Monday, February 25, 2008

The Waffle Watch: Part-Time Senator Obama , Race, Iraq, & The Poor

Although Sen. Barack Obama, the very junior Democrat senator from Illinois, apparently is now more a star than, say, Elvis Presley, it's still not a bad idea to get past the hype and look at reality. As this quick-look by CBS shows, Obama has waffled on Iraq for years.

Even though Democratic party apologist Sen. Dick Durbin spreads the justification jam, the message is clear: Obama's campaign is actually a giant moving waffle house. There's another hidden message in Obama's speeches, and here CBS shows a major one.

Obama speaks of his campaign bringing whites, blacks, and Latinos together and of working on anti-poverty programs for those groups. Memo to Sen. Obama: among Illinois' top 5 ethnic groups are the original inhabitants of this land: Native Americans.

Census results from the turn of the century show that about 100 tribes are represented in Illinois, most in the Chicago area. Many Native Americans were moved to Chicago during the government's ill-fated "relocation" programs designed to break up tribal communities and reservations.

Obama needs to check on poverty statistics and needs for that section of his constituency, which makes up slightly more than nine per cent of his state's population. It's apparent, though, that like most black politicians before him, Obama finds Native Americans to be invisible--to him, at least.

Someone might also want to tell Obama that there are Asians, in fact, many racial backgrounds, in his state, and home city, and that many of them are poor or working poor. Again, Obama makes it clear, to those who can get past the media hype, that his focus is on snake-charming the all-important black, Latino, and white voters.

Does America really want, or need, a president who not only is a waffle king, but who's only interested in serving only certain groups at his slick cliche cafe? We need to think about that.

There's another problem here: the issue of race. Obama's campaign waffles there, too. It's supposedly not about race, but the mantle of "first potential black president" gets whipped around in the air like a Spanish matador's cape.

Make no mistake, it is about race--as duplicitously defined by the Obama camp. If you support him, it's not about race. If you don't support him, then you're part of America's racial problems. The core message is subtle, but pervasive: a vote for Obama is a vote to prove the U.S. is not racially prejudiced; a word, or vote against Obama proves it is.

Or so the Obama camp would have you believe. In fact, the essence of racial equality in politics is that all candidates get evaluated by their record and their statements, regardless of their race.That applies to Obama, too.

If this country really wishes to continue to mature racially, then it's time to get past the rhetoric and the hype, and make one thing clear: voting against Obama is not a vote against blacks, or a vote for white domination. It's simply a vote that chooses another candidate as more qualified and more trustworthy, based on the individual voter's beliefs and choices.

Will some people vote against Obama because he is black? Of course. On the other hand, will some vote for Obama because he is black? Of course.. Interestingly enough, a vote for Obama because he's black isn't a racial choice, according to the leftist rhetoric, whereas a vote against him is. Or (back to the waffle counter here) a vote for Obama is a good racial choice, proving our racial fairness; a vote against is racism.

America doesn't have to prove anything racially. Within a very short time, the U.S. has moved from the rotten era of routine segregation (not to mention routine sexism) to an integrated nation. If you doubt that, check out the Secretary of State's office, the Supreme Court, and just about every facet of our daily lives.

Dealing with racial issues isn't easy. Xenophobia seems to be hard-wired into us as a species. We each have to outgrow that, just as developing babies in the womb have to outgrow vestiges of a tail and the stage where the fetus looks more like a newt than anything else.

The reality is that in no time, in no place, will prejudice ever be totally rooted out of the human race other than by education and cultural changes, such as those demonstrated in the U.S. in less than 50 years. To frame this election only in terms of race is the mirror image of pre-integration days, when everything was framed by race.

We don't have to buy into proving ourselves as "not racist" by voting for Obama. That needs to be repeated. Evaluate him fairly--which means looking at him without the "first black" rhetoric.

Because color, or racial background, is a lousy reason to vote for, or against, someone.

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