16 January 2008

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself . . .

. . . strong praise for Pres. Reagan's vision from an unlikely source (via Althouse). An unsurprisingly negative response from the TPM crowd. I understand that Sen. Obama doesn't directly praise any specific Reagan administration policy, just acknowledges that he came along at an inflection point in history and lead us out of a decade in the wilderness.

But even the recognition that Pres. Reagan's campaign and vision was transformative within the American political landscape is enough to be controversial amongst many current Democrats.

On top of that, Sen. Obama not so subtly places Pres. Nixon and Pres. Clinton in the same sentence as presidents who had no transformative agenda or appeal.

The Obama is saying he will be transformative, don't demand specifics now, just know that The Obama will transform our country, how other countries respond to us, and how we interact with each other across the political spectrum.

If it was off the cuff, it was a dangerous aside, that could damage him with a constituency he still hopes to woo. If it was calculated, it may have been the most brilliant 30 seconds of seemingly casual political speech that you are ever likely to see.

If he doesn't run away from this, it could be his Sister Souljah moment, he marks himself as a person concerned with America first, not progressive politics or the Democratic Party. He wants the votes of Reagan Democrats, and Reagan Republicans, he wants to assure them that he recognizes the failure of the big government programs of the 60s and 70s, and he won't repeat them. Plus he recognizes that in its way, Clinton's time in office was as destructive to the office of the presidency as Nixon's and during an Obama administration, he'd bring back the decorum and respect that Pres. Reagan had demonstrated.

Or not, I might be over-parsing this.

I was an English Major, I can do that with the best of them.

And as far as calling him "The Obama" (just in case you are wondering), it's more about how people are reacting towards him than what he does (though he does nothing to discourage this reaction). Just as "The Oprah" is every white woman's bestest black girlfriend, "The Obama" has potential to be everyone's bestest and favorite Exceptional Negro (not a term I made up, that would be Undercover Black Man's doing).

Electing Sen. Obama president will automatically be a transformative event for how Americans see themselves and relate to each other, even if he really doesn't do anything to deserve the transformative label. Even though electing a woman, Sen. Clinton, should also be a transformative experience, because she is who she is, it doesn't work that way for her. She's too tied up in the psycho-drama and divisions of the 90s to represent something new. She'd be Clinton II, not the first woman elected president.

I personally don't think a superficial transformation of racial politics in America is enough of a reason to elect a big government liberal at a time when big government liberalism can do a great deal of harm. But I do recognize that a successful Obama presidency could heal a lot of still open wounds in this country. I'm not rooting for him, but it's hard to root against him.

And the beginning where Sen. Obama slowly says, "I don't want to present myself as some sort of a singular figure...", is his way of saying, 'I can't say it about myself, but feel free to think that about me as you vote for me on election day'.

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