Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Sword of Damocles

David Seaton's News Links
I was surprised that Maureen Dowd, of all people, led me to a encyclopedic page of virulently anti-Obama material. Was this advance damage control or just subtly presented, advance damage? Who knows.

The Internet, as I'm sure you all know by now, is buzzing with rumors
of the famous Michelle Obama, "whitey" tape, of which the link of Maureen Dowd's provides this description:
For about 30 minutes, Michelle Obama launched into a rant about the evils of America, and how America is to blame for the problems of Africa. Michelle personally blamed President Clinton for the deaths of millions of Africans and said America is responsible for the genocide of the Tutsis and other ethnic groups. She then launched into an attack on "whitey", and talked about solutions to black on black crime in the realm of diverting those actions onto white America. Her rant was fueled by the crowd: they reacted strongly to what she said, so she got more passionate and enraged, and that's when she completely loses it and says things that have made the mouths drop of everyone who's seen this.

The "tape" is a DVD that Trinity United sold on its website, and possibly offered free for download up until March 2008 when Trinity's site was scrubbed and the DVDs were no longer offered for sale.
The first question is, does the "tape" actually exist?

I would imagine it does, because, strictly as a rumor, this thing would have very short legs. It certainly wouldn't affect the election if the tape never appeared.

There is a certain plausibility in Obamfile's version, if you situate yourself in July 2004, at a conference of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition, when according to Obamafile, all this is supposed to have happened, then some of the things she is accusing Bill Clinton of are quite reasonable and part of progressive discourse at that time.

For example, it is true that Bill Clinton never moved a finger to stop the massacres in Rwanda.
The information became known in April of 2004, and quite a few well informed black people... and not so black people, rebuked him bitterly for it.

However if the rest of what the website says is true and the tape exists, when and if it is released, then that will be the end of Barack Obama's campaign.
It will all be over but the shouting.

I think the United States is certainly ready to elect an African-American, Obama's success to date proves that, but probably they are not prepared to elect one who appears to be of the radical left to boot.

And if, as the website Maureen Dowd links to says,
Her rant was fueled by the crowd: they reacted strongly to what she said, so she got more passionate and enraged, and that's when she completely loses it and says things that have made the mouths drop of everyone who's seen this.
Then middle-America will have nightmare visions of Obama's Inaugural Ball... and frankly, I don't think middle-America is ready for that yet.

Middle-America has up till now been enchanted with someone who seems to them to combine the gravitas of Colin Powell and the unthreatening charm of Will Smith, with just a dash added of Doctor King's noble rhetoric and delivery. In short someone who embodies all that white America loves in black America and none of the things they fear and loathe. Catharsis. We all live happily ever after.

That the Obama camp is taking so seriously what is only at the moment a rumor, (and a rumor that will fade and die harmlessly if no tape, in fact, exists) then it would appear that the tape's release is imminent. (For what imminent release means, see below.) Otherwise they are only giving body to baseless calumny. Some of what they are planning to do is frankly a little sinister. According to Time:
Obama is enlisting his millions of supporters to help him hunt down and quash these stories, just as those supporters helped him turn his insurgent campaign into a history-making juggernaut.
How exactly are these "millions of supporters" going to "hunt down" and "quash"? Are we talking about out and out intimidation?

Time continues:
Near each rumor will be a fight-back button, offering suggestions as to where and how Obama supporters can call or e-mail to counter the rumors. The site will also have a spot where Obama supporters can alert the campaign to any new rumors they may be seeing on the Web or in their mailboxes or hearing on the telephone.
I think the "fight-back button" is a huge mistake, this is a Skinneristic wet dream for every electronic prankster in America. This would be like an electronic version of a village bullfight, called a capea in Spain, (what they call in South America, a pachanga), with all the local boys risking their lives to lure the bull.

Assuming the tape exists, who are "they" and when would "they" release the tape?

I see four possibilities:
  • Hillary: If she has it, she'll find someone to release it in time for the super-delegates to change their minds with decorum. If the tape appears very soon, shedunnit.
  • McCain: If he has it, he'll release it in the fall, probably the classic "October Surprise". In time for the voters to see it and digest it, but not early enough for Obama to make a Checkers Speech.
  • Reverend Wright: If as they say, the tape was in the Trinity Church catalog, Wright will have some copies lying around for sure. He has access and motive. If he releases it, he'll will do it either right before or during the Democratic convention. So that all hell breaks loose and he can sit back and laugh and laugh as those super-delegates tie themselves into knots.
  • Some fifteen year old kid will launch it from his bedroom computer to impress his friends... Any time he and they get bored. Thus is history written.
As I said, either the tape exists or it doesn't... If it doesn't, the rumor itself won't hurt Obama because, as they say in Spanish, "what doesn't kill you makes you fat". DS

BTW: Now even Muammar Qaddafi is getting into the act. Here is this from the BBC website:
"The statements of our Kenyan brother of American nationality Obama on Jerusalem... show that he either ignores international politics and did not study the Middle East conflict or that it is a campaign lie," he said.

"We fear that Obama will feel that, because he is black with an inferiority complex, this will make him behave worse than the whites."

"This will be a tragedy," Qaddafi said. "We tell him to be proud of himself as a black and feel that all Africa is behind him."
How is that for perverse? Qaddafi has strange taste in clothes for sure, but he is very shrewd and I am sure he knows how his remarks will play on Fox. DS


Anonymous said...

The rumor has been out there for a long time.. If Hillary or a supporter had it, it would have been out there long ago

RC said...

Given the present dynamic of dissemination if the recording existed at all and had been offered, numerous persons would have it and by now it would be on YouTube. I think it safe to say this is this month's Urban Legend.
That doesn't mean that some other item will NOT be found or magnified as this seems to be the path the Republicans aim to take since even they themselves have little faith in either McCain or his campaigning abilities.
As dismal as it seems to you, Dave, odds are good that Obama will be POTUS #44 and my concern is that no matter who gets that position this November, by the time they take over next January numerous severe crises will be well along and the US government is too poorly structured and very underfunded to manage them. Instead of going on and on about the lightweight Obama message you perceive perhaps you can offer some practical advice to the US population a la Orlov. I'm not at all certain of any degree of collapse of the US economy, society, energy production and food distribution, but what I read doesn't inspire confidence and reports from family still living in various geographic regions leave me very much wanting to think that this will eventually blow over like the seventies did. Yet, the confluence of fundamental weaknesses now seem far worse. I can understand your lack of confidence in Obama, you've explained it the same way other people I speak to here have, but I don't see any comfortable way out of the multiple delusions that the US citizenry has latched onto in the last 35 years. I'm very hard pressed to name any individual that could defuse this mess without some mishaps.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Obama will try to squelch the rumor that his is constitutional scholar ... an unpublished constitutional scholar.. at least according to a rather thorough search on Google scholar.. Try it yourself.

How about the one that he was editor of the Harvard Law Review?? (rather than the president of the Harvard Law Review... an elected position)...

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"If Hillary or a supporter had it, it would have been out there long ago."

That is a good argument, but I think this is an atomic bomb and Hillary would want to hide her tracks completely... Now it could come from anywhere, before only from her.

RC said...

I do think it likely there is no tape or video or DVD. I also think it highly likely that there are plenty of other bombs ready to explode, although maybe not what you call atomic.
It's going to be a down and dirty fight to November but Obama has the advantage in that McCain is dragging around far more negatives than Obama is and also, the electorate turning out to vote in the general contest has changed, mostly due to legwork by Obama workers and volunteers.
Obama has the money, has a message
even though the message is wispy, and all I am waiting for is the fallout from their debates.
If there is a surprise and McCain wins it will be because he rescued himself and his party from behind a lectern, under bright lights, with a quick wit and some charm and humor. It is possible, but not likely.
Should McCain win, his party may or may not get some help with their other pathetic races, but the Republicans will have to treat McCain as a savior.
The win seems remote.