Monday, August 18, 2008

Patrick Lang On Obama And "Elitism"

Patrick Lang has an excellent commentary up about the performances of Barack Obama and John McCain at the Saddleback Civil Forum last Saturday. First, he quotes Sally Quinn:

Obama came first, and he handled himself well in front of an audience that clearly disagrees with him on many issues. He also managed to put to rest the notion that he is a Muslim, which 12 percent of Americans still believe he is. He talked directly to Rick Warren as though they were having a real conversation, whereas McCain played to the audience, rarely looking at Warren. He was low-key, thoughtful and nuanced.

That kind of nuance is hard to understand sometimes -- it's unclear, complicated. Obama's world can be scarier. It's multicultural. It's realistic (yes, there is evil on the streets of this country as well as in other places, and a lot of evil has been perpetrated in the name of good). It's honest. When does life begin? Only the antiabortionists are clear on that. For the majority of Americans (who are pro-choice), it is "above my pay grade," in Obama's words, where there is no hard and fast line to draw on what's worth dying for, and where people of all faiths have to be respected.

I would rather live in McCain's world than Obama's. But I believe that we live in Obama's world.

Worlds Apart:McCain's Clarity vs. Obama's Nuance

That phrase "above my pay-grade" didn't go over with the holy rollers on USA Today's review board:

The differences showed up most sharply in questions related to abortion. When Warren asked when life and human rights begin, McCain's succinct reply, "At conception," and mention of his pro-life voting track record were greeted with some of the loudest applause of the evening.

Obama's pro-choice stance and flippant language were not.

"Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective," Obama said, "answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade."

Differences Surface in McCain-Obama Christian Forum

That Sally Quinn recognizes the truth of this better than that so-called panel of experts demonstrates how bizarre our national discourse has become. You don't need to be a secularist to understand that this is a personal ethical dilemma for most people. All you need to be is someone with a functioning mind.

Lang goes on to observe:

Obama is a lot like [Adlai] Stevenson. You could see that in the "forum" held in Orange County the other night. McCain has been trained by his neocon handlers and advisers to suppress the music in his rugged old soul in favor of "memotics and neurolinguistics." He spoke to the audience, not to the host. He spoke in simplistic terms of complex issues. He exhorted the crowd to fear against the "other." It was a rally against the enemies that so many in America hold dear as a focus for their own group identity.

I continue to think that McCain will win.

Obama - Too smart for America?

For anyone who is aware of our political history, this is a troubling observation. Stevenson really did try to appeal to thinking people. Obama is like him in that respect. His speech on race demonstrates his ability to see an issue from more than one perspective. What Stevenson's repeated failures to win the Presidency show is that America doesn't have much patience for such people.

In short, I fear Lang may be right.


2 comments:

Serving Patriot said...

McCain might win

All the more reason for all patriots to get out the vote and push BHO over the top. Its about time our nation had a Stevenson and not a phony.

SP

Cujo359 said...

I think you've proposed a false choice. There's no reason we can't have both an intellectual and a phony. My own opinion is that Obama is both. The difference between me and much of the electorate is that the "intellectual" part doesn't scare me.

It's hard to get excited about voting for the candidate who sucks less. I'll (probably) vote for Obama, but not with any enthusiasm. About three years from now you'll understand why I said this, I suspect.

Still, it would be good to have a President who is better at public speaking than your average high school sophomore.