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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/1/08

Barack, You've Lost Your Way

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It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Obama was supposed to be the one whose mission is to call us Americans back to the better angels of our nature.  But it seems we’ve reached a point where it is we who need to summon Barack back to the better angels of<em> his</em> nature.

We need to remind him of the nature of the force that has brought him to this point.  We need to remind him of that deep place from which has come the power he’s ridden to win the Democratic nomination and to stand now within reach of the presidency.


“Why do you think it is, Barack,” we need to ask, “that a relative newcomer like you, and one laboring under the weight of America’s racist history at that, has become the front-runner, superceding more experienced, better-known, seemingly “inevitable” competitors?

“It is because at a time when the power of the presidency has been wielded by a gang for whom no principle guided them save their lust for power, you gave promise of being a man of principle.

“It is because at a time when America’s leadership has been trampling our Constitution and our laws, you persuaded us that you would act with integrity to restore our values and our Constitution.

“It is because at a time when we’ve consistently been lied to by our leaders, you seemed to speak to us honestly.

“It is because millions of Americans –yearning for an end to this darkness—were inspired by that message and joined forces with you.  Yes, inspired.  The force that has brought you to within reach of the presidency has been a moral and spiritual force, the kind --as you seemed to understand-- required to overcome the corrupt powers that have come to dominate American politics.

“And now you’ve lost your way.  

“Among the several recent moves that have looked not principled but opportunistic, the most troublesome is your recent position on FISA.  

“Over the last two and a half years, we’ve learned too much about this FISA struggle to buy what you’ve said about our national security requiring that this bill be passed and about this bill being an acceptable “compromise” that protects the rule of law.  And so we’re left having to believe either that you don’t understand what you’re talking about or, far more likely, that out of political calculation you’re saying things to America that you yourself know are not true.

“<em>And this not on just any issue, but one that goes to the heart of the lies and fear-mongering and trampling on the American system of government that define the darkness of this Bushite era!</em>

“Don’t you understand that such political opportunism cuts the legs out from under the horse that’s been carrying you this far on your mission?  Don’t you know that the whole potential power of your presidency rests on that trust that you built –trust in your integrity, trust now damaged—between yourself and that national community whose organizer and leader you promised to be?

“A recent article (on Huffington Post) speaks about how, with these recent seemingly expedient and unprincipled moves, you’ve undercut your “brand.”  And this article, in turn, drew upon articles in the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> and <em>The Washington Post</em> which included such statements as:  <blockquote> The changes carry some risk that Obama will diminish the image he has sought to build as a new type of leader who will change how Washington conducts business. McCain and other Republicans have used his recent policy statements to argue that Obama is a traditional politician, unwilling to take clear stands on tough issues and abandoning his principles when he finds it advantageous. (LA Times)

“[And, quoting David Sirota, a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and author of the new populist-themed book “The Uprising.”] “When Obama takes these mushy positions, it could speak to a character issue. Voters that don’t pay a lot of attention look at one thing: ‘Does the guy believe in something?’ They may be saying the guy is afraid of his own shadow.” (Washington Post) </blockquote>

“But what you have jeopardized goes beyond “branding,” implying as that does a sales strategy.  It undercuts the main argument for your candidacy, that your candidacy was not principally a sales strategy but was rather about your being someone genuine.  Your “new politics” seemed to be based on your faith that what needed to be said could be said, and the “sales” would take care of themselves.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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