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Monday, August 04, 2008


Deciphering The Obama Code

To say that I'm "impressed" would be the wrong word...but I am (let's say) amazed by the insidious, nearly-undetectable subtlety of the racism and classism aimed at the Obama campaign by the media and the McCain campaign. (Now I know how Hillary voters felt...the media in this country deeply and truly sucks, verging on incompetence.)

For instance, there's widespread media bullshit about Obama being a "risky choice." The basis? His "inexperience," which comes after twenty years in public service and nearly a decade in state and national goverment. The reality is, he's got plenty of experience...McCain has more, of course, because he's as old as Methusulah. But "more" is not necessarily "better"; in terms of who is a greater risk to America (and the economy, the environment, civil liberties, the Supreme Court, globalization and the war), the clear risk is McCain, who has damaging proposals in all of these areas.

So the pundits' "risky choice" is code for other things...specifically, making voters uncertain and a bit afraid of Obama. Making voters fear him as an Unknown Quantity. Why is this important? Because the media needs the election to be close, to goose up ratings and profits. (See example: Obama/Clinton.) But there's also a real danger here; if white Americans have subliminal or overt racist prejudices, they can't vote against him in good conscience simply because he's black...but if he's "risky," that's all the justification they need.

The anti-intellectual critique against Obama -- that he's too smart, that he's presumptious, that he's arrogant -- is also code, as anyone raised in the South will tell you, for "uppity." As Donna Brazile said on This Week: "My parents fought to get me a college education. When did going to Harvard become a bad thing?"

And then today, there was this revealing article from the L.A. Times. I quote:

"There's an interesting line building on Obama that somehow success and intelligence are a handicap," said Mark Sawyer, a UCLA political scientist. "If he wasn't extraordinary, he wouldn't be there. But then he is extraordinary and it becomes, 'He is just too good, too well spoken, too accomplished.' "
Aha. "Too well spoken." Code again. Brilliant at Breakfast links to the same article, but parses it as revealing a redneck, reactionary flavor in the electorate. I see it a little differently...that independents, especially white independents, are not looking FOR reasons to vote for Obama, but for a palatable excuse why they CAN'T. And McCain will most certainly provide them more than one this fall.

This is why we simply must not believe the polls this year...because no one's going to admit to being a racist. (Indeed, most racists don't even believe they are one.) This election depends upon progressives and intelligent people rejecting the "coded" language of the media, building positive momentum, ignoring the red herrings (offshore drilling, gas tax repeals, etc.) and turning out in record numbers. The country's hanging in the balance. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric, no matter how subtle it gets.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one am not being fooled by the rhetoric. I believe I mentioned in one of my posts during the primaries, that the media 'would' take a more aggressive stance against Obama once he was the presumptive nominee. Nevertheless, he's managed to run a gaff proof campaign whilst McCain continues to have way too many 'senior moments' which should be of concern for everyone. It appears Obama’s biggest Achilles heel is his stubbornness on energy issues. Clearly the ten Senators comprised of Republicans and Democrats who were attempting to negotiate a partisan agreement about off-shore drilling, nuclear energy and the more environmentally safe options such as wind and electric vehicles, alternative fuel, etc. want to give the appearance of bipartisanship prior to the November elections. Certainly there is room for a multitude of options for this country to withdraw its reliance on foreign oil. Obama can't really wait until the congress comes back into session to get on board. Nothing is hitting middle America (blue collar independents) harder than the energy issues which have rolled into not only higher gas prices, but a variety of commodities including food. Obama has already shored up his core base and really needs to start addressing the issues that the rest of us are facing. This has less to do with racism and more to do about the poor economic situation the majority of Americans are experiencing. The candidate that speaks to the issues that middle America is most concerned about, will be the one they vote for, regardless of color. All people want is a viable solution to the problem. Even if additional drilling doesn’t provide the fuel we need for another 5 – 10 years, it will manage to drive speculation down and thus prices. Folks, this is a no brainer. His suggestion of providing every person with a $1,000 energy rebate at the expense of big oil, will not work, and is a bit foolish. It sounds great, but I believe may very well be unconstitutional to single out one entity as the source of America’s woes. You can bet that Chevron, Exxon, Mobile etc. will have that tied up in the courts for years. As for the media, you’re right. Their current reporting is nothing more than an illusion of providing fair and conscientious journalism (something clearly missing during the primaries), when we all know they’re just trying to boost their ratings. After all, who doesn’t like a good fight? In short, if Obama and the Democrats really want control, they’re going to have to concede some things and start moving towards the middle. It’s that simple

8/5/08, 6:33 AM  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

when will America in general EVER LEARN. this is getting so depressing.

A president SHOULD be extraordinary, articulate and educated. Those are like bare minimums for the toughest job in the world.


although I don't think this particular issue has much to do with race. Americans are notoriously anti-intellectual towards all people (black, white or otherwise) and always to their own detriment.

8/5/08, 7:38 AM  
Blogger ModFab said...

I, for one, could not disagree with you more, KJAM. Offshore drilling is a false solution...I'm taking this info from this week's New Yorker:

"The Department of Energy estimates that there are eighteen billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in offshore areas of the continental United States that are now closed to drilling. This sounds like a lot, until you consider that oil is a globally traded commodity and that, at current rates of consumption, eighteen billion barrels would satisfy less than seven months of global demand.A D.O.E. report issued last year predicted that it would take two decades for drilling in restricted areas to have a noticeable effect on domestic production, and that, even then, 'because oil prices are determined on the international market,' the impact on fuel costs would be 'insignificant.'"

I recognize that Americans are hurting financially, KJAM. But the answer isn't false promises like offshore drilling or gas tax rebates...which make good sound bytes but will in fact do little or nothing to improve American lives and finances.

Does Obama need to play the game? Sure he does. But does he need to start lying to the American people the way McCain is? Absolutely not. That's not the Obama I wanted for President.

8/5/08, 9:01 AM  
Blogger libhom said...

The racism didn't start with the McCain campaign. Hillary Clinton made white supremacy her main campaign theme. I can't wait to vote Green the next time she runs for office in New York.

8/5/08, 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Modfab, once again you and I are pretty much on the same page. I don't believe we can drill our way out of the problem, but until this country really invests in new technology for renewable energy and makes a finalized decision in which alternative fuel would be the most beneficial for the nation as a whole (guess what, it ain't corn) then a combination policy that utilizes all existing resources (wind, solar, nuclear, coal and yes oil) would be a sound investment in this country's future. Happily, I just finished watching a snippet of Obama's energy speech and I LIKE what I hear. Granted, the far far left aren't going to be thrilled with some of his remarks; then again they don't know the first thing about politics and getting elected. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: The next president will be in the unique position to go down in history as one of the most significant leaders this country has ever had if they can set us down the path of energy independence. Ignoring these issues will only further strengthen our enemies. Let’s face it; we can no longer afford to depend on combatant countries for our energy needs. This is not about being ‘liked’ it’s about doing what’s in OUR best interest while maintaining our sovereignty.
One last note: I really wish this country would also begin moving towards a viable clean water solution as well. As droughts throughout the country become more common place, I view this problem as big if not bigger than that of our energy deficiencies. Having been in a drought for the last 2 years, Georgia is already being forced to deal with this issue. Lawsuits abound about who controls the water flow between Tennessee and the Georgia border, another from Florida over our blocking the flow of water into their state (all awhile they continue to build condos right on the river…brilliant) and another from Alabama because we want to build 2 more reservoirs which they feel will siphon off their ability to get water. It’s coming, just you wait.

8/5/08, 11:45 AM  

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