Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Comfortably Numb

It's a bit hard to believe how much consternation can be generated by a single image on the cover of a relatively obscure magazine. I suspect that most people who are concerned with "Covergate" reacted more to the image itself, and were largely unfamiliar with The New Yorker. For their part, the editorial staff of the magazine submits that they were attempting to satirize the "misinformation" surrounding Barack Obama's candidacy (nearly all of which was generated by surrogates of Hillary Clinton.)

While liberals are exercised over the New Yorker cover, Republicans are inured to this sort of leftist nastiness; conservatives take the brunt of abuse from progressives on a near-hourly basis. Moreover, we have borne witness to the scurrilous rantings of prominent Democrats directed towards Obama. Who can forget the comments of Bill Shaheen, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary ("Spadework") and Bill ("Fairy Tale") Clinton, Ralph Nader, Andrew Young and Bob Johnson, among others?

Indeed, now is the campaign silly season when Democrats go into their circular firing squad formation, taking potshots at each other. But in this election cycle, the fratricide seemed to start earlier (see here and here) and threatens to continue right up to the DNC Convention (see the PUMA phenomenon.) The precipitating factor for all of this is Obama himself. The MSM's fawning notwithstanding, Obama will not inspire the type of celluloid hagiography that occasioned the Kerry-Edwards debacle; he simply has no story to tell.

Both elected and rank-and-file Democrats look at Obama and say to themselves "Why him?" And it is his seeming lack of what MSM-types describe as "gravitas" (such as when they openly questioned whether George W. Bush had it) that makes Obama ripe for satire. Sure, he is smooth and charismatic (and "articulate" and "clean"), but he is also double-minded. This was no more apparent than during Obama's remarks to to this week's 99th NAACP Convention.

So yes, we have to demand more responsibility from Washington. And yes we have to demand more responsibility from Wall Street. But we also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I've been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I'm not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn't matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch - none of it will make any difference if we don't seize more responsibility in our own lives.

That's how we'll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That's not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That's not the America they gave so much to build. That's not the dream they had for our children.

That's why if we're serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families, and our own communities. That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts with teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; and teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities - and to help our synagogues and churches and community centers feed the hungry and care for the elderly. We all have to do our part to lift up this country.

Apparently the conservative message of personal responsibility is good enough for African Americans, but not so for whites. Obama almost never chides white homeowners facing foreclosure for taking out risky mortgages, or young white males for staying in low-skill, easily exportable occupations. The self-evident doublespeak understandably rankles even the most die-hard liberals. (See the Fox News Channel interview on "N-wordgate" here.)

In any event, is is crystal clear that Barack Obama's biggest political challenge is not whether people think that he is Muslim or that he and his wife give each other "terrorist fist bumps", but rather an arrogance that outstrips any demonstrated competence. Obama is presumptuous enough to believe that African Americans will vote for him no matter what he says, and that he need only appeal to (young) whites. The black community has again found itself in a position to which it has become accustomed - in possession of a freshly-renewed "chump certificate" courtesy of the Democratic Party. Sadly, conservatives are as well accustomed to witnessing that sort of thing.

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