---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "M.J. Ejenbaum"
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, Bonijoy@aol.com
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 17:42:27 -0400
A great piece by Charles Krauthammer on Obama. As I have said before, I find Obama arrogant in that he has accomplished little, has insignificant experience as a legislator or as an executive (in business or government), yet believes he is qualified to be president. Mr. Krauthammer has expressed my feelings most eloquently.
The Audacity of Vanity
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 18, 2008; A17
Barack Obama wants to speak at the Brandenburg Gate. He figures it would be a nice backdrop. The supporting cast -- a cheering audience and a few fainting frauleins -- would be a picturesque way to bolster his foreign policy credentials.
What Obama does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you earn. President Ronald Reagan earned the right to speak there because his relentless pressure had brought the Soviet empire to its knees and he was demanding its final "tear down this wall" liquidation. When President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate on the day of his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, he was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin.
Who is Obama representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush the elder -- who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap -- called "a Europe whole and free"?
Does Obama not see the incongruity? It's as if a German pol took a campaign trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a campaign speech. (The Germans have now gently nudged Obama into looking at other venues.)
Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?
Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.
It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history -- "generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment" -- when, among other wonders, "the rise of the oceans began to slow." As Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, "Moses made the waters recede, but he had help." Obama apparently works alone.
Obama may think he's King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.
After all, in the words of his own slogan, "we are the ones we've been waiting for," which, translating the royal "we," means: " I am the one we've been waiting for." Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his lectern, until general ridicule -- it was pointed out that he was not yet president -- induced him to take it down.
He lectures us that instead of worrying about immigrants learning English, "you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish" -- a language Obama does not speak. He further admonishes us on how "embarrassing" it is that Europeans are multilingual but "we go over to Europe, and all we can say is 'merci beaucoup.' " Obama speaks no French.
His fluent English does, however, feature many such admonitions, instructions and improvements. His wife assures us that President Obama will be a stern taskmaster: "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism . . . that you come out of your isolation. . . . Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."
For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?
We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when "our planet began to heal." As I recall -- I'm no expert on this -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Adam Schwartzbaum
Date: Jul 19, 2008 1:33 PM
Subject: Re: Obama
I heard a fascinating thing on the radio tonight. The DJ had just seen the midnight showing of the new Batman movie, "the dark knight," was asking people to call and and tell listeners if they thought it lived up to the hype. One very Hispanic sounding girl said that while the action scenes were great, and it even had a bit of romance, the most interesting thing about the film was its political implications. She said "The Dark Knight is kind of like Barack Obama- he's the leader we need, but maybe not the one that we deserve." Reading this cynical lambast by Charles Krauthammer, I am reminded of how true that statement is.
Barack Obama offers us an opportunity to change the way we perform our government. He has built a genuine movement in this country that is united behind a firm progressive conviction in the need to end the war in Iraq, combat climate change with a revolutionary energy plan that will invigorate the American economy, and restore America's place in this world as a beacon unto the nations. Is Barack Obama an imperfect man? Of course he is, and he has said so often times in the media. Yes, his use of a mock presidential seal was a bit vain-glorious. But look at how Obama handled it - his campaign tepidly rolled it out and then quickly and permanently removed it from Obama's lecturn because he understood it was in bad taste. When the Germans politely told him the Brandenburg gate was for president's only, he graciously took an alternate space. Krauthammer can blame him for trying his best to do everything he can to look presidential, but let's be honest- he's running for president for the united states.
The more potent attack isn't that he is or isn't vain- running for president requires a certain vanity (just ask John McCain, a man who once called his wife a "trollop" and a "cunt" in a fit of rage for teasing him in public about his thinning hair.) It is the idea that Obama is Vain because he the audacity to run for president with the small amount of experience he has. Well, Obama certainly has experience. He is older than both Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were when they took office, so he's not the youngest person to become president. The most important question is, does he have the kind of experience we need for a person to become a great leader.
The answer is certainly yes: Barack Obama is a man with a unique American story who rose from a single parent home without a father; a man of mixed racial heritage in a binary and racist world; a prodigy who rose to become the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review and to teach Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. I am proud of the fact that he often speaks of the years he spent as a community organizer in the south side of chicago after graduating Harvard. Instead of cashing in with his degree, Barack Obama worked hard and earned little financial reward labouring on behalf of the impoverished and the indigent. He is a successful civil rights attorney, four term state senator and US Senator, one of only five African-Americans so elected in this country's history. Does he believe he is somehow destined for the presidency, and does this make him at least somewhat vain? Of course he does, as would any man so close to wielding so much power --- and you would to. He has risen to the leadership of the democratic party because he is an extraordinary person with the traits of a real leader.
The exciting thing about Barack is that he does understand the historic nature of his candidacy, and wants to use the opportunity to lead our country to a more just and perfect union. Yes, these are lofty goals, but we are Americans! We must still be land of dreaming big, the land of equality and possibility, the land of liberty, and not the land of torture and indefinite detention. With John McCain, we will get another president who panders to our worst fears, who will continue to widen the gap between the very few with very much and the majority of Americans, and who will keep us bogged down in Iraq where American soldiers continue to die and hundreds of billions of dollars continue to be squandered. Barack Obama will launch a genuine effort to bring Americans together to overcome the transcendental issues that plague our time: extreme poverty, climate change, and war. He will lead us in building a more peaceful and more sustainable future, and do it by challenging our nation to rise above apathy and cynicism and engage our democracy. His call to service is earnest and honest and must be heard.
In his article, Krauthammer states that "After all, in the words of his own slogan, "we are the ones we've been waiting for," which, translating the royal "we," means: " I am the one we've been waiting for." What, exactly, does "translating the royal 'we'"mean? Krauthammer cynically dismisses this as a cheap slogan devised only to give a sense of ownership to those who support Obama's campaign but is ultimately an empty gesture. But there is absolutely nothing about the way Obama has run this campaign or built this movement that suggests that his is not sincere about his goal of uniting the American people in a call to repair our country. Our country is very screwed up right now. It needs repairing, and to be truly healed, the American people need to come together to nurse it back to health. I think it is altogether fitting and uplifting to have a candidate, a leader like Obama who really offers us a chance to do Tikkun Olam and heal our world, and who emphasizes that it is NOT about only him, but rather about ALL OF US. Krauthammer's cheap and cynical rhetorical trick, "the royal 'we,'" dismisses with the back of the hand a campaign that is powered by individuals; a campaign that has more individual donors than anyone in history. It is a campaign that has brought a man from "seemingly out of nowhere" to the nomination of one our two major parties in a primary packed with some of the most qualified and powerful candidates in recent history. It has succeeded because it really is made with idealism and hope and people are drawn to the authenticity of the message and the sense of faith and community it is rebuilding in our divided and ailing country.
Obama got this nomination by doing what real leaders to best: inspire. It's smart of Krauthammer to attack Obama's strength-- that is, the depth and breadth of his support among so many people in this country. He knows that to attack and divide is the only way the GOP can plausibly win this year. By playing to people's worst fears. But ultimately, his attacks cannot overpower the force of this historic candidacy. The cheap old tricks used by Republicans to divide and conquer will not work in this election. Offered a choice between the politics of fear and the politics of hope, I pray the American people will chose the leader we need, and prove that we do deserve him.