The hypocrisy of change

 

 

Tom Nardi

After his performance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama was destined for national politics. Candidates for Senate might speak about a lot of things, but the intangible “genius of America” generally isn’t one of them. Candidates looking to win a seat in a deeply Blue state like Illinois don’t spend lots of energy speaking about the similarities between Red and Blue America.

Because of his intangible leadership appeal, Obama has been wildly successful selling his idea that we need to “change our politics.” In announcing a presidential exploratory committee this past January, Obama posited, “Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions.” Of course! It’s so simple! The solution to ineffective government is if we just get over our differences and do the business of the people!

Until now, Obama’s approach to actually governing has been rather light on the details. In fact, his biggest “policy proposals” have been largely squabbles with other candidates. When he said that he would meet with leaders of rogue states like Iran and North Korea, Hillary Clinton challenged him as being too na’ve for foreign policy – ignoring the fact that she didn’t rule out meeting with those same leaders. When he made a health care proposal, Elizabeth Edwards claimed Obama “stole” the idea from her husband.

Obama opposed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment on Iran, which reads very much like the authorization of force in Iraq. However, Obama missed the vote on that amendment, which passed. He offered support for Chris Dodd’s filibuster of telecommunications immunity but only after Joe Biden had already agreed to participate – something Obama hasn’t committed to himself.

While the Senator certainly talks a good game, he has punted in the leadership department. But dedicated aficionados have been willing to give him a pass to date, apparently wanting to believe words rather than actions. After all, the Facebook Election ’08 application has Obama winning easily with 24 percent of respondents voting, compared to runner-up Rudy Giuliani’s 9 percent. However, Obama’s newest foray towards “reaching out” shows that he is nothing but an empty suit and deserves no support.

In an effort to raise support in South Carolina, Obama’s campaign is running a gospel tour called “Embrace the Change,” and one of his headlining acts is country artist/minister Donnie McClurkin. McClurkin is an “ex-gay” preacher, meaning he claims that he was gay formerly but the power of prayer made him become heterosexual. And you thought that nothing could be more ridiculous than Larry Craig.

If he were just “ex-gay” McClurkin could almost be disregarded. But he is on record as saying that being gay is like being “broken,” that it isn’t God’s intention and that homosexuality is a curse that must be overcome. And Obama’s campaign is giving this bigot a stage.

Of course, Obama wouldn’t like to be recognized as a bigot himself, so he issued a statement claiming, “I strongly disagree with Rev. McClurkin’s views.” He will also have a gay preacher open his tour. But there is a big difference between bringing people together and pandering.

When Lyndon Johnson got racist Southern Democrats to vote for civil rights legislation, that was bringing people together and changing our politics. Giving a bigot a platform to speak, and then daring people to call you on it is not bringing change. Obama is gay-baiting in South Carolina, hoping to play into the homophobia so pervasive in the culture. And he has the audacity to turn around to the gay community and say, “It’s OK, I don’t really believe those things,” knowing that the homosexual community will not turn to the GOP.

As a black man, a member of a group of people who had their own long struggle for civil rights, Obama should know better. But he has proven to be nothing more than another political shill, hoping to tap into the fears of voters in order to turn them out. When you vote in this election, forget the rhetoric and vote for a real leader, not Obama.

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Tom Nardi is a senior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]