Saturday, January 26, 2008

My favorite political blogger (other than Instapundit--simply required daily reading) Mickey Kaus seems to think Obama is about to be jobbed by racism in tonight's SC primary. Geez, I hope not. I'll be the first to out Hillary's modified "Southern Strategy" if most Edwards supporters go to Clinton. (Not that it's her fault, but I want her to lose.) If one is truly liberal, Hillary is not your candidate. She betrays would-be liberal supporters routinely, as Ed Klein's book so amply demonstrates. If Pat Moynihan doesn't like you (and you're a Democrat) that's a really bad sign. The book details the late Senator's antipathy toward her very well indeed. (I was not inclined to dislike her until I read Klein's book. I have a generally favorable view of President Clinton, likely more favorable than he gets from most conservative Republicans.) She has never said anything that I felt deserved my affirmation. The only major vote she cast with which I agreed was her vote to authorize the Iraq war, and that vote she has stopped just short of disavowing. (which means she lacks the courage to affirm it, or the courage to admit she made a mistake.) She does not inspire; I cannot say I'll wake up after Election Day if she wins believing and hoping for the best. Hillary Clinton cannot unite America, even around the idea of being American. In her losing Iowa speech, after appealing to Democrats and moderates to join her, she said, "...even Republicans who've seen the light." What, we're former Republicans? Even if she meant extremely disaffected Republicans--likely more conservative than the president, by the way--with what could she entice them? She is the most unlikely Democrat to peel off Republican voters you could imagine. If the Republican nominee is McCain, does she really think she'll be winning independents from him? Mr. Independent would crush her. Unless all American women vote for her simply because she's a woman, she has no chance to overcome this and win the White House. If she wins the nomination, does she really think former Obama supporters will be so afraid of John McCain (?) that she could pull out a close one on turnout? She'll have to slime Mr. Likable, Mr. Black JFK just to get there, and she'll pay dearly.
Obama, on the other hand, is/has been geared for the general election from Day 1. He's Mr. "One America," remember? "No Red States or Blue States..." he says. He has indeed praised Reagan; he did utter the words, "middle-class tax cut," and "entrepreneur" in his Iowa victory speech; he has wiggle-room on health care that Hillary doesn't. He's a better, scarier opponent in November. Heck, I like him, and I'm a conservative Republican. His stump speeches range from adequate to absolutely mesmerizing. If I were a Democrat, and the choice was simply between Clinton and Obama, it's not close. I'm not sure why she is winning.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's MLK, Jr. Day here in our beloved United States. Whether it should be a federal holiday or not has lost a bit of salience because many businesses continue to operate. And it is indeed separate from the question of King's importance and legacy, despite some attempts to equate not supporting the creation of the holiday with the very racism that King opposed. I would surmise that King would oppose a holiday about himself. Here is a curious article. Would we not expect that King would lose support as he took stands that reflected a particular political ideology? In spite of his many flaws, King is to me an American hero. He has (rightly) been appropriated as a symbol by nearly everyone--right, left, and center--and by people in other nations. But I can say that I differ with Dr. King with respect to the Vietnam War, Ali, and probably economics, as well. Must I have been in lockstep with him politically at all times to share his 'Dream'? I should say not! It seems to me that King understood that the most vital aspects of his message involved civil rights long promised and long denied, and that he had to frame it as an American problem, as a national identity crisis, touching us all. The very thing that makes King so inspiring is that he saw the problem in this way, and helped us all to see it this way, too. He was not in fact the leader of black Americans, demanding rights for black Americans; (Though that is part of the story.) King was an American, asking fellow Americans of all colors and creeds to look in the mirror. "Which America sounds like the one you love?" he seemed to ask. And we decided that his vision of America, by and large, was the right one. He would have known that his later activities were premised on less universal themes, that his solutions were more transparently ideological than the highest points of the civil rights movement. This is what I'd like to think, anyway. The March on Washington, I'd like to think, included future Goldwater supporters. All that is to say that King united many kinds of people around American ideals in fighting for civil rights, a coalition that would not hold through all of King's endeavors. And that's OK, even natural.
His widow, Coretta Scott King, makes no secret of her progressive politics. It is to the credit of progressive ideologues that their ideas have, in the minds of many, become synonymous with fidelity to civil rights and the civil rights movement. But that is a detriment to King's dream, and to the country in the end. The idea that only those who agreed entirely with MLK, Jr.'s agenda throughout can claim him, or look to him for inspiration is frankly illiberal and immoral. I hope that he would see my opposition to affirmative action and other preferences based upon race as a testament to his dream partially realized, not a reflection of a recalcitrant racist.
Anyway, the fact that Americans view King's entire legacy and career differently, but are nearly unanimous in holding that it was significant, and (on balance) positive demonstrates that Americans are capable of a nuanced view of even our heroes.