jeudi, novembre 15, 2007

Who's got it in for Barack?

If I were Barack Obama, the Presidential candidate from Illinois, I might be a little paranoid. First there are the folks who call me "Osama"-in public. A mistake? Well, possibly, but an ignorant one. Then there are supposed Obama's liberal friends and co-Senators, like Delaware's Joe Biden, who talked about how clean and articulate I am. Naturally, there is no quarter given from the right. Earlier this year Rush Limbaugh (but what can you expect from an unprincipled hound like Limbaugh?) posted a parody, "The Magic Negro" on his site-the line between overt and covert bigotry is fluid.

Mitt Romney is our blow-dried candidate, careful in almost every arena-just a lovely glossified package. So it was intriguing that in an October talk Romney went on and on about Osam- Barack Obama and his gang of terrorists.

From the AP:

"In a slip of the tongue, Republican Mitt Romney accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama of urging terrorists to congregate in Iraq. In the midst of criticizing Obama and other Democrats on foreign and economic policy Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful said: 'Actually, just look at what Osam -- Barack Obama -- said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded.'"

"Romney was addressing a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Spokesman Kevin Madden said: 'He misspoke and corrected himself and was referring to Osama bin Laden.'"

I have to admit that when I heard this on the radio, my first response was to giggle. I mean, it is so stupid in a way that it's funny. Then I started to think-this Mormon is a presidential candidate, not your average fellow on the street.

That doesn't mean Mitt Romney or Joe Biden are bigots-but it does mean we've set the standards pretty low for emotional intelligence in the US Senate and the Governors Mansion. I'm glad Obama is no Clarence Thomas, constantly playing the race card. He has been nothing but professional in responding to this volley of seemingly innocuous mistakes. But

I do wish he could find a way to take on the Swiftboaters, the shock jocks and operatives, who apparently are truly out to get him.

However, I'm not running for President. If I were, I'd probably be way too gracious, too. Which would make me a lousy candidate for a cutthroat job. It is possible, however, that we need an Obama to restore some civility to the political dialogue-if it was ever civil.

See the link above for Roger Cohen's analysis (in the NYT) of why Obama represents the connections we need to forge with the rest of the world to fix our horrible reputation-and move ahead.

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