Obama made a careless and insensitive remark about Nancy Reagan today and has apologized:
Obama was asked at his press conference today if he’d spoken to all the “living” presidents.
“I have spoken to all of them who are living,” he responded. “I didnt want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any séances.”
He was apparently confusing stories about Reagan’s consulting with an astrologer with those about other First Ladies — from Mary Todd Lincoln to Hillary Clinton — who tried to make contact with figures from the past.
This reminds me of the “lipstick on a pig” comment.
It was obviously not meant the way some people are taking it: as mocking Nancy Reagan for having a relatively recently deceased husband. Anyone who thinks that’s what Obama was doing is clearly in the early stages of a nasty case of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
But for a guy who is supposedly so expert with words, this comment sure does show a tin ear.
I’ve had some people demanding evidence — any evidence — that Obama is a decent or good man. I’ve learned as a lawyer and a blogger that you can’t convince someone who resists being convinced, and on the issue of Obama’s positive qualities, there is literally nothing I can point to that can’t be dismissed as Obama’s posturing for political benefit. But I think this is a pretty good example:
Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL. They’ve abandoned their responsibilities. They’re acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our family have suffered because of it. You and I know this is true everywhere, but nowhere is it more true than in the African-American community.
He also said:
We need fathers to recognize their responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. Any fool can have a child. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.
It took courage to say these things. Bill Cosby said similar things and was pilloried by blacks. Jesse Jackson reacted to Obama’s comments by saying of Obama: “I want to cut his nuts off.” A white candidate saying such things risked being labeled a racist; a black candidate risked being labeled an Uncle Tom.
[I]t’s wonderful that he said these things. America has been waiting for years for a politician to say this in a non-racist way — a way that fully acknowledges this country’s history of racial prejudice, but also insists that black Americans move beyond it and take responsibility for their families. It probably did take a black politician to say that. That he said it is a very good thing.
Conservatives should applaud Obama’s words, and resist the urge to reflexively find glee in the spectacle of a public figure like Jackson bashing Obama in such a vulgar way.
I oppose Obama because I don’t like what much of what he stands for. But on this issue, in the language I quote above, he’s right.
Another example: Obama consistently reacted to boos of John McCain by telling his crowd: don’t boo. Vote.
The people who don’t want to be convinced that Obama is a decent guy will dismiss this too, as they dismiss any similar evidence of Obama’s decency. They would prefer to see Obama flagellate himself; they see that he has found a way to turn the booing to his own advantage, and are offended by that fact.
Well, guess what? He’s a canny politician, and he found a way to neutralize the ugliness and turn it into something positive for his candidacy. But the key thing is this: he had a campaign that was nominally conducted on a higher plane. (It wasn’t, always, but it mostly was.) This was easier for him to do than it is for most, because he was running against a man seen as representing the policies of the least popular President in memory. But he still did it — and he enforced the higher plane by consistently calming booers at his rallies.
Sen. Barack Obama said firmly that families are off-limits in the campaign for president, reacting to news that GOP running mate Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.
“Let me be as clear as possible,” Obama said. “I think people’s families are off-limits, and people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president.”
Obama said reporters should “back off these kinds of stories” and noted that he was born to an 18-year-old mother.
People who want to believe Obama is a bad guy can dismiss this, too, as the politic response. But he didn’t have to go as far as he did. He could simply have said “no comment.” He could have tossed in a (misguided but effective) jab about abstinence-only education. He didn’t have to talk about his mother.
Those who don’t want to be convinced of Obama’s decency will say that he should have denounced the ridiculous rumors about Trig Palin’s parentage. I think it was better for him to leave that particular rumor alone, and not add fuel to the fire.
I think Obama handled the incident with class, and Americans appreciated it.
Those of you who read only conservative blogs may already be aware of all of this, but I’m certain that some of you aren’t. Because some of you have specifically said that you never heard of Obama taking decent actions like the ones I describe above. But he has.
Finally, Obama appears to be a decent family man who loves his wife and children — and, as far as we know, hasn’t cheated on his wife. (Yes, there are fever-swamp rumors to the contrary, but there were rumors like that about Palin, too. Unless those rumors are proved, I’ll assume they’re not true.) It’s a shame when it seems like this quality is becoming rarer, but it is: ask Bill Clinton, or John Edwards, or Eliot Spitzer, or Larry Craig, or Antonio Villaraigosa, or 50 other guys like them.
This, too, is evidence of Obama’s decency and goodness.
I have said many times that I’m not blind to the other side of the coin. Obama played the race card on more than one occasion. He said false things about John McCain. He has associated with some sleazy and awful people for political advantage. And the list goes on. Again, we’re not talking about a perfect guy.
But we’re not talking about an evil or a bad man either. We’re talking about a good and decent man, who has done some bad things, and who believes in far-left policies that will harm this country.
At this point, we’ll be better off if we focus on the policies. And that’s the last thing I intend to say on this subject.
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