How Lame Is Thy Duck?

Not only is G.W. so bored these days that he’s popping out to pick up the Pope at the airport, but now he’s making guest appearances on the game show Deal or No Deal. Seriously, how lame a duck can he be? Is there a point where it’s ethically the right thing to do to euthanize the duck because of its severe impediments? Maybe Dead Duck would be better than Lame Duck. Hey, it’s worth a shot (har har, wink wink).

Being #5 You Try Harder

Alert reader Kim sends us news that the U.S.A. ranks 5th in the world for executions, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Presumably if you added in the people we killed abroad as opposed to just those we kill domestically, we’d rank a lot higher. I’m surprised really. The Bush Administration is usually masterful at recasting statistics so they shine favorably on their policies. And we all now how important victory is to them. Geeze… 5th place… I mean… c’mon already!

A Tale of Two Faces

It was just a month or so ago that the nation was all atwitter over the Rev. Wright’s fiery rhetoric. The fear seemed to be that the radical views of Obama’s former pastor had rubbed off on him. That beneath the polished words and even tone was a disenfranchised Black American who felt the country had wronged his people and was poised to take remedial action.

Fast-forward to the present, and now the so-called “bitter” remarks of Obama have everyone worried that he’s an overly cerebral elitist who’s out of touch with the common man.

Perhaps I’m overgeneralizing here, but I doubt very much that Rev. Wright’s words were aimed at the successful college educated ivory tower elitists in whose company Obama is now accused of being. These are two camps that are so far removed from each other tha having one foot in each would require a degree of flexibility that would make Mary Lou Retton cry “uncle”. Curiously, it is the same cabal of pundits and opponents who are making both accusations.

Granted, there is undoubtedly a lot of political opportunism going on here. Opponents and their supporters are pouncing on any perceived weakness in an effort to drive down Obama’s popularity. And even the more objective, less agenda driven news outlets are prone to promoting the sensationalistic stories that drive their ratings. Unfortunately, it’s left to us, the consumers of the so-called news, to sort through this and find the reasonable mid-ground.

But I don’t think we can let Obama entirely off the hook here and let him play victim either. Yes, he could have handled Rev. Wright sooner and more definitively. Yes, he could have offered a quicker retraction/explanation of the “bitter” remarks. But more importantly, he could offer us a clearer view of who he is and what he stands for. We know much about his emotionally charged vision of a blissful united future that he touts at every opportunity. And while that’s compelling, it is without substance. He has not given us a clear picture of how we will get there, only the promise that he will lead us. But he has also not given a clear picture of who he is as a man, and without that deep understanding, he cannot reasonably expect people to follow him into uncharted territory. That sort of allegiance is earned through trust and belief in the individual. Knowing that the character of the man is such that you can march blindly in his footsteps with confidence. This is a trust he has yet to earn.

He is arguably the most personally opaque of the three remaining candidates. I believe it is because of this vacuum of identity that surrounds him that he is uniquely prone to others latching onto statements and contexts that might otherwise be overlooked, as saying something definitive about the man. Is he a closeted Muslim? Is he a militant Black? Is he all smooth talk and no action? Is he a pandering politician? Is he an egg-headed lawyer who thinks he’s better than us? In reality, probably not any of those things, yet maybe a little of each, and likely many more. But until he provides some substance to his persona, he can’t reasonably expect the labels and accusations to bounce off. It’s hard to bounce something off of a vacuum.

To this end, he brings these media frenzies on himself.