Senator Obama clarifies his wife’s views, and his own

Over the weekend, Michelle Obama stated: “[F]or the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.” Yesterday, Barack Obama explained that his wife meant that “this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America.” I accept that this probably is what Ms. Obama meant. She may have been proud, for example, of the Dream Team that won the basketball gold medal at the 1992 Olympics.
But Sen. Obama’s clarification hardly ends the matter. In fact, it should deepen the controversy because the candidate himself plainly finds his wife’s more limited lack of pride in America to be defensible.
Yet anyone fit to be president of this country should view aspects of our politics as central to their pride in America. What greater source of pride do we have as Americans than our constitutional democracy, the first and surely among the most successful such system? Take that away and most of the other things we’re proud of fail to transcend mere nationalism.
Furthermore, any number of specific politics events that have occurred in Michelle Obama’s lifetime should make both members of the couple proud. I’m no fan of much of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, but one might have thought that it made the Obamas proud. So too with the Clean Air Act enacted that same year, not to mention the McCain-Feingold travesty. And what about Barack Obama’s landslide election to the Senate and his selection prior to that event as keynote speaker at the Democratic national convention? Is the couple so spoiled and ambitious that only Barack nomination for president can vindicate our politics in their eyes?
The arrogance of these two is stunning. Their lack of appreciation for their country is even more so.
JOHN agrees: Sometimes the seeds of defeat are sown, or become apparent, at what seems to be the moment of greatest triumph. It is possible that a turning point of sorts may have occurred over the last few days. Consider:
1. John McCain finally started going after Obama last night, and did so quite effectively. There’s lots of talk today about his attack on Obama: “an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and a return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people.” We’ll be hearing much more of the same from here on.
2. Just about everyone has panned Obama’s victory speech last night. That’s significant, and a kind of turning point in itself, since I can’t recall any previous Obama speech being greeted with anything but praise. But more important are the reasons why Obama’s speech was seen as a failure. First, it was too long–45 minutes. It was long because Obama felt obliged to go beyond his usual platitudes about “change” by talking about policy. But when he did so, he had nothing original or creative, not to mention “transformational,” to say. Instead, it was the familiar laundry list of liberal goodies that Democrats have been talking about since Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern. In short, the process of smoking Obama out as a conventional, uninspiring liberal has now begun.
3. The Clintons aren’t giving up. This clip of Hillary speaking earlier today in New York is the kind of thing we hope to see more of: she endorses the idea that Obama has not a single accomplishment to his credit:

There is much more to be said about the strengths and weaknesses of Obama’s candidacy, but after the events of the last few days we can at least hope that it is emerging from the “fad” phase and will start receiving the serious scrutiny that a leading Presidential campaign merits.
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