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Jul 09th
Home Columns The Way I See It The Obama Dilemma
The Obama Dilemma PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - The Way I See It
Monday, 31 March 2008 05:53

 Obama pointing fingers                In
America, a public figure or a candidate running for public office, especially for U.S. President, has to brace himself  or exult, when something deemed derogatory or sensational by the mass media, is discovered about his life, that of his family, and even those of his associates. It’s like a ticking time bomb, or a lifetime opportunity, awaiting somewhere down the road, biding its moment to explode or to be exploited, for whatever it’s worth.  One’s lifework could go under just for one moment of indiscretion, like for example, the Chappaquiddick incident of Senator Ted Kennedy. Another’s career could also get catapulted even for just one, short, shining moment of fame, epitomized by Senator Barack Obama’s keynote speech in the 2004 Democratic national convention.


       In this year’s presidential election, Senator John McCain survived, for now, the revelation of his alleged quid pro quo acceptance of political contributions and his supposed dalliance with a planted pretty lobbyist. She was working for some special interest groups, connected with the transportation industry, over-sighted by a Senate committee Mr. McCain chaired.  He is now the Republican presidential nominee even though he is not yet officially crowned in the convention. But when the regular presidential campaign gets started, I’m sure this issue will be vetted again. McCain is a two-faced Janus. He’s holier than thou but he had been badly damaged before for being involved in the U.S. taxpayer-rescued savings-and-loan defaults rocking the 1980s, a preview of the scandal cited here.

Still awaiting the voters’ verdict is the fate of Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Mr. Obama is ahead in delegate count, but Mrs. Clinton has not yet given up because he still hasn't received the magic number that would make him the virtual nominee. The two are locked in electoral combat, more so now,  when Senator Obama’s campaign is hit by a  revelation that his pastor had been caught bad-mouthing the country’s core values every good American has been taught to consider good, holy, and sacred. And Ms. Clinton, herself, has staggered lately, after being discovered allegedly spinning a war story that her group visiting war-torn
Bosnia years back was the target of enemy fire. 

      But unlike Senator McCain’s alleged active assistance for amour and to his political contributors, and Senator Clinton’s war story, what is stupefying about the stinging revelation that could endanger Senator Obama’s presidential ambition was not for what he said or did. He’s being pilloried for the inflammatory sermons of his pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. As if trying to do live-up to his biblical first name, his jeremiads, described by the dictionary as anger driven speeches expressing a bitter lament or a righteous prophecy of doom, are now taking the country by storm for their venom.

The sermons lambasted the U.S. and American policies, based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans. He said in a 2003 sermon that: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.'  No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people."  Another provocative sermon asserted that "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme." And he claimed that America was morally responsible for 9/11 which he described as “chickens coming home to roost” because of crimes, like, the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Senator Obama got blistered and the message of his campaign distracted because the political handlers of his rivals and the mass media have made Rev. Wright a great influence in his life. Not only that Senator Obama credited him for finding Jesus within the fold of his Trinity United Church of Christ, located on the south side of
Chicago, Wright also married him to his wife and baptized their children.  And the pastor’s favorite sermon theme that in life you need to have an “audacity of hope” became the title of his best selling book.

His opponents, including political babes in the woods who naively, and foolishly, fear a so-called “Muslim” candidate, gleefully reloaded these newly discovered political ammunitions of personal  destruction to their repertoire of prejudices, long suppressed while awaiting any plausible validation. The moment is now when they feel they no longer have to be ashamed of, or embarrassed, for their bottled-up raw and untamed human primal emotion. They let go of their real self and fired pointblank at Mr. Obama, in the way the black propaganda already making the rounds throughout the country have been circulated. In the Internet, he is pictured/caricatured as a reconstructed leftist, a black avenger, a potential protector of Afro-American parasites, and inchoate enabler of black indolent behavior.  And to cap it all, we are bombarded with e-mails that are maliciously, and awfully wrongly, branding him as a Muslim or a disguised believer. Polls say about 10% of Americans believes this derogatory rumor. After all, his name is Obama; his Kenyan father was a Muslim; his white American mother was a free thinker; and the Indonesian grade school he attended when his mother lived next door to the Philippines, observed Islamic practices.

Senator Obama condemned these outrageous sermons of Rev. Dr. Wright, because, he says, they are wrong and divisive. But he mused that those “for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough” they would ask me “why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place…Why not join another church?” But, he explained: “I can longer disown (Wright) than I can my own white grandmother” who was supposed to say she feared hearing footsteps of Blacks coming closer.

Indeed, I would think that a more charitable, understanding, and open-minded person could relate to Mr. Obama’s dilemma. People move to another country more for personal safety concerns or for reasons of economics rather than because the leaders are crooked or going crazy. You don’t abandon your children just because your spouse is totally disagreeable, abusive, or a bad bargain. The better person is the one who can subdue personal anger and self-pity that are tearing his heart for the sake of others in his family or community. This applies to Senator Obama. He couldn't, and shouldn't, just leave this church where he found Jesus, where he was married, where his children were baptized, and where his dear friends and family worship, just because a doddering old preacher is thundering of the injustices done in the past to Negroes, now called Afro-Americans.  

Just like what he would do if he were a member of a dysfunctional marriage or family, he has to stay put because he’s  better equipped to save his children’s or spiritual siblings’ sanity and support their emotional well-being by providing reason, good sense, and balance.  I would think that that’s what he meant when he said he couldn't just leave Reverend Wright in his dotage in the way that he couldn't just leave his grandmother for telling her black grandson of her uneasiness when Blacks are nearby.

Obama should be given more credit rather than discredit for putting up in the face of pastoral sophistry and intellectual abuse; for sticking with his co-parishioners who have less mobility than himself who’s a Harvard-trained lawyer, and for identifying with those below his own social and economic class. As a brilliant lawyer and University of Chicago professor, he could have lived in Chicago’s fabled Gold Coast and accepted invitations to attend the churches of the rich and the famous. But like Moses who abdicated his princely position to return to his real mother and back to his Jewish heritage, Mr. Obama chose to stay with his disadvantaged people rather than deny them.

Yet the very people who are savaging Mr. Obama for the verbal indiscretions of his pastor have not been heard complaining of George W. Bush, then, and John McCain, now, for courting assiduously pastors John Hagee and Jerry Falwell. Reverend Falwell blamed gays and lesbians for the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and those "who have tried to secularize America: pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, and People for the American Way." Along with pastor Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell pointed at the tragedies in New York City and Washington, D.C., as proof that "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve." Reverend Hagee  called the Roman Catholic Church “The Great Whore of Revelation 17,” as well as a “False cult system,” an “apostate church.”

What makes John Hagee and Jerry Falwell different from Jeremiah Wright? The former are more fanatic and crazier. And why is Senator Obama blamed for his pastor’s simplifications and President Bush and Senator McCain given a pass for clinging close to Reverend Hagee and Falwell, Robertson, etc.?  It’s because the names of the latter are not Barack Obama. (

Editor's Note: The author is a practicing lawyer in Houston, Texas, and is licensed also to practice law in Illinois. He is a community leader, who presently heads the Texas chapter of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations. He is one of the pillars also of the Filipino-American Community of South Texas.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 05 April 2008 02:49

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You have to accentuate the positive,eliminate the negative,and latch on to the affirmative.Don't mess with "Mr. In-between".~Louis Armstrong