Obama’s Mirror

I keep hearing about Obama’s outrage over President Bush’s “divisive” remarks regarding people who want to appease terrorists. Bush compared the modern day appeasers to the people in the 1930s who wanted to talk to Hitler rather than actively opposing him, and was speaking in the context of modern-day Israel. Barack Obama is outraged that Bush would say such a thing about him, because, he is not trying to appease terrorists. He has also stated that John McCain is a “hypocrite” for defending Bush.

The notable thing to me in all this is that Bush made no reference to Obama.

Imagine you’re among a group of people, and you make a derisive comment about “idiots” (for example). Somebody in the group suddenly acts all offended and insists that they are not an idiot. You weren’t talking about that person — there are certainly enough idiots in the world that you can make such a statement without referring to present company. What does that person’s outrage say about you? More importantly, what does that person’s outrage say about what they think about themselves?

I think there is an argument to be made regarding Obama’s previous statements about going into the middle east and talking with certain belligerent groups, but that is beside the point: Bush made no such argument. There are prominent people who have been arguing strongly for appeasement1, enoughs so that Bush’s comment should not be assumed to be pointed at Obama unless you think the accusation fits. Obama’s defensiveness is telling. It is a weakness. Beyond the sense of self-incrimination, it is also indicative of a man who is thin-skinned — enough so that he may have serious difficulty withstanding the unending personal attacks that hound anyperson who achieves the office he is pursuing.

There is a common tactic in politics to demonize your opponent by assuming the worse about them in all cases. If a statement can be interpreted two ways, you assume the worst one, and thus justify thinking the worst of that person. I generally reject that tactic — it is dishonest and hurts the cause of honest debate. On a similar note, I also believe that:

  • When John Kerry made his infamous remark about ill-educated people getting “stuck in Iraq”, he was not attacking military personnel, but making a clumsy attempt at a “Bush is stoopid” joke. Nothing more. He fumbled a joke and got unlucky.
  • When Newt Gingrich referred to “the language of the ghetto”, he was not referring to Spanish, but to the way that not knowing the primary language of the country you live in automatically marginalizes (or “ghetto-izes”) a person. Putting it another way, if you live in Paris, any language other than French is “the language of the ghetto” if you do not also speak French.
1: E.g. a certain ex-pol whose last name, ironically, rhymes with “smarter”

Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to “Obama’s Mirror”

  1. Cirena Says:

    Personally, I think that Obama’s aggressive posturing, against both McCain and Bush, is him trying to profile himself as the Democratic candidate. He’s sick of debating Hillary, and is trying to divert the attention of the press from that fight to Democrats vs Republicans.
    In any event, it gets you talking about him…

  2. Strider Says:

    Cirena — I think you nailed it regarding his intent to draw attention to himself. I just think that the particular posture he chose was a poor one. (and if he’s not thin-skinned, he sure fakes it well….)

Comments are invited and encouraged

Anti-Spam Quiz: