Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jake's Word: Al-Obama

Here's the text of a letter I just sent to Ceil Davis who was the
first person I know personally that campaigned for Obama, back when no
one thought he could win anything beyond honorable mention:

Just wanted to say congratulations to the person that got there first.

You said Obama was the guy. And though I doubted he could win the
democratic nomination from Clinton, I voted for him in the primaries.
I thought he was the best person for the job, but I still thought he'd

It got a little scary last weekend, like maybe things we're slipping
away and White power was going to trump everyone else yet again. But
when the votes were counted he won states that no Democrat has won
since Johnson and Kennedy.

Now comes the hard part. Some people, left and right, expect him to be
the incarnation of Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Kennedy and FDR
all rolled into one even though his politics have always seemed very
centrist. Thing is, in order to solve some of the financial problems
we may need some New Deal type programs to get people back to work and
get the capital flowing again. You can't just help the banks alone.
They'll just hang on to the money. He's going to have to be tough and
pragmatic and take the heat. JFK used to say that popularity was like
political capital and it should be spent. Obama is going to have to
spend political capital without making the same mistakes Clinton made
and lose congress two years from now. If we can keep things Democratic
for four years (unless they REALLY screw up) - the country might swing
away from pure White authority and more toward the plurality that
America actually is and always has been. White is just a coalition of
minorities of European ancestry.

I thought both McCain's and Obama's election night speeches were
eloquent, but Obama's was high rhetoric in the tradition of Greek and
Roman oratory, summoning Lincoln and King, and summoning the will of
the people the way they did in the great crises of their time. He
looked and sounded like a man who had found his moment - like he
belonged right there. You rarely see that. When JFK said, "We must go
to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but
because they are hard," he gave us words to live by. Anything
worthwhile is hard and living without a challenge in front of you is
just damned lazy as far as I'm concerned. I hope Obama can take the
next step - whether he has to be progressive, pragmatic or
conservative or all three in the same moment doesn't matter. He's
already accomplished one thing - he's not W. And he sure looks and
sounds like a president. Not a king or an inheritor, but an
intelligent statesman, young and ambitious enough to try new approaches.

There's no W in America or Alabama, but there's damn sure a Bama in
Obama. And I have heard, not sure where to look it up, that Barack is
a Hebrew word for lightning. I'm still in favor of changing the name
of the state to Al-Obama.



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