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Posted on on April 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

We Know That The e-mail We Just Received Did Not Mean It The Way We Phrased Our Title – but nevertheless, the realities being as they are, and the need to get a majority of electors, in a flawed American electoral system, to vote for change, leads us back to the Clintons. We do nevertheless agree that Obama, thanks to his whole persona, has injected a new sense of hope into American politics, but we feel that to bring this to fruition, having him first as an active Vice-President is possibly the only guarantee that his talents at leadership will be utilized by this tired nation.

We hope that Madelyn Leslie, Maegan Pershing, Brian Viola, and ultimately Mr. Obama himself, will accept our way of framing this picture.

The e-mail said:

“Even if Reverend Wright had been reading a phone book from the pulpit instead of making remarks about American foreign policy, we would’ve been offended by him anyway. Why? It’s the tone. It’s that slightly unhinged fanatical-sounding preacher-style, one that favors soliloquisms (“I’m not divisive, I’m descriptive”) one that favors simple moral equivocation (My church fought against slavery, the other church held slaves). In modern times, we find that style itself too divisive, too much in love with the sound of its own voice. It makes us suspicious. Today, if you want to carry on with poetic, over-the-top bravado, you have to rap, not preach.

What we prefer is the more muted, kid-driven, ironic tones of YouTube videos, a self-depreciating, self-mocking voice that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Watching one, we ask, “Is the video being sarcastic? Is it sentimental? Is it a big joke?” The answer is all three.

Why this preference? In America, we believe that everything we’re told about the important issues is manipulated dishonestly, slanted towards a hidden agenda. Therefore, if anyone talks with hubris, using a loud, strident tone, we don’t listen. We assume we’re being sold swampland.

For these reasons, it makes us nervous that Mr. Obama would sit at the knee of someone so brash and one-sided in his rhetoric. However, what should be clear by now is that Obama, a younger man, realizes the limits, not only of that style of communicating, but also, of a fundamentally one-sided view of life. My guess is that he’s tried to sit down with Rev. Wright and point out that you can’t go through life as if there are still Whites-only signs in storefronts. But how to make that point without disrespecting the sacrifices of his pastor’s generation? That’s Obama’s dilemma.

Obama’s choice of church has value. It’s great to go to a church with dynamism, with palpable vibrancy. It’s good to go through life “all fired up,” as he says. But Obama is not a rote follower. He’s perfectly capable of listening respectfully to the voice of a trusted elder, while not swallowing whole everything he hears. If a church is emotion-driven, you’ll often hear an us-against-them attitude in many of the sermons. And like many intelligent leaders of his generation, Obama has sifted through the voice of those more experienced, taken what’s good, and left behind what no longer works. This is a skill that will serve him well as President: “‘No sacred cows. Let’s see what gets the job done.'”

Now, the fact that the Obama-Clinton fight still goes on before the eyes of the American public is not a negative. Please watch this from abroad as per The Financial Times. The editorial there, yesterday, Monday April 28, 2008, was: “Do You Remember John McCain? Republican’s Campaign Eclipsed By The Democrats’ Struggle.” That has some further value for chang – does it not?


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