Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Overheard, then "He said what?"

Ok, generally I don’t give a tremendous amount of credit to crap I overhear at Quizno’s.  Seriously.

Especially in the political realm, especially during a campaign year.

My “bullshit” monitor runs very hot this time of year when all kinds of silly accusations float around.  It’s not unlike the alleged “Michelle Obama hates Whitey” video that turns out to never have existed of a panel discussion that apparently never happened.  My reaction is generally “interesting, let’s see if it’s real”.

 

Needless to say, when I hear someone in suit say with no small amount of alarm in his voice “Obama is all for reparations, going to give away free money to blacks” my bullshit meter redlines and I think to myself “really?  What candidate would be stupid enough to actually say that, out loud, during a campaign?  No way that happened.”

 

This morning I hear the phrase again on the radio “reparations movement” and think to myself again “talk radio is ginning up some more garbage.”  I don’t hear much else because I’m flipping past stations looking for the sports stuff (Astros won again and trade rumors are in the air with the Rockets, so my priorities are straight, thank you very much).

 

Then later on the two phrases connect and I wonder if I should Google Obama and Reparations just to find out if there’s any kernel underneath the goofiness.

 

Sure enough, underneath some early 2007 links I find this one from 7/30/08 (yes, it’s a blogger, no I haven’t vetted the blogger’s sanity, I’ll leave that to you fine folks to do), which is today, and refers to the Star Bulletin (actual Honolulu newspaper) and Drudge (actual muckraker semi-journalist):

 

Democratic Candidate Barack Obama told a Chicago audience on Sunday the he believes in reparations "not just in words but in deeds."
The Star Bulletin and Drudge reported:

"There's no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we've got some very sad and difficult things to account for," Obama told hundreds of attendees of UNITY '08, a convention of four minority journalism associations.

The Hawaii-born senator, who has told local reporters that he supports the federal recognition bill for native Hawaiians drafted by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, noted other ethnic groups but did not mention native Hawaiians when answering a question about his thoughts on a formal U.S. apology to American Indians.

"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged," the Democratic presidential hopeful said.

"I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."

 

 

 I lifted the text directly, a quote from a quote from a quote.

He touches on some common themes he’s touched on before, most recently in Germany, when he says “There’s no doubt… we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for.”  It’s not something I disagree with, necessarily.  I said as much before when I said that there is an America that WAS and an America that COULD BE and the America that IS is struggling between those two conflicting realities, but the America that IS is not the America that WAS by any stretch of the imagination and I then went on to wonder which America the young senator believed this nation to currently be.  And if truth be told, the America that IS has left a mark on history that is peppered with both good and bad, yet the young senator’s Freudian slip might betray what he really thinks…  “I personally would want to see our tragic history…”  “…our TRAGIC history…”

-cough-

Er, um, er…  I mean “the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged.”

In college I had a lot of conversations with people who would argue that the United States is more an agent of discord and turmoil in the world than an agent of liberation and peace.  I also had several conversations with people who would argue that the US not only landed a man on the moon, but the moon revolves around the US and owes its very existence to the continued prosperity of the US.  It’s nearly impossible to have an intelligent conversation with either person. 

I tend to argue that the US is both benevolent and clumsy, great and flawed, and our foreign policy is, indeed, inconsistent and flawed and steeped in self interest.  But if you take the US out of the equation, you don’t have a better outcome.  And that’s true for most of the great powers throughout history.  Suggesting ours is a “tragic history” does not, however, reveal the inner thoughts of someone who believes the US is a great power, but rather a great, clumsy, dangerous, foolish child that stomps over the map and leaves nothing but destruction in its wake.

After all, now is the time that we begin to care for our sick.

Now is the time we begin to feed the hungry.

Now is the time…  because we haven’t done so in the past.

But then on to the soup de jour…  “I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. Government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”

Hhmm..

Let’s be sure we understand this…

 

“I consistently believe that…”

When it comes to Native Americans…

Or when it comes to African-American issues…

Or when it comes to reparations…  [this actually divides reparations from “African-American issues” or “Native Americans”, suggesting reparations may be owed to a much, much larger subset of the population]

 

The most important thing for the US Government to do is…

Offer not just words…

But…  (connects the second verb and predicate noun to the first part of the sentence…)

The most important thing for the US Government to do is offer deeds.

 

So…

The junior senator consistently believes that when it comes to Native Americans the most important thing for the U.S. Government to do is offer not just words but deeds…

The junior senator consistently believes that when it comes to African American issues the most important thing for the U.S. Government to do is offer not just words but deeds…

The junior senator consistently believes that when it comes to reparations the most important thing for the U.S. Government to do is offer not just words but deeds…

 

Ok, Barak.  What deeds?  I’m all ears.

 

Alternatively, how long before his consistent belief reverses itself.

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