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.