Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dreams from Obama's Father

I've read Dreams from My Father, and remain unswayed. Though I do wonder about all the pundits who raved so. Here's why.

In the meantime, Gary Younge explains what Obama's election means to him, a black man. The New York Times has an article about first-time-ever black voters. We're seeing history happening this week. The Economist rightly applauds American democracy. I'm already savoring the loss some of America's haters are going to sustain as they continue to maintain that America's democracy is a sham. They won't ever admit they're wrong, of course, but they'll have to wriggle a bit more.


Anonymous said...


Better to read the polls.


Some people have been predicting that Obama wins. And, some even say it will be a blow-out. But both sides didn't want it to appear in the news. Since a "blow-out" could reduce voter turn-out.

On the other hand? It looks, if you read DRUDGE on a regular basis, that even Zogby (the arab, and the republican stooge) is now showing Obama up by more than 5-points.

What's not showing?

Well, back in 1992, there were enough voters who didn't want to vote for Bill Clinton, OR to return the elder Bush to the White House for a second term. So, they "tossed their votes." In 1992 this wind-fall gave Ross Perot 19% of the vote.

This time there are two candidates to watch ... out of the total seven, or so. One is Cynthia McKinney, who should garner less than .1% Anything above this, and you'll see that there were Blacks who didn't automatically "go" for Obama. And, didn't vote for McCain, either.

The bigger vote count to watch then goes to the man on the bottom of the list: BOB BARR. If he can get a decent showing? Let's say better than Ralph Nader, is is also in the running, again, and again ...

You may see something where Obama gets 52% of the votes. And, McCain gets less than 42% of the votes. And, then? You'll see the famous "ticket splitting." And, what some people do when they hold their noses, and cover their eyes.

Also, one of the poorest indicators of future performance, when it comes to elected presidents, is to watch the differences between the fears ... and what actually happens.

Back in 1960 there really were folks who were saying if Nixon didn't win (and he didn't). That a Catholic president was going to bring the Pope to DC. And, this never happened!

You could learn how the press illuminated JFK's White House to "CAMELOT STATUS."

While in Israel, you've had Ben-Gurion, and then you got Arik Sharon. But popular leadership doesn't seem to occur too often. Let alone how Bibi blew it.

As to the right wing religious factions in Israel, having to cope with an Obama win, what can I tell ya? Foaming at the mouths of unemployed men, will be the same behaviors that came out when Obama went to The Wall. Where, you could learn, some people just never learn.

With Obama's win, ahead, Livni looks to be in a good position. While Bibi is trying to make it appear he'll "find the center." He could do this, if "the center" was a woman's belly button.

Otherwise? Same old lies.

Obama will be a breath of fresh air.

And, if he plays his cards right? He can be as dynamic a leader as FDR.

Such were the circumstances, of course, that gave Dubya, with 9/11, such opportunities. And, Dubya, being Dubya blew it. His whole legacy, as a matter of fact!

While the Saud's stand there "claiming they should get Jerusalem" ... because they want something to show for all their troubles.

Yeah, right. Give the Saud's Jerusalem. That will solve your problems, NOT.

Maybe, some day, however, there will be books! Including those that deal with what Obama accomplishes on skin tones, alone.

Amazing, that!

Also, remember this. Just like one man really doesn't run Israel, one man doesn't do more than use his clout among his own politicians within his party.

For FDR that meant he thought Huey Long was a diabolical dictator. Then? Long got assassinated. But FDR said there were "two." And, the other one was Douglas MacArthur.

For DOuglas MacArthur, he was the genius that shaped the Pacific attacks against the Japanese. And, then, he went in, alone, to Tokyo, and made Japan whole. Even better than it had been in 700 years.

Sometimes? Some men leave better records behind, than you'd find if you followed their whole career trajectory.

As to Obama? Not yet an open book. But ahead in history? WOW, just like 9/11 ... there really are opportunities ahead for good leadership.

As long as the jerk doesn't go off the deep end with religion. Like Jimmy Carter, and Dubya just did.

This probably means the religious nutters in two countries, here and there. Will be left out in the cold. Spewing hatred for outsiders. Which keeps away the crowds, if you want the truth.

Michael Wildman said...

Yaacov - I have just finished reading your most recent post and accompanying links. In part, where it concerns your review of Obama's book, "Dreams From My Father", I disagree with your expressed conclusions regarding Victimhood and the African-American population in the United States ("He offers long discussions about the victimhood of the black youth who live in a malicious world that gives them no fair break. Does Obama believe that the suffering of black Americans is so uniquely awful as to explain, perhaps even justify their failure to overcome? Admittedly, victimhood has become the greatest moral attribute of our age. Yet this is a travesty of morality and history, both. If the most powerful man in the world believes in the travesty it will only diminish him.")

That dynamic of victimhood which exists in the tension of the idea of racial inferiority (between blacks and whites) is, I believe, specific
to the African-American experience in the United States. And, as a US citizen who witnesses this racial divide on a daily basis, and who has studied this subject specifically, I feel it is an area that does need to be addressed with some specificity. It is my hope that Mr. Obama will be a leader in addressing this issue in a palpable way on a national level.

The second point on which I disagree with your review concerns the "honesty" of the book. For you to say, "Most disturbing is that ultimately it’s a dishonest book.", or, "The dishonesty lies in his understanding how radical these positions are, and fudging them for us. Or, if they aren’t his positions, the dishonesty lies in walking by them without explaining how he incorporates them into his identity. That’s what the book purports to about, after all: his identity." is disingenuous.

Like you said, "Every book, story or narration chooses what to tell..." I agree with this statement. And so, it is his choice to emphasize what he chooses to tell in his story. If you happen to have questions along the way, at a particular point - well, that is a subjective matter, which hardly qualifies as any measurement of "honesty" for the general population.

I admire your analysis and your writing, but with your latest post, I feel you have it wrong.

Yaacov said...

Well Michael, thank you for your feedback.

Like many people, I've spent time this past year trying to figure out who Obama is, and what his presidency might be like. Sadly, in spite of the endless chatter, I'm still not comfortable with him. I certainly hope he'll prove me wrong and be that transformative president Colin Powell said he could be, but reading his book didn't convince me. I have no pretensions to being even remotely capable as him, but I've read many books in my life - thousands, I suppose - and have a feel for what's good. This one is readable, compelling, but the uplifting aspects about it are marred by that calculating editing. It's the book of a politician, not a profound writer who would lead us.

As for the victimhood of the American blacks: I didn't say it's not serious, and clearly every victim or persecuted group has their own singularity. I accept that you probably know a lot more about the subject than I. But I've dealt with persecuted people, both in real life and in reading, and as a general rule it seems to me that clamoring for the persecutors to desist, while important, won't be enough. There has to be the determination to do your utmost, even with the weak cards you've been dealt.

Michael Wildman said...

Yaacov - Thank you for replying to my comments. As a "Diaspora" Jew, I value and respect your knowledge and your experience as an Israeli and a very educated and learned individual - I can't anticipate this ever changing.

And so, with your reply, I am granted the opportunity of gaining further insight to your rational (for lack of a better word). Nonetheless, I percieve your reply to not quite show the understanding of the "victimhood" issue within the African-American population - and why it stands out from the victimhood you may be more familiar with - and its relevance to this election and a stronger America. So too do I feel your reply is still antagonistic to the idea that Obama is a leader.

These comments of mine, here, are in no way intended to insinuate that any part of your rational regarding the topic is defective per se. But - I do suggest there is more to learn and more to understand within the topic prior to you making a general conclusion on Barak Obama.

To that end, I would respectfully suggest watching this:

You will be watching a speech made by Barak Obama. Although, I would implore you to not just watch the speech. Rather, I would suggest you identify a relaxing part of your day, grab a cup of coffee or tea, find a comfortable chair, turn down the lights, and be free of any distractions. Then, listen - not just to a 40 min. speech, but the words and the ideas, and the perspectives that are joined within the speech. I can only presume Obama wrote the speech. If, after listening to the speech, you do not feel you have just finished watching one of this counntry's (US) future great leaders, then I will shovel your driveway for three winters in a row (anytime the snowfall exceeds three inches).


Yaacov said...

Hi Michael -

One of the (many) fine things that technology has given us is the ability to follow faraway events as if they weren't far away; also the ability to watch full speeches rather than the edited 26 seconds the networks show us. We can read entire documents and reports, not only the newspaper's digest of them. And so on.

I watched Obama's "race speech" shortly after he gave it, just as I watched many of his speeches, far more than with any previous candidate. I watched some of McCain's speeches, too, tho his are sometimes less exciting. (His concession speech last night, btw, was better than Obama's acceptance speech, tho less historic). So all in all, my decision not to vote for or against either Obama or McCain this time was about as educated a decision as I've ever made in this sort of thing. By the end, my position was that while McCain is probably the worthier man, the historic significance of Obama's victory is still greater.

I'm not at all antagonistic to the idea of an Obama presidency. I'm skeptical, since I don't see that he has the qualifications to succeed, but I hope he proves me wrong. If he does, I'll happily vote for him next time. If he doesn't, I'll regretably have to vote against him, as I didn't this time, because that's what America and the world will need.

Thanx for the snow-shoveling thing, anyway. There's rarely that much snow in Jerusalem, and I live on the 11th floor. When it snows I generally don't try to drive anywhere.


Michael Wildman said...

Yaacov - Ok, I admit, knowing it doesn't really snow all that much in Jerusalem, my pledge was a "safe" one.

I understand and and accept (I understand you don't need my acceptance) your position on Obama (and McCain for that matter). It very well may be an "American thing" to hear and see and feel, demonstrably, the promise Obama holds.

So, I simply end up disagreeing with you on this subject. Thank you for writing about it, and giving me the opportunity to express my opinion here. I will continue being a fan of your insight and needed perspective.