Off the Cliff of Logic

I try to like Jim Geraghty, the Campaign Correspondent for the National Review. I really do.

He’s got some strong insights then coupled with make me want to bang my head against the wall and tear my eye sockets out kind of logic. I think the fact that he has the first element is the reason the second I find so maddening. Concrete example from today (h/t Daily Goose).

Geraghty’s reviewing Obama’s autobio Dreams of my Father. JG:

In the end, Dreams From My Father left me somewhat sympathetic to Obama; had his father been around, had his grandfather, his mother’s second husband, or other figures in his life been different men, he probably wouldn’t have been such a lost soul when he encountered Wright. Obama was ready to believe, and he was receptive to a message he might have rejected otherwise.

This is a point long ago echoed by other folks, but anyway, true enough, there’s some understanding there.

Even this while fairly hypothetical could be plausible:

When people ask how Obama could be blind to all of Wright’s more outrageous and offensive statements, and how he couldn’t see Wright for the kind of man he was, I think this helps explain it. In Wright, Obama saw what he wanted to see. He wanted a wise, shrewd, kind, funny, educated man who could show him the ways of the world (and Chicago politics), one who perhaps went a little too far every now and then, but who was overall a good person.

Now the transition to the danger zone:

Instead, we see that Wright is a toxic figure, arguing that blacks and whites have different brain structures, that the American government created the AIDS virus for genocidal purposes, that U.S. policy can accurately be called terrorism, that the U.S. Marines can be compared to the Roman soldiers who tortured Jesus, who calls Italians “garlic-noses,” who calls the Secretary of State “Condoskeezia” and “Con-damn-nesia”, etc.

Now the we there of course is in fact right-wing NRO-type conservatives. “We” (i.e. They) do in fact see Wright only in the lens Geraghty describes. [And if you’ve been reading NRO they have been telling us about how we should be thinking along these lines ad nauseam]. He’s read Obama but does not seem to given the same level of reflection to Wright.

I don’t see Wright exclusively in those terms–though as I’ve said before the AIDS thing is obviously a wack conspiracy theory, the garlic noses is racist, the Condi Rice stuff is un-Christian, and his “performance” in the Q&A at the Press Club if nothing else  played into the worst stereotypes of black Americans in the media/history.

Nevertheless he (Wright) also has made some very important theological as well as political points. Like Obama, like anybody, Wright’s complexities are much more fascinating than the cookie cutter presentation cardboard version of him, pro or anti.

e.g. Geraghty could have easily learned that the Roman soldiers/US marines analogy was a perfectly normal one in mainstream Biblical scholarship: i.e. that Jesus lived under occupation. And the US is militarily occupying a country and some soldiers (as well as official policy from the top down) included torture [i.e. terrorism] of the population for political ends.

For those who think I have now committed the unforgivable sin of criticizing US soldiers, I’ll only say that the New Testament also recognizes some Roman Soldiers (i.e. the detested occupiers) as those who understand the gospel message better than the supposed holy and righteous ones of the native religious tradition.

But “we” don’t contemplate such thoughts because then “our’ house of intellectual cards might fall as a result.

So to the edge and now over it:

Here’s where the example of Wright is truly disturbing when contemplating an Obama presidency. If Barack Obama looked at Jeremiah Wright and saw only what he wanted to see… how sure can we be that he wouldn’t look at say, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and see only what he wanted to see?

Yes!!! Godwin’s Law proved yet again. What we were clearly missing here was a creep specter of Islamo-Nazifascism invocation. Because Ahmadinejad is invoked to recall the “wipe Israel off the map” remark.

Never mind that President Mahmoud doesn’t actually have any power over the Iranian nuclear issue, a war with Israel, and could were well likely be at the end of his term by the time an Obama president comes into office. The Iranian Presidential Elections are in 2009 and Ahmadinejad is at least 50/50 to lose.

Nor if Obama met with Iran on diplomatic negotiations would he likely meet with Mahmoud. He would be very smart to angle around him and meet with others (e.g. Rafsanjani, Ali Larijani).

So never mind you know rationality, when you got a smear campaign to perform. Scary Black Preacher and Scary Middle Eastern Terrorist all in one; it’s a potent combo no doubt.

In a word, Ugh.

Oh and never mind that it assumes–even if you buy the ludicrous comparison between Wright & Ahmad.–that Obama is still the same conflicted mid 20 year old that he was in the book. And I guess it also assumes Obama needs to be looking for a father figure in Prez Mahmoud.


Published in: on May 5, 2008 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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