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Old 03-02-2008, 07:43 PM   #16
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Thanks, for the interest, folks! The response isn't much shorter, but if you're interested... Her response to my email stated that there was no link between the forward she sent and the Repubs, which is true; she then stated that she saw Michelle Obama's comments as "racial whining," doubted that she's ever done anything for the black community she was afraid of alienating, and then questioned Barack's experience and that he could do anything besides give good speeches. Here's my response to that! (oh, and Bono's shades, I don't see a link for Michelle's thesis in your post, but there is a link below in my text; you're right--it's pretty boring and not inflammatory at all).
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I'll first touch on the Republican comment. You're absolutely right that there was nothing in that email that stated that it was from the Republican side. In fact, I agree that much of the anti-Obama stuff has come from the Clinton campaign. There have been moments where she's acted as twistedly as Karl Rove ever did; I think that's what happens when you put "President" on your resume before you get elected. Still, that forward teemed with ideas that the Republican party has been espousing for the last 8 years, especially the notions of "true patriotism" and all the repeated Sept. 11th referencing, etc., all tapping into the basic, maddening emotions of fear and "us vs. them" that the Republican party specialized in during the 2004 elections. And if the email and its like have in fact been created by the Clinton campaign, their purpose is not to sway Dems--I know of no one who voted Democratic in the last election who's either received or spread such forwards--but to sway the independent & republicans who've been voting for Obama in open primaries, such as Texas. It's people who voted for Bush the last time who somehow gave in to the notion that only the Republican party owns patriotism, or that the most pressing issue for the country is fear of the outside world.

As for the Michelle Obama portion, let me start by saying that you can read Michelle Obama's full thesis here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8642.html by clicking on "Part 1," "Part 2," etc. (her main thoughts are in parts 1 & 3). While Princeton has restricted access to the paper, the Obama campaign felt there was nothing to hide and released it immediately when this newspaper asked for a copy. In fact, there really isn't anything to hide---there's nothing inflammatory about the paper at all, and it's quite a dry read.

But as for the topic, we disagree on our interpretation of what her purpose was. I don't see it as complaining or whining at all. Nowhere, for instance, does she make the claim that her grades were affected by her being black, nor does she claim that she was treated unfairly by being seen as "black first and a student second." That, indeed, would be whining. Instead, I see her raising the issue of her experience, reflecting upon it, researching the experiences of others, and publishing the work for discussion. But often when people talk about their different experiences due to their race, sex, or other personal experience, it's looked upon by others as whining. Take the 16-page paper I wrote in med school about my concerns with attitudes in medical education at Georgetown. I received a lot of praise from many people for that paper. A lot of med students felt that I had written things that ought to be said, but that everyone else had shrugged their shoulders and accepted as "the way it is." Many of the administrators, however, felt that I was complaining; one actually told me that it was the "writing of a whiner." But I'll tell you what---within two years, they made changes to the medical curriculum based on points in my paper. It does take a great deal of fortitude to be able to shrug off unfair experiences, and I really respect that. But I don't think that raising the issue for debate is whining. The purpose of a senior thesis is to raise an issue for reflection, research, and discussion, and that's exactly what Michelle Obama does in her paper. And if one would like to see something changed, then one has to raise the issue for discussion---the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

All of that said, none of the hoopla over this paper really even applies to it at all. When one reads it, one sees that all she did was study blacks' and whites' attitudes to each other and themselves pre-Princeton, during Princeton, and post-Princeton by using questionnaires. Again, pretty boring and not worth any of the ire that's been built about it.

As for what work she's done for blacks since graduating, I believe she has done quite a bit. In 1993, she created an organization called Public Allies Chicago, the purpose of which was to train young adults to become leaders in the public sector. Being Chicago, many of those young adults were black. When she was associate dean at the University of Chicago, she created the university's first ever community service program. At Georgetown, our community service groups specifically helped the poor, underrepresented people of DC, most of whom are black. I imagine that creating a community service program--under which dozens of student-run programs with myriad purposes--did a lot to help the black community of Chicago. When she took the position of vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals, she took over the hospitals' business diversity program and developed programs for "staff diversity and minority contracting," directly helping blacks by providing them with jobs. These actions seem to me like she's used her position as a Princeton-educated, successful black to help less successful blacks. In terms of 'in the trenches' work like working at soup kitchens, etc., I don't know what she has or hasn't done. If that's the only kind of work we're looking for, then maybe she hasn't done what she said in her thesis she would do. If that really is the case, should we really hold her to that? She was maybe 21, 22 years old when she wrote that college paper. In my application to med school, I had to write an essay about what goals I had for my future private practice. If my practice years from now doesn't hold true to those goals, should I really be held accountable for an essay I wrote when I was 21?

On to Senor Obama....Barry, as we like to call him. I think that you touch on two general misconceptions about him that many, many people have and that Clinton & McCain are trying to use against him--namely, a supposed lack of leadership experience and that his words hold no substance. First, the experience. In terms of government, he's been in either the Illinois State Legislature or the US Senate for 11 years. I'll point out that JFK--everyone's favorite president and to whom Barack is most often compared---was only an elected official for 14 years prior to becoming president. Prior to that, Barack spent five years as a community organizer, which means that he led poor communities in getting themselves things that would better their situation, i.e., employment centers, etc. (he didn't get the things, he got people moving to do it for themselves). During law school, he was elected to be the first black president of the Harvard Law Review--an impressive leadership role for the law school. After law school, he worked for a firm where he represented community leaders, paying back what he had gained from his own community organizing experience. If we count a teacher as a leader, then I'll note that he taught at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years. But if we only want to count political leadership, then he has 11 years of experience there. During that time, he personally proposed, sponsored, or co-sponsored dozens of bills at the state and federal level, ranging from welfare reform and immigration reform (one of which happened to be co-sponsored by McCain), to environmental acts, to military and foreign relations bills. I'll let you read his wikipedia article for a more complete list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_obama). He also sits on Senate Committees for Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Veterans' Affairs, and he is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (from wikipedia). Basically, he's not sitting around doing nothing.

As for the emptiness of his words, that's a lame talking point that Clinton and McCain have used and that, unfortunately, people who haven't listened to a full speech nor read his proposals have come to blindly believe. I encourage you to go to his website (www.barackobama.com), click on "Issues," and browse through the wealth of information there. Obama's website has his positions laid out in more depth and detail than either Clinton or McCain, or anyone else who was in the primaries. It takes a lot of time to go through it all, believe me. And, for further reading pleasure, he also lists the corresponding evidence from his political record for each issue. Better still, his ideas are genuine and some a good bit creative, while the ideas on McCain's and especially Clinton's sites look to beleaguered by ties to existing or failed programs that are personal pet projects, a la McCain or Clinton especially.

The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama's positions and plans are equally as thought-out as his opponents, if not even more so. He has a successful history of leadership, without requiring 71 years to rack one up like McCain. Most impressive, however, is that Obama actually has the characteristics of a good leader. People said that Bush was dumb, but he surrounded himself with good people. Well, by the second term, most of those people had abandoned him----while Bush may have been great for a backyard barbecue, he doesn't inspire shit. Obama has activated the American people in a way that really hasn't been seen since JFK prodded us to ask what we can do for our country. People genuinely want to follow this guy, and it's not just because he's a good speaker--he has the ideas and the message to boot. There's a reason why half of Bill Clinton's advisers jumped ship and are on the Obama campaign. There's a reason why Democratic primary turnout is at a record high. And there's a reason why people are excited again about what this country can do. You can't do that with just talk.
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Old 03-02-2008, 07:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
Why not just tell your aunt that you find the emails she's been forwarding to you to be base fearmongering, that all this does is annoy you, and that while you're always delighted to hear from her personally, could she please stop forwarding you political emails?
Yep, did that after this second response.
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Old 03-02-2008, 08:06 PM   #18
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Oops. Added link. Not that I needed to since you subsequently linked it but it's better than looking like an ass.
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