Thursday, November 08, 2007

Obama And One America

Andrew Sullivan, the conflicted conservative queer that I love to read, has been doing a lot of great posting on Obama of late. Sullivan, an Americaphile by choice instead of by birth, seems to be stirred by the leadership qualities he sees in Obama, the same ones I see.

You don't hear a lot of vitriolic garbage coming from Obama because he really doesn't see two Americas, "one red and one blue." I don't believe he'd stoop to creating wedge issues to subdivide Americans for political gain, either.... I think he really believes in the greatness of one America.

Sullivan today links to this Atlantic article and it's a good one. My choice graf:
Obama’s mother was, in fact, born only five years earlier than Hillary Clinton. He did not politically come of age during the Vietnam era, and he is simply less afraid of the right wing than Clinton is, because he has emerged on the national stage during a period of conservative decadence and decline. And so, for example, he felt much freer than Clinton to say he was prepared to meet and hold talks with hostile world leaders in his first year in office. He has proposed sweeping middle-class tax cuts and opposed drastic reforms of Social Security, without being tarred as a fiscally reckless liberal. (Of course, such accusations are hard to make after the fiscal performance of today’s “conservatives.”) Even his more conservative positions—like his openness to bombing Pakistan, or his support for merit pay for public-school teachers—do not appear to emerge from a desire or need to credentialize himself with the right. He is among the first Democrats in a generation not to be afraid or ashamed of what they actually believe, which also gives them more freedom to move pragmatically to the right, if necessary. He does not smell, as Clinton does, of political fear.
Bingo! The author has successfully articulated what I have always sensed without fully understanding. I'll also say that Obama's willingness to step to the right when it makes sense is a major turnoff to those who sit far to the left of mainstream. It also happens to be how I used to be, before Bush and his delusional wingnut minions made me want to vomit on the entire right side of the spectrum. Refreshing.

I also liked these grafs regarding his religious experience:
You cannot confront the complex challenges of domestic or foreign policy today unless you understand this gulf and its seriousness. You cannot lead the United States without having a foot in both the religious and secular camps. This, surely, is where Bush has failed most profoundly. By aligning himself with the most extreme and basic of religious orientations, he has lost many moderate believers and alienated the secular and agnostic in the West. If you cannot bring the agnostics along in a campaign against religious terrorism, you have a problem.

Here again, Obama, by virtue of generation and accident, bridges this deepening divide. He was brought up in a nonreligious home and converted to Christianity as an adult. But—critically—he is not born-again. His faith—at once real and measured, hot and cool—lives at the center of the American religious experience. It is a modern, intellectual Christianity. “I didn’t have an epiphany,” he explained to me. “What I really did was to take a set of values and ideals that were first instilled in me from my mother, who was, as I have called her in my book, the last of the secular humanists—you know, belief in kindness and empathy and discipline, responsibility—those kinds of values. And I found in the Church a vessel or a repository for those values and a way to connect those values to a larger community and a belief in God and a belief in redemption and mercy and justice … I guess the point is, it continues to be both a spiritual, but also intellectual, journey for me, this issue of faith.”

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