Is Obama for unity or division?

Senator Barack Obama gave a major speech yesterday, answering critics who question how closely he shares some of the radical beliefs of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Given in Philadelphia, the speech was eloquent. You don’t have to agree with Obama’s politics to appreciate his flair for rhetoric.

Obama tried to strike a theme of inclusion, rejecting what he called “the politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism.” He almost pulled it off.

But then, talking about how the focus of this election campaign should be different from past campaigns, he made this statement:

“This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.”

Talk about “division, and conflict, and cynicism.” It’s all there in that one sentence; except rather than dividing us along racial lines, the division is along class lines””labor versus capitalists.

Apparently, rather than demonize people of another race””clearly an offensive thing here or anywhere else””it’s now safe to demonize corporations that do what’s prudent to provide goods or services at a price their customers are willing to pay.

Nothing is said about government policies that raise the cost of doing business, making it tough to create jobs while still earning the profits needed to stay in business.

Nothing is said about the value of the profit motive in directing labor and capital to their highest and best uses for the benefit of labor, management, owners and consumers.

Obama displayed a deep understanding of racial issues and how they divide us. Unfortunately, he also revealed a shallow understanding of capitalism, thus furthering our economic divide. He’s not the only politician doing so; he’s just the most eloquent at the moment.


Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank.

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  • RinoWatch

    Towards the end of his speech Obama’s ultra liberal policies are skillfully revealed.

    For Example, the reference to how all children, be they white, black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. all deserve a first rate PUBLIC education.

    Slicker than “Slick Willie”

    The guy could sell ice to Eskimos…..

  • William Neuhauser

    You mean those efficiencies like the $430B bailout of investment banks announced in the last two weeks? For perspective, the US government annual discretionary budget is about $1T (or $1000B). In other words, about 40%!

    At $430B, that represents about $4300 per household in subprime-mortgage backed debt the US taxpayers just took on in order to support the profit motive of corporations.

    • Steve Buckstein

      William, if your point is that corporate welfare is bad, I agree. The $430 billion you mention is money the Fed has loaned, not gifted, banks and mortgage brokers. Whether this lending is appropriate (or whether the Fed itself is an appropriate institution) is a discussion for another time. But, to the extent such actions shift financial risks from private institutions to taxpayers, it can be considered corporate welfare and should be ended.

      Also, whether these loans are good or bad public policy shouldn’t cast any judgment on the profit motive itself. It’s profit that drives most private institutions, and most individuals, to better meet the needs of their customers/employers in order to better their own financial situations.

      • Dave Gore

        It’s not just a matter of profit. In today’s increasingly competitive world, corporations sometimes have to move jobs overseas just to survive. And if they don’t survive, even more jobs are lost.

  • CRAWDUDE

    He’s for higher taxes and class war, in my opinion.

    If Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) Could Enact All Of His Campaign Proposals, Taxpayers Would Be Faced With Financing $874.35 Billion In New Spending Over One White House Term:
    Updated February 14, 2008: Obama’s National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank Will Cost $60 Billion Over Ten Years; Equal To $6 Billion A Year And $24 Billion Over Four Years. Obama: “I’m proposing a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks On Economic Policy, Janesville , WI, 2/13/08)
    Obama’s Health Care Plan Will Cost Up To $65 Billion A Year; Equal To $260 Billion Over Four Years. “[Obama] campaign officials estimated that the net cost of the plan to the federal government would be $50 billion to $65 billion a year, when ful ly phased in, and said the revenues from rolling back the tax cuts were enough to cover it.” (Robin Toner and Patrick Healy, “Obama Calls For Wider And Less Costly Health Care Coverage,” The New York Times, 5/30/07)
    Obama’s Energy Plan Will Cost $150 Billion Over 10 Years, Equal To $15 Billion Annually And $60 Billion Over Four Years. “Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale re newable energy, invest in low-emissions coal plants, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid.” (Obama For America, “The Blueprint For Change,” http://www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 25)
    Obama’s Tax Plan Will Cost Approximately $85 Billion A Year; Equal To $340 Billion Over Four Years. “[Obama’s] propo sed tax cuts and credits, aimed at workers earning $50,000 or less per year, would cost the Treasury an estimated $85 billion annually.” (Margaret Talev, “Obama Proposes Tax Code Overhaul To Help The Poor,” McClatchy Newspapers, 9/19/07)
    Obama’s Plan Would Raise Taxes On Capital Gains And Dividends, And On Carried Interest. Obama’s tax plan includes: “[i]ncreasing the highest bracket for capital gains and dividends and closing the carried interest loophole.” (Obama For America, “Barack Obama: Tax Fairness For The Middle Class,” Fact Sheet, http://www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/8/08)
    Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package Will Cost $75 Billion. “Barack Obama’s economic plan will inject $75 billion of stimulus into the economy by getting money in the form of tax cuts and direct spending directly to the people who need it most.” (Obama For America, “Barack Obama’s Plan To Stimulate The Economy,” Fact Sheet, http://www.barackobama.com, 1/13/08)
    Obama’s Early Education And K-12 Package Will Cost $18 Billion A Year; Equal To $72 Billion Over Four Years. “Barack Obama’s early education and K-12 plan package costs about $18 billion per year.” (Obama For America, “Barack Obama’s Plan For Lifetime Success Through Education,” Fact Sheet,www.barackobama.com, 11/20/07, p. 15)
    Ob ama’s National Service Plan Will Cost $3.5 Billion A Year; Equal To $14 Billion Over Four Years. “Barack Obama’s national service plan will cost about $3.5 billion per year when it is fully implemented.” (Obama For America, “Helping All Americans Serve Their Country: Barack Obama’s Plan For Universal Voluntary Citizen Service,” Fact Sheet, http://www.barackobama.com, 12/5/07)
    Obama Will Increase Our Foreign Assistance Fu nding By $25 Billion. “Obama will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and he will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion to achieve that goal.” (Obama For America, “The Blueprint For Change,” http://www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 53)
    Obama Will Provide $2 Billion To Aid Iraqi Refugees. “He will provide at least $2 billion to e xpand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven.” (Obama For America, “The Blueprint For Change,” http://www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 51)
    Obama Will Provide $1.5 Billion To Help States Adopt Paid-Leave Systems. “As president, Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Oba ma will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.” (Obama For America, “The Blueprint For Change,” http://www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 15)
    Obama Will Provide $1 Billion Over 5 Years For Transitional Jobs And Career Pathway Programs, Equal To $200 Million A Year And $800 Million Over Four Years. “Obama will i nvest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.” (Obama For America, “The Blueprint For Change,” http://www.barackobama.com, Accessed 1/14/08, p. 42)
    Obama Will Provide $50 Million To Jump-Start The Creation Of An IAEA-Controlled Nuclear Fuel Bank. Obama: “We must also stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology and ensure that countries cannot build — or come to the brink of building — a weapons program under the auspices of developing peaceful nuclear power. That is why my administration will immediately provide $50 million to jump-start the crea tion of an International Atomic Energy Agency-controlled nuclear fuel bank and work to update the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.” (Sen. Barack Obama, “Renewing American Leadership,” Foreign Affairs, 7-8/07)

  • dean

    Steve,

    It is easy to criticize someone for what they DID NOT say, or to read into their recognition of a serious issue: the decline of high paying manufacturing jobs due to the movement of American capital overseas for cheaper labor in nations with no freedom, no unions, no environmental laws (China). And to call that “class warfare.”

    It is nothing of the sort. It recognizes the reality of the pressure working Americans are under. His approach to solving this and yours may be different, but to pretend the problem is not real is not helpful.

    • Steve Buckstein

      Dean, I’m not “pretending” the pressures on American workers are not real. I simply believe that Obama and others are “pretending” that these pressures are somehow the fault of corporations seeking “nothing more than a profit” as though this is not a worthy goal.

      Readers might find the comments of economist Russell Roberts helpful as they consider the “problem” of job losses due to trade:

      “All political systems must fight the tension between reducing the short-run hardship and enjoying the longer-run benefits. When the benefits come quickly, the short-run adjustments are easier to endure. In America, new jobs come along so quickly (fueled by the resources that are freed-up by the improvements in productivity), that there is limited political traction to stop short-run hardship. In Europe, it appears, the demand to allay short-run hardship is more effective in making their economies less dynamic. So while national borders are a red herring in discussing the economics, they are important in generating the political forces that discourage or support economic change.

      “The incredible American labor market easily generates more new jobs to more than make up for the jobs that no longer exist because of technology and trade… [T]he dynamic nature of the US labor market means that the ‘long-run’ benefits of increased productivity come very quickly, long before we are all dead. That in turn reduces the political pressure to stop the economic forces creating the prosperity with their short-run hardships.

      “Despite all the claims that the middle class is stagnant, most Americans enjoy a dramatically higher standard of living than their parents enjoyed 20 and 30 years ago. For those of us beyond the age of 40 or so, the change in material well-being over a generation is palpable.”

      source:
      https://cafehayek.typepad.com/hayek/2007/05/the_road_to_pro.html

  • NotYourDaddy

    There are a couple of posts on my blog about Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the implications of Obama’s long-standing tacit support for the message of racial separism, even though he publicly condemns it. But my biggest concern about Obama has always been, and remains, his socialist perspective on economic policy. (Actually, I disagree with him on just about every political issue, but the economy and the war are my two biggest issues and, from my perspective, he’s on the wrong side of both.)

    Right now, everybody in the country is talking about the economy. Obama is talking about race. Sure, he was backed into that corner by the media. But Obama is an expert on this topic. So far, he’s had to avoid it during the campaign, because he didn’t want to be the one to bring it up. But he’s been thinking about this for decades. His eloquence on this subject is no accident. This is his forte. And now he’s been handed the opportunity to let his eloquence flow, while appearing to be the victim, “unfairly” hounded by the media. The timing could not be better for him. He’s been granted license to avoid the _real_ hot issue of the day (on which he is very weak) and instead take refuge in a topic that is a personal strength of his. I believe he will end up coming out on top here. He’s a natureal orator, and he’s on his home turf with this subject. Some of what he says is even true. It’s bound to earn him sympathy, at the very least.

    Personally, I think it’s playing right into his hand to let him focue on race and give him an excuse to avoid addressing the _real_ issues, which are much more difficult for him. We’ve done the race thing. Let’s get back to the issues, where his smooth talk can be refuted with empirical data. The race issue is quicksand. If the right pushes it too far, it’s going to backfire and work to his advantage. I think we’re already approacing that point.

  • davidg

    I thought Obama handled the race issue well, but like Steve, I think he opened the door to another divisive issue: class divisions. John Edwards unsuccessfully tried to fan those flames. Obama sounds like he wants to rekindle them. I don’t expect Obama to be any more successful nationally with that theme than Edwards was in the Democratic primaries.

    I think Obama undercut the long term significance of his speech by trying to tie social progress to government programs in health, education, etc. A lot of us welcome social progress, but see it coming in spite of, not because of government programs. He loses a lot of us here.

    I was intrigued and thought he was sensible in saying he could no more renounce his pastor as his grandmother. Both had their faults, but he accepted them for the good that they gave him. Is he willing to apply that principle on a broader scale? George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners, but undoubtedly made outstanding contributions to the practice and theory of good government. It is easy to find people today who bash both of them for their slave practices. Shouldn’t they too be forgiven and embraced for the overwhelming good that they did for the country? And on even a much broader scale, is Obama willing to give up on theories like affirmative action which hold that future generations are forever punished for transgressions of their ancestors?

    Obama certainly can’t be expected to resolve every social problem. I think it is a good thing that he has injected concepts like healing and forgiveness into our political debate. I wonder how far he can go with them.

    • dean

      Steve B….the loss of high paying, high benefit jobs and their replacement by an equal number or greater of low paying, no benefit jobs is not a tadeoff you can sell to those who have taken it in the shorts. People don’t live in “the economy as a whole.” They live in a world or restricted opportunities based on their particular circumstances. Politically, both Republicans and Democrats have gotten away with “free trade” advocacy for several decades, but that era is drawing to a close as America’s economy now has to painfully readjust to the new realities of vey expensive energy, very high debt, a declining dollar, declining home values (the biggest nest egg for most of us), a deteriorating environment, and a 3 trillion dollar war bill. Or what will be known as the Bush/Reagan/Republican legacy.

      To davidg…to the extent Obama does use this opportunity to open the door to start talking about class in America, and to the extent he can link the day to day struggles of working class whites, blacks, latinos, and the whole rainbow, he opens the door for a more constructive dialogue about prosperity in America, where it comes from, how it gets distributed, and what our policies should be on taxes, trade, and so forth. Edwards talked about this stuff, but in a demagogic way that was not constructuve, and not very believeable coming from a multi-millionaire.

      I hope Obama picks up that mantle, but reinterprets it, softens it, finds a way to link capital and labor together cooperatively the way many European societies have managed to do, particularly the Scandanavians. And I hope he gets to debate McCain on all of the above, plus Iraq and the larger picture of the best way to fight the crazies.

  • Steve Buckstein

    Dean, the manufacturing jobs lost have not been replaced just by low paying jobs. Economics professor Mark Perry does a good job of setting the record straight here:

    1. Although there was a decline of 3,332,000 manufacturing jobs from 1997-2007, there was an increase of 17,398,000 jobs in non-manufacturing industries, resulting in a net job increase of more than 14 million U.S. jobs during a period of increasing globalization, international trade liberalization, and outsourcing.

    2. And what about the hamburger-flipping story? It’s a myth. The 3.3 million manufacturing jobs that were lost paid an average of $17.12 per hour, but more than 11 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy in sectors that paid an average of $20.79 per hour, or 21.4% MORE than manufacturing.

    3. Employment growth from 1997-2007 in just two separate sectors (4 million education and health services jobs, and 3.5 million professional and business services jobs) more than replaced all of the manufacturing jobs lost, and both sectors pay more than manufacturing.

    4. Although it is true that 5.8 million new jobs were created in industries that pay less than manufacturing, the number of jobs in higher-paying sectors (11.59 million) outnumbers jobs in lower-paying sectors (5.8 million) by a factor of 2 to 1.

    Source:
    https://mjperry.blogspot.com/2007/11/higher-paying-jobs-outnumber-lower.html

    • dean

      Seve…I won’t quibble with your statistics, though broader income stats clearly show stagnant incomes, longer working hours, and more household members working to maintain incomes in the 4 lowest quintiles of American households over the past 30 years of free trade policies. I’ll just say, explain your statistics to Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio voters who have born the brunt of the loss of the high paying manufacturing jobs. Llike I said, they don’t live in the economy as a whole, and their prospects stink.

      I’m not anti-free trade by the way. But I’m convinced there are winners and losers, and it does no good for the losers to claim we are winning overall.

      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, not being on the ballot this year I have the luxury of not having to explain my statistics to voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. But Oregonians might want to read an interesting Wall Street Journal op-ed published on March 3rd, the day before the Texas and Ohio primaries.

        In “Texas v. Ohio,” the editors laid out an economic comparison between a state that is doing well economically and gaining jobs (Texas) and one that is hurting and losing jobs (Ohio).

        Three key sections of that editorial read:

        “…Texas’s growth puts the lie to the myth that free trade costs American jobs. Anti-Nafta rhetoric doesn’t play well in El Paso, San Antonio and Houston, which have become gateway cities for commerce with Latin America and have flourished since the North American Free Trade Agreement passed Congress in 1993. Mr. Obama’s claim of one million lost jobs due to trade deals is laughable in Texas, the state most affected by Nafta. Texas has gained 36,000 manufacturing jobs since 2004 and has ranked as the nation’s top exporting state for six years in a row.”

        “Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are losing auto jobs, but many of these “runaway plants” are not fleeing to China, Mexico or India. They’ve moved to more business-friendly U.S. states, including Texas. GM recently announced plans for a new plant to build hybrid cars. Guess where? Near Dallas. In 2006 the Lone Star State exported $5.5 billion of cars and trucks to Mexico and $2.4 billion worth to Canada.”

        “Ohio politicians deplore plant closings even as they impose the third highest corporate income tax in the country (10.5%) and the sixth highest personal income tax (8.87%). A common joke is that Ohio lays out the red carpet for companies — when they leave the state. By contrast, Texas has no income tax, a huge competitive advantage.”

        So yes, Dean, there are winners and losers, but the losses may be victims of the very politicians who are trying to convince voters that trade and greedy corporations are the problem.

        • dean

          OK…so instead of packing up and going over seas some packed up and headed to the non-union, cheap labor south. Either way, it is lost wages and benefits. And again, it does no good for a Michigan or Ohio resident to hear that there are plenty of jobs in Texas unless one is prepared to uproot oneself.

          Oregon also probably net benefits from freer trade.

          And yes…good thing you are not on the ballot in the rust belt.

          • Patrick

            Dean,

            Did you read the part in Steve’s post about why those businesses are relocating to Texas? Perhaps if Ohio, Indiana and Michigan followed some of what Texas is doing and gave business (and citizens) a break they would not be so inclined to leave!

            Is that not a viable option?

            I believe you are incorrect in saying that, “Either way, it is lost wages and benefits.” Those jobs, wages and benefits are not lost, they are simply relocated. Yes, this means that there are going to be winners and losers, but do Texan’s not deserve a job as well? If they make themselves competitive and win the bid, are they not deserving of it?

            Every state has the ability to structure its business climate through the type(s) of taxation, regulation or other that they do or do not put into place. It would appear that in this case, the citizens of Ohio, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards or any other, should not be pointing the finger at China, Texas, GM or anyone else, rather they should point that finger right at the policies that they advocate for and, more specifically, at the policies that are currently in place right there in the home town.

          • NotYourDaddy

            Well said, Patrick. Total agreement.

          • Steve Buckstein

            Dean, you can categorize Texas as “the non-union, cheap labor south” if you wish, but according to the Census Bureau and the American Legislative Exchange Council, from 1996 to 2006 Texans saw their per capita income grow by 55% compared to just 43% in Ohio. Texas also saw 667,000 net domestic migration (excluding foreign immigrants) while Ohio had 362,000 net domestic out-migration during the same 10 year period. Other comparisons are equally stark, so the old stereotypes about the poor south may not apply anymore.

  • Joanne Rigutto

    Steve Buckstein wrote:

    2. And what about the hamburger-flipping story? It’s a myth. The 3.3 million manufacturing jobs that were lost paid an average of $17.12 per hour, but more than 11 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy in sectors that paid an average of $20.79 per hour, or 21.4% MORE than manufacturing.

    Tell me Steve, how exactly is the person, who is 40 or 50 years old, and lost their $17.12/hour job, supposed to get the job that pays @20.79/hour? Exactly what were those jobs and what were the entry level wages/job skill or education requirements, age requirements?

    Or are we looking at the big picture and throwing the individual who can no longer support their family/self under the bus?

    • Steve Buckstein

      Joanne, I don’t know what the exact jobs were, or what their requirements were. In a dynamic economy such factors are constantly changing. American can move closer to the European model if you wish, where economic mobility is severely restricted, but over time you’ll see that Americans have the better deal. Rather than use government to restrict change, we should be working to remove the government taxes and regulations that make it harder for our companies to offer better opportunities, and make it harder for our workers to improve their own economic situations.

  • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

    Just exactly how much tolerance would any of us have for a white presidential candidate attending a church whose preacher preached white seperatism and routinely railed against blacks?

    Yeah, thought so.

    A racist is a racist, black, white or any shade in between. If someone told me that they attended a christian identity church but were’t racist I’d know exactly what they full of – and it wouldn’t be “white pride.”

    • dean

      Patrick….fair enough. But a competition to the bottom, with respect to taxes, labor and environmental policies, would appear to serve the interest of capital a lot more than the interest of laboring people, wouldn’t you agree? And to the extent we have to lower corporate taxes to entice them to stay or locate, the tax burden shifts to the worker, compounding his or her loss.

      TKL….its easy to cast that stone of racism isn’t it? But it is illogical to think Obama is a racist given his mother is white and he was raised by his white grandparents, not his black father. He is after all multi-racial, not simply “black.”

      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, lower corporate taxes don’t shift the tax burden to the worker as you suggest. Corporations don’t pay taxes as much as they collect taxes and simply pass the costs on to individuals, be they customers in the form of higher prices, workers in the form of lower wages, etc. If a state wants to tax workers it should do so openly and directly; same if it wants to tax consumers.

        • David from Eugene

          Steve—First of all there is no such thing as a free lunch, government services cost money. If corporations get a tax reduction some one else gets to pick up the slack.

          As to the “corporations don’t pay taxes”; it is a nice sound bite with no real merit. The reality is that corporations are part of a monetary cycle; in its most simplistic form, they pay workers who in turn buy products and services from the corporations who in turn pay workers…. So the case can also be made that corporations directly or indirectly pay all taxes.

          Besides under the law corporations are persons, so exactly why shouldn’t they pay taxes like all other people? Unless you are arguing that some persons are more equal then other persons.

          • Steve Buckstein

            David, if corporations get a tax reduction and individuals are taxed directly, those individuals are not “picking up the slack” because individuals were paying those taxes anyway; we just weren’t sure which individuals were paying which business taxes.

            The fact that corporations are legal persons doesn’t change the reality that it’s real flesh and blood persons who actually pay all taxes.

            For a longer discussion of this concept, see:
            Business Taxation: A Loose Cannon on a Dark Night
            http://www.cascadepolicy.org/pdf/fiscal/2008_04.pdf

          • David fom Eugene

            Steve—If you check I believe you will find out that most workers do not write out a check to the IRS, they file returns but it is their employer who writes the check to the IRS at the same time he writes their pay check. The worker never has possession of that money it goes directly from the employer to the government. The gross income figure is on his pay stub is an interesting accounting fiction of little practical value to the average worker.

            Like I said earlier, what we are looking at is a circular cycle; where the company pays the worker who in turn buys products or services from the company who in turn pays its workers…. Thus just as it is it is possible to construct an argument in support of the workers as paying all taxes it is also possible to construct one that companies pay all taxes. And both arguments, while possibly being an interesting intellectual exercise, are without real practical value. They waste time that could be better spent on other matters like what is the best method or methods, for all concerned, to get the money to pay for governmental services.

          • Steve Buckstein

            David, if you do construct an argument that companies pay all taxes, you run into a real problem called lack of transparency. If we follow that approach, and individuals never write a check to the tax collector for anything, then individuals think they’re getting something for nothing, namely those government services you mention.

            If it’s free, then I’ll take a lot more, please. Of course, those government services would then be paid for in the form of higher prices at the store, or lower take home pay from my employer. I wouldn’t see the connection between the higher prices, lower pay, and the services I want.

            Think how that might work if restaurants didn’t charge anything for meals, and collected their revenue from some outside source. Do you think people would order more expensive meals, larger quantities, or not? That’s why it’s better to make taxes as transparent as possible, so those who pay know what they’re paying and know what services they’re getting. It’s called fiscal discipline, and it’s hard enough to achieve without fooling individuals into thinking some other entity called “business” is paying for everything.

      • Chris McMullen

        “He is after all multi-racial, not simply “black.”

        Uh, okay Deanie. He’s not racist, Barrie just has a “spiritual adviser” who he’s known for 20 years and had on his staff who’s a racist.

        Now Barrie’s backpedaling and trying to distance himself from his very good buddy…just like your typical, hypocritical politician.

        • dean

          “Deanie.” How quaint. My mom used to call me that. Thanks for the memory of her.

          Chrisie…you read his speech differently than I did. No surprise there. I heard him disown his pastor’s political statements without disowning his pastor, and he took the opportunity to provide a broader, and I think realistic context for the black-white divide in this nation.

          I don’t know that his pastor is or is not a “racist.” He is clearly pissed off about the condition of black people in this country, and blames that condition (rightly I think) at least in part on the lack of opportunities that white America has offered to black America. Obama articulated those in his speech, from slavery to Jim Crow to segregated schools and housing in the northern cities. And for black people, he articulated accurately the legitimate or imagined grievences and resentments many whites feel towards blacks.

          I thought it was an incredible moment, and if people are open to his argument this nation has an opportunity to start getting past this issue once and for all. If instead those who want to beat Obama over the head with the words of his pastor prevail, so be it. It won’t be the first time we blew an opportunity to grow so that someone could win a political campaign.

          And in the same vein, McCain can and will be beat over the head with his own words (bomb bomb bomb Iran) and we can all avoid the needed debate over the best way to defeat Islamic radicals over the short and longer term. Or we can call Hillary a “socialist” and avoid talkng about health care. The US economy and power sink, and we find it easier to lock ourselves into the ignorance of our positions rather than have an intelligent, constructive, respectful debate about the future.

        • David from Eugene

          Chris—- I think you have missed the main point of the speech, which was to start a public dialog on race and racism. Race and racism is all a matter of perceptions, perceptions masquerading as factual reality. Depending on where someone stands those perceptions may appear valid or invalid. In this type of dispute facts not only do not matter they often get in the way of meaningful discussion.

          The first step in dealing with the problem of racism as a nation is recognizing that we are dealing with perceptions. That the problem is not is a individual or group of individuals racist or not, but rather that another individual or group perceives them as such. That is not an easy step. An outsider attempting to point that we are dealing with realities is often perceived as attacking or demeening the group. Being the multi-racial product of a multi-racial family who has lived in both the white and black spheres of existence Mr. Obama is able to establish himself as being a member of both groups and thus an insider giving him the degree of creditability necessary to start that dialog by pointing out that both groups are dealing with perceptions. The question is; are we as a nation going to take advantage of this opportunity or no?

          • Chris McMullen

            Why do we need to start a “dialog” about racism? Racism, sexism, ageism… it all stems from ignorance and should be repudiated. And for the majority of the U.S., it is shunned. It doesn’t need to be discussed in any more complex terms than that.

            For 20 years Obama has been exposed to this pastor’s tripe and has said and done nothing. This pastor is his self-admitted “spiritual leader” and “mentor.” Obama’s speech was nothing more than spin; just like a typical hypocritical politician. The shining light that is Obama has dimmed significantly.

            I swear, liberals want to keep racism at the forefront in order to keep us divided and advance their agenda. It’s really sickening when you think about it.

          • dean

            Chris…we need it because it is a fact of life, it has had serious negative consequences for a whole lot of people, it still exists and still has consequences.

            How do you know what Obama did or did not say with respect to his Pastor’s racial views over that 20 year period? My father was a racist his entire life…does it make me one because I patiently listened to his occasional rants?

            Liberals did not invent the southern strategy Chris. Racial politics has not been good for liberals in national elections ever, but has worked for your side on more than one occasion.

          • IamIgreen

            No, it does not make you a racist, but hopefully you don’t call your father your “moral compass.” What bothers me in all of Wright’s anti-white statements is he sees American history only as he wants to see it. Why doesn’t he acknowledge that 360,000 Yankee soldiers, mostly white, died to preserve the union and end slavery? Isn’t that atleast partial payment for the horrors of slavery? Most white Americans alive today did not even have ancestors that were slave owners. It seems to meet that when you keep presenting yourself only in terms of being a victim, you have an excuse for failing to reach your potential.

  • Anonymous

    Obama is being revealed as nothing but the typical left winger he is.
    Far from any come again MLK or uniting moderate Obama has engrained in him both the agenda of the far left and the animosity of his pastor/mentor.
    Which makes him no big deal. Despite his oratory finesse and the fantasies of his followers.
    Followers who have trashed Hillary’s chances.

    President McCain and Vice President Romney will send the left into group insanity come next November. But then the left wing has multiple issues ranging from their kookery of a 911 conspriracy to their zombie like allegiance to the Global Warming cult.