Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Train Wreck that Wasn’t

Last week, I blogged, “Who will be the Democratic Party’s nominee?” and answered my own question, “Obama, unless he has a train wreck.” Well, this week, the Obama Express collided with Big Media over Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary remarks. Taking his fate into his own hands, Obama delivered a speech that will hold up for generations - right along with Lincoln's second Inaugural Address.

The speech was masterfully crafted and delivered. First, the craftsmanship. A brief walk through the horror house of American race relations reveals a struggle with race from the very beginning up to the present moment.

In just a few words he sets up the debate between progressives and conservatives on the U.S. Constitution – is it written in the stone of original intent, or is it a living breathing document meant to be perfected over time through trial and error, struggle and strife? Obama chooses the progressive path toward a more perfect union.

He juxtaposes his grandmother and Jeremiah Wright, concluding that he can reject neither of them. Obama compares the anger and disappointment of blacks to that of working class whites - finds both legitimate, but ultimately unsatisfying. Instead, he finds hope in the promise of young people – never explicitly using the term “change” but finally indicting Jeremiah Wright, not for his anger, but for seeing America as “static” and thus, unchanging.

The delivery was smooth, personal, passionate. His fiercest critics may not be sated, but even they will have to give Obama credit for candor, scholarship and leadership. For those who want to believe, the speech was more than enough.

Back in the 1990’s Bill Clinton launched a conversation on race. He told PBS, “And my theory…I think the more people work and learn and, and worship, if they have faith, and serve together, the more likely you are to, to strike the right balance between celebrating our differences instead of being afraid of them and still identifying common values."Well, we don’t follow his theory. For the most part, we don’t work, live, worship or serve together. We mostly talk about each other, not to each other. I work closely with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. White visitors are rare – white members rarer still.

Barack is already pulling us together. My husband swears that white people he meets on the streets of our exurban Georgia town are friendlier, quicker to look him in the eye and speak. He thinks it is the Obama effect.

My (white) neighbor and I who share the same profession had never spoken to each other in two years of living next door until I got a puppy for Valentine’s day and named him Barack. She proudly told me that she had hosted a Barack fundraiser and thought about (but did not) invite me. Now, we talk to each other several times a week. I think it is the Obama effect.

Will the speech be enough to get the Obama Express back on track? The Jeremiah Wright collision upended the campaign. But conductor Obama is listed in improving condition and hope is still alive.

Clinton and Obama - March 10, 2008

As a former member of the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee (aka DNC) I am fascinated by the political drama playing out on the nightly news. Will the Michigan and Florida delegations be seated? Yes. Will the super delegates decide the outcome of the Clinton/Obama match? No. Why did black elected officials give early support to Hillary Clinton, despite strong popular opinion in favor of Obama? That’s what politicians do. Who will be the Democratic Party’s nominee? Obama, unless he has a train wreck.

Now, for those of you who are fascinated as I am by the race, here is a brief explanation. The Michigan and Florida delegations will be seated for three reasons. One, it will make the DNC look bad in the eyes of voters if their votes are not counted. Two, Democrats need to count those votes to help figure out who wins. Three, the Democratic Party can’t make rules that effectively deprive voters of the Constitutional right to vote. It is not a matter of whether the votes will count, but how will the votes be counted. Caucuses benefit Barack. Primaries benefit Hillary. The most sensible proposal I have heard so far was proposed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist – send every registered Democrat a ballot and ask that they mail it back in. It’s a relatively cheap, quick and comprehensive solution.

The super delegates are running fast to get in front of the people and lead them where they want to go. Once again, what the voters think matters. Many of the super delegates are elected officials. They don’t want voters mad at them the next time they run, remembering their failure to support Obama. Clue: Those up for election in November, 2008 are running the hardest, while those who don’t face re-election until 2010 are a little slower to get on the Obama band wagon. I am not offended that some black elected officials supported Hillary early. EMILY (Early Money Is Like Yeast) is an organization that gives money to female candidates. The same principle applies to endorsements – early endorsements are also like yeast – they help a candidate rise when they need it most. Elected officials who wanted to endear themselves to the Clintons early did not necessarily make a bad call. Who could have predicted the Obama steamroller in September? (Actually, I did – Rainbow PUSH went to South Carolina to gin up young voters on a dozen college campuses just after Labor Day – I had a hunch.) Even a member of Congress is only one of a club of 535 people – not all of whom are owed a political favor by the White House on Day 1. All politicians try to use their influence to get leverage. What separates the good politicians from the bad ones is the good ones will use the leverage in favor of their constituents. The bad ones will use it for themselves.

Obama is running a smooth operation. Great Internet strategy. Great fundraising ability. Few hiccups. Focused message. Great speech maker. Beautiful family. The nomination is his to win, or to lose. Hillary can’t beat him. The only way he gets beat is that he beats himself. But don’t count on it. Keep watching. This is a history-making year.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Crisis Pregnancy

If you are experiencing a crisis pregnancy, seek help. Get pre-natal care. If your pregnancy is the result of a rape, remember that rape is not your fault. Get counseling by calling a Rape Crisis line. Consider adoption. Through our work with WVEE, we have learned of lots of loving parents who would like to adopt. In Georgia, you may give your child up for adoption at any hospital or law enforcement agency, if the child is less than 7 days old. After seven days, contact the Department of Family and Children Services.