Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm Sorry, Were You Saying Something...?

Etiquette has been politely pushed aside in the race for a Democratic nominee for president. Since the South Carolina primary on January 26, in each of her losses to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has either failed, or given only a cursory word of concession to her opponent. Traditionally candidates congratulate their opposition in a concession speech. Clinton, so far, has given her standard stump speech when she looses. Last night Obama's speech started only minutes after Hillary Clinton's began. All the major networks switched from Hillary's speech to Obama's. He basically stomped on her speech, and though neither campaign will admit that it had anything to do with etiquette, Obama's folks saying it was "unintentional", the pundits were all speculating whether his camp had gotten tired of Clinton's lack of courtesy. Clinton's staff later issued a statement that she called to congratulate Obama. But that is not a public concession and I don't think it counts.

At the end of the video there was a clip of Michelle Obama's controversial statement about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. It's a statement that will be misunderstood and will probably cost Obama some political capital. But if you are an African American in this country, you know what she means. It's not going to be a popular thing to say, especially for white folks. But I totally understand in a way that Cindy McCain, the rich white Republican wife of a senator, never will. I hate to put it in those polarizing terms. I wonder how the Obama campaign will find a way to cast her remarks in a more diplomatic and politically palatable light.

I hate to speak for any group of people as a whole, but I think most, emphasis on most, African American's will get it and there will be no need for anyone to make an excuse for what she said. I'm sure she did not mean that there was nothing to be proud of America for, but that there is a whole lot not to be proud of. A few things come to mind in recent history, but I don't think I need to make a list. Hopefully people will not take what she said literally and will understand what she meant. I think the most direct and honest way to handle it is to say she misspoke, apologize, tell us what she is proud of, and move on.


I got this Obama response from of all places, Michelle Malkin's web site. I held my nose long enough to copy it to paste here.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama sought Tuesday to clarify his wife’s statement that she is proud of the U.S. “for the first time in my adult life.” He said her newfound pride is about the political system and was not meant to disparage her country…”Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant,” Obama said. “What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America,” he said. “Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged.”
I haven't taken the time to look for other sources as yet. It's better than what I came up with above, but then, I'm not a politician and I don't have to say, nor would I ever want to be the person who has to say the politically expedient thing. What I am doing here, I hope, is something different. Above I probably shouldn't have drawn the conclusion that most African American's would agree with me. Maybe most won't. Personally I think living in this country as probably any minority can cause you, at times, to have some ambivalence about it. Sorry I don't have the rose-colored glasses, fag-waving, super patriotic view of America. I don't and never will. Even if Obama is elected.

-Fight the powers.

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