Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Bubba Gap

















This week’s Newsweek magazine cover features a sprig of arugula and a pint of beer with the title, “Obama's Bubba Gap.”

Increasingly, media attention is being given to white, working class voters who claim that one of the most important things they look for in a presidential candidate is someone with whom they’d be comfortable having a beer.

Are you kidding me!?

I guess the thing that disturbs me the most is the abysmally low bar being set for the so-called leader of the free world. This goes along with Obama being derisively labeled an elitist shortly before the Pennsylvania primary earlier this month.

Last I checked, elite is not a pejorative. In fact, my dictionary defines elite as a noun describing “a group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category.”

It’s the Presidency of the United States for God’s sake! It is the most difficult, stressful, awe-some job on the face of the planet. There is no more daunting responsibility. I don’t want just any idiot in the White House. (It’s worth noting that this exact same litmus test was used in 2000 and look where that got us). I want the best of the best. I want the most capable man (or woman) possible. I want someone lightyears smarter than me. And I sure as hell don’t want someone there because I think they’d be fun to throw back a pint with!

If a beer-drinking buddy is the highest criterion for white, working class America, then they…than we…deserve whatever we get.

28 Comments:

Anonymous POD said...

At last, us "white, working class voters" are considered an important voting block this election cycle! Finally the angry, white male has his comuppance!

Brandon, you of all people, know that presidents are are not chosen on the basis of intellect alone. American leadership has NEVER been elected on issues alone. And if America voted on the basis of experience and command of issues, among the current crop of candidates, McCain would win in a landslide.

People are just trying to figure out what Obama stands for, that's all. He WILL be the Democratic nominee... he's PROBABLY going to get elected... and we will DEFINITELY hear your wonderfuly composed blog about his impending presidency the day after he is elected.

Just remember the adage - be careful for what you wish for - I got that by supporting Bush. You may get that by supporting Obama. He's not superhuman, and his intelligence is probably not much beyond yours or mine. He is simply getting vetted out by the electorate. And he has yet to connect innately with the largest and most significant block (no matter how much we all try to deny it) of the voting public - white middle class male voters...

You should not underestimate the American voting public, Brandon. The American people do NOT hold a low standard for voting for the President of the United States - it's just a different criteria, that's all. By underestimating the American electorate, it undermines everything that America stands for...

9:16 AM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

This "litmus test" was used in 1992, too, was it not? Clinton's very nickname was "Bubba", whereas George H.W. Bush was a member of the political elite who had spent his entire life hobnobbing with world leaders; and just as Obama tries to bond with crowds by referring to grocery stores and grocery items that they've never heard of, Bush the First was famously out of his element when he visited a grocery store during his re-election campaign. And if Bush the First won in 1988 -- he remains the only sitting vice-president to be elected president since Martin Van Buren back in the 1830s -- it was possibly due to the fact that he had genuine military experience in World War II whereas Dukakis looked like a dork when he went for a ride in that tank. And of course Reagan was "the Great Communicator", an actor who was very good at connecting with the average moviegoer, er, voter. So the "common man" has been triumphing over the "out of touch elitist" in American elections for a while, now.

11:14 AM  
Blogger robyn said...

a) What do straight white males have to be angry about? Really.

b) elitist = new fangled term for uppity

c) not voting on the issues but rather height, coolness, gender or race - and I heartily disagree that McCain has the best understanding of the issues on the table - IS a low standard for voting. I kinda want my president to be smarter, worldlier and more learned than me. I have had beers with plenty of people in my day and I wouldn't tap most of them to run a household much less the country.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

"In fact, my dictionary defines elite as a noun describing a group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category.”

Obama has not been called an elite, he has been called an elitist. Please see the definition from Webster for elitist below;

Elitist-the selectivity of the elite; especially: snobbery.

The premise offered in Newsweek couldn't be more wrong. Voters are looking for someone they can trust. Obama has cannot be trusted when he says he wants to unite both sides of the isle, but votes with the Democrats 97% of the time. Obama cannot be trusted when he says he will transcend race, but listened the racist rants of Rev. Wright for 20 years without any objection.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

robyn wrote:
a) What do straight white males have to be angry about? Really.

I think Obama himself answered that question in his famous "race speech". That's the one where he said he couldn't disown Wright because that would be like disowning "the black community" -- whereas this week he disowned Wright specifically on the grounds that Wright did not speak for "the black church", even though Wright said pretty much nothing new this time except that Obama was just acting like a politician. Hmmmm.

b) elitist = new fangled term for uppity

What a crock. Obama's not the first presidential candidate to be accused of being "elitist", though his followers certainly like to play the race card like this. Were Kerry and Edwards being "uppity" too?

2:13 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

Can we give the Rev. Wright thing a rest already.

..or Chris, if you insist on sticking to your guns, please explain to me how being a member of Rev Wright's church is worse than McCain recently seeking out and receiving endorsement from John Hagee, despite that the good reverend has called Catholicism “a godless theology”, blamed the Holocaust on Jewish “disobedience and rebellion”, argued that Katrina was “the judgment of God against New Orleans”, and claimed that the Koran gives Muslims “a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews”.

And to whoever brought up Dukakis...this is shaping up to be eerily similar to that election. Distract people from what matters to the point they end up voting for the exact same thing that 75% of the country sayd they are fed up with.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Seriously? You don't see a difference between Hagee endorsing McCain for an election cycle and Obama endorsing Wright for 20 years?

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Grinth,

The moral equivalence argument does not apply to Wright's comments, nor does it ever apply. Remember what your mommy told you, "if everybody else was jumping off a cliff, would you jump".

As for the Koran, it does instruct Muslims to "smite the necks of the unbelievers".

1:56 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

"They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman."

2 Chronicles 15:12-13

2:05 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Yes, there is stuff in the Old Testament that is problematic from a pacifist or egalitarian perspective, but I submit that that may be a bigger problem for Jews than for Christians. Then again, for both Jews and Christians, the passage in question describes a past action, not an ongoing command.

Keep in mind, too, that the historical thrust of the Bible -- from a Christian perspective, at least -- is one that moves away from the violence (just compare the Old Testament Joshua with his New Testament namesake Jesus). The Koran, on the other hand, when arranged chronologically according to the dominant Muslim interpretations, moves toward an increasing acceptance of violence.

So, as ever, we can't settle these things by proof-texting; we have to look at how the texts fit into their larger interpretive schemes.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

My point exactly.

Is anyone applying larger interpretive schemes when plucking verses from the Koran? I would argue the vast majority of people are not. Context is king. Without it you can warp anything to mean whatever you desire.

Problematic? You bet. But I think the problem is every bit as big for Christians as it is for Jews. To claim a separation is hypocritical. We claimed their history. And their God is the same as our God.

Past action vs. ongoing command means little for a God who is "the same yesterday, today and forever." And "moving away from violence" is all well and good, but where is the accountability for its presence in the first place?

3:11 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

I actually feel that Hagee is much worse.

If I was to be held 'accountable' for every thing pastors have said in the churches I've attended over the years, I'd be screwed...then again maybe that's why I don't attend church any more.

The point is this: As the opposition to Obama continues to struggle actually find some tangible dirt on Obama, they have resorted to guilt through association. "Rev. Wright is nuts and Obama attended his church for 20 years", "Obama supports Farrakhan because Rev. Wright went on a trip with him decades ago", of course, all the while they tie this in with the innate racist tendencies in our culture: "Obama is a muslim!" or one of my personal favorites, Bill Clinton claiming Obama "played the race card on me" when Obama cried foul on Bill's now infamous unsolicited comparison of Obama to Jesse Jackson.

All this time, however, McCain is actively supporting and engaging with people who spew just a much filth as Rev. Wright. yet no one blinks an eye.

I guess its easier to flip out about Obama's 'associations' and ignore McCain when everywhere you turn people "invoke the racist and sexist playbook of the right — in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country — seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security".

3:27 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Grinth, Newsweek just came out with a long article on Hagee.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/135385

True, McCain's relationship with Hagee is an endorsement, not an ongoing pastor/lay relationship. But which is worse, sitting through the occasional "out there" comment from your pastor or actively courting the support of, speaking on stage with, and refusing to "denounce or reject" someone who has said just as "out there" things?

That said, attacking Obama for Wright was idiotic and though the Democrats have more valid reasons to attach McCain for Hagee, it would be equally stupid.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Brandon wrote:

Is anyone applying larger interpretive schemes when plucking verses from the Koran? I would argue the vast majority of people are not.

Perhaps not, but I doubt you are any more of a Koranic scholar than I am, and it is they, not I, who have argued that the Koranic passages line up in a certain way, historically.

Problematic? You bet. But I think the problem is every bit as big for Christians as it is for Jews. To claim a separation is hypocritical. We claimed their history. And their God is the same as our God.

I don't claim a separation, but I do point out that we have Jesus and the New Testament moving the thrust of the story in a certain direction, or putting the Old Testament story into a larger narrative context, whereas I am not sure whether there is anything comparable in non-Christian Judaism. There might be, but if so, I am currently unaware of it.

Past action vs. ongoing command means little for a God who is "the same yesterday, today and forever."

Well, God's relationship to time is an interesting one, and is currently the subject of intense debate even within some theologically conservative circles. But even apart from that, people change, and if God has chosen to work with people, then he may have to adapt his methods to suit the people that he is working with at any given point in time.

And "moving away from violence" is all well and good, but where is the accountability for its presence in the first place?

Who exactly should be held accountable? The ancient Israelites? They're all dead. God? That could be interesting.

But which is worse, sitting through the occasional "out there" comment from your pastor . . .

Occasional? Oprah left Wright. There's no reason Obama couldn't have, too. Except, of course, for his incredible insecurity about not being "black enough". Wright gave him cred. Until he didn't. No wonder Wright's annoyed.

Grinth wrote:

If I was to be held 'accountable' for every thing pastors have said in the churches I've attended over the years, I'd be screwed...

Obama did not merely "attend". He supported Wright. He endorsed Wright. He championed Wright. He named his book after one of Wright's speeches. Etc., etc., etc. It is only when the chickens came home to roost -- when Wright's extremist politics began to expose Obama's own extremist politics -- that Obama began to back down from associating himself so closely with Wright. And he did so in ways that were quintessentially "political" -- contradicting himself, making moral equivocations, and so on. (In March, Obama couldn't cut ties with Wright because that would be like cutting ties with "the black community". In April, Obama cut ties with Wright because Wright did not speak for "the black church". But the only thing Wright said in April that he didn't say in March or before was that Obama was a politician. Which, of course, he is.) So all of Obama's railing against the "politics" played by other candidates now rings a lot more hollow than it used to.

. . . the innate racist tendencies in our culture: "Obama is a muslim!" . . .

Islam is a religion, not a race. And I don't know anyone personally who seriously believes that Obama is a Muslim. They do ask whether Obama has been honest about the Islam practised by himself and his fathers when he was a child, and whether the Muslim world will respond all that favourably to a world leader who, in their eyes, may be an apostate. But those are somewhat different questions.

. . . or one of my personal favorites, Bill Clinton claiming Obama "played the race card on me" when Obama cried foul on Bill's now infamous unsolicited comparison of Obama to Jesse Jackson.

Oh, heck, either the Obama campaign or its many acolytes were playing the race card from the very beginning, certainly by the time they accused Clinton of being a "racist" simply because he said Obama's version of his track record on some issue or other was a "fairy tale". To see "racism" in a comment like that suggests an inordinate degree of hypersensitivity, and it certainly renders less credible any later attempts to accuse people of "racism".

But then, back when Democrats liked Bill Clinton, they used to defend him by saying he was "the first black president", so whatever.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

Peter wrote

[i]Islam is a religion, not a race.[/i]
You mean Islam is a religion and not a race!?....

Thanks for 'educating' me but you and I both know that our current administration has spent eight years trying to make being a Muslim indistinguishable from being a turban wearing, Arabic terrorist. Therefore, in my mind, trying to label Obama as a muslim in an attempt to discredit him is not only overtly xenophobic but subtly racist.

Oh, heck, either the Obama campaign or its many acolytes were playing the race card from the very beginning, certainly by the time they accused Clinton of being a "racist" simply because he said Obama's version of his track record on some issue or other was a "fairy tale". To see "racism" in a comment like that suggests an inordinate degree of hypersensitivity,

As one article notes, "The moment occurred in late January, when the former President compared Obama’s landslide win, in which he received a major boost from African-American voters, to Jesse Jackson’s victories there in 1984 and 1988. Because the former President offered the comparison unprompted, in response to a question that had nothing to do with Jackson or race, the statement was widely read as chalking up Obama’s win to his blackness alone and thus attempting to marginalize him as a doomed minority candidate with limited appeal. Obama was now “the black candidate,” in the words of one Clinton strategist".

Hypersensitive? I beg to differ.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Thanks for 'educating' me but you and I both know that our current administration has spent eight years trying to make being a Muslim indistinguishable from being a turban wearing, Arabic terrorist.

Wrong. Your current administration has not been doing that. Many conservatives are, in fact, annoyed with Bush for insisting that Islam is a "religion of peace", etc.

Therefore, in my mind, trying to label Obama as a muslim in an attempt to discredit him is not only overtly xenophobic but subtly racist.

Religiophobic, maybe, but not racist. Because, again, Islam is a religion and not a race.

As one article notes, "The moment occurred in late January . . .

The incident you are referring to, yes. The incident I am referring to took place in early January. So, unless you can find some even earlier incident, my point stands: the Obama campaign was playing the race card before the Clintons did.

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

"Past action vs. ongoing command means little for a God who is "the same yesterday, today and forever." And "moving away from violence" is all well and good, but where is the accountability for its presence in the first place"

Why should anyone be held accountable for following the will of God?

1:48 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Dangerous ground my friend. When people tell me they heard from God I insist on finding out whether it was an audible voice from within a burning bush, cloud by day or pillar of fire by night. Otherwise I'm pretty dismissive. Granted, the context of the verse was along those line.

As for the accountability issue, Peter was right, I was referring to God!

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

"It is the most difficult, stressful, awe-some job on the face of the planet. There is no more daunting responsibility. I don’t want just any idiot in the White House."

By this logic, Obama is not qualified to fill the position of president. He is a rookie by any standard. What experience can you point to that that would remotely prepare him to run the country.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Brandon wrote:

As for the accountability issue, Peter was right, I was referring to God!

Interesting. Could you tease out your question a little more?

I don't ask that with any hostile intent, incidentally. The question of Old Testament genocide is one that I've grappled with for a long, long time. I believe a Creator is well within his rights to do whatever he wants with his creation, but if any entity were to appear to me and ask me to kill someone on his or her or its behalf, I would be inclined to take a page from Captain Kirk and say, "What does God need with a starship?" Or, in this case, an assassin. And certainly, if anyone were to approach me to kill me, and to say that they were doing so because God told them to do it, I would still fight for my life and possibly even kill the other person in self-defense.

So I'm very sensitive to the skepticism that surrounds anyone's claim to be doing the will of God when they act out violently. But if we accept for the sake of argument that God has expressed his will in that direction, then I am curious to know where'd you go with this "accountability" question.

I'm guessing the Book of Job would come into play here, somewhere.

And boy, is this a tangent now!

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I think some clear distinctions must be made here regarding people who claim to be following the will of God. When God commanded the Israelites to go into a certain land and kill every man, woman, child and beast, they were doing the will of God and should not be held "accountable" for this action. When Hagee and Wright and others claim to know the will of God concerning a certain disaster/act, the hair on the back of your neck should stand up and rightfully so. Their words and actions should be judged critically in the light of scripture. The third category is Muslims who strap bombs to children to blow up innocent people. They do not serve the will of God because they do not know the one true God. Muslims believe Jesus was a great man/prophet not the Son of God, in effect calling Him a liar. Jesus said if your are not with me, you are against me. Jesus also said I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

When God commanded the Israelites to go into a certain land and kill every man, woman, child and beast, they were doing the will of God and should not be held "accountable" for this action.

What, because they were "just followink orders"?

Everyone is accountable for their own actions, whatever their reasons for committing those actions are. Knowledge + Power = Responsibility, so if you have the power to refrain from doing something but you choose to do it anyway, then you are responsible for choosing to do it.

What unites all the examples you cite is the fact that the people in question all claim to know God's will, even if they have different ways of arriving at that conclusion and even if some of them are more wrong than others in arriving at that conclusion. And my own basic point remains, in all of those examples: If I ever came to believe that a deity was asking me to kill in his name, I would doubt my own senses so badly -- I would question whether I had truly heard the deity, or whether I had properly understood him, etc. -- that I don't think I could ever actually do the killing. (And why should I, since the deity can presumably smite so-and-so directly without my help and therefore doesn't need me anyway?) The question, then, is why these other people did not doubt their own senses so.

And if we want to get into the realm of textual criticism, there is also the question of how much of that violence actually happened, and how we should reconcile conflicting impulses within the scriptures themselves. The version of Israel's conquest in Deuteronomy is a lot bloodier than the version of Israel's conquest in Numbers -- which may or may not indicate a degree of historical revisionism -- and it is Deuteronomy which gives us laws against allowing foreigners and eunuchs into the Temple, laws which were ruthlessly enforced by Nehemiah, yet also laws which were called into question by Isaiah (or Deutero-Isaiah, if you're so inclined) ... and the Isaiah passage which questions those laws is the exact same passage that Jesus quotes when he chases the moneychangers out of the Temple.

So we are back to that arrow of history that I referred to in an earlier comment. There is, you might say, an unresolved tension in the Old Testament, and Jesus resolves it in a certain direction. The Koran, on the other hand, seems to point in a different direction, at least according to the mainstream of Muslim interpretation.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

This just in: Hagee has apologized to Catholics, just as Falwell and Robertson and others of that ilk have issued apologies to various groups from time to time.

The world still breathlessly awaits Wright's apology.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

So sincere the apologies of hypocritical cowards. Either believe it and don't apologize for it or just shut up. Ridiculous, embarrassing people.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Better a brave fool -- and the fools who follow them -- than a hypocritical coward, then? :)

C'mon, we're talking politics here. Sincerity has nothing to do with it -- as Obama himself has evidenced more than once.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Though of course, we're leaving out the possibility that people really do change their minds and repent of their ways from time to time. Why be so cynical as to assume that that never, ever happens?

9:51 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Brave fool? Spare me. If these are the sorts of men you dub "brave fools," than you can have them.

"Talking politics?" And here I thought he was a man of God, not a politician.

Do I trust the sincerity of a man who apologizes for a lifetime of belief and preaching nearly overnight during a political campaign? Please. Does that make me cynical? You bet your ass.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Brave fool? Spare me. If these are the sorts of men you dub "brave fools," than you can have them.

These, plural? I was thinking only of Jeremiah Wright, there.

"Talking politics?" And here I thought he was a man of God, not a politician.

Most of the big-name preachers, from Pat Robertson to Jeremiah Wright, get that way because they go beyond mere religion to embrace the political sphere on some level or other.

Do I trust the sincerity of a man who apologizes for a lifetime of belief and preaching nearly overnight during a political campaign? Please. Does that make me cynical? You bet your ass.

Then you know why some of us are so cynical about Barack I-spent-almost-my-entire-adult-life-at-that-
church-and-was-so-ignorant-of-what-was-going-
on-there-that-I-can-now-easily-distance-myself-
from-all-the-stuff-the-voters-find-so-
offensive-about-it Obama.

1:14 PM  

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