Obama Can Win – With Dignity Intact
In this long and ugly campaign, I am getting tired of the suggestion that President Obama should imitate Lyndon Baines Johnson.
By that theory, Obama should have long ago grabbed his opponents and saboteurs by some vulnerable part of their anatomy and squeezed until they cooperated.
This thoughtful and active president has been catching hell for four years for the crime of PWB – Presiding While Black. We all know that race is the subtext for this campaign. Obama has had to deal with congressional leaders with the smirks of southern sheriffs and South African apartheid enforcers back in the bad old days.
Just the other day, when that great American Colin Powell endorsed Obama, John Sununu made the despicable suggestion that Powell was only doing it for racial reasons. (Piers Morgan, an outsider currently working in American television, did not know the territory well enough to push Sununu on this.)
Obama would only have made it worse by morphing into LBJ. Lately I’ve been talking to veterans who watched their companions die in Vietnam, and when they lived long enough to read memoirs and histories they discovered Johnson and his pals had known the war was not working.
Yes, give credit to Johnson for pushing through civil-rights and anti-poverty legislation, for muscling the southern tier, his own constituency. He was also a bully who could not face his grotesque mistake.
Obama did fine in his second and third debates against a candidate who swerves all over the place, as Colin Powell said. Reason and record -- and dignity -- will win out.
10/27/2012 02:10:37 am
10/27/2012 02:13:55 am
not sure what happened, but the 'l' in lament ended up before the 'o' in often in the last paragraph of my incredibly insightful comment.....
10/27/2012 02:59:33 am
George, I totally agree about PWB. It seems to be the under current that fuels a lot of people's hatred of Obama.
10/27/2012 03:54:55 am
Suzanne?? It stunned me how quick a segment of Boehner-McConnell-Cantor America decided they hated Obama. Magical. Didn't like the cut of his jib (nautical term) or something.
10/27/2012 06:29:54 am
I'll leave any remnant hopes and dreams about our current President alone, and simply be disappointed that the Governor does not find the present political climate conducive to serious political discussion. Instead, I'll turn my attention to the past. LBJ impressed me as a consummate politician, with his eye focused completely on ego. That is the only way I, at least, can explain the Civil Right Act and Vietnam can be in the same man. Very different from the now late George McGovern. The man from South Dakota may or may not have made a better President than President Nixon, who I believe on domestic matters was the last true inventive and progressive President we have had, but McGovern was full of honest "Prairie Wisdom." We had terrible problems back then, but at least also a very few public servants who articulated beliefs and positions that actually went to the heart of our problems.
10/27/2012 11:17:24 am
Brian, I totally agree about mcGovern. The tributes to him were touching on Friday. Thanks for your always-thoughtful comments. GV
10/27/2012 06:33:33 am
edit: "HOW the Civil Rights Act....."
10/27/2012 07:05:16 am
George, I too agree about PWB, but I think that the reason is more subtle than the overt racism that is, sadly, all too easy to find in the US. The only explanation that I can give for the closeness of this election - given the clear inadequacies (I am being kind) of the Republican candidate - is that some in the electorate who do not consider themselves 'racist' in any ordinary sense, do not realise that they are nonetheless prejudiced. It would take too long to make out the case for this in detail, but the basic point is straightforward. These people simply discount - literally, they count less - much of Obama's character and his accomplishments because of his colour. Difficult to put into words because that might make it seem reasonable, but the idea is that because of an unreflective prejudice that is more widespread than racism, they cannot actually see what Obama has done and how he has brought the kind of dignity of which you wrote to his office. (This inability to see extends to women as well as black people, but that is another story.) If a historical and apolitical narrative of the past four years could be written which didn't mention the colour of the incumbent, and put alongside a narrative of what the current opponent has to offer, I doubt that there would be any contest.
10/28/2012 04:15:39 am
10/28/2012 04:39:30 am
10/28/2012 05:04:47 am
10/28/2012 05:22:14 am
SORRY--FIRST POSTED INCOMPLETE!!
10/28/2012 01:52:13 pm
10/28/2012 01:58:20 pm
I have been having difficulty posting my complete message. In hope of getting it all in, I've split it into two posts.
11/2/2012 03:15:59 pm
George has a column in tomorrow's Times (i.e. Saturday, Nov. 3, page D3 of the New York edition) on the decision to call off the marathon: "Wisely Stepping Aside in a Bombarded City,"
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.