Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pride and Prejudice - and Other Obama Nonsense

I am not any sort of a fan of Maureen Dowd, she writes well enough, but her reasoning tends to be that in name alone. In her latest NYT OpEd she has another narrow brush with reason but also manages to express an issue that is currently in play. She uses the character Darcy from Pride and Prejudice as a stand in for Obama. It certainly has been an issue in the media and opponent John McCain's campaign that Obama is an arrogant, prideful, hubris laden individual.

The media constantly noted that a pitfall for Obama overseas was avoiding acting as though he were President; despite no evidence of such behavior previous to the trip. When the pratfall didn't occur their response was how nicely he evaded it. Do what? How does someone avoid doing something they don't do? There was a pretty hubristic statement that came out of Germany, but that was manufactured by a columnist willing to gut a quote until it had no relationship to the actual words. I've watched Obama rather closely and the only arrogance I've seen displayed came about in the usage of short hand in the "bitter" comment, something that would have been a bit better received as a fully expressed thought.

I'm pretty sure it isn't Obama's dress that excites the claims of hubris, McCain's $560 loafers might, but not Obama's worn clothing. Physical appearance can lead to such ideas and it is a fact that Obama takes care of his physique, aided probably by a lucky genetic draw. A good program of exercise along with athleticism results in a erect carriage and a certain gait and no one could accuse Obama of physical slovenliness. Maybe the idea is that fat and decrepit is modest. It isn't modest, I won't go into it beyond that. My build is somewhat similar to Obama's - I am 5-10 and 145# and muscular. That is a matter of genetic luck and a physically demanding job, despite my "bean-pole" physique I am quite sturdy.

I have to wonder if the issue isn't about race. Eloquence flies in the face of media images of blacks; athletes who are "gonna visit Didneelan" or rappers far outnumber people like Eugene Washington or Barack Obama. As long as someone like Bill Cosby is busy being funny, it's alright for him to be articulate, but Bill wasn't running for the Presidency. Is Obama just too big for his britches? His black britches? I'll admit to a certain amount of envy regarding his tone, timbre, and mastery of language in speaking, but it certainly doesn't amount to jealous dismissal.

I am an advocate of listening to the words, the content of a speech or answer to a question and what it means. Prettiness of language doesn't mask emptiness, but neither does mangled speech indicate forthrightness. My judgement of John McCain as a liar, misrepresenting hypocrite, and general dolt has nothing to do with his lack of ability to function with a teleprompter. Having used one for a political presentation I can state from experience that it isn't real easy. What the words mean is what counts and a large portion of Obama's popularity as a speaker derives from the basis of the meaning of the words. I'll take the Obama version of a politician.

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