Sunday, February 10, 2008

Interlude: Maximum Flip-Flop

In my post of January 24th, feeling both disgusted and enraged by the dishonest, race-baiting tactics to which the Clinton campaign had resorted in an attempt to forestall the gathering momentum of the Obama insurgency, I called for a boycott of the 2008 election. Today I am going to eat humble pie, liberally laced with minced crow, and shamelessly—nay, proudly—flip-flop on that position. My reasons are three, the first two of which are starkly political. These are:

1) The Democratic leadership, as personified by Teddy (and Caroline) Kennedy, has gone out of its way to make amends for the sins of the Clinton branch of the party. And, while I thought at the time that the Clinton dirty tricks were working, and would win Hillary the nomination, it is now apparent that Obama is more than holding his own. I am appeased on that issue.

2) At the time I called for the boycott I believed that Mitt Romney would eventually be the Republican candidate, and I thought that he would lose the national election.

But--it has now become clear that—barring a miracle--John McCain will be the Republican candidate. As I have stated elsewhere, I believe that he has the gravitas to be a viable national candidate: I think he might win.

Many people believe John McCain to be a hero. My position is that if he is a hero it is only within the context of his enthusiastic participation in what I then considered to be a criminal enterprise (viz., the bombing of North Vietnam, a country with which the United States was not officially at war) and which today I still consider to have been war crimes. I am a Conscientious Objector; or a Draft Dodger, if you will; or a Hippie Faggot, if that’s your bent. That’s your problem -- I don’t really give a rat’s ass how you look at it. That said, my firm belief is that John McCain would be a step down from even George W. Bush in terms of foreign policy. I must oppose him.

My third, and by far--to me--the most persuasive reason for my about-face, is that a link provided in a February 9th post on The Corner at NRO by Kathryn Jean Lopez jogged my memory concerning some entries I made years ago in a journal I was keeping. I dug through some boxes of stuff in my closet and located the spiral notebook containing these entries. I found that these thoughts were committed to writing in December 1991. I share them below, combined, and edited for brevity:

December 16 and 17:

Europe is currently in a state of flux and transition. The groundwork is being laid for a “U.S. of E.”. A common currency is in the works, to be followed by some kind of federal government. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union has collapsed and the newly independent states are busy realigning themselves into new federations. This country stagnates. The monied and propertied class is in the process of consolidating its wealth, with no clear goal in sight. In short, there is hoarding going on. The working people are being stripped of whatever property they had managed to accumulate through years of struggle. People are going from homes they “owned” right into the streets [due to the failing economy]…People cannot afford health insurance. People cannot afford daycare. People cannot afford housing. People cannot afford food. The United States is no longer even ostensibly a leader of the community of [developed] nations – except in terms of firepower. This country is in need of a leader. Out of this disintegration a change must come. …[This leader] will not, in my opinion, be a White man.... He will be an African-American and he will lead the disenfranchised in a revolution of values that will seek to rebuild this country from the ground up.

…What the Blacks have going for them that the Whites do not…is what is called on the playing fields “hunger.” They’ve never been on top. I also believe that, despite racism, a Black man possessed of dignity and strength and armed with an irrefutable message and a workable plan would be listened to with [a] respect…bordering on awe. …Such a Black man would represent an upheaval of values in his person alone – which would make his message all the stronger. Martin Luther King Jr. …demonstrated …the potentialities inherent in the rise of a Black leader. …Malcolm X…further demonstrated the capacity for leadership that is latent in the Black soul. It is significant that both men were gunned down (as was Gandhi in Asia). To put Satan on the run is to court death.

This must not be allowed to happen to Barack Obama. It is possible that Barack Obama is the very man for whose advent I perceived a crying need more than a decade-and-a-half ago. It would therefore demonstrate a lack of intellectual integrity – a sacrificing of the Possible on the altar of the Ideal -- for me to continue to call for a boycott of the election at this time. I cannot in good conscience turn my back on the Obama phenomenon. OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT.


An Interested Party said...

So what do you do and how do you feel if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination?

Rodak said...

At this point, I honestly don't know. That will probably depend on a lot of factors, including how close the election looks to be; whom she chooses as a running mate; how she conducts the rest of her campaign, etc.
The element from my 1991 notebook that Hillary, although female, cannot deliver is: "Such a Black man would represent an upheaval of values in his person alone"; this, I think, is a question of caste, rather than of gender.
I wouldn't hesitate to just not vote for POTUS if Obama is not the candidate and there is no third party choice, unless that might mean being part of a collective decision that helped elect McCain.

EdMcGon said...

Are you sure you didn't mean Alan Keyes? ;)

Rodak said...

What's that? Alicia Keyes, you say? Sure, I'll vote for her. If Amy Winehouse ain't runnin'.

William R. Barker said...

Well, well... THAT certainly didn't take long.

No, no! No gloating!!! Actually, Rob, to my way of thinking this works in your favor. I always took your "boycott pledge" with a grain of salt, knowing it came out of genuine anguish at the state of "our" (*GRIN*) Democratic Party. But still... in the end it's about the Democratic Party nominee vs. the Republican Party so in the end it's preordained...


Well... you could probably finish the above for me. (*WINK*)

Ya see, Ed... this is what I've been trying to explain to you and others. McCain (or indeed any GOP nominee) needs the "Bill Barker vote" to stand even a chance. The reason being... the "Rob vote" will in the end - as distasteful as it may be - vote Democrat. pretty much no matter what. in order to prevent a GOP victory.

Forget our blog experience. Here in blogland you and Moose and Anthony can pretty much be counted on for GOP votes. Same with RAG this time (though he did refuse to back Bush's reelection in '04).

On the other hand, Rob and the other libs (progessives?) (*SMILE*) we "know" from our little cyberneighborhood will vote Democratic.

BUT IN THE REAL WORLD... Republicans are outnumbered and outgunned at this point in time. Even with the "Bill Barker vote" to count on, at best it's difficult to see mathematically how the GOP can win come November.

Who knows. I could be proven wrong. Anything can happen. My point though - and I've made it many times - is that sure there are "libs" who will jump over to a Nader... but by and large - by the very NATURE of libertarian-leaning conservatism - the GOP "base" has far more "Bill Barkers" and "RAGs" and maybe in the past "Eds" who would say no to G.H.W. Bush in favor of Perot in '92 or say no to G.W. Bush in '04 or say no to McCain in '08 vs. the Robs who will... in the end... do what they feel they've gotta do.



Rodak said...

That's not quite right. If you will read my response to AIP you will see that I did not say that I would vote for Hillary, come what may.
I just realized that I was right in 1991 when I envisioned the good that might be done by the right Black president. The inability of the Clintons to crush Obama, or to dampen the enthusiasm for his candidacy, has led me to believe that Obama might be that guy. (He still has plenty of time to prove me wrong.)

An Interested Party said...

Damn, Rob, why did you have to go and ruin Bill's theory (that liberals will always vote for the Democratic candidate while conservatives/libertarians are much more honorable and principled in that they don't always vote the party line)...this theory is, of course, bullshit, but so is much of what Bill types...

Rodak said...

Bill's theories keep him busy and out of trouble. Meanwhile, personally, I'm more conflicted about this election than any I can remember. I guess it shows?

Russ said...

Tour post reminded me of an interesting story I read a while back about the Bruce Langhoren, aka. Mr. Tambourine Man.

"I stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was killed. I remember just standing there, thinking that it was here, right here, that he was shot. And that's why I have mixed feelings about Barack Obama. Because I think he is a brilliant politician who has a beautiful heart."


Rodak said...

Thanks for dropping by. I think that it would be good both for the national self-image of America, and therefore for America'a global image, if Barack Obama were to be elected president. If he should run and lose, however, especially to a warmonger like McCain, it might spell disaster.
A few minutes ago I was the subject of a random Quinnipiac University telephone poll. I told the kid asking the questions that, on a scale of one to ten, I ranked the importance of this election as a strong ten. Ten with a bullet. Ten to the max.
I pray that nothing will happen to Obama. I wish that I could believe we are beyond that kind of thing as a nation. But I can't. Nineteen sixty-eight is a very vivid memory.

William R. Barker said...

"...I did not say that I would vote for Hillary, come what may."

True, Rob, you didn't "say" it. I suppose we'll see come election day or the day after - assuming you share with us how you voted (or didn't).

"I just realized that I was right in 1991..."

Rob. It would be so much easier - not to mention more accurate - if you'd just wait for me to tell you when you're being right. (*GRIN*)

"I envisioned the good that might be done by the right Black president."

Hmm. What foresight! (*SMILE*) That aside, I was predicting (*NUDGE TO RAG'S RIBS*) Obama's success (always said he'd come in #2 at WORST and had a good shot at coming in #1 - and that was way back last year) and explaining why I felt the way I did about his chances long ago. (*SHRUG*)

"I'm more conflicted about this election than any I can remember."

YEP! Again... join the club! I wasn't nearly as conflicted in '92 as I am now. Back then I hated Bush the Elder, respected a great deal about Perot (though I knew he was nuts), and the key was... I felt back then that "new" Democrat Bill Clinton and his promised "centrist" positions wouldn't wreak the country. In other words, rightly or wrongly, I wasn't all that concerned about my Perot vote helping to elect Clinton.

Now... to give Ed his due... while to reiterate what you already know, namely, that I've been quite specific about my feelings towards Obama and the reasoning behind these feelings, the fact that Obama *is* truly the liberal that 1992 Bill Clinton claimed not to be does worry me. It's just that OTHER things worry me as much or even more.


Rodak said...

I'm convinced that Obama is talented enough to validate putting him in the job, where the positives of his racial background can be effective (as envisioned in 1991) without the nation suffering through the term (or terms) of another second-rate Chief Exec.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

So you posted for boycotting before you posted against it.

No worries. I flip flop on some issues daily.

Rodak said...

I was just trying to be extra kerry-full.

Anonymous said...

He's more and more looking like the likely winner. O to be a fly on the wall in the Hillary campaign...

- Kyle

Rodak said... it even possible for a guy named Obama to have a macaca moment?