I am sorry to announce . . .

that my dear sister Maggie will never be able to run for public office. You see a few years ago while attending UIC, she took a class taught by unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers. She even consumed a meal at his home. And laughed at his jokes! Obviously, there is something wrong with poor Maggie’s judgement and she just wouldn’t be fit for public office due to her “close association” with Mr. Ayers. A real patriot would have stormed out of the class in disgust and taken a bad grade for the country.

That’s at least 2 down for my siblings: Maggie has ties with an unrepentant terrorist and I have a long standing, personal relationship with a man who has been know to say that the government deliberately assasinated all the strong black leaders to protect itself and has uttered the words, “I hate white people” more than once. (That would be my husband.) Who knows what sort of evil malcontents my other siblings have associated with. Heck, my father once said that Jimmy Carter was the last good man in the white house. Surely the fact that his children still maintain relationships with him (and occassionally ask for money) is proof positive that none of us are fit for so much as a city council seat.

I can only hope that others have been wiser in their associations than my family or soon we’ll completely run out of people fit to serve in public office! What ever is this world coming to?

For the slow on the get-go folks out there, yes I am making fun of the brohaha over Barack Obama and his various unsavory associates.

Actually, I read the only in-contact-with-the-real-world explanation for Obama’s ongoing relationships which I have seen a couple of days ago. Dean Barnett over at the Weekly Standard writes that a couple of months ago he called dozens of Obama’s former Harvard Law classmates:

The results of my mini survey surprised me. Everyone I spoke with knew Obama. Even more surprisingly, everyone I spoke with adored him. Not a single person had a negative thing to say about him. And yes, there were some conservatives in the sample group.

The uniformly pro-Obama sentiments were surprising. Law schools are full of future lawyers, and needless to say many lawyers are small and petty people. Since Obama did exceptionally well at Harvard Law, graduating magna cum laude and serving as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review, you would have expected his accomplishments to engender some hostility among his classmates. But they didn’t.”

At first Mr. Barnett took this as an assurance that Obama is a remarkably good guy. Now, he’s come to a slightly different (although I would argue not opposing) opinion:

But there’s another side to such uniform popularity. Remaining in virtually everyone’s good graces requires a fair amount of work. It requires a form of day-to-day politicking that most people eschew. People who achieve such popularity have to work at it.

They also have to be not particularly choosy about who they pal around with. They have to be non-judgmental. One thing we’ve seen in Barack Obama’s past associations is a surfeit of non-judgmentalism.”

If you read the Barnett piece, you’ll find that he thinks that most people do not/would not deal with people this way. Most of us, he assumes, would refuse to associate, much less form close relationships with someone whose views or past actions we find repugnant.

Personally, I can’t even imagine what Mr. Barnett’s marriage must be like. Either he and his wife are life-long saints involved in some weird conservative mind-meld or they must not talk much. I am not an Obama supporter, but it is my opinion that much of what has gone wrong with our politics is precisely this impulse to dis-associate ourselves from those who we find objectional, repugnant and just plain wrong. It may feel good to be that self-righteous, but it’s highly counter-productive, IMO. People rarely change because they’ve been denounced. And once you’ve denounced them, they are rarely willing to work with you. Far better to engage in respectful debate and leave the doors open both to change and to co-operation when needed.

I think that Mr. Barnett is probably correct in identifying this unwillingness to judge and denounce people as the reason Obama has maintained relationships of one sort or another with people he obviously doesn’t agree with. I absolutely disagree with him that this us all that unusual (outside of politics anyhow) or that it is a sign of a problem. I don’t think maintaining cordial relations with everyone would magically fix all that ails our government and country. However, it’s a much better plan than the denounce and distance stance that has destroyed our government’s ability to function in the interest of the people.

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2 thoughts on “I am sorry to announce . . .

  1. Yes. Changing people’s minds and hearts is almost never a process of confrontation (or disassociation, for that matter.) It is almost always a process of *conversion* over time, and it takes a relationship of some kind — even a casual one — for that to happen. Sometimes the conversion never comes. Why is it so hard for some to believe that Obama would be able to resist the offensive parts of Wright’s message? I think most of us would believe ourselves capable of maintaining a relationship with someone with off-beat, even offensive beliefs without taking them as our own.

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