Bad for Obama, how Hillary helped us lose, and why I hate superdelegates

Yesterday over Guinness I asserted that this will be the end of Obama’s campaign. I don’t think you can recover from condemning your own spiritual teacher. People are going to hate this.

It means he is doing it for political reasons (not good) or that church was just a show for him (also not good). I think the correct answer was more like what he said before: Religion is personal and I went to this church because I felt challenged to think and grow in my spiritual practice. I am sorry you don’t understand. Many Americans grow and learn in religious institutions that they have some disagreement with. How many Catholics practice birth control? We aren’t in church to take everything our pastor says as the absolute word of god. that’s silly. We are there to think, and pray, and grow. You might not like how he went about it that particular day, but if you really care about this country you would try to understand what he was doing and why it resonated with so many people in that church. Now, the matter of my faith is personal and this is the last time I will address this issue.

Now, here is how Hillary messed us all up: If the Democratic primary had been decided, the Democratic machine would have been all over this for Obama. But, since so many people are on the sidelines, his team had to handle it and I am sorry, but I don’t think they did a good job.

Finally, the superdelegates. I have not hated them like some people have. It seems like a sensible solution. But if they are all going to wait until they know who the nominee is before the decide, they are just prolonging this mess. they should have the guts to say who they are for now and stop prolonging this. At the very least, those whose states have had primaries should be ready to say.

I hope I am wrong about this. But I think it will be hard to recover from “condemning” the religious leader who presided over your wedding and your children’s baptisms.  Maybe you can’t recover from not condemning it either.  If that is true then it means he is un-electable simply because he goes to church.  Now that seems like a racialized double standard because it is not that he goes to A church it is because he goes to a BLACK church.

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12 Responses to Bad for Obama, how Hillary helped us lose, and why I hate superdelegates

  1. vickywoeste says:

    too much Guiness, LB. This is not about Obama having to renounce his religion or renounce the black church. This is being handled as Jeremiah Wright going off on a world-class ego trip and undermining the entire message and thesis of Obama’s campaign and making the public divorce imperative on those grounds. I think Obama’s loyalty can be and should be argued to be commendable for exactly the reason you give–he didn’t want to disown him in March because no one wants to disown their pastor, the guy who brought him to Christ and church. But Wright said on Monday he was “gunning for Obama on Nov. 5” (assuming he wins) and the chattering classes said, it sure seems like he’s starting that right now. Obama handled this as well as he could and what this does is say, look, not all black men think alike. Is that too deep and nuanced a point for white conservative Dems to absorb? if so, then our party is in deeper trouble than the prospect of having Hillary for a nominee poses. And I still harbor the hope that Barack will win in NC *and* IN next week and the superdelegates will do their job by endorsing the pledged delegate totals instead of choosing based on electability. In effect, they need to keep ignoring Howard Dean, whose leadership grows more appalling by the day. Nancy Pelosi harbors little affection for the Clintons and is waiting to crown Obama the nominee when it’s certain he is in fact the indisputable winner. Clintons have been ingenious in clouding the obvious and shifting the rules and making it hard for the party to declare the campaign over. That’s ok. Do not panic. I really think the national media is churning the controversies because that’s what gives them the amphetamine-induced highs they crave. The real stories are on the ground, locally. You should see what is happening here. Dems are going to outpull Reps in the primary here 4 to 1. Barack is actually leading in the polls now when right after teh Penn. primary the cable wonks said this state was Hillary’s to lose. Do not panic. This is the second such message I’ve written today to this effect. Now I’m off to Obama hq to call voters.

    I still want to write a blogpost about the duck that is nesting in our front shrubbery. Maybe tonight. She’s down to 2 eggs now–started with 9–we think she is getting rid of the unfertilized ones when she realizes there is nothing going on in there. Every time I open the front door I frighten her. It’s so beautiful and yet so sad, too. But she doesn’t seem to care; as long as there are eggs to incubate she hangs around.

  2. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    I think you are wrong. Most Americans have a minister, priest or (about 2% of us) rabbi; most of us like them, but few of us really regard them as a spiritual teacher in a deeply personal sense; clergy generally aren’t put on that kind of pedestal, even by the devout. And many of the most devout Christians who do have that kind of relationship with their pastor, and who would be offended by Obama condemning him per se, are going to vote Republican, anyway.

    LB, you may go to church to be challenged and grow in your spiritual practice, but you also buy arugula at Whole Foods ( maybe you really don’t, but that’s the current shorthand for being a pointy-headed elitist). Most people go to church (or synagogue) for different reasons — out of habit, to see friends, or (most importantly) to have their spiritual and social constructs confirmed, not challenged. I am not a Christian, but I am fairly certain that a country that took the radical teachings of Jesus seriously (or, to be fair, the teachings of the Torah seriously) would look a lot different than the one I live in now.

    If my rabbi acted like a horse’s ass, I wouldn’t hesitate to say so (God knows that some of my fellow congregants have called him worse from time to time), and wouldn’t expect my friends to think less of me for it. Indeed, they’d probably be disappointed if I kept quiet. The number of people who will find Obama’s condemnation of the rather outrageous stuff that Rev. Wright said at the Press Club offensive will be dwarfed by the number who will say that it’s about time, and who will want to move on to something else.

  3. lbsmom says:

    I have admired Obama’s ability to be above the muck & mire of all this. His speech on race was brilliant, & I hoped it would be the last word in this stupid situation. Then I saw bits of Wright’s ego-infested speech last weekend in which he did poor impersonations of JFK, white people’s unenthusiastic clapping to music, the British, etc….Underneath all the laughter, not hidden at all, was pure revulsion. I can understand Obama’s compulsion to set himself apart from that.

    The question I have is why now? Would Obama call his pastor on these obscenities if he were not in a national campaign? Would he object as a church member? I agree, LB, to denounce one’s pastor looks pretty bad, but did he denounce his church? As practicing church members, I believe we have the right, no, make that obligation, to disagree with messages contrary to our values. As a Presbyterian hanging in there with her denomination hoping for change, I can sort of identify. If you’re interested, read about an amazing lesbian Presbyterian pastor in the San Francisco bay area who’s been “marrying” homosexual couples for years. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/29/BA6310E2DK.DTL This issue continues to plague our denomination with enough conservatives nationally voting against tolerance year after year. So why do I stay? It’s my church home, my like-minded friends are there, & I do not believe we’d ever condone such hatred from any minister.

  4. laurabethnielsen says:

    Well, obviously I hope you guys are correct. For the record it was one Guinness. And, you are probably, right jeff — I overestimate the REAL importance of religion in people’s lives and forget that most people are paying lip service, doing it for habit, etc.

    But still, the Republicans now know they have an egomaniacal, spolight grabbing person that they can use to bait Obama for the whole run to the white house (whenever it looks like he might be winning!) and the thought of this resurfacing over and over makes my stomach turn. Although re-doing whitewater would suck too.

    I guess I am jsut feeling worn out by this forever primary — “we” (meaning democrats) are doing their work for them and I am losing patience with it. We are tapping out our donors with the forecast pointing to a crappy economy until the general is over, then this. It just seems bad. Bad. BAD!

  5. laurabethnielsen says:

    Oh, one more thing — To be sure, I don’t mean that he should have sat silently by seeming as though he agreed. Lord knows I never have (and in fact lef t the Presbyterian church in no small part because of the issue my mom wrote about). I meant to convey that he was dammned if he did and dammned if he didn’t re-condemn (or, condemn for the first time if you think of these as new remarks).

  6. Mary Rose says:

    Don’t know if LB will prove prescient or a Cassandra. There have been so many predictions in this campaign that proved the stuff of what Slate magazine calls “momentucrats” (journalists/bloggers who predict the race based on their perception of the momentum of the day). The New Hampshire primary has, after all, entered survey methodologists’ hall of fame moments, because Obama’s pre-primary lead in all polls was so strong and then he lost (Andrew Kohut attributes this to the fact that, as we know, many people do not pick up the phone to answer polls; so people were not lying in polls so much as not being reached – and these were the ones that didn’t like Obama). But at other times, poll data has been a good predictor (Pennsylvania). So, if the latter is true, Indiana is currently completely up for grabs and North Carolina should go for Obama, but not by the 24 points(!) he was ahead three weeks ago.

    But I do know that Jeremiah Wright’s calculating and conscious decision to explode an issue 10 days before an important election strikes me as a perfect example of trying to drag someone down just as he is about to see success – the motivations driving that are far beyond my non-clinical head to understand. If Obama loses this race because Americans can’t stand nuance, and because people’s ambivalence was stirred up by an individual who cannot stand feeling “dissed,” then I just weep.

  7. vickywoeste says:

    Caroline Kennedy pulled 600 people today in Lafayette, Indiana, stumping for Obama, in a room that could accommodate only 140.

    Hillary Clinton is about to speak in an outdoor plaza downtown. Her campaign predicted that 1000 people would turn up. The local news reported that the crowd numbers about 800.

    Things are very close here in a state that Hillary was supposed to win comfortably. I talked to 3 undecided voters who were leaning towards Obama and they said they would vote for him on Tuesday. The Obamicans can’t bring themselves to vote for McCain, and for the same reasons can’t vote for Hillary either. The Rush Limbaugh “Democrats” are just doing what they did in Ohio–trying to prolong the chaos. They might succeed. But I don’t know that she’ll win here by 10 points as she did in Ohio and Pa. And so the momentum game will shift, yet again.

    Wright is going to go down as a sad, self-involved, irredeemable figure who self-destructed just when he could have used the national stage to burnish his own reputation and the church he claims to want to serve. I’ve been struck by the parallels between the Wright/Obama dynamic and the struggles between the Jewish civil rights lawyers from different generations during the 1920s. Hint: Wright is the Louis Marshall of this set piece.

  8. dspett says:

    “I think the problem with the Democratic Party in general is that they’ve been so afraid to lose, they’re willing to say whatever it takes it to win. And once you’re willing to say whatever it takes to win, you lose.” –Howard Dean

    Let’s not forget that Hillary and McCain are pandering as well. Case in point: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/us/politics/29campaign.html

  9. hegemonsadun says:

    Clearly the Reverend’s recent speaking tour has hurt Obama – there is no questioning that, the polls speak for themselves. That being said, I don’t think it’ll as bad as most people think.

    The Wright story is the kinda piece where it resonates more within the media than with everyday Americans. Obama has condemned the content of the Reverend. The only thing people can blame him for now is that he did not speak up earlier. But those who were going to hold that against Obama had more than enough two weeks ago, when the Reverend’s comments first emerged. Now at least Obama has an excuse to distance himself from the Reverend [something he should have done from the beginning and which might even allow him to regain the confidence of some of those who have been uncomfortable ever since the Reverend’s comments first surfaced].

  10. vickywoeste says:

    And Colbert has a great answer for the Fox News assholes who are predictably piling on Obama for not leaving his church 10 years ago. O’Reilly and Hannity are, of course, Catholics who have not, in fact, renounced the Catholic Church over the sex abuse scandal. (O’Reilly would have an even harder time doing so, having been sued for sexual harrassment!)

  11. briand0n0van says:

    “ . . . it will be hard to recover from ‘condemning’ the religious leader who presided over your wedding and your children’s baptisms.” Too true. Why do Democrats love playing defense? We should be asking why Democrats are routinely forced into these ritualistic purgings and why otherwise rational people like Bob Herbert and Joan Walsh are turning into concern trolls. The whole thing reminds me of the Congressional vote against the Petraeus/Betray Us MoveOn ad. The mainstream media does not require similar Kabuki dances from the Republicans. Most people have no idea who John Hagee is and the press never for a moment promoted the “Hagee is crazy” story with as much vigor as the Wright story received. It *is* a glaring race-based double standard.

    Finally, what Greenwald said . . .
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/04/29/wright/index.html

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