Very insightful especially after watching these videos of Palin’s supporters and they way she panders to them: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/10/09/if-it-walks-like-a-d.html
I consider myself to be a fairly adept rhetorician. So let us be objective when we speak of being a leader vs. divider.
Following Obama’s lead in the tone of his speeches is the exact right thing to do. But to ignore the realities of our history, and current existence, as a country that is divided on a two-party line is a strategic mistake of the highest order.
The one thing you have to admire about the Republican party is that they have come to this realization sooner, although their rhetoric, as well as their actions, have been despicable at best. For all of you Niebuhr-ites it is a lesson…to accept the world as it exists. That is the only way change can take place.
I say this, trying to speak to fellow Democrats, imploring them to not confuse the tone of the rhetoric with the strategy of action. The idea that a President, any President, can unite this country is a fairy-tale, and to strategically attempt this would be putting the future at risk in the hands of another 20 years of neocon-like rule.
Note that Obama did not say that what this country needs is a ‘uniter’. In his view, the opposite of ‘divider’ was ‘leader’.
As you point out, attempting to unite the country is a fool’s errand. But that doesn’t mean that we should settle for a trumping of the left by the right, or vice versa. Recovering the country from the reactionary and uneducated extremes is what really matters.
Which is why it’s so good to see that Obama is finally bringing the heat. Cool and elevated is absolutely not the right tone right now, and he clearly understands that. A couple of weeks ago, Jon cited Yeats, who understood this in his bones.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
As an aside, this reference came up before Palin went on her hate binge. Suddenly, the line about the falcon seems entierly prescient as well.
AJ & Alex-Both beutifully put posts.
AJ- Don’t let your cynicism get the best of you. Niebuhr urged us to have “the courage to change what can be changed”. We should do that. I actually think in history the great leaders like Lincoln, TR and FDR all led, by example, an inspired the public to move in very progressive ways.
Alex-When you pointed out the “falcon cannot hear the falconner” Palin meme, I almost fell out of my chair. I wrote my junior thesis at Princeton on Auden and Yeats.
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