January 14, 2008

Obama: right on with his right on (at least now)

The whole mess about Clinton's comments on Martin Luther King (see this article for a run-down) is beyond absurd. Basically, Clinton argues that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act required major work from Johnson, and a bunch of people jump on her by claiming she's minimizing Dr. Martin Luther King's contribution. But what she said is, well, true. Johnson got the legislation passed. As I recall from my international politics class, part of the trade for getting civil rights legislation was keeping the Vietnam war going; another part of it was that Johnson was a parliamentary procedure genius. So. Talking up Johnson's adroitness with the Senate and his ability to get legislation passed doesn't diminish King's extraordinary power to build social movements and effect huge social change, or say that Johnson started the civil rights movement; just, you know, the road from social movement to federal policy isn't all that direct. It's a pretty natural comparison for Clinton to make, seeing as she's running for president based on her experience and political adroitness - i.e., the ways in which she resembles Johnson.

At first, Obama's response was lame. (Aside: Dear presidential candidates: do not tear each other down; all the Democratic candidates are pretty good, and you're damn well going to endorse the nominee if it isn't you; try to imagine, in everything you say, whether someone could make an attack ad contrasting it with your later endorsement.) But his most recent statements? They're awesome. Including, but not limited to, the following:

"I think that I may disagree with Senator Clinton or Senator Edwards on how to get there, but we share the same goals. We’re all Democrats. We all believe in civil rights.... They are good people, they are patriots....I think that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically and consistently been on the right side of civil rights issues. I think they care about the African-American community and that they care about all Americans and they want to see equal rights and justice in this country."

Right on with your right on. And now I swear I'm going to write about something other than why you should vote for Obama. In California. Where you just registered to vote.

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