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Monday, May 12, 2008

The Obligation

The transcript of Obama's speech in WV was interesting. The topic was veterans, and most of it was the type of thing which any politician must say, whether he or she believes it or not (I do not mean to imply that Obama does not believe what he said). Almost nobody in public life quarrels with most of this stuff:
The brave Americans who fight today believe deeply in this country. And no matter how many you meet, or how many stories of heroism you hear, every encounter reminds that they are truly special. That through their service, they are living out the ideals that stir so many of us as Americas – pride, duty, and sacrifice.

Some of the most inspiring are those you meet at places like Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They are young men and women who may have lost a limb or even their ability to take care of themselves, but they will never lose the pride they feel for their country. They’re not interested in self-pity, but yearn to move forward with their lives. And it’s this classically American optimism that makes you realize the quality of person we have serving in the United States Armed Forces.

This, after all, is what led them to wear the uniform in the first place – their unwavering belief in the idea of America. The idea that no matter where you come from, or what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a place where anything is possible; where anyone can make it; where we look out for each other, and take care of each other; where we rise and fall as one nation – as one people. It’s an idea that’s worth fighting for – an idea for which so many Americans have given that last full measure of devotion.
There was one point at which my eyes opened quite wide:
When our troops go into battle, they serve no faction or party; they represent no race or region. They are simply Americans. They serve and fight and bleed together out of loyalty not just to a place on a map or a certain kind of people, but to a set of ideals that we have been striving for since the first shots rang out at Lexington and Concord – the idea that America could be governed not by men, but by laws; that we could be equal in the eyes of those laws; that we could be free to say what we want and write what want and worship as we please; that we could have the right to pursue our individual dreams but the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue theirs.
Actually, the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue their dreams was never part of the deal. By their nature dreams are often grandiose and uncertain, and vary widely. A lot about the social freedom to go your own way involves letting other people go their own ways.

I read McCain's carbon speech. I'm really not sure that he understands the difference between pollution and carbon dioxide emissions; I know he's got the science wrong; I know he's playing with fire with the idea of carbon cap trading systems. He seemed to be waffling a bit on nuclear energy. It seems to me that there is little meaningful difference between his plans and Obama's, and no need to worry about Mrs. Also-Ran's plans any more.

We aren't going to get a meaningful choice on some of the most important political issues of our times in this presidential race, and that's a pity. The same is true of immigration, etc. Everything seems dominated by the current political CW, and I fear that CW will turn out to be just as facile and ultimately destructive as the theory that handing out mortgages like popcorn would lead to widespread prosperity.

So how much change will Mr. Change be bringing to DC? If he shares essentially the same positions as this very long-time Washington insider, where is the change? Just asking.

Mr. Change means no change. He is part of the Daley machine and very good at voting they way they want him to vote. Good at speechifying, as long as you don't actually read what was said.

I had an interesting thought this morning. You know, Obama is not a descendant of slaves. It should be obvious, but I've not seen it talked about anywhere. Sort of throws a monkey wrench into reparations somehow if we wind up with a black president from that background.
There has been a lot of immigration from the Caribbean, Africa and so forth. I'm sure at least 30% of blacks in this country don't have slave ancestors.

Of course, in the long run, we all have slave ancestors, because I don't remember ever reading about a society that didn't have the custom. Maybe the Eskimos. But you can't expect the US to pay reparations to anyone not enslaved in the US.
Political cartoon I saw somewhere on the Web last week:

Obama making a speech. The only thing in his word balloon is "CHANGE! CHANGE! HOPE! CHANGE! CHANGE! HOPE! CHANGE! CHANGE! CHANGE!"
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