some special interest groups, connected with the
transportation industry, over-sighted by a senate
committee McCain chaired. He is now the Republican
presidential nominee even though he is not yet
officially crowned in the convention. But when
the regular presidential campaign gets started,
I'âm sure this issue will be vetted again.
McCain is a two-faced Janus. He's holier than
thou but he had been badly damaged before for
being involved in the U.S. taxpayer-rescued savings
and loan defaults rocking the 1980s, a preview
of the scandal cited here.
Still awaiting the voters' verdict is the fate
of Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Obama is ahead in delegate count, but Mrs. Clinton
has not yet given up because he still hasn't received
the magic number that would make him the virtual
nominee. The two are locked in electoral combat,
more so now, when Obama's campaign is hit by a
revelation that his pastor had been caught bad-mouthing
the country's core values every good American
has been taught to consider good, holy, and sacred.
And Ms Clinton, herself, has staggered lately,
after being discovered allegedly spinning a war
story that her group visiting war-torn Bosnia
years back was the target of enemy fire.
But unlike McCain's alleged active assistance
for amour and to his political contributors, and
Clinton's war story, what is stupefying about
the stinging revelation that could endanger Senator
Obama's presidential ambition was not for what
he said or did. He's being pilloried for the inflammatory
sermons of his pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright.
As if trying to do live-up to his biblical first
name, his jeremiads, described by the dictionary
as anger driven speeches expressing a bitter lament
or a righteous prophecy of doom, are now taking
the country by storm for their venom.
The sermons lambasted the U.S. and American
policies, based on what he described as his reading
of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.
He said in a 2003 sermon that: "The government
gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes
a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God
Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America ,
that's in the Bible for killing innocent people."
Another provocative sermon asserted that "God
damn America for treating our citizens as less
than human. God damn America for as long as she
acts like she is God and she is supreme."
And he claimed that America was morally responsible
for 9/11 which he described as chickens coming
home to roost because of crimes, like, the dropping
of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki .
Senator Obama got blistered and the message
of his campaign distracted because the political
handlers of his rivals and the mass media have
made Rev. Wright a great influence in his life.
Not only that Senator Obama credited him for finding
Jesus within the fold of his Trinity United Church
of Christ, located on the south side of Chicago,
Wright also married him to his wife and baptized
their children. And the pastor's favorite sermon
theme that in life you need to have an audacity
of hope became the title of his best selling book.
His opponents, including political babes in
the woods who naively, and foolishly, fear a so-called
muslim candidate, gleefully reloaded these newly
discovered political ammunitions of personal destruction
to their repertoire of prejudices, long suppressed
while awaiting any plausible validation. The moment
is now when they feel they no longer have to be
ashamed of, or embarrassed, for their bottled-up
raw and untamed human primal emotion. They let
go of their real self and fired pointblank at
Obama, in the way the black propaganda already
making the rounds throughout the country have
been circulated. In the Internet, he is pictured/caricature
d as a reconstructed leftist, a black avenger,
a potential protector of Afro-American parasites,
and inchoate enabler of black indolent behavior.
And to cap it all, we are bombarded with e-mails
that are maliciously, and awfully wrongly, branding
him as a Muslim or a disguised believer. Polls
say about 10% of Americans believes this derogatory
rumor. After all, his name is Obama; his Kenyan
father was a Muslim; his white American mother
was a free thinker; and the Indonesian grade school
he attended when his mother lived next door to
the Philippines, observed Islamic practices.
Senator Obama condemned these outrageous sermons
of Rev. Dr. Wright, because, he says, they are
wrong and divisive. But he mused that those â€œfor
whom my statements of condemnation are not enough.
they would ask me why associate myself with Rev.
Wright in the first place, ¦Why not join
another church But, he explained: I can longer
disown (Wright) than I can my own white grandmother,
who was supposed to say she feared hearing footsteps
of blacks coming closer.
Indeed, I would think that a more charitable,
understanding, and open-minded person could relate
to Obama's dilemma. People move to another country
more for personal safety concerns or for reasons
of economics rather than because the leaders are
crooked or going crazy. You don't abandon your
children just because your spouse is totally disagreeable,
abusive, or a bad bargain. The better person is
the one who can subdue personal anger and self-pity
that are tearing his heart for the sake of others
in his family or community. This applies to Obama.
He couldn't, and shouldn't, just leave this church
where he found Jesus, where he was married, where
his children were baptized, and where his dear
friends and family worship, just because a doddering
old preacher is thundering of the injustices done
in the past to Negroes, now called Afro-Americans.
Just like what he would do if he were a member
of a dysfunctional marriage or family, he has
to stay put because he's better equipped to save
his children's or spiritual siblings' sanity and
support their emotional well-being by providing
reason, good sense, and balance. I would think
that that's what he meant when he said he couldn't
just leave Wright in his dotage in the way that
he couldn't just leave his grandmother for telling
her black grandson of her uneasiness when blacks
Obama should be given more credit rather than
discredit for putting up in the face of pastoral
sophistry and intellectual abuse; for sticking
with his co-parishioners who have less mobility
than himself who's a Harvard-trained lawyer, and
for identifying with those below his own social
and economic class. As a brilliant lawyer and
University of Chicago professor, he could have
lived in Chicago's fabled Gold Coast and accepted
invitations to attend the churches of the rich
and the famous. But like Moses who abdicated his
princely position to return to his real mother
and back to his Jewish heritage, Obama chose to
stay with his disadvantaged people rather than
Yet the very people who are savaging Obama for
the verbal indiscretions of his pastor have not
been heard complaining of George W. Bush, then,
and John McCain, now, for courting assiduously
pastors John Hagee and Jerry Falwell. Falwell
blamed gays and lesbians for the terrorist attacks
in New York and Washington , D.C. and those "who
have tried to secularize America : pagans, abortionists,
feminists, gays and lesbians who are actively
trying to make that an alternative lifestyle,
the ACLU, and People for the American Way ."
Along with pastor Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell
pointed at the tragedies in New York City and
Washington, D.C., as proof that "God continues
to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America
to give us probably what we deserve." Hagee
called the Roman Catholic Church â€œThe
Great Whore of Revelation 17, as well as a False
cult system, an apostate church.
What makes John Hagee and Jerry Falwell different
from Jeremiah Wright? The former are more fanatic
and crazier. And why is Obama blamed for his pastor's
simplifications and Bush and McCain given a pass
for clinging close to Hagee and Falwell, Robertson,
etc.? It's because the latter's names are not