Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama right and wrong in swipe-back at TN GOP

So Sen. Barack Obama is a bit peeved about the Tennessee GOP's YouTube swipe at his wife's comment about finally being proud of America as an adult.

"These folks should lay off my wife," Obama said Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America.

"Bill Hobbs, in his job for the Tennessee Republican Party, unleashed the video last week to coincide with Michelle Obama's visit to the state for a fundraiser. I know Hobbs and have respected his personal blog over the years for its accuracy in reporting state finance numbers.

Reuters said the video "repeatedly showed Michelle Obama making the 'proud' remark interspersed with comments by Tennesseans about their own patriotism." I got to see a bit of the video on This Week with Bob Mueller, which airs locally before George S's national show.

"Whoever is in charge of the Tennessee GOP needs to think long and hard about the kind of campaign that they want to run," Sen. Obama said Monday.

Obama is right that any effort to judge who is more patriotic during the presidential or any campaign is wrong and "low class". That kind of road only encourages fanaticism and facism. This marks the second time the state party has drawn national attention in the ongoing presidential campaign for going too far and too low -- even for politics.

But Obama's wife should be more careful. Her comment about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life was startling, particularly here. And it is fair political game, because she is asking for votes for her husband based on the credibility of her words and experiences.She tried to explain away the comment later, and the campaign successfully spun it.

Cindy McCain -- wife of GOP presidential nominee John McCain -- then jumped on the comment and said she has always been proud of America. I'd always be proud of America, too, if I inherited a beer distributing franchise and loads of cash and privilege.

But maybe the explanation and spin were not for the best for this nation. Maybe Michelle Obama should have tried to educate folks -- and Cindy McCain -- that being a woman and an African-American in the United States is very difficult when it comes to fairness and justice in the workplace and society in general. And that's really true.

As an American of Mexican ancestry, there are many parts of American history I am not proud of.

This nation's flag flew over Mexico City in an illegal war for territory under the immorality of Manifest Destiny invoked by President James Polk.

This nation's flag flew next to the 4,000 fallen bodies of American Indians on the Trail of Tears that winds through the heart of Tennessee. This country's Indian removal actions were in direct violation of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the Cherokee Nation. Yet the court decision was outrageously ignored.

I mention these two parts of U.S. history because they happened or begun under the presidencies of two Tennesseans, Polk and Andrew Jackson, who still are celebrated in this state where I live. And that is cause for shame and a triumph for ignorance.

I still don't understand how African-Americans can join in Jefferson-Jackson Day celebrations to raise funds for the Democratic Party. Both of these presidents were slaveholders. While he wrote great words in this nation's cherished documents, Jefferson's lifestyle defiled them. While a populist, Jackson enslavement of blacks and degradation of Indian rights were offenses against humanity. If the GOP had fundraisers in the name of Republican presidents who committed such grevious wrongs, they'd be ridiculed by the news media.

Yet, I still fly the American flag in front of my house, just as my father did. I'm the only person on my street who still flies the flag out front, despite this nation's ongoing savagery of Hispanics and their families over immigration status. I love this country despite its faults and hypocrises. And I fly the flag for the men and women who put their lives behind it, like my good friend Zach who is a Marine unit leader in Afghanistan and my nephew who is in the Navy and my cousin who is a captain in Army intelligence.

Obama's so far successful candidacy may indeed be the first time his wife as an adult is proud of America and its citizens. And that's all right. Tell us the truth; don't feed us the spin. We as a nation need to be educated. And in the process, she may find she needs to be educated, as her husband was when he made his comments about rural people clinging to religion and guns.

Yes, the game of who is the bigger patriot is ridiculous. The TN GOP should avoid it in the future or risk more condemnation. But as long as the senator uses his wife to campaign, her words are fair target for scrutiny and even ridicule. It's all free speech, whether we like the speech or not.


Adriana said...

True patriots don't have to exclaim how proud they are of their country or wear flag lapel pins made in China. All of this silliness is basically to take the discourse in a different direction, meaning away from the Iraq War, access to quality education and health care, rising fuel costs, etc.

As for Michelle Obama, I can see where she is coming from being raised in a working class family from South Chicago. People should cut her some slack, but from the strategic standpoint, she's going to have to think about what she says a little more. She will be held to a higher standard unfortunately.

DinTN said...

Doesn't matter. Obama shouldn't become our president any more than Hillary or McCain. None of them represent what's important to the majority of Americans.
"We will close our borders and ports. Illegal immigration STOPS the day we take the White House! We will not provide amnesty to anyone. There will be no welfare for illegal immigrants! We will end birthright citizenship! There will be no more anchor babies!"

"It is absolutely ludicrous to say we are fighting a war on terror half way around the world when we refuse to secure our borders and ports. If I were President, I would immediately seal our borders. I would also see to it that employers in America who knowingly hire illegal aliens are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In plain language: any employer who consciously hires illegal aliens would go to jail. They would not pass Go; they would not collect $200; they would go straight to jail."