Monday, February 04, 2008

"Jive": the forbidden word


"If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen."
Paul Krugman, NYT

"A President Obama could no more magically transcend America's '60s-born divisions than McCarthy, Kennedy, Nixon or McGovern could, for the simple reason that our society is defined as much by its arguments as by its agreements. Over the meaning of "family," on sexual morality, on questions of race and gender and war and peace and order and disorder and North and South and a dozen other areas, we remain divided in ways that first arose after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963." Rick Perlstein, WP
David Seaton's News Links
America owes much more to African-Americans than gratitude and shame for centuries of unpaid labor. Theirs is 90% of the magic of American identity, substance and style. Without Black America the United States would be some sort of Australia run amok. Among the infinity of cultural gifts that America has received from African-America is a richness of language that other English speakers do not possess and one of the most valuable words of this legacy is the word, "Jive", which Webster defines as, "glib, deceptive, or foolish talk".

I realize that for a white person to apply this marvelous word to any person of color breaks all the rules of political correctness, but as I believe that nurture is more important than nature and as Barack Obama was raised in a white home by white people in places, (Hawaii and Indonesia) where no African-American models existed, I consider that he is culturally as white as or whiter than I am and I have no compunction in admitting that I have never seen such a positively "jive-assed" politician in all my life.


Readers of this blog will know that I consider universal health care the single most important issue in US politics, the game changer. I would prefer that the Republicans keep the White House and that the pressure for something meaningful continue to build, than that a Democratic president pass something half baked that leaves millions of Americans without health care, but takes the pressure off. What I called in the last post, "throwing a fish".

As Paul Krugman points out, that is exactly the result we can expect if Obama is elected president.

I admit that I am becoming more than a little impatient with Barack Obama. The idea that the divisions and contradictions in America, which are real, serious and reality based, can be "healed" by the honeyed words of a few good speeches is an insult -- perhaps well deserved -- to American intelligence. DS

Rcik Perlstein - Getting Past the '60s? It's Not Going to Happen - Washington Post
Abstract: One of the most fascinating notions raised by the current presidential campaign is the idea that the United States can and must finally overcome the divisions of the 1960s. It's most often associated with the ascendancy of Sen. Barack Obama, who has been known to entertain it himself. Its most gauzy champion is pundit Andrew Sullivan, who argued in a cover article in the December Atlantic Monthly that, "If you are an American who yearns to finally get beyond the symbolic battles of the Boomer generation and face today's actual problems, Obama may be your man." No offense to either Obama or Sullivan, but: No he isn't. No one is.(...) I realized it again when I saw the online ad produced by Sen. John McCain's campaign, arguing that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton didn't deserve the presidency because she earmarked one-millionth of the federal budget ($1 million) for a museum commemorating the rock festival Woodstock. I realized it, too, when Bill Clinton accused Obama of leaving the role of Lyndon B. Johnson out of the civil rights story, and when Sen. John Kerry announced his endorsement of Obama with a quotation from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- and both set off a strange bout of opinion-journalism shadowboxing over which camp, Clinton's or Obama's, better grasped the historical legacy of the civil rights movement. I realize it anew just about every day of this presidential campaign -- most recently when a bevy of Kennedys stood behind Obama last week and spoke of reviving the spirit of Camelot, and when the conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks responded by making fine distinctions between "the idealism of the generation that marched in jacket and ties" -- the "early-60s," which he took Obama to represent -- and the "late-60s," defined "by drug use and self-indulgence," of which the Clintons are the supposed avatars. The fact is, the '60s are still with us, and will remain so for the imaginable future. We are all like Zhou Enlai, who, asked what he thought about the French Revolution, answered, "It is too early to tell." When and how will the cultural and political battle lines the baby boomers bequeathed us dissolve? It is, well and truly, still too early to tell. We can't yet "overcome" the '60s because we still don't even know what the '60s were -- not even close.(...) A President Obama could no more magically transcend America's '60s-born divisions than McCarthy, Kennedy, Nixon or McGovern could, for the simple reason that our society is defined as much by its arguments as by its agreements. Over the meaning of "family," on sexual morality, on questions of race and gender and war and peace and order and disorder and North and South and a dozen other areas, we remain divided in ways that first arose after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. What Andrew Sullivan dismisses as "the symbolic battles of the Boomer generation" do not separate us from our "actual problems"; they define us, as much as the Great War defined France in the 1920s, '30s, '40s and beyond. Pretending otherwise simply isn't healthy. It's repression -- the kind of thing that shrinks say causes neurosis. At least there's some comfort in knowing that our divisions aren't what they once were. Heck, in the 1860s, half the nation was devoted in body, mind and spirit to killing the other half; in the early 1930s, many sage observers presumed the nation to be poised on the verge of open, violent class warfare. We'll manage to muddle through again -- even burdened with mere flesh and blood human beings, not magical healing shamans, as our leaders. READ IT ALL

3 comments:

RC said...

I think it safe to say that you are not an Obama fan. I have been out of the US for almost 3 decades and I don't understand what goes on there either, but I can't say I have a problem with Obama since the current office holder seems to be absolutely talent free and is apparently no threat in the management department either. I do feel that the US barely made it through the Bush years {hasn't completely yet} and in a strange way, I am now quite sure that having witnessed the very low ability of this fellow, even I, a not very accomplished self employed type could definitely do the job.
I am rather good at brush cutting and nicknaming although weak in the pandering department.
Of the three persons still in the race I am least alarmed by Obama.
I find the militarism of Hillary and McCain a problem.
Yet, I can't vote in the election so my little opinions will have no actual result.
Having survived the Bush management and his low level of competency in all things {bike riding, snack eating}I have also realized I could perform quite well at Yale.
So I thank Bush for my newfound esteem and I wish him well in future debris rearrangement in Crawford.
At this stage pretty much anyone would look very very good when the next act starts.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I agree totally! After eight years with incompetent, ugly, jerk, it would be a pleasant change to have a handsome, charming incompetent running this circus

RC said...

I want to add on this comment on non-Super Wednesday that whatever is going on with the management of the Obama campaign can well be expected to continue in the White House, given the usual trajectory of the personnel.
I think it may be time to start thinking about what exactly an Obama presidency might be like since the math says his chances are now far better than even.
For me, I would expect some quick action on the Iraq Misadventure and real economic restructuring not just bank and stock bailouts with fresh greenbacks, we have already heard that Obama will not pay any attention to Alien Fever, and like you, Mr. Dave, I also see the US health care non-system as only slightly better than Mediaeval, other than its expensive technological capabilities and pills and can't imagine the level of genius that has been at work for decades that has masterfully convinced the population to die instead of screaming bloody murder, and so, if there is any REAL and audacious hope in that Jivey Obama Koolade, maybe there WILL be public health. Let us also hope it turns out better than public schooling.
Now, the back half of the race before the convention is upon us and the programs are going to have to be revealed or invented on the spot. Hillary will not allow Obama to just give inspirational peptalks for the next seven months. Then again, announced policies and political promises-- what is any of that worth once it goes through the legislative and media poisoning process?
Politics is JIVE. They are all full of Jive. Jive is us. Obama knows that I am sure.
Thanks for your commentary, I enjoy it as a fellow ex pat.