Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years. This church is where he got his spiritual food on Sunday mornings. It is where he married his wife Michelle and baptized his children. Sen. Barack Obama spoke about his faith and his church, specifically, about the pastor of his church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who preaches fire and brimstone sermons and rails against the U.S. government’s policies and actions. Some of it is racist. Racism can go both ways. In this case, it’s black going against white. He preached strongly against America’s policies and even put down Hillary Clinton as not knowing what it feels like to be called a n_gg_r. Sure that’s true but he how does one say it without denigrating a person’s understanding. No doubt, Obama was probably embarrassed by this. He was quick to denounce the statements made by his pastor, Rev. Wright. Now he is distancing himself from Rev. Wright’s political rhetoric, who preached social justice in this congregation in the south side of Chicago. He still defended him as his pastor but not as his political advisor. Obama says that his views do not reflect his own.
Barack Obama recently stated:
I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright’s statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States. (Huffington Post, March 14/08)
It doesn’t surprise me he would say that. If he’s going to get out of this tight situation and save his campaign from damage, it will take some nimble oratory manoeuvering. Can he manage it? I think he will.
Rev. Wright sounds like a preacher who preaches with eloquence, power, and conviction. I wonder if this is where Obama got his charisma from. Obama is probably the most eloquent politician we have seen in a long time and will be liked by many in the American public whether we agree with his policies or not (as I previously blogged about
Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, is a social and economic conservative and is a natural choice for social conservatives. As a candidate, he is quite attractive but at this time, he seems to be up against a very steep uphill battle against John McCain for the Republican nomination. Huckabee has a very likeable down-to-earth style that allows him to easily make a connection with social and economic conservatives that John McCain does not do. Like Barack Obama, Huckabee also has a charisma, although it’s one that seems very different. From my perception, I would describe Obama’s charisma as a hope-filled and inspirational style, whereas, Huckabee’s is a down-to-earth positive “we-can-do-it” style of charisma. They both have charisma but I would say that Obama’s extreme charisma makes him a very compelling and likeable candidate (as I have previously blogged about).
In my opinion, Huckabee is a better Republican candidate than McCain because he has more substance and charisma. If Huckabee had more time on his side he might be able to make gains on McCain. But at this point in the race, McCain is so far ahead of Huckabee that it will be very difficult for him to catch up, even with the gains he has made in the polls. Huckabee has time on his side. He’s 52 years-old, whereas, McCain is 71. He should definitely consider running in the future presidential election in 2012. What Huckabee has going for himself is that he has an image as an honest politician and he seems to have a trustworthy character and personality. What he has going against him is the typical negative stereo-typing that is pinned against him by liberals. However, if Huckabee gets picked by McCain as his vice-presidential running mate, it’s a ticket that has a chance to challenge Barack Obama. Huckabee would be a natural choice for McCain because he can really help make inroads for social conservatives, especially in the southern states. McCain will need a running mate who can get social conservatives to vote for him. So at this point, a McCain-Huckabee ticket is looking more attractive.
Barack Obama ended his speech at American University with the invocation of “God bless you”—something that I thought only conservatives were able to do. The invocation of “God bless you” might disturb those with strong liberal tendencies but it got my attention in a good way; however, it wasn’t the only thing that got my attention. During Sen. Edward Kennedy’s endorsement speech, Kennedy mentioned something about Obama’s character that I could agree with. I am not a Kennedy fan or an Obama supporter though I might sound like I’m endorsing Barack Obama. As a younger and educated person I’m tired of old style politicking (I’m Canadian so I have no vote, but I can gripe and offer my opinion). My point is that I have noticed something in Obama that I have not seen in many other candidates—Republican or Democrat. What impresses me most about Obama is his character and leadership. Whether you agree with his policies or not, Obama seems to be someone who refuses to be trapped in the old politics and less-than-savory tactic of demonizing others. This is something I have seen very little of in most of the candidates. This is why he is so appealing to the younger more educated crowd. It is something younger generations of new voters have never seen in politicians before. This classy attitude of Obama was also what initially got my attention during the Democratic debate. He is tough and will stand up for himself, and he refuses to be cornered by his Democratic opponent’s backhanded tricks. Back-stabbing and demonization by liberals and conservatives have turned people off from politics in the past, but Barack Obama seems to be able to turn young people on, and exude a new confidence in them. This is an example of new-style politics we are yearning for—one that is without a heavy divisive tone, which is unlike what we have seen in Hillary Clinton’s style of politicking. Divisive language and rhetoric has been so prevalent in her campaign that many find it very difficult to listen to her divisive rhetoric.
Obama’s inspiring speech of hope for a new future really impresses me even though I may not agree with some of his ideas. All politicians can be critical of their opponents and express their unique platform policies, solutions to problems, and wonderful new ideas. That’s relatively easy to do. But more to my point is that I have not heard many who can really be positive, optimistic, and inspirational. I have listened to conservatives and liberals but have heard very few, like Obama, who has the rare ability to inspire genuine hope to a generation that is seeking change for the better. Whether you like him or not, you might be able to agree that he is truly an inspirational speaker to listen to. He also speaks from the heart and he believes the dream for a better future is possible. His optimism and charisma is similar to that of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Though he is liberal, he is broad-minded enough to mention some of the positive things that the conservative President Ronald Reagan has done for America in the past. I don’t think Clinton would ever do something like this. In fact, Hillary Clinton took advantage of the situation to attack Obama for his class act of being diplomatic and conciliatory toward Reagan’s past contributions. If you’re a conservative, or a liberal, and neither of you like what I say, there’s a lot of other blogs out there that will give you one-sided liberal or conservative opinions that you may totally agree with. But I will stick my neck out and say that I like Obama for his willingness and ability to understand people on both sides of the aisle, even though he may not be a conservative. He tries to understand and sympathize with the challenges in people of different races, genders, incomes, and social status. That’s recognizing the realities in people’s lives. His diplomacy and good character is a style of politics that inspires, within young people, a renewed confidence in politicians. What a contrast to the old days when young people were, or still are, turned off about politics and political cronyism. I’m a conservative but I wish to see more politicians of all parties display more of these admirable traits. I’m not saying that Obama is the ideal politician for everyone, I’m just saying that he is fair and level-headed in battle with his opponents. At this point, I am not sure if there’s a Republican candidate who strikes me as someone who is as charismatic as Barack Obama but I’m sure they are out there waiting in the wings for their opportunity to shine one day for conservative ideals. But for the time being, if the future president of the United States should be a Democrat rather than a Republican, I think Barack Obama would be my preference.
I haven’t been posting about biblical or theological issues but I’ll get back on track. Lately, I’ve enjoyed following the political race on both the Republican and Democratic parties. I was watching the Democratic debate tonight between the three major candidates: Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, and John Edwards. It was the first time I’ve ever seen the three in debate. During the structured debate, I was really impressed with Barack Obama’s civility and level-headedness. He was able to express himself with a calm and cool that seems presidential. I think that if they were to be in a debate with the Republican presidential candidate, Obama would probably be able to stand up strongest under the highest pressure. What I perceived that was important was that Obama does not seem as divisive as Clinton in his demeanor. I think he would be most able to work with Republicans because of his willingness to cooperate across party lines. Obama does not seem to be an unrealistic idealist even though he does have ideals. Therefore, I think he would be more able to build cooperation across party lines. Barack also has a unique charisma that I haven’t seen in Clinton and Edwards. In this Democratic race, I predict that Obama and Clinton will n be a close race right to the end.
On the issue of faith, I think Obama and Edwards are most in touch with their Christian faith. Hillary is perceived as someone who beats down on evangelical Christians. This will be a liability for her. But I perceive that Obama, a member of the Church of Christ, treats evangelicals with a level of respect and will add to his credibility amongst evangelicals, and this will help him earn the trust of many Christians of different stripes.
I have been following the campaign on CNN in the evenings. Mitt Romney from Michigan has just won the Republican primary in his home state of Michigan—a great comeback. I think he has an appeal to conservatives, evangelicals, and even some moderate Democrats. In my opinion, I feel that Romney has more appeal than John McCain, and Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist. Even though Huckabee seems to be the most conservative and evangelical, he doesn’t necessary has a strong hold on conservative evangelical votes, and neither does McCain. Evangelicals do not only vote for evangelical candidates but are also willing to vote for Mormons like Mitt Romney and Catholics like Rudy Giulliani. This says to me that evangelical voters are very open-minded about who they can see as their political leader. Evangelical voters feel that the economy is most important. Even though social issues are important, the economy is still number one in people’s mind.
I like Mitt Romney. I feel that Romney has depth in his campaign and in his political views. However, I do not perceive Giulianni as having the depth required to carry his campaign through to victory. Depth is most important in any campaign and depth will carry a candidate to victory as a Republican presidential candidate.