Forgiveness In The New Age Of Political Bipartisanship
A lot of attention is being paid to President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet choices and his willingness to pull people from the other side of the political aisle as well as his old political opponents. There is talk that Mr. Obama has offered the post of Secretary of State to his Democratic nominee competitor New York Senator Hillary Clinton with all of her foreign policy experience and tarmac ducking experience. Mr. Obama is entertaining this even after Ms. Clinton planted the idea during the campaign that while Ms. Clinton and Arizona Senator John McCain have years and years of experience, Mr. Obama has little more than a speech to his credit and is little more than a warmed over version of Jesse Jackson.
More talk has Mr. Obama extending an olive branch to his Republican rival Mr. McCain even though Mr. McCain went off the deep end and called the new President-elect a dangerous choice for America and made the suggestion that Mr. Obama isn’t one of us, the patriotic Americans who love America. Mr. McCain couldn’t even look at his rival for the presidency during their first debate. And now, the man Mr. McCain blatantly disrespected is willing to bury the hatchet and talk about some political collaborative efforts that he could use Mr. McCain’s help on.
Mr. Obama has even forgiven the political turncoat Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who deliberately and unabashedly worked hard to get Mr. McCain elected. In December of 2007, Mr. Lieberman endorsed Senator John McCain for the presidency. Mr. Lieberman even went so far as to denounce the entire Democratic Party in a speech to the Republican faithful when he made an appearance on stage during the Republican National Convention. Mr. Lieberman faced serious retribution for his betrayal of his party. Many of Mr. Obama’s supporters wanted Mr. Lieberman stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
However, Mr. Obama had urged Senate majority Leader Harry Reid not to remove Lieberman from his position. Mr. Reid has made public his anger over Mr. Lieberman’s criticism of Obama during the election. The Senate Democratic Caucus voted 42 to 13 to allow Mr. Lieberman to keep his chairmanships, although he did lose his membership in the Environment and Public Works Committee. Mr. Lieberman credited Mr. Obama for helping him keep his chairmanship and for his favorable treatment.
Without a doubt, there is a serious amount of forgiveness and clemency and hatchet burying going on in Washington these days. People compare Mr. Obama’s overwhelming impression of political exculpation to the behavior of President Abraham Lincoln who pondered had to literally reconstruct the country after the civil war as Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet deliberated over how to reintegrate the states that tried to secede from the nation and what to do with Confederate leaders and the freed slaves, determined to find a course that would not alienate anyone. People in Mr. Lincoln’s day thought that his policies were too lenient. But nevertheless, Mr. Lincoln will go down in history as a President that worked to heal a nation and mend fences.
Mr. Obama is willing to forgive any and everyone except his former pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Mr. Wright gained national attention when excerpted parts of his sermons were subjected to intense media scrutiny in an attempt to paint the new President-elect as little more than an undercover, typically angry black man who wants to make America pay for its so called abuses of the black community that happened so long ago because racism no longer exists. Mr. Obama took extraordinary steps to calm the issue. He denounced his pastor’s statements in a speech titled A More Perfect Union in which he sought to place the pastor’s comments in a historical and sociological context. Many people thought the speech was historic.
But the scrutiny of critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Mr. Wright. The controversy came to a head when after trying to just fade away to oblivion Mr. Wright made a series of high profile media appearances in which he claimed amongst other things that Mr. Obama was simply a politician fighting for a political office. He had to distance himself to look more acceptable to the American public. Mr. Obama had enough. Mr. Obama called a press conference and spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was outraged and saddened by his spiritual mentor’s behavior and resigned his family’s membership in the church Mr. Wright help to make.
It’s interesting to note that right after Mr. Obama made his forceful condemnation of his former pastor, the interviews by Mr. Wright ceased. Mr. Wright never retorted. Mr. Wright, who many accused of trying to bring attention to him self and injure his spiritual protege, quickly returned to his path of obscurity, as if he had accomplished whatever he had set out to do. Whether it was intentional or not, scripted or not, real or not, planned or not, the public action of severing his relationship with Mr. Wright was enough to bring closure to that particular issue for the vast majority.
Still, it is interesting that people who called Mr. Obama naïve, dangerous, a Muslim, unpatriotic, a terrorist, irresponsible, and wrong for America, are being welcomed back into the fold with open arms. People who accused Mr. Obama of trying to teach children porn, of trying to turn the United States into a socialist country by taking away rich people’s money and giving it all to the poor, of palling around with terrorist, and of being the antichrist amongst many other accusations. People who did their best to destroy Mr. Obama’s character are being forgiven.
But the one man that says Mr. Obama is who he is, a politician trying to win a political office, is just too offensive for even Mr. Obama to forgive in this new age of political enlightenment where even the greatest political devil can be made an ally.
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