Donald Sensing has a fascinating post about a hypothesized cataclysm 13,000 years ago. It’s not a new theory (the linked articles are from last spring), but it’s one I don’t think I’d read about before. Anyway, check it out.
I just sent the following letter to the Obama campaign through their contact page:
Dear Senator Obama,
Like many Americans, I have been inspired by your message of hope and change, and by your belief that politicians should be able to “disagree without being disagreeable.” Your victory speech after the Iowa caucuses gave me goose bumps — and I am usually a jaded political junkie, not prone to such emotional reactions. But your campaign is something special, or so it has seemed to me. Thus, in the past few weeks, I’ve changed from a tentative Hillary Clinton supporter to a tentative Barack Obama supporter.
I am deeply concerned, however, by recent events surrounding your campaign. Media reports indicate that a number of your supporters and surrogates have suggested that recent remarks by Bill and Hillary Clinton were racially insensitive. Yet the remarks in question, while perhaps substantively wrong, had nothing whatsoever to do with race. Criticism of the Clintons’ statements should be limited to the actual substance of what they said, without resort to such divisive rhetoric. I urge you to publicly disavow the cynical tactic of using race as a wedge issue, and to dissociate yourself from anyone who persists in using such tactics.
Bill Clinton’s description of your Iraq narrative as a “fairy tale” may be factually incorrect and wrong-headed, and if so, you should rebut it on its merits. But it is certainly not racist; to claim otherwise is ludicrous and offensive. Likewise, Hillary Clinton’s comments about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have inappropriately downplayed the importance of ideals and rhetoric, and if you believe that, you should say so. But again, there is no reasonable way to interpret her comments as being racist.
Although I am inclined to support you over Hillary Clinton, I believe the Clintons’ record on racial issues speaks for itself. They are by no means racists. Now, of course, their record should not insulate them from criticism if they were to say something genuinely insensitive. But that is not the case here. As I said, their remarks may be wrong-headed and worthy of criticism on their merits, but there is absolutely no reason for anyone to imply that the remarks are racist, and it is deplorable and indefensible to do so.
When I read Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones, a prominent supporter of yours, arguing that Bill Clinton should refrain from criticizing your record (specifically, the “fairy tale” accusation on Iraq) because he and Hillary Clinton “owe the African-American community” for “saving his presidency,” I am frankly disgusted. The African-American community is not a monolith, and no one should argue that substantive criticism of an individual African-American leader is somehow off-limits because of past support from other African-Americans. Assuming Mr. Jones was not misquoted, I urge you to disavow his comments and, if he will not publicly renounce them, disassociate yourself from him. (If he was misquoted, I hope he can publicly clarify the record about what he actually said.)
Similarly, I am deeply concerned when I read that Rep. James Clyburn is reportedly thinking about endorsing you in part because he believes it was racially offensive for Bill Clinton to state that your message of unity and optimism is a “fairy tale.” First of all, that is not what Bill Clinton said; it was perfectly clear that his remarks were focused entirely on your Iraq position. Secondly, even if the former president had been calling your hopeful message a “fairy tale,” that would be, again, wrong-headed but not racist. If Rep. Clyburn chooses to endorse you, I have no doubt that you’ll accept his endorsement, and I don’t blame you for that. But I hope you will make clear that you do not believe that the Clintons have said anything racially insensitive, as they have not.
A key reason I have been inspired by your campaign is because of your promise to change the tone of Washington’s discourse, to move away from the bitter politics of the past toward a more hopeful and united future. Yet this sort of cynical, divisive race-baiting is a prime example of the very sort of poisonous tactics that have made our politics so bitter in the first place.
It is absolutely imperative that you avoid being associated with these race-baiting tactics. If you are to convince voters like me that you really intend to follow through with your promises of a new, more hopeful politics that unites rather than embitters, you must take a clear stand on this issue. Statements and actions that are truly racist or insensitive should of course be harshly criticized, but inventing racism where none exists for political or tactical advantage is deplorable and has no place in the sort of hopeful America that I hope to see you lead.
P.S. By the way, I am a registered voter in Tennessee, which holds its primary on February 5. I will be closely following this issue, among others, as I finalize my decision of whom to vote for. I hope that, in the end, I will be able to cast my ballot for you.
Obviously, Barack Obama himself is not going to read my letter. But hopefully this isn’t the first time someone has raised this issue, and hopefully it won’t be the last (hint, hint) — and if that’s the case, then maybe it’ll make an impression on whatever campaign staffer does read these things, such that the message percolates up. Probably wishful thinking, but hey, it can’t hurt to try.
UPDATE: I only just now read this from today’s New York Times article about the issue:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Voters have to decide for themselves what they think of this,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, declining to discuss the matter further.
That’s not acceptable, obviously. Obama needs to distance himself from this crap, and fast, or he will risk losing my support (and I bet I’m not the only one). The prospect of having a president who will allow his surrogates to cry “racism” whenever anyone criticizes him — about anything, no matter how unrelated to race — is not something I want to deal with for four or eight years.
UPDATE 2: Welcome, InstaPundit readers! Well, that should help with the “percolation” process. ;)
Seriously, folks, if you agree with me about this issue, tell Senator Obama so, especially if you are a potential supporter. He needs to understand that he will lose support if he doesn’t nip this thing in the bud.
UPDATE 3: And now, welcome, Democratic Underground readers! My whole letter is posted verbatim there, so the link isn’t generating too much traffic for me, but they’re having a vigorous discussion of it over on DU, which is great. Several commenters agree with me, while others are accusing me of being a “concern troll.” Sorry to disappoint, but I actually am a (tentative) Obama supporter, as my archives make clear; I’m not just pretending to support him to make a point. It’s telling that folks would assume that, though. How dare I question the party line, eh?
Anyway, the DU link might help spread this meme even more usefully than the InstaPundit link will, since most of the Instalanched visitors aren’t likely going to be supporting or considering Obama anyway, and are more likely to dismiss this whole thing as a result of me deluding myself that Obama was ever a good guy in the first place. Whereas the DU folks might actually see fit to write to Obama if they agree with me. Which is great. Please do. And that goes for the Insty crowd, too. Ideological differences should have no bearing on our common opposition to both racism and race-baiting (which is itself a form of racism).
UPDATE 4: I just want to clarify one thing for new and infrequent readers. I am leaning toward Obama for the Democratic nomination, not necessarily for the presidency. The latter is a separate question, and one that I can’t even begin to answer until I know who the GOP nominee is. So I’m just talking about the battle for the Democratic nomination at this point. And among the Dems, Edwards is totally out of the question for me, so Clinton and Obama are the only two viable options.
I used to favor Clinton because I felt she’d be a steadier hand on foreign policy, but after a while, I began to sour on her due to the endless divisiveness and triangulation of the Clintons (and my lack of desire to replay the pitched political battles of the ’90s), coupled with a sense that her “experience” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and — not insignificantly — my distaste for presidential dynasties. Meanwhile, I came around to the belief that I might be willing to take a chance on Obama with regard to foreign policy (depending on who he picks as his veep and other advisers), and that he’s vastly preferable with regard to those other intangibles I mentioned. I haven’t given too much thought to the candidates’ domestic agendas, to be honest, in part because I get the sense that they’re pretty similar. Anyway, Obama’s soaring rhetoric after Iowa helped cement my positive impression of him, but it’s by no means the sum total of the reason I’ve been tentatively supporting him over Hillary. And it certainly won’t be enough to convince me to vote for him in November. (Well, unless he’s running against Huckabee, in which case he could just sort of stand there mute for the entire campaign season, and he’d get my vote.)
More than anything else, what I’m looking for in a president in 2008 is a leader — someone who inspires confidence in his or her competence, and someone who has a coherent, rational, non-radical philosophy on the important issues, coupled with an ability to articulate that philosophy in a way that can move us toward accomplishing things, toward solving our problems as a nation and a world. My personal opinions on a lot of issues, including some really important ones, are unsettled — I have more questions than I have answers — so I’m not necessarily looking for someone who passes a series of litmus tests on various issues. I’m willing to be persuaded on a lot of things. What I want, again, is a good leader, and someone whose judgment I feel I can trust. None of the candidates have yet convinced me that they fit the bill, but Obama and McCain are in their parties’ respective driver’s seats for me at this point (with Thompson maybe gaining some ground).
A spokesman for the Obama campaign, Bill Burton, did not back away from its original criticism of Mrs. Clinton. “People were offended at her words, and she can explain them however she’d like,” Mr. Burton said.
Congratulations, Senator Obama, you’ve thrown me right back into the undecided camp. Perhaps my vote would be better spent trying to decide among the Republican contenders rather than wasting my time choosing between a cynical, dynastic triangulator and a fraudulent “uniter” whose campaign is perfectly willing to deliberately stoke the flames of an absolutely nonsensical racial controversy.
The Packers routed the Seahawks at snowy Lambeau Field earlier this evening, earning a spot in the NFC championship game against either the Cowboys or the Giants. Now, all eyes turn to the AFC as the Patriots try to remain unbeaten against Jacksonville. Winner gets either Indianapolis or San Diego.
UPDATE: Make that 17-0, two to go. Pats win.
ESPN’s first Bubble Watch is online! w00t!
In today’s action, unranked UConn is leading #8 Georgetown 67-61 with 3:22 left; Notre Dame is getting killed on the road by #16 Marquette, 77-53 late in the second half; unranked Kentucky and #12-ranked, undefeated Vanderbilt are going to overtime; and #5-ranked UCLA is crushing #4-ranked, undefeated Wazzu, 44-29.
Later, a Pac-10 showdown between USC and Washington that is, as the Bubble Watch says, just about a “must-win” for the Trojans, given their 0-3 conference start and their upcoming battle with the Bruins. Also, Gonzaga visits Loyola Marymount.
UPDATE: Georgetown came back and won 72-69 on this dramatic three-pointer by 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert: