Sunday, May 4, 2008

designated weenie

Designated Weenie

“I believe that a change is going to come because many of us are committing to changing how we see others who are different.” Are these the most evil words ever written or what?
Don’t recognize this message? This sentence was the theme/refrain, in fact the very essence, of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s now infamous keynote speech for the NAACP in Detroit on Sunday, April 27th (transcript widely available online). You know, the speech that has been used to paint Wright as a racist hatemonger who does not love his country, the one that has Barack Obama denouncing/ denying his former minister so fast and furious that if he were to be any more “in-denial” he’d have to travel under an Egyptian passport.
I n case you missed it, at first it seemed that CNN, who had led the way in the first public excoriation of the firebrand preacher who “happened to be” Barack Obama’s minister, the entire network itself experienced a massive about face on the issue and was now championing Wright both the man and the message. At the least the network was clearly attempting to do more than publicly apologize when, without warning, they gave over three and a half hours of primetime Sunday night TV to play, then replay, and then again replay Rev. Wright’s complete speech at the NAACP’s Detroit national convention.
A major network giving up primetime for live coverage of a minority minister, or for the NAACP for that matter, is something that only happens in fairytales and to make the incident more amazing, weekend anchor Rick Sanchez, appearing to make an executive decision, announced on air at the end of his segment that he was bumping the CNN line-up to continue coverage on Wright.
Understand it was not just any old Larry King’s celebrity interview, but jiggle-icon ratings-queen herself, Pamela Anderson. The idea of keeping Pamela Anderson’s chest off the air to replay Wright’s speech twice in the single evening was like tossing aside America’s steady diet of bubble gum for a bowl of beef stew. For a moment there was hope.
Then as if it was all a dream, despite CNN’s mighty Sunday night efforts by Monday they were back to Wright bashing business in lockstep with all the other major networks. Certainly most of the American news viewing public got to see the media once again lambaste the allegedly vile words of the supposedly diabolical Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The media feeding frenzy that followed painted Wright’s speech as the most radical manifesto this side of the Unabomber and thus once again onetime Wright ally Obama was subjected to a fresh round of pillorying and denouncement. It was another test of his mettle.
He failed.
Instead of simply distancing as he’d done during the first round of Wright baiting a month ago, this time Obama played the now traditional Democratic role of designated weenie, and turned his back on his church, his life-long friend, and the political views that are actually what make him appealing as a liberal in the first place. In doing so Obama showed the near stereotypical Democratic trait of selling his own progressive principles out to sell himself to conservatives that had no intention of voting for him in the first place; and in the process alienating his own followers as well.
While it’s not quite as bad selling out your country to the oil industry and squandering billions and murdering millions in a war based on lies, domestic suppression, and foreign terrorism, it once again leaves that taste of disappointment in one’s mouth. It makes Barack and all Dems look bad enough to make folks consider voting McCain despite knowing voting McCain is endorsing the tragedy that’s been Bush.
As Dems have done at least as far back as Dukakis, Obama blanched fearing he’d be seen as not white enough, let “right-wingers” frame his agenda for him, and wound up doing his part to assure GOP victory and a third term of the Bush policies that 70% of the American public openly condemn.
If this is the best they can do to protect us from Bush, it is small wonder that even after all those debates most of America still isn’t sure why we should vote Dem. Some may say that at least they’re still better than the GOP, but if this is an indication of democratic leadership, I’d have to say, not by much.

--Mikel Weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona

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