Archive for May 23rd, 2008

A BROTHER REPLYS TO HIS WHITE FRIEND ON OBAMA,SENT IN BY BROTHER LOUIS ARMMAND

May 23, 2008

from BROTHER LOUIS ARMMAND

Hello Chuck:

It’s good to hear from you!

It’s a very interesting dilemna for the very ordinary (white) American Joe in Kentucky and West Virginia; I know how many of these folks are socialized by habit and tradition. They are very suspicion of anything strange or radically different. Life and hard experience from outsiders have taught them hard lessons over the generations. Yet once they take a liking to you, and trust you, they will literally give you the shirt off their back.

Culturally, I share some of this tradition, for I was born and lived in these hills for the first 13 years of my life. However, my mother saved me from the rut of Appalachian life—its dullness, isolation, and hopelessness by migration to New York City while it was still in its “golden age” of the 1950s and 1960s.

I do believe that Obama will overcome all opposition to his election, however, simply because he has most of the objective conditions going for him in this contest. A declining economy targeting towards an historic meltdown, the near total incompetency of the Bush foreign policy, and the massive popular desire for change throughout the country. Add to these factors the unusual success of the well oiled Obama political organization that has proven fairly effective at turning on a dime when necessary, and I see a formidable fighting machine well conditioned to the American political process.

Of course, Obama does not represent a change toward “people power” or any challenge to financial capital; “my people” sense this fact implicitly. He has not attacked a single issue from the advantage point of the working class. His healthcare plan embraces the insurance companies and guarantees them a key role, his educational policy will continue to enrich the private sector, there is no mention of public works and employment policy even like the Kennedy-Johnson years; foreign policy is still a military-imperial function “improved” by wider discussions and threats to the adversaries of US designs around the world. Obama has been tapped by the US overlords to put a more rational, universalist, and “none white” gloss on a highly discreditted US imperialistic foreign policy in grave crisis.

If one carefully examines the sources of real support for McCain and Obama, it strongly reflects the key interests, directions and policies of corporate America. But with a difference: the Bush wing of the political leadership, while succeeding in its financial and tax policy of rapid enrichment of the oligarchy, has utterly failed in controlling the empire aboard. The “liberal” wing of capital represented by the Obama wing of the party of capital seeks to “correct” these “mistakes” by giving a few sops to the restive domestic population, so greatly neglected for the last decade or so, while making necessary adjustment aboard. These efforts are doomed to failure for reasons which I can’t explore here.

So, to sum up, I think Obama will win the Democratic party nomination for president of the US, then proceed to win in November by a comfortable margin running against the Republican party and old man McCain. However, he will have a very rough term of office unless he tacks to the left as Roosevelt did in 1936. Yet this will be extremely difficult for him to do, I believe. But let’s see if he proves me wrong! As Malcolm would say, “time will tell”.

Louis
BROTHER LOUIS WAS REPLYING TO CHUCK’S E-MAIL BELOW:

Viral e-mails attack Obama’s life story
By: Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin
May 22, 2008 07:27 AM EST

The main obstacle standing between Barack Obama and the White House was
distilled into five words by a local television correspondent in South
Charleston, W.Va., earlier this month.

Prefacing a question about the challenges of winning over white, blue-collar
voters, the reporter offered this observation: “They think you are
un-American,” he said.

Such questions, asked by reporters and plainly on the minds of voters in
Appalachia and elsewhere, are the fruits of an unprecedented, subterranean
e-mail campaign.

What began as a demonstrably false attempt to cast Obama as a Muslim has now
metastasized into something far more threatening to the likely Democratic
nominee. The spurious claims about his faith have spiraled into a broader
assault that questions his patriotism and citizenship and generally portrays
him as a threat to mainstream, white America.

The spread of these e-mails has forced Obama to embark on a campaign to
Americanize his image and his biography. Pivoting away from his pitch to a
primary election audience uninterested in flag-waving and nationalism, he’s
returning to the message that first brought him to the national spotlight in
2004: the idea that his is the quintessential American story.

He’s also drawing the campaign into partisan combat, blaming Republicans for
the smears even though they have not been traced back to GOP sources. “The
Republicans, they’re trying to make [it] ‘this is not about you; it’s about
me.’ They’re trying to say, ‘Well, Obama, we don’t know him that well, he
hasn’t been around that long, he’s got a funny name; maybe he’s a Muslim,’”
Obama said Monday in Montana. “They want to make people worry about me.”

See Also
McCain struggles on cusp of general election
Clinton evokes ghosts of Bush v. Gore
Kennedy could be model for Clinton
Ironically, the smear campaign represents the dark side of the Internet’s
emerging dominance in American politics — a phenomenon that has driven
Obama’s unparalleled grass-roots and financial campaigns. After harnessing
the Web to great advantage, Obama is now struggling to beat back the viral
threat from the same uncontrollable medium.

“In the old days, communication was more centralized,” notes veteran GOP ad
man Alex Castellanos, the father of Jesse Helms’ famous affirmative action
ad. “If you were attacked in one venue, you dealt with it there. A TV
problem was dealt with on TV, a radio problem on radio. It was top-down and
it was manageable.”

The anti-Obama e-mails now bouncing around the Internet have multiplied and
are difficult to track, though the website Snopes.com has catalogued and
debunked many of them. But the themes are similar: Elements of his biography
make him too exotic, or unknown, to be president.

One features a made-up quote in which Obama “explains” why he purportedly
doesn’t place his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

“There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a
symbol of oppression,” the e-mail quotes Obama as saying. “And the anthem
itself conveys a war-like message.”

Obama has never said such a thing.

Another makes the false claim that Obama was sworn into the Senate on the
Quran.

He took the oath on the Bible.

Then there is perhaps the least subtle e-mail, “The Genealogy of Barack
Hussein Obama in Pictures,” which includes numerous pictures of the
candidate’s dark-complexioned relatives on his father’s side in native
African garb.

The e-mailers aren’t troubled by the dissonance between two lines of attack
— the assertion that he’s a Muslim and the claim that he belongs to a
radical black Christian church — though one goes as far as to try to
reconcile the apparent conflict by arguing that Chicago’s Trinity United
Church of Christ is covertly Muslim, something that would come as a surprise
to its parishioners.

Smear campaigns have a rich history in politics. Many Americans believe that
President Bill Clinton had an aide murdered or that President Bush had prior
knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Twin Towers.

And this one would be a shameful but largely irrelevant mark on this
historic election but for one thing: Voters widely and repeatedly cite
information that has been gleaned directly or indirectly from the e-mails to
explain why they won’t support Obama.

A Pew survey found that one in 10 Americans think Obama is Muslim, a
misperception that crosses party lines.

A focus group conducted with 12 independent voters for NBC and The Wall
Street Journal earlier this month in Charlottesville, Va., found that fully
half said “no” when asked point-blank if they thought of Obama as an
American. Two believed he is a Muslim and another mentioned the Quran
fabrication.

“They have no sense of his roots,” explained Peter Hart, the Democratic
pollster who conducted the survey. “They just are confused, uninitiated and
uncertain about who he is and what his background is.”

An eye-opening video shot by the online Real News Network earlier this month
in West Virginia drove that point home.

One voter concludes that, “The United States of America should be run by
somebody from the United States of America.” When reminded by the reporter
capturing the footage that Obama is, in fact, American, the voter responded:
“He’s Muslim.”

Nearly every day of the primary, newspaper stories in places from the
Pacific Northwest to Pennsylvania have been filled with similar anecdotes.

So, as he pivots from wooing left-of-center primary voters to winning over
the broader American electorate, chief among Obama’s priorities will be
dispelling the notion that he is somehow not fully American.

Obama’s campaign has built a pioneering Web-based apparatus to debunk the
myths, but the candidate himself has also begun to fight back against the
smear in symbolic and substantive ways, following the same model used on the
original Muslim claims.

When confronted with the Muslim e-mails, Obama last year began talking more
openly about his Christianity and using most campaign Sundays to attend
church services. His campaign reinforced the point with a less-than-subtle
mail piece showing the candidate in a pulpit, a gold cross shimmering in the
background. It was mailed out in South Carolina and was revived for the
Kentucky primary.

Now Obama is taking steps to incorporate a patriotism rebuttal to go with
his faith pushback.

After scoffing last year at the need to wear a flag pin on his lapel —
grounds for one of the e-mail attacks — Obama has begun to affix the stars
and stripes to his suit coat.

And he’s begun to talk about the side of his family that more Americans can
relate to.

In the Democratic primary, his unique and unlikely life story was part of
what many cosmopolitan voters found compelling about him.

“Here’s a guy who could get us right with the world again” is how Al Cross,
a veteran political reporter and the head of the University of Kentucky’s
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, characterized the
perception among some Democrats. “His entire persona is globalized, and his
name lends credibility with people who we need credibility with. What better
change agent could there be?”

And in the early going, Obama embraced that distinctiveness.

Targeting Hispanic voters in Nevada, he even stressed the foreign element of
his story, with a narrator of his radio advertisement describing him as “the
son of a foreign father who came to this country in search of a better
life.”

But while his first book was called “Dreams From My Father,” it’s his late
mother and her white family who have come to take center stage as Obama
confronts not just challenges among blue-collar voters but also fundamental
questions about who he is.

He’s made pilgrimages to middle America — to his mother’s hometown in Kansas
and to an ancestral property on his maternal side in Indiana — and featured
images of both his mother and her parents in TV ads.

And he’s increasingly laced his stump speech with references to his
grandfather’s World War II service, noting recently that Stanley Dunham was
buried with an American flag around his casket.

Later this year, he’ll go to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
in Honolulu, where Dunham is buried, and pay homage.

He’s also hoping that allies — elected officials and labor unions — can tell
his story to people who trust them.

Chuck Rocha, the political director of the United Steelworkers union, said
that Obama’s Horatio Alger tale would make him an easier sell with white
union members.

“Our members couldn’t relate with John Kerry because of his background,
where he came from,” Rocha said. “Barack Obama comes from a lot of the same
pasts that a lot of our members do — just growing up a regular kid.”

Rocha, whose union endorsed Obama, said union members will “trust us more
than some thing they read on the Internet or some other trumped-up lies.”

“It’s going to be an education process,” said Mike Caputo, a United Mine
Workers of America official in West Virginia, whose union endorsed Obama on
Wednesday.

Obama’s challenge this summer will be to use his unprecedented political
celebrity to get his story out.

“Most people don’t know much about Obama’s personal life,” said Vanderbilt
University professor John G. Geer, explaining why some voters are
susceptible to falsehoods. “He needs to talk about his values. Right now,
people are filling in the narrative because he hasn’t filled it.”

And Geer had a candid assessment of why people are accepting falsehoods as
truths.

“It’s easier to believe because his name is Barack Obama,” he said.

© 2007 Capitol News Company, LLC


%d bloggers like this: