Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Is a Black President Too Much Change for America to Bear?


Is a Black President Too Much Change for America to Bear?

Ok, let’s drop the nonsense and be real, here. If Barack Obama was White, he’d be at least twenty points ahead of John McCain in every major poll in the country. His election would have been so certain by now that Michelle would have already been sent the keys to the White House–and we all know it.

By any indicator–intellect, character, prudence, demeanor, or competence–Barack Obama is clearly not only head and shoulders above John McCain, but he’s one of the most impressive presidential candidates in the history of this nation. So what American voters have to decide at this pivotal point in our history, is how much do they truly love America. It’s time that we really embrace this question, instead of simply paying lip service to it.

Too many of us love America by rote rather than passion. With some, it’s not so much about loving America, as it is hating everyone else, and others love the American plot of land, but hate the ideals that America stands for. So this November is where the rubber meets the road. It may very well be our last chance to decide whether or not we truly love America, and the American ideal, or decide that the mere thought of having a Black president, is just too much change for Americans to bear? That, is the one and only question before us this election season, and we all know it.

Now, we can continue trying to delude ourselves into believing that the primary issue in this election is experience and not race, but at this point, even the most naive among us can see through that sham. Experience in office notwithstanding, there is virtually no one in this country who’s so dense that they can’t see that Barack Obama, even as a candidate, is the most presidential figure in the country today, and that’s exactly what we so desperately need at this point in our history. So don’t start talking to me about experience–Wall Street was full of experience, and so was the Bush administration. What we need is good judgment, and Obama’s judgment has been sternly tested as he presides over the most flawless campaign that this nation has ever witnessed.

The experience issue is nothing more than a talking point. Some of the very same people who say that Obama lacks the experience to be trusted in the Oval Office, also says that if it became necessary, Sarah Palin is more than qualified to take over the helm. That position is ridiculous on its face. Is there anyone in the country, Democrat or Republican, that’s so delusional that they actually believe that Sarah Palin is more capable than Barack Obama? I don’t think so. While there are still those who claim to believe it, I think I’m safe in saying that every person in America knows better.

On judgment alone, Sen. Obama not only managed to defeat Hillary Clinton, but former President Bill Clinton as well--two of the most powerful political forces in the world today, while Gov. Palin can’t even be trusted by her own running mate to give a news interview. The fact is, and I don’t want to sound sexist, but it is indeed a fact, that any television weather girl could replace Sarah Palin seamlessly, and in a heartbeat. John McCain could be easily replaced as well–they’re both what my late wife use to call “typicals.” But consider the amount of effort it would take to replace Barack Obama–if, in fact, he could be replaced at all.

Nevertheless, Sarah Palin supporters contend that her executive experience in Alaska makes her more qualified to be president than Barack Obama. But while they’re saying that out of one side of their mouth, they’re having to defend the complete disaster that Ms. Palin left behind out of the other.

They want to ignore the fact that as mayor of Wasilla, a town of only 6300 residents, Palin, this fiscal conservative, left behind a debt of $22 million ($3492 per resident) as a direct result of her administrative incompetence. During her tenure as mayor, Palin built a $14.7 million sports complex for the city of wasilla, but there was only one problem–she failed to gain title to the property that it was built on. As a result of this minor oversight, the city’s long term debt went from $1 million, to over $25 million. And during her short tenure as governor, she’s left behind a full-blown scandal (“trooper gate”) after only 22 months in office. Both issues suggest poor judgment.

And with regard to McCain, notice that once again, we find ourselves discussing Sarah Palin rather than John McCain, who’s at the top of the ticket. The fact that a man with 26 years in office is being overshadowed by a novice running mate with a dubious record, speaks volumes about McCain’s own suitability to be president. Considering his 72 years and the condition of his health, the fact that McCain would choose someone of Sarah Palin’s pedestrian proclivities and modest grasp of world affairs at this precarious juncture in our history, raises concerns regarding McCain’s judgment on behalf as well. How could one watch Sarah Palin’s performance in the Katie Couric interview and not recognize that McCain put the nation’s interest on the back burner when he made his vice-presidential selection?

Then there was McCain’s performance during the financial crisis. Watching McCain flail back and forth during this financial emergency, contradicting himself by trying to play both sides of the issue, and at the same time desperately attempting to maneuver himself into position to take credit for any bailout was a pathetic thing to watch. The nation was facing the worst financial crisis in its history–in world history–but instead of trying to figure out how to best serve the American people, McCain made an absolute fool of himself by trying to gain political milage out of a national tragedy. In addition, he was clearly in over his head and operating in panic mode. But it gave us a clear, though horrific snapshot of what we could expect from him as president during a national emergency. The thought is horrifying.

Thus, the irony in this situation is just short of Biblical in nature. First, as the nation is crumbling around us, the only chance we have of saving ourselves is by overcoming the racism that has been a pervasive part of the nation’s fabric since its inception. Secondly, and just as ironic, is the only person that seems to be qualified to save the nation, is part of a group that has been derided over the years as ignorant, lazy, and without class. Yet, the very qualities that will allow him to save us, is the fact that he is better educated, more intelligent, a harder worker, and has more class, wisdom, and common sense than anyone else available. And finally, Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president exactly 45 years to the day, after Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

The irony of all this is much too pointed to have simply come about by chance.

Eric L. Wattree

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