Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Understandable Criticism

Probably the only one from the right who's criticized Obama's speech that I think has any grounding is Ross Douthat, and those who echo his sentiment:

As I suggested yesterday in detailing my own qualms about the speech, they're palpably fueled by the fact that Obama is a liberal. The conservative idea of a candidate who's "transformational" on race is someone who sounds like Bill Cosby and works with Ward Connerly, and that just isn't what Obama's doing; hence the Right's disappointment, which in many cases is curdling into dismissiveness and outright dislike.

That seems about right. Of course Sully's assessment that right wing criticism is, "palpably fueled by fear and racism." is true about 90% of the time, as any quick review of the Corner yesterday will show. The sort of knee jerk "this speech was dumb" is about as ignorant as when Bush gets on television and says, "the economy is doing great!" You can disagree with Obama's views but his speech was so powerful that you can't just dismiss it as humdrum. When that happens your you seem so out of touch with reality that anything you say seems delusional. Ross on the other hand seems to be able to appreciate Obama's speech while disagreeing with his thesis, a thesis he, as a conservative, would never agree with anyway.

I do find issue though with Ross' view of what he thinks is Obama's gambit:

"...he's trying to free African-American politics from the vice grip of grievance and resentment, breaking away not only from the Sharptons and Jacksons but from the NAACP line of Julian Bond and Kweise Mfume as well, and bringing black Americans out of racialism and radicalism and into the liberal mainstream; at the same time, he's trying to bring the country, which has heretofore tilted right, into the center-left mainstream as well. [Boldface mine]

Ross I think makes a wrong assumption that just because Bush won the last two elections [one in a narrow margin and the other...] that the country tilts right. No one really knows how the country tilts, and really looking at America through that ideological framework is a fallacy. In that way the public is probably a bit smarter than pundits because they don't have the loyalties to a particular ideology that we do. That's not to say that they're sheerly pragmatic (one could wish) or have some other particular metric to base their decisions on. They look at both the intangible and tangible, experience and party and some other crazy shiz to decide--and yet out of all those things there is something there that makes them more open to politicians than ideologues. What Ross doesn't get is that it's within that junction that Obama makes a stand. Look, maybe I'm giving Barack too much credit. Maybe I'm drinking the kool-aid, but there's something about him and his campaign that's honest and sincere, and if you see that then Ross' argument, that Obama's message is some ideological tactic, is flawed. Sure, you can classify his message as left, and sure, you can disagree with it because it falls into that category, but I don't think the public is thinking that way. I think that the public is looking for solutions--real solutions that work, and they don't care where the hell it comes from. Maybe this is the "New Politics" that Obama keeps talking about--this openness to escape the confines of party and idealism to perfect America, and it's not something he created. The people have been ready for this for a while--but like an archaeologist, he's just unearthed what was already there.

No comments:

LabPixies TV