Thursday, April 17, 2008

Judgment and perspective

Hi - as you might have noticed, not many posts lately. New kid has been keeping us busy, and tired :-) A friend of mine pinged me this evening, for my thoughts on the debate and of course I can't resist. I managed to catch a lot of the debate, and I'll agree with his characterization that Obama was often on the defensive, but I thought he mostly kept his cool. Obama did get a couple of hard hits on Hillary, and George and Charlie were positively awful (Flag Pin...??!? For goodness' sake!!). Hillary looked good.

I'm not writing, however, to comment on the debate. Rather, my friend also said that there's something about Obama that still makes him uncomfortable. I've been thinking about this a lot, actually. Obama's different. Like him or not, he's something we haven't seen in a long time. I'm amazed at just how vitriolic attacks on him have become - I'm pretty sure this guy is not a bad man.

I believe what gives people discomfort are two things - a) people want to believe him but they just can't bring themselves to do so and b) the sliming of Obama has been fairly effective, particularly the Reverend Wright controversy. Obama comes from a unique set of circumstances - a child of mixed parents growing up in various parts of the world and coming of age as a young black adult in Chicago has a much different experience than most Caucasians. The people who are in his community just might have an entirely different perspective on American history and past and current racial practices. And yet, Obama is publicly saying all Americans need to embrace each other - all the more impressive when I think about where he has come from. I realize it's hard to step into the shoes of someone that I have no relevant perspective on, so I get that people are uneasy about him. Think about it - we're being scared by the fact that he doesn't regularly wear a flag pin (huh? does he really hate America??) and the fact that, just maybe, some people who came of age in Jim Crow might have a different viewpoint than we do. But I can't really put myself in a position to judge him on this issue. I don't feel like I've got the standing.

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